Renting doesn’t doom you to a life of drab walls and dreary finishes. Use these clever tricks to make your rental a real home sweet home.
Invest in Your Furniture
Shop intentionally for items that will transition into any future home, especially one you might purchase. Whether your style is sleek and industrial, modern farmhouse, or mid-century, seek out furniture that reflects your style — and will serve you well through the years.
Use Fabrics to Add Personality
The wall colors in rental properties are typically neutral, which means you can easily dress up any room with colorful fabrics. An eye-catching headboard and pretty linens quickly transform a drab bedroom. Create a vibrant scene in the living room by pairing a simple sofa with bold throw pillows and playful drapes.
Select Stylish Storage
A single bookshelf offers three things: extra storage, a place to display trendy accessories, and a handsome way to cover blank wall space. A tall bookshelf has a homey feel, and in an open floorplan it can signal the transition between a dining and living area. If you need extra counter space, opt for a shorter bookcase that could double as a buffet or cocktail station.
Personalize with Paint
Some owners paint before new tenants move in, and they may let you pick from a few color options. Others may allow tenants to paint the walls, but before you paint anything, ask permission. If picking out your own wall color isn’t an option, you can still update the look of your walls with temporary peel-and-stick vinyl wall decals or temporary wallpaper. (Check to make sure it won’t damage walls before using.) Or bring your favorite hue into your rental by repainting a dresser or end table.
Revive with Rugs
Give your home a refreshed look by covering damaged or outdated flooring with rugs. A large sisal rug layered beneath a lush shag rug anchors a living room. Kitchens and bedrooms are great places to experiment with colorful or patterned runners.
Play with Accessories
Change the look in any room without spending a cent by restyling a shelf or tabletop with items you already own. Walk through each room and grab picture frames, candles, collectibles, vessels, and figurines. Set them all on a table and reevaluate what items could be grouped together in a different spot for a new look.
Nothing reflects your style more than art. If you’re comfortable filling a few small nail holes before you move out, then hang that frame (search for the wall stud, first; otherwise use drywall anchors). If there is a strict no-nails-in-the-wall policy, opt for removable adhesive hooks that won’t damage walls.
Get in Touch with Nature
Nurture your inner-gardener with an herb garden in small containers set in the kitchen window. If you don’t have a green thumb, opt for succulents that are easy to care for and have interesting shapes. Occasionally grab an inexpensive bouquet at the grocery store or farmer’s market for a simple centerpiece that elevates the look of an entire room.
Light It Up
Many rental properties have only a single overhead light in each room. Adding your own light fixtures, such as a variety of portable lamps, gives you options to create different light levels and varying ambience.
Swap Out Hardware and More
DIY-savvy renters can update the look of their space by replacing cabinet hardware, interior doorknobs, and switch plates. Just be sure to save the originals so you can put them back before you move out. If you have permission from the owner, you could also install new faucets for an upgraded look in the kitchen and bath.