October 16, 2022

Decorating a Rental Property: 101 Guide to Decorating Like a Pro

Do you know how to decorate a rental apartment? Decoration can help you make the space feel like “home.” However, there are just so many options for decorating that it can become quickly overwhelming.

In our guide, we’re going to explain decorating a rental apartment on a budget and a few ideas for decorating rental homes that you may not have thought of yourself.

How To Decorate Rental Apartment

We’re going to provide you with a great guide below on decorating your space, but before we do, it’s important to do two things:

  1. Figure out your budget. You may find that you have enough money for the entire apartment or a room. However, without a budget, you’re going to end up decorating just very small portions of the rental and end up with rooms that are half done.
  2. Plan. Based on your budget, make a plan. What room do you want to decorate first? What is the goal of the room? What is the room lacking? 

Once you do these two basic things, you can begin decorating your space.

Ideas For Decorating Rental Homes

Instead of giving you general tips for decorating a rental home, let’s break the decoration process down room by room so that you can begin decorating today.

How To Decorate A Rental Bathroom

A bathroom can be an oasis or a place that feels cramped and overwhelming. Bathrooms need a special design touch, and the following ideas can help you make the space your own:

  • Shower curtain. A shower curtain is the opportunity to make a space pop and give it personality. Bold colors or a fun shower curtain can make a dull space feel more inviting.
  • Paint. If you plan to stay in the apartment or rental for a few years, you may want to consider painting the space. You'll need to verify that you can paint it with your landlord. Deep navy is one color that works well for rentals because it can hide a lot of imperfections and make a space look regal. A deep gray or even black may work well and help other colors in the space really pop.
  • Mirrors. Small, cramped bathrooms can be made larger with mirrors. The mirror can reflect light and make the space feel bigger.
  • Plants. Potted plants are another great option and will add some green color to the space. Flowers are also a nice opportunity to add color – even fake ones.
  • Storage. Make quick work of the space with storage. You can add hanging bins in the shower to hold all of your personal hygiene items, but one decorative idea for storage that is very popular is hanging baskets off of the interior of your cabinets. These baskets make use of empty space to keep your bathroom clutter-free.

A few other items for this space include making a theme, using rolling carts for toiletries and towels, and adding colorful, fun wall décor to the space.

How To Decorate Rental Kitchen

If you love to cook, decorating the kitchen can be a lot of fun. A few ideas that can help you decorate this space include:

  • Runners are the perfect addition to a kitchen and can add color to the space
  • Install a pegboard to make your pots and pans the focal point of the kitchen
  • Add lights under the cabinet to add ambiance to the space 
  • Make use of plants or even herbs if you have the natural light in the space
  • Consider stick-on tiles if your backsplash is boring and plain
  • Bright stools can add color and make the kitchen pop

Of course, you can add glass containers for coffee beans (a neat decoration) or for other colorful food items.

How To Decorate Rental Living Room

Decorating a rental living room is a must to make the space your own. Most people spend a lot of time entertaining in the living room. A few ideas to help make the space feel better are:

  • Add area rugs in areas where the space looks old and worn
  • Consider easy fixture swaps, such as changing light covers or lamp shades
  • Add lighting with lamps, smart lights and even side reading lamps
  • Fill in empty spaces to make the living room feel comfy, such as adding a small chair in the corner for reading
  • Add shelving to add pictures and fun items to the space
  • Put up pictures and artwork
  • Pile colorful, fun pillows on the couch to make the space more inviting
  • Consider couch covers if there’s a dated couch that you can’t get rid of
  • Add books to the coffee table

You can also add in plants and other items to help make the space feel more inviting and “alive.”

How To Decorate a Rental Bedroom

A bedroom is where you’ll lay your head down at night. You need to wake up and go to bed in a space that makes you feel happy and safe. There are a lot of options and ideas here, including:

  • Add removable wallpaper if you’re not allowed to paint the walls
  • Area rugs can help keep your feet warm if you’re stepping onto hardwood floors and will also add a lot of color to the space
  • Window treatments, such as mini blinds, can help you control natural light in the room and also hide any windowsill blemishes
  • Add plug-in sconces to make the room feel brighter and add some ambiance
  • Fill the bed with pillows that add color and depth to the room

Tall, potted plants next to a window can also help you bring the outdoors indoors. 

