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50 Ideas to Upgrade & Decorate Your Apartment or Rental Home on a Budget


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Because a rental is not your own, it can be challenging to make it feel as though it is – to customize your space to suit your tastes and give it those personal touches that make it feel like home. Many leases contain provisions against making any permanent changes or significant alterations, and some include restrictions against even minor “damages,” such as drilling holes in the walls to hang curtains.

Also, because you may be planning to vacate your rental eventually, it can feel hard to justify spending very much on décor. When a space doesn’t feel permanent, spending any money on fixing it up might seem like throwing money down the drain.

However, there’s something to be said for the feeling of coming home to a space that feels like your own, one that gives you that sense of “home” when you walk in the door, whether you plan on being there for one year or 10. The 2017 IKEA Life at Home survey, for example, found that one of the most significant contributing factors to our ability to relax and feel present in our homes is designing them to reflect our personalities through color, lighting, furniture, and other materials.

Fortunately for renters everywhere, there are a surprising number of things you can do to a rental space to make it feel more your own that are also budget-friendly and won’t break your lease.

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Tips to Keep in Mind

When thinking about how to upgrade and personalize your rental space, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Always Check With Your Landlord First. If you’re unsure if a change – such as painting the walls or hanging curtains – is allowed, always check first. Different landlords have different ideas about what renters should be able to do.
  2. Keep Everything You Remove. Whenever you remove something – such as cabinet hardware, toilet seats, or sink faucets – make sure to safely stow away what you’ve removed so you can put it back when you move out.
  3. Focus Your Budget on Reusable Items. Whenever you decide to spend more than a nominal amount of money, make sure it’s on something you can take with you into a new home, such as quality furniture. Don’t spend too much of your budget on temporary fixes that aren’t reusable.
  4. Save Skilled and Dangerous Tasks for the Professionals. It can be tempting to do all the labor yourself to save on costs, as you definitely can’t take that expense with you. However, there are some things landlords may allow you to do but prefer you don’t DIY, such as replacing faucets or installing a ceiling fan. If you’re unsure, go back to Tip #1: Always check with your landlord first.

So, have some fun and – as long as your lease permits it – try out a few of these tips to make your rental feel more like you own it.

Show Your Walls Some Love

Wallpaper Childrens Bedroom Moose Forest Animals Tree

When we think about customizing our spaces, walls are often the first thing to come to mind. Rental walls typically come with plain, neutral paint colors like off-white or beige. Painting can be an inexpensive way to customize a room that’s also very doable for the average DIYer.

Unfortunately, painting can be problematic for renters. Many landlords don’t allow it, and those who do will require you to repaint the walls back to their original color on move-out. Luckily, there are still a number of ways to add personal touches to a rental wall.

1. Use Paintable Wallpaper

If your landlord doesn’t allow you to paint your walls, don’t despair. There’s another solution: removable wallpaper you can paint. According to Apartment Therapy’s review, this peel-and-stick paper is perfectly paintable and removes entirely without leaving any paint seepage. It’s not a budget item, though, so it may be best reserved for use on an accent wall.

2. Hang Temporary Wallpaper

If you’re a renter and love the look of wallpaper, you can get the same look with removable temporary wallpaper. There are plenty of great temporary wallpapers, and many are reasonably priced and easy to install. Plus, you can utilize it all over your space, not just on walls. Try using it in kitchen drawers or to perk up the inside of bookcases and dining room hutches.

Prices can vary widely, so try searching sites such as Amazon or West Elm for some affordable options. For more options – some of which are even customizable – try Walls Need Love, Tempaper, or Spoonflower. The removable fabric wallpaper from Walternatives is touted as being repositionable and reusable for over 10 uses.

3. Create an Accent Wall

If you want to create a dramatic impact with minimal commitment, effort, and expense, try doing an accent wall. You can:

4. Use Tile Tattoos in the Kitchen & Bathroom

If you have boring or ugly tiles in your kitchen or bathroom, you can give them a makeover with tile tattoos, which are removable decals specifically designed to be applied on tiles. They come in both solids and decorative patterns and in various sizes. To see what’s out there, try StickPretty and Etsy.

5. Install a Removable Tile Backsplash

For a renter-friendly kitchen upgrade with dramatic impact, add a peel-and-stick tile backsplash. These tiles go on easy and look great.

