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25 Apartment Decorating Ideas and Design Tips for Renters

25 Apartment Decorating Ideas and Design Tips for Renters

When it comes to decorating a rental apartment or home, the struggle is real! Over 50% of renters are dissatisfied with not being able to customize or improve their homes.

It’s easy to feel discouraged by your landlord’s rules or your lease’s limitations. Most apartments weren’t created with storage or space saving in mind, either.

But don’t let these restrictions stop you from making your apartment feel like home. Simple, practical and damage-free rental decorating ideas are within reach!

Whether you’re a first-time renter or a long-term tenant, you’ll appreciate these 25 apartment decorating ideas to jazz up every corner of your space.

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Dos and Don’ts for Decorating a Rental

First, let’s review what you should and shouldn’t do before you start decorating your apartment or rental home

DO:

  • Review the rules and terms of your lease: Decorating rules can differ depending on your landlord or management company. Be sure to read the fine print, especially when it comes to walls, paint or switching out fixtures, for instance. Ask questions if you’re not sure.
  • Use damage-free solutions whenever possible: Most renters spend at least $600 on their security deposit. Don’t expect to get your deposit back if you leave behind any wall damage. Look for rental decorating ideas that don’t require nails, screws or drilling.
  • Shop around and be thrifty: For most renters, apartment dwelling is a temporary situation. If you know you’ll eventually move or purchase a home, don’t splurge on costly furniture or decor that you might not be able to keep in the future. Plus, it’s smart and sustainable to buy secondhand or refresh older pieces!
  • Keep storage top of mind: On average, one-bedroom apartments are 714 square feet, and studios are only 472 square feet. If you’re working with a small space, consider storage and space limitations whenever you think about buying something new for your apartment or rental home. Is this the best use of your small space?
  • Utilize natural light: To make a small apartment, condo or home feel bigger, brighter and warmer, take advantage of natural light as much as possible. It’s a great way to save on utility costs as well.

DON’T:

  • Repaint or change the flooring: Most landlords won’t allow tenants to make these major changes. Play it safe and avoid making floor updates to your rental. 
  • Install “permanent” fixtures: Changing light fixtures or appliances on your own isn’t wise if you’re renting. You’ll find it cumbersome to deal with when your lease is up, and your landlord or property management might ding you.
  • Overcrowd or overdo it with decor: Keep your rental unit clutter-free, so you can maximize the space you have. Choose practical pieces that serve multiple uses and aren’t bulky. Invest in smart storage solutions if you’re prone to clutter.
  • Buy everything at once: Curating a beautiful, functional apartment that abides by decorating rules requires creativity and patience. Don’t rush the process — take your time searching for pieces that work well with your space.
  • Overspend: Be realistic about your budget. Try to shop for pieces that you’ll want to keep for years to come. Invest in quality items that you use frequently, and trim your budget for items that won’t get as much use or are just for decoration.

Apartment Living Room Decorating Ideas

A living room serves many functions, especially in a rental apartment or home. It’s a space for gathering, entertaining, relaxing, studying or dining – so you need to make it count!

Here are our top five apartment living room decorating ideas and tips to optimize your space and bring in natural light.

1. Window Treatments

Windows are focal points, so start with curtains and drapes. Hang soft sheer curtains to bring in more natural light, or color coordinate draperies with your furniture. To hang your curtains without drilling, use Kwik-Hang’s renter-friendly, damage-free brackets and holdbacks.

Read more: How to Hang Curtains in a Rental Apartment

2. Faux or Indoor Plants

Plants are a wonderful statement piece for the living room. Prop one next to your media console, or fill up a corner with lush greenery. Use plant stands to elevate your houseplants and add dimension to your living room.

3. Throw Rugs

Have your floors seen better days? Replacing the flooring in a rental isn’t an option, so you might want to opt for a large throw rug to cover old carpets or hardwoods. Besides rug size, color and pattern, you’ll also want to consider foot traffic, usage and material. Wool-blend rugs, for example, are easier to clean than shag rugs.

4. Storage Ottomans 

Enjoy the benefits of storage, lounging or seating, all in one. Use a storage ottoman in the living room to stash away extra blankets or board games. You can also add a tray on top and utilize the ottoman as a side table or coffee table.

Hanging large paintings or canvases requires nails and isn’t practical for a rental unit. Instead, try arranging a variety of smaller photo frames into a gallery wall. You can use 3M Command Picture Hanging adhesives for easy application and removal — no hammer needed.

Read more: How to Decorate Apartment Walls Without Nails

Apartment Kitchen Decorating Ideas

Apartment kitchens are notoriously small, so you’ll want to make use of every inch of your kitchen’s available space.

Check out our top five hacks to update the kitchen in your apartment or rental home — without compromising any valuable space.

1. Small, Colorful Appliance 

A pop of color will do wonders on drab kitchen countertops and stoves. If you’re big on baking, a colorful stand mixer will look stunning on the tabletop. For a more budget-friendly decorating option, prop a vibrant tea kettle on your stove or switch out your toaster for something more colorful.

2. Peel-and-Stick Backsplash

Transform your kitchen without the hassle! Peel-and-stick backsplash tiles don’t require drying time, are easy to clean and can withstand those grease splatters. Note that some paint may peel off when you remove the tiles, so check with your landlord first and don’t hastily apply backsplash tiles on newer paint.

3. Cabinet Knobs and Pull 

Give your kitchen a quick makeover with this renter-friendly hack. Cabinet knobs, handles and drawer pulls are easily removable and can be re-installed once you’re ready to move out. Upgrade to more modern hardware, or source your local thrift or vintage shop for rustic and unique pieces.

