10 Best Decorating Moves for Renters...(Not just for renters)

Living in a rental is no excuse for allowing your space to be a continuation of your college pad. For those of you who have never heard my spiel about the importance of “Making Home”, here is the abridged version - You Deserve It. Your home is absolutely THE most sacred place on earth. It’s where relationships are cultivated, memories are made, and your mind and body go to restore.

Even a six month lease is long enough to warrant tackling a few of these tips. Before we begin, don’t be afraid to ask your landlord to paint or hang items on the walls. Most will understand you’re just trying to make your place look good which is better for both of you. A great landlord will even give you the original paint so you can easily patch and repair any nail holes.  Finally, carefully package and save any rental items that you disassemble for when you move out. It’s essential to getting your deposit back.

#1 Buy Normal Sized Furniture // “Apartment” sized furniture can make a space look dinky. Not only that, they often create wasted space that could otherwise be used for seating.

#2 Replace the Hardware in your Kitchen & Bathrooms // This low-cost easy DIY project is a game changer.


#3 Change Out a Light Fixture // I know! I know…this sounds like a lot of work or perhaps even hard. The truth is, its not. Anything is better than that boob light and you know it. Pick just ONE special or prominent place - your living room…dining room…bedroom and GO FOR IT! I promise you won’t regret it. It’s not that hard and the result is dramatic. Here is a video tutorialto get you started. That’s right. Because after you do one, you’ll be onto the next.


#4 Create a Feature Wall With Temporary Solutions // This could be (and will be) a blog in and of itself because the options are endless.Removable Wallpaper, Wall Decals, Fabric - they all bring striking results without the commitment. Here are some of my favorites.

  • Wall Decals // Do me a favor. Please be particular with the decals you choose. If they fall into any of these categories, you may be falling the Ubiquitous Decal Trap: Circles. Trees. Inspirational Quotes. All are off limits in my books.  Instead, opt for something less predictable and maybe even a little weird. Like these ridiculous gold elephants. Yes please!
  • Removable Wallpaper // My recommendation is to apply it to a small feature area such as an entry way, dining room, or bedroom behind a headboard. For easiest applications, choose a wall without windows or doors. Do your homework. Read manufacturers instructions first. Order a sample. And make sure to apply them to untextured walls.
  • Fabric // There are two common ways you can use fabric to adorn your walls. The Starch Method involves using liquid starch rolled onto a clean wall, laying the fabric, then rolling another layer of starch onto the fabric and wall together. When you’re ready to remove, simply peel it away and use a little warm water to remove any residue.The other common method is the Staple Method. With this method, you will sparingly staple the fabric taught along the edges and finish with a decorative trim. The holes are small and practically invisible. When you leave you will need to pull out all the staples with a pair of pliers. 


#5 Don’t Hesitate to Layer Rugs Over Carpet // One of the most common questions clients ask me is this, “Is it okay to put rugs on top of carpet?” Hell Yes! I say. Chances are, even if it’s brand new, that cheap beige cut pile carpet in your home is a soul sucking eyesore. Do yourself a favor and get a nice rug. Rugs don’t have to cost and arm and a leg either. Try Rugs USA or Urban Outfitters for some truly affordable options.


#6 Upgrade Your Counters with Countertop Film //  More durable than contact paper, Countertop Film is designed with kitchens in mind. While you still shouldn’t cut on them, they are thicker and will hold up better overall. Appliance Art makes many options including this Carrera Marble Film shown.


#7 Dress Your Windows //  Remove and store metal blinds and vertical shades. Add curtains, roman shades, or roller shades. Afraid of making holes? Try tension rods paired with a modern fabric.


#8 Display Everyday Items //  When storage is at a premium, round up pretty or unique containers to store and display things you use everyday. In the kitchen, this might be pasta or other grains, oils and vinegars, cooking tools, etc. In the bath, cotton swabs, Q-tips, and Epsom salts.


#9 Bring Life to Your Home with Plants // Growing herbs in your kitchen is easy with a hanging herb garden. To me a home without plants is very sad. So once you’ve got the herbs going, spring for a house tree…that’s right. Not just a plant, but a house tree make such a statement, especially in a smaller home. Bonus…Many of them naturally purify the air! Like the Rubber Tree seen here for example.


#10 Hang Plugged Sconces // Sconce lights add a level of sophistication unmatched by ceiling lights. With so many plug-in options available, there is no excuse not to hang one (or two) over your bed, sofa, sink…WHERE-EVER you want!  

Feeling Inspired?! Our HappyBox service is PERFECT for renters and homeowners alike! This affordable collaborative design process can help bring you a custom interior design on a budget. 

Studio 7 Creative is a full-service interior design studio dedicated to helping you create a space that is happy, healthy + hip. Learn all the ways I can help you transform your home.