One caveat: Many companies use powerful adhesive with the intent of making their stickers “permanent,” so removing them isn’t as easy as simply peeling them up. Some may take some paint and even drywall with them. If you’re OK with repainting and doing a little bit of spackling, the look of a tiled backsplash may be worth it to you; just read some reviews of the different tiles you’re considering to see how well they worked for other renters. You can find affordable options on Amazon.

A more easily removable option that still creates an impressive-looking backsplash is to use some marble contact paper. It will give your backsplash the look of marble while remaining easily removable on move-out.

6. Decorate With Washi Tape

Washi tape is a Japanese tape made mostly of natural fibers that has become a staple of crafters. It comes in all kinds of colors and ornate patterns and, as a low-tack tape similar to masking tape, it comes off of walls easily. Home decorators have made use of this versatile tape for everything from hanging wall art sans frame to creating their own “wallpaper” by making decorative patterns on walls. You can get washi tape in bulk on Amazon.

7. Hang Some Art

Don’t want to mess with paint or wallpaper? You can easily make walls your own simply by hanging some art. Create a gallery wall by grouping several frames and filling them with personal photos or inexpensive DIY art.

To make your own art, purchase some blank canvases at a craft store like Michaels, pour some wine, and have fun filling your canvases with color. You can also purchase some cardstock and print designs off your computer; Canva is a great free tool for creating your own graphic designs. Or, try one of these DIY art projects from Architectural Digest.

When it comes time to hang your art, try “framing” it directly on the wall with some washi tape or purchase inexpensive picture frames at IKEA or Michaels, which often has sales on frames.

If you’re worried about putting too many holes in your walls, hang your art with Command picture-hanging strips. They come in various sizes for holding different weights and also peel off the wall easily. My husband and I hung all our art, minus a few massive framed pieces, with Command strips, and we love them so much we’ve used them in homes we’ve owned as well as in rentals.

Disguise an Ugly Floor

Vinyl Plank Flooring Swatches Options Colors

Whether you’re renting an apartment in a complex or a house in a neighborhood, the floors are often one of the biggest eyesores. From highly worn, well-trafficked carpet to dated, mottled linoleum, landlords – especially in large complexes – tend to rely on cheap materials often referred to as “builder-grade.” They also aren’t quick to replace anything ugly and outdated as long as it’s still functional. So one of the top ways to make your rental space more pleasant and inviting is to focus on the floors. Here a few ways you can disguise an ugly floor.

8. Install Vinyl Plank Flooring

Believe it or not, it’s possible to fake a hardwood floor with vinyl planks that float right over existing flooring, making them 100% removable. They stick to themselves, instead of the floor, so when it’s time to move, you can just lift them right up. They’re also not too expensive for a small area like a bathroom. This bathroom floor redo from Apartment Therapy, for example, cost under $50. Check out vinyl planks from Home Depot.

9. Use Removable Vinyl Decals

You can completely cover an ugly floor with removable, stick-on vinyl decals, hiding your avocado green linoleum and giving your floor the look of painted tile. Just lay them right over your existing floor, and when you’re ready to move, peel them back up. Prices can vary dramatically, so try Amazon or Etsy for some affordable options.

10. Lay Down a Rug

The simplest solution to dealing with ugly floors may be just to throw down some rugs. They’re extremely easy to “remove,” and you can take them with you when you leave. Plus, unlike most other options for covering ugly floors, area rugs can be thrown over worn or ugly wall-to-wall carpeting. For affordable options, try searching Wayfair,, or eSaleRugs.

If you find something you like and you want to use it on a kitchen or bathroom floor, but your rug of choice doesn’t have a rubber backing, no worries. You can use carpet tape for this purpose, but for an easy and inexpensive DIY, use acrylic-latex caulk to pipe on some non-slip “treads.”

11. Cover an Ugly Shower Floor With Spa-Like Teak

If your rental’s standalone shower has old or damaged tiles, you can completely cover your shower floor with a DIY teak shower “mat”; Rust-Oleum has a tutorial you can follow.

