Quick Fixes for Fixer Uppers

Buying a fixer upper is exciting. Coming home to lawn chairs in the living room and an air mattress in the master bedroom — not so much. Although buying new furniture may have to go on the back burner while your first priority is remodeling the house itself, you don’t have to feel like you’re living in a temporary construction zone either. You can rent furniture to make your home feel cozier while you hammer away. Plus, experimenting with different pieces can help you discover exactly what you want for your dream home.

Getting Some Relief

You’ll have a lot of decisions to make as you channel your inner Joanna Gaines, and it can get overwhelming.

“So many homeowners suffer from decision fatigue while working on a fixer upper. From the type of insulation to the fixtures in the kitchen, there is so much to choose when fixing up your home. Even if you have a clear plan for your reno, you still have to make so many decisions that will last for years and years to come. Adding yet another decision to the mix when it comes to picking out furniture can be the straw that broke the camel’s back,” says Liz MacDonald, interior designer and host of the web series “Shelf Help.”

If you rent furniture, you can avoid burnout and free up more brain space for fun things, such as creating an outdoor oasis dream board on Pinterest or traveling to an architectural salvage store to find that perfectly unique front door.

Once the rental furniture arrives, create a safe harbor for yourself away from the construction zone. “If you are doing work in phases, section off that room as much as possible with plastic zipper walls,” says Joe Human, interior designer and founder of Designs By Human. Sure, it’ll keep the dust out, but having a division is more important than just keeping things clean. “It will give a physical and more important physiological separation from the work,” he says.

Envisioning the Whole Space

Renters often focus on furnishings and décor while buyers focus primarily on the house’s interior details, but the secret to creating your dream home is focusing on both.

“For me, as a designer, I tend to easily incorporate both (furniture and a home’s features) into my thought process when designing my space or client’s spaces,” says Human.

Picturing both at once helps build a cohesive design, but unless you’re a pro, just imagining everything can be tough. (Even the pros often use software to map out their designs.) Thankfully, you don’t have to just imagine. Most manufactures are happy to provide samples of flooring, tiles, paint, and even cabinetry. Pick up several options so you can try out different combinations. Then, rent furniture to see how it will all look together.

Getting Through Your Project Timeline

Whether you’re doing everything yourself or plan to hire a contractor to help out with the bigger jobs, the work will likely take longer than you originally expect. To keep everything organized and on track, you need a plan.

“Jot down which projects you want to complete and in what order, estimate the time and money (realistically) that it will take to complete each phase, and break it down from there,” says Human. “The key is minimizing work being done twice.”

Having a plan will help keep you on track, but you’ll have to keep yourself grounded while you work too. When you’re doing something this exciting, it’s hard not to jump to the finish line, but the pros recommend waiting for the finishing touches, such as decorating the mantle piece, until you’re at the end of the project.

Going Through Phases

“It can be really hard to translate your perfect pin into your perfect home,” says MacDonald. Even if you were 110 percent sure what your personal style was the day you closed on your home, that might change, especially if you stay Pinterest-obsessed.

The best way to reach the end of your remodeling project completely satisfied might be to try out different styles as you go along. Think you’re mid-century modern all the way? Rent a 60s-inspired sofa for the living room. Love that farmhouse look? Try out that big wooden table in the kitchen. “Furniture and décor can change the entire vibe of a room. Renting furniture gives you the option to try styles before fully committing to what will live with you for a very long time,” MacDonald says.

If you’re not feeling as in love with the style as you thought you would be, then use the easy-to-transition pieces as a way to transition right on to the next style. After all, it is your perfect home; it has to be perfectly you. “Letting furniture guide you as you renovate a home can be a great way to help narrow in on the big decisions that will create your home’s aesthetic as you renovate,” MacDonald says. The range of furniture rental from CORT can help you discover that perfect aesthetic along the journey.