10 Design Tips For Renters

As a renter, I know that feeling of “home” can be a little more difficult to cultivate. Ricky and I have been renting for almost five years, so this topic is super important to me! As much as I would LOVE to own a home right now, it’s not time for us, but that doesn’t stop me from embracing my limitations, getting creative, and making our place our own.

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Achieving quality design with tasteful decor can seem nearly impossible when trying to turn someone else’s property into a place that feels like your own. But I want to challenge and encourage you that it is possible, and that with a little imagination and willingness to go the extra mile, you can truly feel at home. So, let’s dig in and I’ll share some practical ways I’ve found to customize your rental!

  1. Nix the blinds!
    You know those tacky vertical blinds that drape over windows and/or sliding glass doors? You can ditch those. I know it’s nerve-racking taking out existing installations in a rental space. You don’t want to lose that deposit! But as long as you store them safely (the blinds themselves can be leaned upright in a storage closet or even carefully folded) and put them back when your lease is up, there’s nothing to worry about. So take those suckers off and get yourself some stylish curtains! This alone makes a HUGE difference! It’s high on the priority list for our apartment. It truly takes your space to the next level, giving it more of a high-end, customized look!

  2. Swap out cabinet hardware!
    The hardware that comes in apartments and rental homes is usually just…well, blahhh. I’ve found super affordable hardware on sites like Overstock and Wayfair, and I have my eye on some matte black cabinet pulls and knobs. Depending on how long you plan on staying in your rental, this one may or may not be worth it to you, but swapping out hardware is a great way to customize your kitchen and bathroom!

  3. A rug here, a rug there, a rug everywhere!
    One of the things that unfortunately cannot be swapped out in a rental is flooring. We have that extra special beige carpet in ours (insert eye rolling emoji), but ohhh the wonders of a good rug! I’ve found that putting a rug in the main areas like the dining and living room can make a big difference, and it’s a great way to show off your personal style in your home! Other textiles like blankets and pillows are also important details for personalizing your rental.

  4. Use command strips and hooks for wall art!
    I personally have no issue with putting holes in the walls of our apartment. We’ve always used nails in our rentals, and we just patch up the holes when we move out. It’s never been an issue and we’ve never lost money on our deposit because of it. However, I know some people don’t even want to risk it and they prefer to not put any holes in the walls. Totally understandable. If that’s you though, don’t let that stop you from adding personal touches to your walls. Artwork, photos, prints, and paintings are the things in your home that tell a story. There are so many different types of hooks and strips that hold various sizes and weights, so grab some and start decorating those walls! You can also use them for hanging curtain rods too.

  5. Peel and Stick all the things!

    You guys…whoever invented this stuff is a genius. First, there’s peel and stick backsplash. You typically order it by the square foot. I love this subway tile peel and stick backsplash from Wayfair. It’s so versatile and classic! If you’re looking for a less expensive option, patterned removable contact paper makes for awesome faux backsplash. It won’t hold up as well as the tile, but it’s great if you’re just looking for something quick and super temporary! Then, there’s faux stainless steel contact paper that you can put over your outdated appliances! I’m so serious. You can get it on Amazon and it actually looks legit. Lastly, don’t forget about removable wallpaper! This is super trendy right now. Even homeowners are using it because it’s such an awesome way to make a statement in your home without being such a pain to install and remove! These are things that, again, may or may not be worth it to you depending on how long you’re staying in your rental. But I’m just amazed that this kind of stuff even exists!

  6. Faux fireplace or mantle!

    This is a great way to make a big statement in your rental! Many of you know by now that probably my most treasured decor item in our home is our mantle. We found it at an antique mall a few years ago and I don’t think I’ll ever part with it! I love decorating it for different seasons and occasions. It adds so much warmth, dimension, and personalization to your home. This can be achieved multiple ways depending on what you want. If you already have a fireplace in yours but don’t have a ledge or mantle on top to decorate, simply add a single shelf (“floating” or with brackets) above it. If you don’t have a fireplace but don’t really care about having something that provides heat, a mantle like ours would be a great addition! If you’d like a fireplace that actually provides heat, an electric fireplace would be a great investment, and you can decorate the top just like a normal mantle!

  7. Add a snazzy bar cart!

    This is such a fun way to add a high-end look to your rental, and it’s perfect for hosting! I love this one from Target. Even if booze isn’t your thing, you can still dress it up with nice glasses and bottles of sparkling water! I’ve even seen some bar carts used to hold a record player on the top and vinyl records on the bottom!

  8. Maximize your space with a clothing rack!

    We are fortunate to have a nice walk in closet in our current apartment, but we’ve had some teeny tiny ones in the past, so we know the struggle of not having enough storage for your clothes! Consider investing in a stylish clothing rack for your bedroom to hold and display your nicer clothes, hats, and shoes. I love this one from World Market and this one from Amazon!

  9. Swap out light fixtures!

    I know this one sounds risky, but it’s totally doable and has such a huge impact! As long as you safely store the original fixture and put it back when you move out, there’s nothing to worry about! Swap out those boring, generic light fixtures with a stylish pendant light or chandelier. For an easier and less expensive option, you can also cover up any flush mount lighting with a cute lampshade!

  10. Paint!

    This is possibly the easiest change with the biggest impact. Be sure to check with your landlord/property manager, as there may be certain policies about painting, but just about any place will at least let you do an accent wall! It’s such a great way to make a statement and add warmth to your rental!

    I hope this post serves as a reminder and encouragement that no matter where you call home, you can LOVE where you live with a little extra effort and creativity! You’ll never regret going the extra mile to truly feel at home.

    Thanks for reading!

    -Meghan