Treat Your Windows

Curtains Living Room Interior Design Decorating

Windows are a significant part of any home, letting in valuable light and also taking up significant wall space. Because windows are such a prominent feature, well-dressed ones can make a home feel cozy or even luxurious. Unfortunately, the windows in many rentals may be featureless, come with ugly and drab window blinds that have to stay put, or even have restrictions against drilling holes to hang curtains. If any of this applies to your situation, here a couple of workarounds.

12. Hang Curtains

It may seem like a no-brainer, but if your rental came complete with ugly plastic blinds on every window – as ours did – hanging curtains can make all the difference. Although our lease requires us to keep the blinds up, we hung both sheers and curtains in front of them, and it instantly transformed all our rooms. Not only are the blinds totally hidden behind the sheers, but curtains have a way of instantly transforming a room to make it feel cozy, inviting, and “homey.” For tips on how to choose and hang the perfect curtains, check out Real Simple’s guide.

If your lease prevents you from drilling holes to hang curtains, use heavy-duty Command hooks to hold your rods. It will achieve the same purpose as hanging curtain hardware without the damage to the walls.

13. Make Faux Roman Shades

For a different – and budget-friendly – take on covering those ugly blinds that’s especially useful in the kitchen or a breakfast nook, try faking some Roman shades.

Measure the height and width of your windows and pick out a few yards of your favorite budget fabric. Next, hem your fabric to fit your window width using some iron-on hem tape or no-sew fabric glue. Leave a pocket at the top of your fabric to thread a rod through. Hang your curtain by putting a tension rod through the top pocket and suspending the curtain in the window. Finally, suspend two more tension rods, and drape the fabric over them to create the folds of a Roman shade. Secure in place with safety pins.

For a full tutorial, check out this video by Nifty from BuzzFeed.

Adjust the Light

Bathroom Lighting Mirror Sink Tub Minimal Interior Design

Lighting is one of those things that can have a dramatic impact on the home. Whether you need to bring in more light, dim some of the glaring light you already have, or otherwise upgrade what’s there, adjusting the lighting can make a definite difference in your home.

14. Swap Out Your Overhead Light Covers

Dated and cheap-looking overhead lighting fixtures are common in rental spaces. You know the kind; some people refer to them as “boob” lights. It’s easy enough, though, to replace the “boob” cover itself with something customized to your taste. From affixing a drum shade to fashioning a capiz shell “chandelier” to DIYing a “crystal” shade with dollar store materials, it’s possible to give those outdated lights a stylish redo. Apartment Therapy has a list of nine budget suggestions for replacing dated light covers.

15. Cover Up Hollywood Vanity Lights

It’s a rare rental bathroom that doesn’t suffer from dated, glaring Hollywood vanity lights. For whatever reason – most likely, cheap materials – these lights seem to be everywhere, yet very few renters adore them. Replacing the light fixture with something more appealing isn’t likely to meet with landlord approval, but there’s a renter-friendly solution: vanity shades. You can purchase one premade that slips over your light fixture from Vanity Shades of Vegas or try this DIY version from Better Homes & Gardens.

16. Install Task Lighting

Task lighting installed underneath your kitchen cabinets can significantly improve the appearance and function of your kitchen. It can make your kitchen look nicer by reflecting off your backsplash, balance ambient light, and help with cooking tasks, such as chopping veggies or reading a recipe. For inexpensive, renter-friendly task lighting, try these lights from Amazon, which you can mount with adhesive strips.

17. Install a Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans are another lighting fix that can improve both the appearance and function of your space. Many rentals, particularly in complexes, don’t heat or cool very evenly, and a ceiling fan can help keep the temperature in the right zone by circulating hot or cold air. It can also save you money, as it helps your furnace or air conditioner work more efficiently. Additionally, ceiling fans can add more light where you need it, and if you install them with a dimmer switch, they can also lower the light level as needed.

If you decide a ceiling fan is something you want, know that this is the kind of project that usually can’t be DIYed. Although you might be capable of hanging it yourself, if your complex allows you to install a ceiling fan, they will most likely also require a licensed electrician to do the job for legal reasons. If you don’t know a qualified electrician, search on HomeAdvisor. They screen local contractors so you know you’re always getting the best.

Add More Function to Your Space

Kitchen Sink Functional Modern Efficient

Though we typically think “décor” when considering upgrades to our space, how well things function is just as important in how much we enjoy our home. Here are a couple of rental-friendly functional upgrades.

