HOUSE TO HOME: Don't forgo style when furnishing a rented space

By: DEBBIE TRAVIS King Features Syndicate
September 7, 2013
photo - A hand-painted cityscape makes an intriguing headboard for your home away from home.
A hand-painted cityscape makes an intriguing headboard for your home away from home. 

With students heading off to college, or setting up home for a first job, comes the challenge of furnishing a rented space that will carry them through the next few years in relative comfort. The important choices center around a bed, a desk and kitchen necessities. Style isn't a first priority, but it can be slipped into the mix.

You can easily create a personalized headboard that will have lasting appeal with a little paint and some imagination. Old headboards can be found at yard sales and secondhand shops. Or build your own from plywood and a simple frame. All that's required is a flat surface onto which to make a compelling vista. For those traveling far from home, a silhouette of a familiar landscape is a fun way to stay connected.

For the headboard shown here, we painted an evening sky as the backdrop for the skyline. The effect, called ombre, is created by graduating three shades of paint from dark to light. The base coat is a very pale blue. Once dry, apply a strip of dark blue along the top, then medium blue in the middle that slightly overlaps the dark blue, and finish with a band of white that slightly overlaps the medium blue. While the paint is still wet, pull a dry brush through all the bands of color to blend. Let the ombre sky dry overnight.

For the skyline silhouette, photocopy or draw the design, trace it onto a large sheet of Mylar and cut out the skyline with a sharp knife. The stencil will sit along the top of the headboard with the skyline cut out along the bottom of the Mylar. Stick the stencil in position with stencil adhesive. Apply black paint with a roller below the stencil cutout. Remove the stencil carefully and let dry. For additional effect, stamp a few stars and a sliver of moon high in the sky. Finish with two coats of varnish for sheen and protection.

For other furniture pieces, think about combining roles to get optimum use. A storage trunk for clothing can double as seating placed in the bedroom or living room. Give it a coat of paint that ties in with the headboard. Check out hanging clothes dividers and shelves that can hold books and notes as well as sweaters and shoes. A desk may need to double as a dining table, so choose as large a flat surface as you can fit into your plans. portable and offers versatility.

You will need curtains for the bedroom window. Opt for simple panels that hang from or clip onto a rod. These are easy to put up and fit most windows. You also can make curtains from many fabrics depending on your style. Anything from burlap to blankets will work. Some cushions for the bed or floor can be covered the same way. If you are not a sewer, there's sewer's double-sided sticky tape available for seams and hems.

Take a bit of time to plan your movable decor, then enjoy the new adventure, wherever it takes you.


Debbie Travis' House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Email your questions to

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