Style for a Townhouse: Decorating Tricks to Know

Neutral colors and plenty of texture give this townhouse a stylish personality. Here are the decorating tricks that take this rental to the next level.

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    Strike with Subtly

    Not everything needs to be in-your-face to be impactful. In the entryway, the townhouse dweller, blogger, and designer Wendy Hyde (, traced a medallion shape with a metallic paint pen to give the mocha walls a bit of shimmer. A striking gray console table (designed by Wendy and built by her father) is a modern departure from the townhouse's eclectic-cottage style. 

    Rental Tip: Can't paint? Consider temporary wallpaper. 

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    Prime Time

    Once an ugly 1970s brown dresser, the living room media center is a testament to what a little paint and a little creativity can do for a tired piece. A gallery of family photos showcased in white frames and mats makes the television less of a focal point. 

    Rental Tip: Focus on the things you can take with you and can adapt to different situations. What you use as a credenza now may make a great dresser in a future home.

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    Striking Detail

    After painting the dresser cream, Wendy had mirrors cut to fit the drawer fronts and attached them with mirror mastic. 

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    DIY Ingenuity

    When Wendy couldn't find a dining table that was the right size and price, she found plans online and enlisted her father's help to build one for about $150. Vinyl letters placed on a black-painted canvas became subway-style art. A revamped buffet provides extra storage in the space. 

    To achieve a luxe look that suits her transitional-meets-cottage style, Wendy chooses materials wisely and takes time carefully considering her needs for each space. "You can totally achieve something that looks high-end -- it just takes a lot of elbow grease and patience," she says. 

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    Space Smarts

    To give her oldest son his own space, Wendy used her ingenuity to turn an alcove in the second-level hallway into a makeshift bedroom dubbed "the loft." Above the bed, art made from pieces of scrap wood adds the texture that Wendy loves. The nautical-inspired curtain is hung on rope suspended from screw eyes and secured by an industrial-size handle. It can be closed for privacy.

    Rental Tip: Use the space your way. If you don't really need a dining space and a small table in the kitchen will do, turn the dining room into an office.

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    Added Storage

    Under the window, a custom daybed built by Wendy's dad provides much-needed storage for clothes and books in the small space. Wendy cut a foam trundle bed mattress to size for the bed using an electric knife.

    Rental Tip: Add storage where you can (and can take with you). Consider freestanding shelves in the kitchen, a slim etagere in the bathroom, and a coffee table or ottoman with built-in storage in a living room.

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    Girls Only

    Wendy placed pages from a vintage-style Barbie doll calendar in inexpensive gold frames for artwork above the bed. She upholstered a curvy headboard cut from plywood.

    Rental Tip: Neutral bedding makes it easy to change your look, whether it's in a new rental or as your child's tastes evolve.

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    Pillow Panache

    The room's pillows display Wendy's sewing skills. To create the ballerina pillow, she scanned her hand-drawn sketch, printed it on photo transfer paper, and transferred the design to a linen patch that she stitched onto a pillow cover. Wendy designed the white-and-blue fabric and printed it through

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    Let's Hear It for the Boys

    In the two younger boys’ room, a favorite quilt inspired a striped accent wall. The boards of a dismantled pallet were glued to plywood, stained, and topped with a cardboard deer head for rustic art. 

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    Slim Work Space

    Wendy carved out a small work space in her bedroom. To make a bulletin board less utilitarian, she covered it with linen and lined it with upholstery tacks.

    Rental Tip: Small accents and embellishments make a big difference. Look for ways to spruce up the ordinary and you'll take your rental to the next level.

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    Laundry Love

    The laundry closet gets a lot of action in the Hyde home, so Wendy wanted it to be fun and functional. She stenciled the wall with a pattern inspired by a favorite fabric. A countertop found in the "as is" section at IKEA fits perfectly over the washer and dryer.

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    BONUS: Small-Space Tips

    Maximize your small space with these smart tricks.

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    26 Ideas to Steal for Your Apartment

    Living in a small space is tough, especially when your decorating options are limited by rental rules and landlord laws. Let these ideas inspire you to make the home (and space) you want.
    Begin Slideshow »

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