18. Replace Your Kitchen Faucet

Check with your landlord first, but you may be able to replace your builder-grade kitchen faucet with something sleeker and more functional. The kitchen in our current rental townhome comes with a shallow sink that makes it difficult to fill pitchers or large pots. The situation isn’t helped by a faucet that extends straight out from the level of the sink. So we upgraded our rental kitchen with a new faucet that curves way up over the sink and also features a pull-out sprayer. Kitchen nirvana achieved.

Save your old faucet, and when you move out, you can take your fancy new one with you. For tips on installing a new faucet yourself, check out the tutorial here – but first, make sure to check with your landlord whether it’s OK to DIY.

19. Swap Out Your Bathroom Showerhead

Possibly one of the simplest upgrades with the most bang for your buck, switching out your showerhead for one with a more pleasant, spa-like feel can be relatively inexpensive – anywhere from $12 to $40 – while making a definite impact on your daily experience.

Swapping out your showerhead is a simple DIY. Just unscrew the old showerhead, wrap some Teflon (PTFE) tape three to four times around the threaded end of the showerhead pipe to keep the seal watertight, and screw on the new showerhead.

It may be possible to have someone from your complex’s maintenance staff make the switch for you. Soon after we moved into our townhome, we received a letter from management informing us they’d be happy to swap out our showerheads. All we had to do was buy new showerheads and let management know, and maintenance swapped them for free.

Update Your Hardware

Cabinet Knobs Options Draws

Many of the items in our homes are mechanical, or part of their function. And often, so-called practical hardware isn’t the nicest-looking or most comfortable. Swapping it out can go a long way toward upgrading a space.

20. Replace Cabinet Knobs

If your kitchen or bathroom is outdated, one simple update that can have a dramatic impact is switching out your cabinet knobs or pulls for something more contemporary. All it takes is some new budget hardware – check Lowe’s or Home Depot – plus a screwdriver and a plastic bag for all the original knobs and screws, which you’ll need to replace on move-out.

If you have pulls, rather than knobs, make sure you measure the distance between screw holes before going shopping. You won’t be able to drill new holes in your rental cabinets, so you’ll want to make sure you find something that fits the existing holes.

21. Switch Out Doorknobs

Cabinet knobs aren’t the only kind you can replace. You can also easily switch out doorknobs for a simple upgrade. I love the look of crystal doorknobs, which are pretty and vintage, but they also cost a pretty penny, especially if you want to replace the knobs on several doors. For a similar look, try these budget-friendly glass doorknobs from Lowe’s.

22. Replace Your Toilet Seat

We stumbled onto the concept of this upgrade by accident. It had never occurred to me to replace toilet seats in a rental until our son was potty training. I decided it sounded easier to buy a toilet seat with a flip-down child “adapter” seat than to keep switching back and forth with the old-fashioned removable kind. After we switched out our toilet seats, though, I was so thrilled with the difference in the quality of the seat that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it sooner. Plus, there’s nothing quite like knowing yours is the first bottom to grace it.

Hide the Ugly Stuff

Hiding Airvent With Closet Cabinet Stairs

Every home, rental or otherwise, has its eyesores. For renters, though, getting rid of them can prove especially problematic. The answer? What you can’t get rid of or replace, find creative ways to cover up.

23. Remove Cabinet Doors

Open shelving is a contemporary kitchen trend, so if you have ugly kitchen cabinets, one easily reversible solution is simply to take off the doors. You can even hang some removable wallpaper or contact paper on the back of the shelves for a pop of color. Just remember to hang onto the doors and all the hardware, such as hinges and screws, as you’ll need to replace them when you move out.

24. Hide Wire Shelves

If you’re not crazy about the look of your wire shelving, or you’re struggling to keep pantry items upright on them, you can disguise them with a shelf “shroud” made of foam board and contact paper, both of which you can find at the dollar store.

Buy as many sheets of foam core board as you have shelves to cover, as well as some pretty contact paper, then gather a measuring tape, some packing tape, and an X-Acto knife. Next, measure the length and width of your shelves and cut the foam board to your measurements. Also measure the lip of your wire shelves and cut strips of foam board the length and width of the lip.

