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Make your apartment rental feel like a permanent home

It's not just the two spirited French bulldogs that come as a surprise at Artie Vanderpool's apartment. It's also the decor. He furnishes the small space with large furnishings. He displays a sizable collection of artwork and blue-and-white porcelain in interesting ways. And he buys it all from many different sources. A one-stop shopper he is not.

He found the Anatolian rug on eBay. The round dining table at Stickley Audi & Co. in Victor, N.Y. The chandelier at an antiques store in Lewiston. The leather chair at Pottery Barn. The poster bed on Craigslist. And a large glass hurricane at TJ Maxx.

"There's a lot of high and low here," Vanderpool said.

Apartment living has its challenges when it comes to decorating. Lease restrictions, for one. And, oftentimes, not many architectural details.

[Photo gallery: You don't have to own your home to own some style]

"I live in a pretty architecturally void space. There are no significant moldings, and the windows are rather small," Vanderpool said.

His solution: He hung curtain rods about 20 inches from the window frame on each end to make the windows appear larger. This also allows the white linen drapery panels to be pushed away from the glass to allow in more light.

He also raised the rods to the ceiling. "This tricks the eye into thinking that the ceilings are taller than they actually are," he said.

In the living room, Vanderpool extended the drapery rod beyond the window frames and hung it close to the ceiling to let in more light and visually heighten the ceiling. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Similarly, a collection of framed art in the dining room fills one wall but is hung from above the baseboard to a couple feet below the ceiling. This works best for viewing it while seated at the table but also visually heightens the ceiling.

Vanderpool, who has lived in this 860-square-foot Snyder apartment since November, recently shared some other tips on apartment decorating.

For starters, he suggests investing in items such as art that will easily transition to new digs when the times comes, rather than wasting money on a lot of temporary things.

"Whenever I travel I look for art and blue-and-white Chinese porcelain. Those are the two things I am passionate about, and I will find a place for them in my home," he said.

Tidiness also counts. "I have a lot of things, but everything has its place," said Vanderpool, who works for an apartment management company. An antique Chinese wedding cabinet - a $400 Craigslist find - houses a television and artwork not yet displayed. A four-drawer dresser in the dining room has been re-purposed as a bar/buffet and also stores candles, napkins, tablecloths and platters.

With only two drawers in his kitchen, this gives him extra space to store things - "but in a beautiful way," he said.

Vanderpool collects blue-and-white Chinese porcelain. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Vanderpool also is keen on layering, which adds texture and visual interest to a room. A framed mixed-media piece on the floor leans against a pastel drawing on the wall, for example. The Anatolian rug he bought for about $350 on eBay is layered over a sea grass area rug in the living room.

He bought a second sea grass rug for the dining room. Sea grass rugs "are hypoallergenic, have wonderful texture and wear like iron. I have dogs," Vanderpool said.

The rugs top flooring that Vanderpool received permission to install rather than opt for the standard carpeting that would have been provided in the living, dining and entry areas. He selected peel-and-stick vinyl planks in a Gunstock Oak finish from Lowe's - a do-it-yourself project that cost him about $150.

Vanderpool also recommends adding fresh flowers and plants to add life to a room. Pothos ivy and orchids are among his favorites.

The dining room features a wall of art and a chandelier from an antiques shop. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

A few other tips, sent via email:

Pay attention to scale: "Don't assume that a small space means you have to have small things. Filling a space with a bunch of small items will make your room seem smaller than it actually is," said Vanderpool, who writes a blog and does some residential design work."

Keep it collected. "Don't buy the showroom set, and always avoid the matching love seat. You'll get much more use out of two chairs and a sofa, and that layout can be manipulated far easier in different spaces. Mixing up the styles of your furniture also creates visual texture, and is more welcoming and cozy."

Play with lighting. "Bright overhead lights are great if you're looking for your keys, but they can make a room look awful. If your landlord will allow you to switch a light fixture for a more unique chandelier, for example, do it. These are things you can take with you when you go. Just remember to put the old fixture back in place. If you can't change the lighting you have, use lamps and picture lights to create a more flattering and cozy space."

Don't waste your time. "Painting the walls of an apartment seems like a good idea at first, but remember that you typically have to paint those back to white before you go or you'll risk losing your security deposit. Resist the urge, and use that time and money shopping for art you can take with you to the next place."

Live with things you love. "For as long as you're there, this is your home. Taking pride in where you live is the simplest and cheapest way to make your apartment feel like a home. Hang your art on the wall, put out your collections and enjoy living with the things you love. When shopping for your space, ask yourself if you love what you're buying. You're better off living without it, than to spend the money twice."



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