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6 High-Impact Decorating Tips That Will Transform Your Rental Apartment

Your rental apartment doesn’t have to be a cookie-cutter, boring space. While you can’t make permanent changes to it, there are still plenty of ways to turn it into a cozy home where your personal style truly shines.

From window curtains to colorful rugs and wall decorations, here are 6 high-impact tips for overcoming décor challenges in a rental apartment.

1. Treat the walls

Most landlords use light, neutral colors for their walls – white, beige, or a very light gray. That’s not a bad idea per se, as these colors match with everything and make apartments look bigger and brighter. However, if you’re sick and tired of neutral shades and you just want some color, there are simple ways you can brighten your walls without having to beg your landlord for permission to paint.

One very easy, inexpensive, and artistic solution is to use fabric as wall décor. You can use any type of fabric – an oversized scarf, a small rug, or any other attractive piece of cloth featuring colors and patterns that you love.

Decide which wall you want to turn into the main focal point of the room. Drape the fabric over a portion of the wall, hanging it with command hooks. Make sure that the fabric’s colors and patterns harmonize with other decorative elements in the room. Don’t overcrowd the focus wall – an eye-catching fabric is all that’s needed. You can add a simple accent, such as a string of fairy lights, if desired.

If fabric on the walls is not your style, you can choose from a huge variety of temporary wallpaper and wall stickers. Most of these products state that they will not damage your paint, but you should always test them on a small portion of the wall before going large-scale.

2. Splurge on high-quality window coverings

Never underestimate the ability of well-chosen curtains to completely revamp and “dress up” a home! Window coverings can make a room bright and cheerful, or alternatively, tranquil and cool. Curtains and drapes provide that sense of intimacy and coziness you’re craving, so take your time and choose the right ones for each room.

Think about what you want to achieve before purchasing your new window treatments and take the local climate into account. If you’re living in Miami, Florida, in the Sunshine State, you probably need blinds or thick, lined curtains to filter the bright midday sun. However, if you live in Seattle, Washington, where sunny days are in short supply, you should consider light, flowy curtains and bright colors (i.e., yellow, orange) to bring some extra warmth into your home.

Combine blinds and curtains to enjoy both shade and sun, depending on the season and time of day. Choose a solid color for the blinds and reserve prints and patterns for the curtains, as prints on both can be overpowering. To make small windows look larger, choose floor-to-ceiling curtains that are wide enough to extend past the window frame, covering part of the wall on both sides.

3. Deal with your clutter

 Rental apartments lack in the storage space department, but that’s no reason to let clutter take over your home. You can allow a little bit of clutter here and there – a stack of books on your coffee table, or some extra blankets on the sofa – because that’s actually cozy and cute. However, a home where every available surface is crowded is anything but inviting.

Take a day, or an entire weekend, to get your clutter under control. Go through your clothes, papers, and miscellaneous items, and throw away or donate everything you no longer use or need.

If, let’s say, you’re living in a tiny apartment in the Big Apple, chances are you have too much stuff and too little space, even after you’ve purged your non-essential possessions. One solution to this problem is renting a storage unit in New York City. Choose a storage unit as close to your apartment as possible, so you can grab stored items as needed without having to worry about long back-and-forth commutes. Smart use of a storage unit can decrease the amount of expensive living space you require, while adding room for your belongings.

Alternatively, maybe you’re living an outdoorsy lifestyle in San Francisco, one of the nation’s top cities for bicycle commuters. If storing your bike or hiking gear in your apartment is a challenge, get a storage unit in San Francisco and enjoy additional space at home and ready access to your gear.

4. Get creative with rugs

Colorful rugs are the perfect antidote for boring, uninspired floors! Instead of a single big rug in the living room, consider using a variety of smaller area rugs. The same goes for hallways – several non-identical rugs aligned on the floor create a more spacious and dynamic look than a single rug that fits perfectly from wall to wall. As an added bonus, smaller rugs are also much easier to move in and out of your apartment. Who wants to drag around a huge, heavy rug that may not even fit inside the elevator? Small, playful rugs are both stylish and practical, making them ideal apartment décor.

 5. Beautify the kitchen

Unhappy with the appearance of your kitchen floor, countertops, or backsplashes? Explore the almost endless possibilities for non-permanent refurbishing provided by vinyl tiles and contact paper. These products are relatively inexpensive, easy to install, and reversible. Just don’t stick contact paper or vinyl tiles onto painted surfaces – you might damage the walls. Instead, use them on shiny, hard surfaces, such as floors and countertops.

6. Revamp the bathroom

Bathroom décor calls for a touch of decadence. Get bathroom accessories that will make you feel as if you’re spending time in a luxurious spa. A bathtub pillow for extra comfort and an over-the-bathtub caddy for a book and a glass of wine will enhance your bath-time experience.

Complete your sumptuous bathroom makeover with a large, fluffy bath mat and high-quality, soft towels. A water-resistant wireless speaker will help you relax and listen to your favorite music or podcast without worrying about your phone taking a dive.

Don’t settle for an average-looking apartment. A little bit of time, a few bucks, and some creativity are all the ingredients you need to transform your rental apartment into a stylish, comfortable home.

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About the author

Maria Gatea

Maria Gatea is a creative writer for RentCafe with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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