Once you have your shelf and lip piece, lay out your contact paper, cutting pieces slightly larger than your foam board. Peel off the backing of the contact paper and lay the board right on top. Fold the extra paper over to cover the edges of the foam board, as if you were wrapping a present.

Now that you have your two pieces, join them together with some clear packing tape. Apply the tape to the bottom of your shelf covers so that it won’t show. Then, just lay them right over the top of your wire shelves. You now have shelves that are both pretty and more functional.

25. Hide an Ugly Air Vent With a Rubber Doormat

If you have an unsightly return air vent – one of those huge ones that take up a lot of wall space – you can make it look a little more appealing by covering it with a rubber doormat. It’s the budget version of using an expensive metal cover made for this purpose.

As this DIY guide instructs, measure your air vent, buy a mat of the same dimensions, and drill some screws in the wall to hang it right over your existing vent cover. You can even spray-paint the doormat to better blend with your décor. You’ll have to fill in the screw holes on move-out, but if you’re bothered by the look of your current air vent, it might be worth a little spackle.

26. Cover Your Radiator With a Custom Cabinet

Radiators are few people’s idea of attractive. Fortunately, if your rental has one, many DIYers have discovered ways to turn this particular eyesore into something both functional and attractive. On Slide 5 of this slideshow, HGTV shares a solution that involves building a custom cover and cabinet to turn your radiator into a pretty space for extra storage.

27. Create Faux Marble or Granite Countertops With Contact Paper

Do ugly, outdated countertops have you feeling down? Don’t despair. DIY marble or granite countertops require nothing more than some contact paper, an X-Acto knife, and a sturdy, flat tool such as a credit card for smoothing out air bubbles. With not too much expense or effort, you can fake the look of far more expensive counters you can easily peel up on move-out. Check out Amazon or EzFaux Décor for some options.

28. Disguise an Ugly Fridge

If you’re stuck with an unattractive fridge, you have some options. You can purchase removable wallpaper – such as this kind from DIY Network – to add some color and pattern, or you can use gold duct tape to create a glam pattern, such as this one shared by the Today Show.

29. Give Your Appliances a Stainless Makeover

Because of the high cost of stainless steel appliances, few rentals have them; you’re most likely living with either black or white. But you don’t have to be stuck with that look if your heart is set on stainless. For minimal expense, you can transform your dishwasher, oven, or refrigerator into “stainless steel” with contact paper. HGTV shares a renter-friendly DIY from blogger Julie Blanner on Slide 8 of this slideshow. You can find peel-and-stick stainless steel film at Amazon or EzFaux Décor.

30. Curb the Clutter

The messier the home, the smaller it appears and the less relaxing it feels. A clean and organized home, on the other hand, can help contribute to an overall “Zen” feel. In fact, IKEA’s 2017 Life at Home survey found that having too much stuff was the biggest cause of stress in the home, and 44% of survey respondents reported they felt a sense of relief after clearing out clutter.

Further, space is often at a premium for renters, so pairing down on the amount of stuff in your home can help with storage issues. If extra stuff feels too difficult to let go of, though, just putting it away or hiding it can make a huge difference in the look and feel of your home.

Maximize Storage

Stackable Plastic Drawers Space Saver Organizing

One thing rental spaces universally tend to lack is storage space. Even if your apartment or townhome has the adequate square footage for living spaces, storage can be at a premium. To deal with a lack of storage space, consider ways to maximize the space you have.

31. Hang an Extra Shower Curtain Rod

For extra storage in the bath, suspend a tension shower curtain rod across the back wall of your tub or shower and then use shower curtain hooks to hang your bath products.

You can also use this trick to corral bath toys in a kid’s bath. Buy some dollar store plastic baskets, suspend the rod just above the tub so that it’s accessible, and use shower hooks to hang the baskets on the rod. Not only will the baskets keep the toys contained, but the water will drip right through them into the tub.

32. Maximize the Space Under Your Sink

One of the top obstacles I’ve faced with bathroom storage in rentals isn’t the lack of space, but the lack of usability. Most rental vanities have cabinets with nothing but wide-open space underneath. All that space is great for storing a lot of stuff, but not so great for keeping it all organized and accessible.

