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Rental Decorating

The Ultimate Guide Rental Home or Apartment Decorating Ideas

Since the inception of this blog, it’s always been my goal to provide rental-friendly decorating ideas. As a military family, we move about every three years and since we’ve been doing that for about 16 years now, I have a lot of experience in decorating everything from a home we’ve owned, apartments, rental homes, and military housing. I’ve learned so many decorating tricks along the way so I thought it was time for an ultimate guide to rental home or apartment decorating ideas.

The ultimate guide to rental decorating - tips for decorating a rental home or apartment.

Don’t be Afraid to Live in the Space | I think we get caught up in the idea of rentals being temporary therefore they aren’t our space. Home is wherever you are. It’s where you lay your head at night, where you snuggle your loved ones, where you cook your meals. Even if it’s temporary, you can make your rental feel like yours. In the past, I was hesitant to make too many changes to rentals because it seemed like so much effort for something that I was going to have to remove anyway. I finally realized that making those temporary changes really made the space feel like mine and that was so worth my energy and budget.

Make Cosmetic Changes if you Can | There are so many small cosmetic changes that you can make to a rental or rental apartment that will completely transform it. Things such as light fixtures, removing vertical blinds, adding removable wallpaper, and even painting are all options in rental spaces. These are especially significant changes if your rental is exceptionally bland or outdated (like most military housing tends to be). Each of these with the exception of painting and items that you can potentially take with you to the next home as well. I highly recommend budgeting for cosmetic changes in a rental because the transformation is worth it’s weight in gold.

Utilize the Space the Way it Best Suits you | It’s true that almost always in a rental something is lacking. You’ll never find your absolute perfect home in a rental. It might be cosmetic things, it might be space issues or even storage problems. I’ve learned over the years that it’s important to make use of the space you have in the best way you can that works for your family. Sometimes that has meant creating a pantry out of a hall closet when there wasn’t one. I’ve taken sliding closet doors off and even changed out my kitchen faucet.

Decorate Like you Own it | As I said at the beginning of this post, I think sometimes we get caught up in the fact that since it’s a rental home, it’s temporary. We forget the home part. It’s always been important to me to make a beautiful home whether it’s the ones we’ve owned or the ones we’ve rented. You don’t have to go crazy and buy specific things for a rental that couldn’t be used in any other house, but it makes sense to decorate a rental just as you would a home you owned. Put some art on the walls and paint if that’s available to you. It’s nice to add some pillows and throw blankets to the sofa to make it cozy. None of this has to cost a lot of money either. There are so many affordable decor options available now. You should be able to easily decorate your home at any price point.

Make Affordable Updates You Can Take With You | Don’t be afraid to change light fixtures, showerheads, and kitchen hardware. All of these are things that you can easily bring along to the next home you’ll live in but they’ll make living in your current home so much more desirable.

Here are of the best rental home or apartment decorating ideas that will transform even the drabbiest temporary spaces.

how to hang a gallery wall

Add a Grid Style Gallery Wall. I first installed this grid gallery wall in our Florida house but it now lives in our stairwell. This is one of the easier rental home or apartment decorating ideas because the installation doesn’t take much time at all and it’s just as simple to remove when the time comes.

Add Temporary Wallpaper
It’s safe to say that I’m obsessed with temporary wallpaper. I love it so much more than painting a rental or an apartment because it’s less overall work. While the installation may take just as long as painting, the removal is so simple, you just peel it off. We’ve installed three (actually four if you count the backsplash but we’ll get to that next) different temporary wallpaper types:

Standard wallpaper made removable
Peel and stick wallpaper
Wall decals in the girls’ room

Here are seven more ideas for things renters can put on their walls to make their rental feel more like home.

Add a (Faux) Backsplash
Adding the peel and stick backsplash to my kitchen was an absolute game-changer. It really elevated an overall blah space. This is a great small effort big impact change that you can make in a rental home or apartment. The kitchen is probably my least favorite room in the house because it’s so small and outdated. Putting in the peel and stick backsplash changed the overall look of the kitchen. It’s still no gourmet kitchen but it makes me a little happier.

Use Rugs Everywhere
This is my favorite of all rental home or apartment decorating ideas. Rugs are important from a decorating sense and for general comfort. Depending on your rental, the likelihood of having less than desirable flooring is pretty high. Rugs help hide any ugly flooring but they also allow for something soft underfoot. I add rugs even to carpeted spaces because I love the way a floor rug brings a space together.

It’s Okay to Play Musical Chairs With Your Furniture
Almost every time we move some piece of furniture ends up in a space that wasn’t necessarily the idea when we purchased it. I’m a firm believer in buying versatile furniture that can work in many different spaces. Our window seat bench that we built isn’t under a window in this house but it still looks like a built-in. The chest of drawers that used to be in the girls’ room in our old house is now an entryway table.

Hang Window Treatments
I am personally offended by vertical blinds and I know I’m not alone. Somehow military housing (and many apartments) hasn’t gotten the message that we all detest them. I like to easily hide them by sliding them all the way open, then hanging curtains. Another option is to remove blinds altogether and then put up your own. They may not work from home to home but you can easily sell them on Facebook Marketplace when you move.

How to Decorate a Rental Home - The ultimate guide for decorating a rental.

Reader Tips
I asked you all on Instagram what your best rental-friendly decorating tips were and you didn’t disappoint.
Here they are:
– Add color
– If you’re a military family, buy items that bring you joy but won’t break your hearts if it breaks in a move.
– Pretty rugs over existing flooring
– Velcro curtain valances
– Invest in versatile pieces that can work in any space
– Command strips
– Use removable tile floor stickers to transform rental bathrooms
– Use faux plants (it’s hard to move with real ones and it’s hard to part with plant babies).
– Check out inexpensive bamboo blinds to change out window treatments
– Hang pretty artwork


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2 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide Rental Home or Apartment Decorating Ideas

  1. This article is great and full of useful ideas! I have a couple more suggestions – I have a gorgeous curtain rail that I have moved house with me 3 times already. I store the landlord’s curtain rails in the loft or garage and put up my own. It really helps to make each house feel like home straight away. The house I currently live in had a really outdated kitchen and it made me sad to look at it, so I bought pretty ceramic cupboard door knobs. My next house doesn’t have the right knobs to swap, but like you said – I can sell them if I want to, or save them, and while I was here they made me feel so much better about my kitchen! I think I’m going to try your diy removable wallpaper idea on the stair risers at my new house. Great tips! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. I just came back to say I tried your diy removable wallpaper idea and it worked beautifully! Such a huge difference to the space and I know I can remove it and I won’t have to repaint or anything drastic when we leave! I have to say, I wasn’t as neat with the grid work as you, but it still turned out smooth and you can’t tell it isn’t pasted on. Also, I remembered another favourite of mine – shower curtains! You can add your own instant style to the bathroom in a relatively inexpensive way and always take it to the next place 🙂