Spruce up your rental

How To Make A Rental Feel Just Like Home

Renting an apartment or a house has its perks, but the downside of your temporary abode can be the feeling that it’s, well, temporary. Whether you’re renting month-to-month or settling in for the next year, follow these tips (and click the images to shop the look) to cozy up that rental – without sacrificing your deposit.

Banish the Bare Walls

banish bare walls

image via Etsy

Paint is amazing stuff. It’s the easiest, cheapest way to transform a space. But if your landlord says no way, don’t fret. There are other ways of dressing up those bare walls.

wallpapered wood

image via Timorous Beasties

Wallpapered Plywood

There are some truly spectacular wallpaper patterns out there these days. Find one you love and use it to cover a big piece of plywood, or pick a few complementary patterns and wallpaper two or three varying sizes of plywood. Lean them against the wall behind a bookcase or console table for a fun, layered look. They’ll offer a pop of color and add an artsy feel to your space.

Tip: Investigate temporary wallpaper, which peels on and off when it’s time to move. Wallpapering a single wall is inexpensive and fast, with a big payoff style-wise.


image via Style Me Pretty


Vinyl decals are another way to spice up a blank wall. From inspirational quotes to bold patterns, there are a zillion styles and sizes.

Hooks, Wire, and Grids

image via Apartment Therapy

Hooks, Wire, & Grids

Hanging artwork or personal photos instantly personalizes a room, but what if you’re worried about holes in the wall? 3M offers a number of hook and Velcro strip options – no nails necessary. Stretching wire from wall to wall and clipping on photos or other mementos with clothespins is another fun way to showcase your stuff. You’ll just need to anchor the wire on either end. Sure, you’ll leave small holes, but there’s always spackle and paint!
Tip: For a nail-less solution, build a DIY grid system out of wood that leans against a wall. You can get creative with hanging art and balance a few décor items here and there as well.

Fancy up the Floors & Windows

fancy up floors

image via Urban Outfitters

Not every rental has original hardwood floors – serviceable carpet is pretty typical. And what’s up with those drab mini-blinds? But these are both easy fixes with the right textiles.

Area Rugs

image via Urban Outfitters

Area Rugs

Layering a smaller area rug over carpet and under a coffee table and sofa will help define the space. You can create visual breaks in open lofts or tight quarters by situating rugs in different parts of the room to designate lounging, sleeping and dining areas.

Tip: Rugs aren’t just for the living and bedrooms – try rugs of varying sizes in the entryway or near the kitchen sink.

Curtains & Draperies

image via Anthropologie

Curtains & Draperies

If you’re stuck with the dreaded mini-blinds, brighten things up (and hide those eyesores) with inexpensive panel drapes or café curtains. To draw the eye up, hang rods close to the ceiling and make sure the ends are long enough to brush the floor.

Let There Be Light (And Color)

light living room

Light, color and texture will make even the most cookie-cutter rental more inviting.


image via Wayfair


Add an inviting glow – and instant style –with a lamp. Go with table lamps on bedside and end tables, or consider a switch-operated pendant lamp if you aren’t worried about a few small holes in the wall (no hardwiring necessary!). In the living room, floor lamps will add height and dimension.

Tip: Mix and match shades on similar bases for a pulled-together look.

indoor plants


A shallow bowl bursting with succulents, a thriving potted lily or something floral – however you like your plants, they’re a simple, beautiful addition to any home. They’re good for the air, and even better for that cozy, lived-in vibe.

Tip: See our post on the best plants to purify indoor air.

spring pillows

image via West Elm


Decorative pillows are the definition of portable décor and add instant personality. Mix and match, change them out seasonally and play with different sizes and materials for style that’s as functional as it is appealing.

Furnish Wisely

furnished apartment

image via West Elm

Don’t wait until you’ve bought a place of your own to enjoy good furniture. Invest in a few pieces that you really love – “few” being the operative word – and be creative with arrangement to make it work. Be realistic – a huge king bed may not be the most practical option – but skip the card table in favor of an actual piece of furniture. When you move on, you’ll be happy these pieces are going with you.