Create your own vanity drawers and keep items organized by purchasing stacking plastic drawers. Stackable drawers allow for customization of your space because you can buy exactly as many as will fit. They also allow you to make the most of the space under your sink because you’ll be able to fill it all the way to the top.

33. Use a Shoe Organizer to Store Pantry Staples or Water Bottles

If you have a door anywhere near your kitchen – whether for an actual pantry, a laundry closet, or something else – you can make use of that space by purchasing an inexpensive shoe holder to store pantry staples or kitchen necessities like water bottles.

34. Hang Over-the-Door Shelving

If you want something a little more customizable than a plastic shoe holder, try an over-the-door shelving unit. We have one in our downstairs coat closet that allows us to also use this space for storing all kinds of utility items. The Elfa door racks from The Container Store slip over the top and bottom of the door, adding plenty of extra storage with no damage to the door.

35. Use Shelf Risers or “Under-Shelves”

Use a shelf riser such as this one to take advantage of excess vertical space for stacking dishes. You can also use these in the fridge to stack food items while keeping them easily accessible. Similarly, an under-shelf allows you to hang a basket underneath your shelves to store things like foil and wraps.

36. Use a Trunk or Storage Ottoman as a Coffee Table

If space is at a premium, finding clever ways to stash all your stuff is key. One solution is double-duty furniture, such as a storage ottoman or vintage trunk used as a coffee table.

37. Use the Side of Your Fridge

If a side of your fridge is accessible, you can use it to store anything magnetic, such as spices in small magnetic jars. Or, you can make your own magnetic storage by gluing magnets to the backs of small dollar store baskets. You can also try attaching Command hooks to hang potholders and oven mitts where they’ll be easily accessible. Because our fridge is right next to our stove, this is what we do with ours.

38. Use Pretty Baskets to Corral Just About Everything

When you’re low on storage space, you may have little choice but to store things in the open. In these cases, pretty storage becomes essential to keeping your place looking nice.

For example, in our current townhome, we don’t have a home office space, so I use baskets to “hide” files on a bookshelf rather than use ugly metal filing cabinets out where everyone can see them. In a past apartment, we lacked a linen closet, so I stored extra towels right in the bathroom rolled up in a basket on the floor.

Decorative baskets can be expensive. To stick to your budget, try an overstock store like HomeGoods, or for a cheap DIY “basket,” glue rows of sisal rope around a cardboard box, then sew a fabric liner to cover the inside. You can see how in this tutorial from wikiHow.

39. Hang Floating Shelves

If you’re allowed to hang things on your walls, wall shelves can be a big help for combating a storage problem. You can also make them part of your décor by showcasing knickknacks, framed photos, or art that express your style. You can find simple floating shelves at IKEA.

40. Make Use of Under-Bed Space

That space under your bed can be a great place to store off-season clothes and shoes or infrequently used items, such as extra bed linens and blankets. To fully utilize the space, use bed risers to lift your bed higher off the floor and maximize the space underneath. Then, use storage on wheels, long under-bed storage boxes, or these baskets from IKEA to make use of every available bit of space, while still making it easy to pull out items when you need them. Then, don’t forget to hide it all with a nice-looking bed skirt.

Create Space Illusions

Room Divider Living Room Interior Design Decoration

If your space itself is problematic, such as too small or too open, you can use some “space illusions” to customize it to your needs.

41. Make a Room Divider

If you have a studio apartment or a room in your home that’s serving multiple purposes and you want to create separate zones, a room divider is a useful solution. It can create the illusion of separation without having to build or knock down walls. Although there are budget options, you can make your own room divider by suspending a curtain from the ceiling, using open bookcases, or utilizing repurposed materials. Here’s some inspiration from HGTV.

42. Make a Space Feel Bigger With a Mirror

If your space feels too cramped, you can instantly trick the eye into thinking it’s bigger than it is with mirrors. Position the mirror so that it reflects the most light, and it will add dimension to the room. Mirrors – especially large ones – can be pricey at retail stores, but if you browse local flea markets, you’re likely to find some affordable options.


Plants Shelves Stuffed Animals Accessorizing Wall

In the end, when you’re renting, your décor focus should ultimately be on things that are easily moveable and can go wherever you do. So think about pulling everything together with affordable accessories, such as throw pillows, knickknacks, and table settings.