How To Decorate Walls In A Rental

Finally, if you have blank walls, this is one of the tips for decorating rental homes that you won’t want to miss. A few items here include:

  • Removable wallpaper makes the perfect accent wall
  • Vinyl tiles can be used as a backsplash
  • Add your own artwork, or others, to the wall to add a touch of “you” to the space
  • Vinyl decals are an option, with grid style options being extremely popular
  • Hang pictures of your family, animals or anyone else of importance

You can also add hanging options with command strips. Command strips are perfect for holding all types of items, from washcloths to towels, but you do need to ensure that you look at the holding weight of the one you chose.

5 Tips for Decorating Rental Home

Decorating a rented home comes with a lot of stipulations that you’ll need to consider, such as possibly not being allowed to paint the walls or add permanent features to the space. In this case, the following tips are universal and will allow you to add beauty to the space:

  1. Add houseplants for color and a touch of nature
  2. Rugs are a good option for floors
  3. Light fixtures can add ambiance
  4. Multifunctional furniture is in and a good option for small spaces
  5. Use stylish storage, such as large wicker baskets

Your budget will play a major role in how you decorate your space.

Decorating Rental Apartment On A Budget

Even when decorating a rental, costs can easily get out of hand. What if you’re on a tighter budget? The good news is that you can still update your rental without breaking the bank. 

Here are some tips:

Paint (If You Can)


If your landlord allows it, a fresh coat of paint can instantly transform your space. Your landlord may be more open to the idea if you choose white, beige or another neutral color.

If you can’t paint the walls and the color is starting to look a little dingy, a good cleaning may help brighten it up and improve the look of the entire room.

Hang Art the Renter-Friendly Way


Art is a budget-friendly and simple way to decorate an apartment. If you can’t put holes in the wall, you can still hang art and other décor using Command strips or something similar. These products use strong adhesives to hang items on the wall rather than nails.

Just make sure that you use Command strips that can handle the weight of your art or décor. 

As for the art itself, you can find lots of great options at:

  • Vintage shops
  • Dollar stores
  • Online 

Many bloggers and artists share printable art that you can print and hang yourself. All you need is a pretty frame. The Metropolitan Museum of Art also has an Open Access program with images that are in the public domain. You can download them for free, print them and hang them on your wall. 

Layer Rugs


If your rental has ugly carpeting, you can hide them by layering area rugs. You can find rugs in all sizes, shapes and colors. If you want to keep it simple, choose neutral-colored rugs. But feel free to be bold and choose rugs with fun patterns and colors.

Also see: Bedroom Rug Placement - Everything You Need to Know

The great thing about this tip is that you can take these rugs with you when you move out.

Try Wall Decals


If you can’t paint your walls, consider using wall decals instead. Decals can transform your walls but in a temporary way. You can find decals that cover an entire wall, or you can find accents to add interest and color.

Just peel and stick to update your wall. Decals can be removed without damaging the walls. Your landlord will be none the wiser. 

How To Decorate Small Rental Apartment On A Budget

Decorating a rental can be challenging enough as-is, but sprucing up a smaller rental can be even more challenging. With a little creativity and the right strategies, your rental will look like it was decorated by a pro.

Here are some ideas for decorating rental homes that are on the smaller side.

Get Creative with Furniture Placement

When you’re short on space, you need to get creative with your furniture placement. For example, if you don’t have space for a coffee table, why not place a skinny sofa table behind your couch? The table will give you space for a small lamp or two and can even serve as a place to hold your drinks.

When arranging your furniture, make sure your seats are facing each other to create a welcoming space and encourage conversation when you have guests over. Also, make sure there’s enough space for people to walk around comfortably. Don’t be afraid to donate some furniture items if you can’t fit them into your living room properly.

Use Multi-Functional Furniture

When you’re working with a small space, you have to get creative with your furniture and storage. Look for furniture that’s multi-functional or pieces that have built-in storage.

For example, some ottomans can double as a coffee table and even have hidden storage to keep items out of sight. You can also find fold-up desks and tables that allow you to maximize the space in your rooms.

Stick to Light Colors

When decorating your small rental home, try to stick to light colors. Whites, light beiges and other light colors will make your space look bigger and brighter. Choose light-colored furniture and a few colorful accent pieces to add some character to the space.

Make Use of Vertical Space

You may not have a lot of square footage, but you have plenty of vertical space. Make use of your walls for storage to help keep your home organized. 


Decorating a rental property doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. Use the tips and tricks in this guide to make your apartment or rental home look like it was decorated by a pro.

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An interior design professional with a Master's degree in Architecture and 14 years of practical experience.
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