Decorating and personalizing an apartment rental can be a difficult challenge because of the generic lighting, bland carpets and cabinets, boring floor plans, and the fear of not getting back your security deposit. No one wants to live in a world of beige carpet and off-white walls, but making major changes isn’t usually an option. Plus, most people don’t plan on an apartment rental being a long-term housing choice. Eventually, you will want to upgrade to a new place or buy a home.
So, making a big investment into a generic apartment isn’t really a viable option for most of us. But, that doesn’t mean you don’t want to make the place feel like your own. Luckily, there are ways to customize your space — and you can do without spending a ton of cash.
If you are on a tight budget, you can still bring a lot of style to the few hundred square feet that you call home, and these 15 tips and tricks can work for any decorating taste.
1. Add Curtains
Apartments are notorious for their mini-blinds on the windows, and I’ve also lived in a few with vertical blinds over the patio door. But, just because you can’t take them down (unless you get your landlord’s permission), it doesn’t mean you can’t cover them.
Inexpensive curtain panels are easy to find at discount stores or fabric shops, and even Ikea has panels for less than $20. Look around and find a design that you like, then hang them on temporary DIY curtain rods with tension rods or command hooks. If you have a small space, hanging your curtain rods high above the windows and buying extra long curtains can give the illusion of your ceilings appearing higher.
Light and breezy white panel curtains can quickly soften up space, or you can opt to add a pop of color to the room for a long, dramatic look if that is more of your style.
2. Personalize with a Bookshelf
If your landlord is okay with you putting a few holes in your wall, floating bookshelves are an affordable way to bring a focal point to your room. Or you can buy a used bookshelf and paint it or add some patterned paper to the backings. Then, organize your books in a creative way, and add some souvenirs, framed pics, candles, or small personalized accessories.
3. Paint…Your Furniture
Since painting the walls is not always an option in an apartment rental, you can add color and personalize your items by painting a piece or two of your furniture. It doesn’t always have to be bold and bright, but adding some color to your coffee table, dining table, or barstools can make a big difference.
4. Add A Mirror
In a small room, a great way to create the illusion of more space is by hanging a mirror. If you hang a mirror across from a window, it will reflect natural light back into the space. And, you can personalize it by giving your mirror a stylish frame.
You can find affordable mirrors in flea markets and thrift shops, or search sites like Etsy online.
5. Removable Wallpaper
Wallpaper is making a comeback in the world of decorating, but adding it to an apartment rental has been a no-no, until now. Removable wallpaper does actually exist, and even though it was first made for movie sets, now there are products available for renters — from super-chic to modern prints.
Using removable wallpaper on a small kitchen wall or in the bathroom can be a fun way to personalize your apartment, and it won’t cost you too much. The panels are easy to hang and to remove. However, if you want to do a whole room, it can get a bit pricey.
6. Add A Rug
A large rug can cover an imperfect floor, and at the same time, they can add color and warmth to any room. Rugs are a fun way to personalize your apartment, and they come in multiple shapes and sizes that will fit any budget.
And, if you are super crafty, you can easily find free carpet samples at home stores, and make your own rugs by using some duct tape.
7. Knobs And Pulls
Most apartments don’t have attractive cabinetry, but since your landlord probably won’t allow you to paint them or install anything new, it can be difficult to improve their style. However, there is one small, inexpensive option that you can do to add some personality — change up the hardware.
You can customize your kitchen and bathroom cabinets by adding different knobs and pulls. With endless varieties to choose from, changing out the bland knobs and cabinet pulls can refresh outdated cabinets and update your kitchen or bathroom’s appearance.
One of the easiest ways to make your house feel like a home is to add some plants. Not only do they add to your decor, but plants also purify the air and add texture to your aesthetic. You can add simple house plants, or maybe put in a tiny herb garden in your kitchen. And, there are also decorative vases and containers you can use for plants that will add another personalized detail.
Adding pictures to your apartment is the best way to personalize your space. Scroll through your phone and select some of your favorites, then go to CVS or Walgreens and have them print your pics for as little as 40 cents each.
Tons of stores have a variety of affordable, decorative frames, for under ten bucks, and you can create a neat piece of wall art by putting together a collage of your pics.
10. Tile Tattoos
If you want to cover up that terrible kitchen backsplash or update your bathroom, tile tattoos are a fantastic decorating option for renters. These stickers are specifically designed for kitchen and bathroom tiles, and they come in a variety of colors and designs.
They are self-adhesive and water-resistant, and when you are ready to move, you can easily peel them off without causing any damage. A set of four can cost as little as $10, so you can make a big change to your kitchen and bathroom without spending a lot of cash.
11. Change Light Fixtures
Light fixtures in an apartment rental can often be quite unsightly, but they are something that can easily be changed. Find some fixtures that you love to add a personal touch to your space, just remember to keep the fixtures that came with the apartment and put them back before you move.
A new pendant light or fun chandelier can quickly change a room’s overall look and vibe, and you can find affordable options at your local home store or online.
Also, while we are talking about lighting, a neat table or floor lamp can add a personal touch to your decor and show off your style, while also adding light that most apartments desperately need.
12. Room Dividers
If you have a studio apartment or your living room is long, dividing the space in an effective way can be a challenge. Adding a room divider is a great way to create the illusion of separate rooms, and you can use a screen, curtains, shelves, or bright fabrics.
Adding a divider will allow you to rearrange your furniture and use the space in a better way. You can easily add a home office or small dining room in your rental by simply hanging an inexpensive curtain or placing a screen in a strategic location.
13. Wall Art
Bare walls can make a room feel cold and generic, so adding some art can do big things when it comes to showing off your personal style. However, be careful when it comes to banging nails in the wall, it could cost you a portion of your security deposit. An option that won’t cause damage is to hang your art with command clips.
Of course, you can find affordable prints at Walmart or Target, but if you take the time to shop flea markets, garage sales, and thrift stores, you can find art that fits your personality. And, there are places online where you can find free art, like Free Vintage Posters.
14. Add Color
If you are going to stay in your rental for a while, painting the walls is an easy way to bring some color and personalize your space, just be sure to review your lease to make sure it is okay. Many will allow you to paint, as long as you re-paint the walls off-white before you move.
If you don’t get a lot of light, try a yellow or orange to brighten things up. Or maybe try blues or greens to create a relaxing feel. And, you don’t have to paint the entire room. Instead, try painting just one wall to add a pop of color and to give the room some style.
If you don’t have the option of adding color to the walls, try adding some colorful throw pillows or blankets to your furniture to change your apartment’s look. Or, find colorful accessories at a garage sale or thrift shop.
15. Creative Storage
Most apartment rentals lack storage space. So, a great way to decorate and personalize your space while fixing that problem is to add creative storage. Rolling kitchen islands, bar carts, and ottomans with hidden compartments are all great ideas for decorating while adding a place to store miscellaneous items.
Customizing and personalizing an apartment rental can motivate, stimulate, and inspire you because it is a reflection of your own style. It can be easy and inexpensive to bring some interior design into your rental, and with these tips, you can customize your space without upsetting your budget or your landlord.