35 Cool Rental Apartment Decorating Ideas On A Budget

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Being a born decorator in a rented apartment is frustrating at best. Depending on your lease and landlord’s restrictions, you may not be able to install shelving, change flooring or have fun with new tiles. In addition to your rental restrictions, you may simply not want to invest time and money into a property that isn’t yours. For projects and decorating ideas you can take on in a rental apartment, keep reading.

If You Can, Paint

If you plan to remain in a rental apartment long-term, you’re going to want to paint the walls for your own personal stamp. Nothing says “rental” louder than blindingly white walls. While many leases and landlords don’t allow painting, or only allow neutral colors, there is wiggle room.

Some landlords allow painting if you provide the assurance that you’ll paint the property back to its original condition. However, they may require an extra deposit in case you don’t come through on your promise. If your landlord or property manager is stuck on neutral colors, opt for a cream, buttermilk or even sage green white that’s still a blank palette without being “rental white.”

The Power of Rugs

While you can’t tear up the flooring and install new hardwood or carpeting, you can express yourself with removable rugs. A beautiful area rug is a great way to define a space and add some design touches.

For a full-size area rug, look for one that leaves about a foot of space around the border of the room. This will make the room look larger. Alternatively, use area rugs as a way of defining space. Particularly if you’re living in a loft-style apartment, rugs can separate living areas and make them more cohesive.

It’s All About Lighting

While your landlord might not want you fiddling with your light fixtures, you can always put the original light fixtures in storage or in a closet. In the meantime, replace those tired dome fixtures that scream “rental,” and install some light fixtures that speak to your design.

Furniture, Furniture, Furniture

Though you may be limited in your ability to express yourselves on your walls or countertops, you can certainly do so with your furniture. Bright and bold pieces stand out beautifully against the blank canvass of a white wall, while interesting pieces take the focus of the room away from your 1970’s parquet flooring and right where you want it.

Decorating a rental apartment isn’t always easy, but it is doable. Commit your money in places where you can actually use your design power for the biggest impact.


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