11 Apartment Decorating Ideas for Renters

Evelyn Long

Jul 27, 2023

a living room using all the best apartment decorating ideas like colorful furniture and bold accessories

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With housing costs at an all-time high, more people are turning to rentals as their living solution. Unfortunately for aspiring interior designers and renovation DIYers, these property owners are generally not friendly toward significant changes. You may get lucky with a landlord who lets you paint, but that’s typically the extent — probably no knocking down walls or installing new flooring. 

Are you doomed to live in a dismal apartment that reflects your personality as well as a black hole? Absolutely not! You have plenty of renter-friendly options for decorating your apartment. Decide on your budget and use these tips to transform your space into something uniquely you.  

Start With a Frank Discussion

Before making changes to your apartment, you must have an honest conversation with your landlord. Ask them to clarify your lease and be explicit about the changes you can and can’t make in the apartment. Generally, they’ll allow any temporary adjustments if you return the place to its original state when you leave. Some may even let you paint. 

Many renters prefer to ask for forgiveness rather than permission when decorating their apartments. However, doing so could get you into a lot of legal trouble, especially if something you do is explicitly forbidden in your lease. Since you don’t own the space, getting your permanent and semi-permanent apartment decorating ideas approved first is best.  

Renter-Friendly Apartment Decorating Ideas

With your landlord’s approval, these apartment decorating ideas will help you put your stamp on your living space. You’ll feel more at home every time you come in the door, and you’ll be able to wow any guests with your interior design savvy. 

 1. Create an Entryway

When you first walk into your apartment, you want the space to feel welcoming and provide storage. Most apartments on the smaller end of abodes lack this vital area. While you won’t be able to knock down walls or install eye-catching architectural features, you can spruce things up and make your entrance more convenient. 

Install self-adhesive hooks to hold hats and bags. A small entryway table is an ideal spot for your keys and wallet. Finish with a cute mat and strategically placed artwork or a mirror.  

2. Explore Peel and Stick Tiles

Peel and stick tiles have many uses in renter-friendly DIYs. You can update the kitchen backsplash, add visual interest to your bathroom wall or change up the look of your floors. With this handy material, you can achieve a new look without harming the surface underneath. When you move out, simply remove the tiles. 

3. Use Personality-Infused Furnishings

If your landlord is entirely against any changes to the apartment, you can always infuse your personality with your furniture. Colorful or distinctly-shaped pieces add a sense of fun and flair. Neutral, traditional items give a minimalistic, modern or sophisticated look. Play around until your space feels like home. 

4. Add “Built-Ins”

Restored old apartments have stunning architectural details you can’t find anywhere else, like plaster arches, exposed brick walls and handy built-ins. In a modern space, you must add these features or live without them. Since built-in shelves are such a useful addition, you’d do well to add some to your unit. 

Create the look of built-ins by buying tall shelves and adding crown molding to the top to meet the ceiling. Stain or paint them the same color. It will blend in like it was always there, yet you can remove it easily when your lease is up. 

5. Use Area Rugs to Zone Your Space

Area rugs tie a space together, visually partitioning from other parts of a room without creating vertical clutter. This tip is especially useful in studio apartments, where you have no walls to help you establish a division between working, playing, sleeping and eating. 

6. Inject Color With Accessories

If you don’t have the budget to change your furniture to personality-driven pieces, inject color into your apartment with accessories instead. When living in a condensed space, it’s generally a good idea to stick to a color scheme throughout. Pick one or two colors that mesh well and decorate with those. Throw pillows, vases, picture frames and blankets are easy apartment decorating ideas to start with.  

 7. Hang Curtains the Renter-Friendly Way

The right curtains can utterly transform a space. They can add personality to a room and make your walls look longer and ceilings higher. However, not all landlords are ok with drilling holes in the wall. Luckily, you have plenty of options for renter-friendly curtain hanging, like tension rods and command hooks or twist-and-fit curtain rods. 

8. Embrace Your Apartment’s Style

Many renters have one type of decor they prefer. Anywhere they move, they bring that same look with them. However, many apartments have their own style. Instead of fighting against it, work with your space to create something new and unique. Embrace the pink bathroom tile or exposed ductwork. 

9. Strategically Place Mirrors

Most apartments lack good natural light, usually only having windows on one or two sides. The innermost parts can get dark and dreary. Placing mirrors strategically can bounce sunshine into the recesses of your home. Ensure you put them in places that make visual sense and not just for the scientific experiment of refracting light — this isn’t National Treasure, and you’re not Laura Croft. 

 10. Accent With Removable Wallpaper

When you can’t paint, you can change your walls’ appearance with removable wallpaper. It’s taking the interior design world by storm and is a favorite for renter-friendly DIYs. You have an endless supply of print and color options. You can find this product under various brand names at your local hardware store, big box chains and even craft sites like Etsy. 

11. Swap Out Hardware

Never underestimate the power of swapping out your kitchen and bathroom hardware. Cheap or worn handles and knobs are small enough to store in the back of a drawer until you move out and need to reinstall the originals. You can buy gorgeous replacements to reflect any desired style.

Consider Your Allowances and Budget

While having your own space is exciting, you can easily ruin it by exceeding your budget or your landlord’s allowances. Once you’ve had an honest discussion with your landlord about the terms of your lease and their expectations, you need to stay within those boundaries no matter how much you want to change something. You also need to watch your spending. The thrill of creating your space can lead to frivolous budget-breaking. These apartment decorating ideas will help you work around aspects you don’t love and save money.

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