4. Bar Stools

Most apartments offer minimal space for a full dining area. If your setup allows, use bar stools to create an eat-in kitchen instead of purchasing a dining room set that takes up valuable square footage.

5. Cutting Board Display

Decorate the kitchen using items you already own. Put your best cutting boards, charcuterie boards and coasters on display, or showcase glass jars with the essentials, like flour and sugar (or cookies).

Apartment Bedroom Decorating Ideas

Breathe life into your bedroom with these practical, stylish and landlord-friendly decorating hacks!

1. Utility Cart Nightstand

This sleek solution is perfect for keeping all your essentials at hand. We love the look of a utility cart as a nightstand. Plus, it’s functional and space-saving.

Pro-tip: You can also use a rolling utility cart in the kitchen, living room or workspace wherever you need additional storage.

2. Curtains and Drapes

Bedroom curtains are ideal for accentuating your windows, reeling in natural light or adding privacy. Opt for colors that match your furniture, or go lighter or darker depending on your light and privacy needs.

After choosing your bedroom curtains, use Kwik-Hang’s renter-friendly curtain hardware to complete the setup with no wall or window damage. Shop Kwik-Hang curtain rod brackets and curtain holdbacks now.

3. Storage Bench

If you have space, invest in a storage bench to place at the foot of your bed. Use this practical piece to store extra sheets, blankets or towels conveniently, so you don’t have to waste precious closet space on linens.

A bedroom bench is also perfect for bonus seating, and it can be useful when you’re getting dressed in the morning.

4. Ladder Rack

Ditch the hook rack and opt for this no-drill rental decorating idea instead. If you’re fond of rustic decor, you’ll love displaying a ladder rack in your bedroom. A leaning ladder serves as a useful storage space for blankets, hats, scarves, bags or your outfit of the day.

5. Wood Crates

Looking for unique ways to display shoes, hats, books or bags? Try this Pinterest-worthy look! Arrange various sized wood crates to create an attractive storage solution that’s also affordable.

Apartment Bathroom Decorating Ideas

Want to maximize space in your small apartment or rental home bathroom? These bathroom decorating and storage ideas might be just what you’re looking for.

1. Textiles and Accessories

The easiest way to refresh your bathroom is to swap your textiles and bath accessories. Switch out your shower curtain, bath rug and linens, or update items like soap dispensers, toothbrush holders and canisters.

2. Decorative Trays

Adding a tray to the top of the toilet serves a dual purpose. Decorate with small plants, candles or reed diffusers, or leave an extra roll of toilet paper handy.

3. Tiered Storage

If you want to optimize your bathroom’s space, tiered storage is the way to go. These shelving and storage solutions are a must if you’re sharing a bathroom or have a pedestal sink with no counter space. Keep toiletries, towels and skincare essentials in reach without sacrificing space.

4. Washi Tape

Get creative and update your bathroom using this decorative masking tape. Washi tape is inexpensive and easy to apply and remove. Redesign the bathroom walls from floor to ceiling, add color to the bathtub or shower, or frame your mirror.

5. Humidity-Friendly Plants

Plants like ferns, gardenias and spider plants thrive in the humidity of a bathroom. Turn your bathroom into a little green oasis so you can relax while you’re taking a bath or getting ready for the day.

Apartment Patio Decorating Ideas

Create an outdoor retreat you’ll love! Check out five ways to elevate the patio or balcony in your apartment or rental home.

1. Wood Deck Tiles

Most apartment balconies are small and dull. These easy-install deck tiles are a fantastic solution for covering the concrete and adding personality to your patio or balcony! Read more: How to Hang Patio Door Curtains

2. Outdoor Curtains 

If you enjoy outdoor privacy or want to keep chilly drafts at bay, hang outdoor curtains on your patio or deck. Use inexpensive, easy-to-clean fabrics like cotton or polyester, as outdoor curtains can soil easily. Hang your outdoor curtains with Kwik-Hang’s no-drill brackets and holdbacks for damage-free installation and removal.

3. Colorful Touches

Want to catch the attention of neighbors across the building? A ladder plant shelf, colorful patio chairs or patterned pillows are sure to spice up your outdoor space. Alternatively, if you prefer a simpler, budget-friendly solution, add a vase of fresh flowers to your patio table.

4. Decorative Lighting

Love dining al fresco? You’ll want to equip your apartment or rental home patio with proper lighting for the perfect ambiance. Suspend string lights from the awning, or weave them around your balcony’s rails. You can also add lanterns or decorative candle holders that are perfect for illuminating evening meals.

5. Tabletop Fire Pit

We’re big fans of these affordable, small space-friendly fire pits. You may not have room for a full-size campfire, but you can still recreate the same experience in your little outdoor area! Grab a blanket, pour a glass of wine and enjoy the warmth on a cool night.

Surefire Solutions to Decorate a Rental

You don’t have to break the bank or spend hours researching ideas to decorate your apartment or rental home.

Kwik-Hang’s damage-free curtain rod brackets are the perfect solution for renters! Just align the brackets to your window frame, tap them in with a hammer and hang curtains or drapes instantly — no other tools needed.

You can also add Kwik-Hang’s no-drill curtain holdbacks to complete your window treatments and create the space of your dreams. Our holdbacks feature the same patented damage-free technology as our bestselling brackets.

Kwik-Hang curtain hardware is as easy to install (and remove) as a thumbtack! The brackets are safe, sturdy and hold up to 20 pounds.