Expert Interviews Interior Design

Expert Interview: Jessica Love of Urbane Design Shares Her Secrets for Decorating a Rental on a Budget

interior designer interview
expert advice interior design
Jessica Love, Interior Designer of Urbane Design

We love interior design, and many of our readers do as well. Although some renters are afraid of going for big makeovers for their place, we believe that all homes must be shown love, and you should personalize your apartment to fit your style. Of course, there are many ways to do this without breaking the bank (or your lease), so pick and choose the tips that fit your budget.

To help you out with some practical advice, we have taken to the experts to share their top tips for easy décor. Today, we share the insight of Jessica Love from Urbane Design, an Austin-based interior design firm. Their mission is to engage with you in a collaborative process that will help define your space and create the perfect décor for your home. Thank you, Jessica, for your tips!

We asked Jessica for her top advice for decorating an Austin rental on a budget. Here’s what she told us: 

Decorating a rental property can often seem overwhelming. There is an inordinate amount of decisions to weigh, from the financial investment and the aesthetic payoff. It’s important to decide which areas you can learn to live with and which you cannot, and definitely want to change. Below, we have listed the areas on which you can focus to get the best bang for your buck in a rental property.

What’s the best place to start when wanting to upgrade or decorate a rental?

  • Firstly, No Excuses

easy decor ideas for rentals

Photo credit: Sarah Natsumi Moore

Your home — rental or not — is your sanctuary and your confidence starts at home. It doesn’t matter if your lease expires in a year or if it prohibits you from using nails on the walls. There are so many renter-friendly options, and therefore no excuses when it comes to decorating your home. Why do we think we have to wait to buy a home to purchase quality furniture, art, etc? Let’s start loving and enjoying our homes today!

  • Invest in Versatile Pieces

In my opinion, one of the great things about being a renter is that you have the option to move once your lease expires. With that in mind, it’s important to choose versatile furniture pieces, rather than items that fit perfectly in your current space. Making smart selections such as a modular sofa or a dresser that could double as a TV stand in another room is a wise decision.

  • Paint

Read any design blog or DIY advice column and you will find paint on every single one. It’s always important to get your landlord’s permission to paint your walls before you do, and in many cases a nice neutral will be perfect. Typically, it’s a win-win for both parties, as a nice new coat of paint will improve the property. Worst case scenario, you can offer to paint the walls back to the original color before you move out.

  • Peel and Stick Wallpaper

wallpaper decor rental bedroom

Photo credit: Sarah Natsumi Moore

There are a number of options nowadays when it comes to temporary wallpaper. It’s literally a big sticker and most of them can be installed over existing wall texture. Peel, stick and enjoy. When it’s time to move out, peel it back and the wall will be exactly as you found it. We love wallpaper as accent walls, in smaller areas, for instance behind a bed or sofa.

  • Lighting

Never underestimate the power of good lighting. It could be as simple as swapping out an existing fixture in a room, and that will transform it completely. If that is not an option, invest in a great table lamp and floor lamps instead. You can take these with you to your next rental, so think about getting versatile pieces.

What are some of the most effortless ways to upgrade your place?

  • Plants

It’s always a great idea to bring the outdoors in. Plants are inexpensive and go with any décor style. For a smart investment, look for easily maintained plants that improve indoor air quality as well.

  • Window Coverings

decorate on a budget

Photo credit: Rudy Lara

Let’s face it, getting a rental with nice window coverings is certainly a score. Assuming you’re not so lucky, consider an inexpensive curtain on a rod or bamboo shades to cover unsightly windows. We love curtains because you can take them with you and chances are they will fit the windows in your next rental as well!

  • Rugs

Whether your rental has unsightly carpets or cold laminate floors, a good area rug will be the perfect addition. Rugs add color and texture to a room, and the best part is, they are yours forever and ever! We recommend investing in a quality rug that truly fits your style and you could see in your forever home.

What are some essentials for décor?

  • Art

art office rental apartment

Photo credit: Jacob Bodkin

It’s never too soon to start an art collection. So many people wait to buy “the perfect home”, but then they become overwhelmed with the amount of options and the decision fatigue that typically comes with buying art. Buy pieces you love and they will never go out of style. When possible, we are always advocates of supporting your local art community.

  • Decorations

Finish off that versatile furniture with plush pillows and throws, and adorn your walls with cherished photos, wall-hangings and art. Layer in those accessories and potted plants. You’re going to feel like you truly are home in no time!

We also wanted to know what local hotspots she has to recommend for buying furniture & décor items, because it’s important to support our local businesses.

decor ideas rental apartments

Photo credit: Jacob Bodkin

Shopping on a budget? No problem! Never underestimate the power of Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. We find great deals on these platforms all of the time. Here’s a pro tip: love something at West Elm or Crate and Barrel? Try searching your favorite store find in these search engines. Most people will list the purchases they made in such a store in hopes of getting some money back on those items. Often it’s that someone forgot to measure their space and purchased a discounted item that they could not return, or simply wanted to declutter their place and it didn’t fit their style anymore. We love mixing the old with the new, it gives a warm feeling to any space. Don’t forget about your local antique stores and auction houses. Often times, you can find great deals at low prices!

And finally, we love DIYs, since they’re so friendly and inexpensive. Here’s Jessica’s top tip for how you can improve your rental on your own.

Painting will refresh a space quicker than any other item on your wish list. We also love revamping the hardware on cabinets and installing new light fixtures for a fresh look.

We hope these tips can help you get started on your journey to beautify your home and turn it into your own, personal sanctuary. Remember that it should always tell your personal story, so infuse the place with whatever it is that truly feels like you. Thank you again, Jessica, for all of your insights and amazing advice. You can check out her work on the Urbane Design website for some additional inspiration.

Photo credit for featured image: Sarah Natsumi Moore

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About the author

Mihaela Buzec

Mihaela is an online content developer for RENTCafé. She has a BA in English Language and Literature and an MA in Current Linguistics. She is a passionate reader, writer, and researcher, with a background in academic writing. You can get in touch with Mihaela at

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