43. Frame Your Bathroom Mirror

Rental bathroom mirrors are usually unframed. You can add a bit of character to yours by framing it yourself. If budget isn’t a concern, you can purchase custom, removable mirror frames from MirrorMate. They attach with adhesive tape and can be removed when you move out.

For a more budget-friendly option, purchase molding at a home improvement store, then measure your mirror and cut the molding to fit. You can paint this frame the color of your choice and attach it to the mirror with Velcro strips. While you can glue the Velcro to your frame, to make it removable, attach the Velcro to your mirror with Command strips.

44. Decorate With Nature

If you want to add a more homey feel to your rental space, a few plants can do the trick. You can also add all kinds of texture to a space with different types of plants. Try a potted tree in the corner of a room or a small pot of cottage roses on a window sill. Choose some decorative planters for added visual appeal.

45. Make Your Own Headboard

A headboard has the same effect as an accent wall, filling an otherwise blank and “blah” space with visual interest. A quality headboard isn’t cheap, but you can fake one with a headboard decal. You can also hang a tapestry or use a room divider screen behind the bed for a similar effect. If you’re really longing for a luxurious feel to your bedroom, you can DIY a tufted headboard – such as this one from Better Homes & Gardens – for a relatively low cost.

46. Throw Around Some Pillows

Throw pillows are the ultimate home décor accessory. They make any room – bedroom, living room, even a kitchen nook – seem lusher and add instant personality through color and fabric choice. Throw pillows can even be an aspect of seasonal and holiday decorating.

At an average cost of $20 to $60 apiece, they aren’t necessarily “budget” items, but it’s not hard to make throw pillow slipcovers you can switch out regularly. You don’t even need to know how to sew; here are three no-sew pillow tutorials from DIY Network.

47. Toss Out a Blanket

Throw blankets are also great accessories for any room. They work well as decorations, give the room a cozy feel, and they’re functional. A pretty throw blanket can also work as a disguise for furniture that’s seen better days.

48. Use Pretty Bedding

Your bedding set can make or break your bedroom. The right comforter and pillows can make a bedroom feel warm and inviting or luxurious as a grand hotel, depending on the vibe you’re aiming for. And if you’re in the habit of making your bed every morning, not only will the right bedding set make you feel comfortable and relaxed, but it also can serve as décor.

49. Focus on the Furniture

If you invest your money anywhere, invest it in quality furniture. Furniture pieces are the anchors of a room and, therefore, a big part of a room’s look and feel. They’re also something you can take with you wherever you go, and quality furniture can last a long time. I have some in my home that’s lasted three generations.

That said, the good stuff also costs a great deal at retail. It can be worth the investment, but if money’s tight, try scouting flea markets and secondhand stores. These are the places to find quality pieces that may not look great at first glance but have good “bones.” If you take them home and refinish them, you can make them into something that reflects your tastes and personality and also lasts.

Don’t Forget the Patio

Patio Pots Plants Flowers Rug Pillows

If you’re in an apartment, townhome, or rental house that has a balcony, patio, or deck in need of a makeover, there are things you can do to improve your outdoor space. You can decorate with potted plants and statuary, set up outdoor furniture with throw pillows, and even install privacy screening in the form of hanging curtains or a wooden lattice to give yourself the illusion of your own secluded spot in a space that might otherwise not be private.

My sister, for example, once lived in an apartment with a patio that faced the complex’s parking lot – not at all private. She set up a combination of wooden lattices and curtains, set out some porch furniture with big, lush pillows, and successfully created her own private hideaway.

Here’s one more suggestion for dealing with a rental balcony, patio, or deck:

50. Install Temporary Outdoor Decking

If you’ve got a balcony or patio that could use a facelift, you can give it a temporary one with easily removable outdoor flooring. SnapLock tiles from The Decking Outlet, or IKEA’s more budget-friendly tiles, can be installed right over your existing balcony or patio floor. IKEA even has a turf version to give your patio the illusion of your own private yard if you’re renting a space in a city.

Final Word

Living in a rental can feeling constraining when you can’t make the more lasting changes that would really make your home feel like your own. But there’s still plenty you can do transform your space and make it feel like home while still keeping your landlord happy.

So go ahead and have some fun with your space by trying out one or more of these ideas. Because, in the end, whether you rent or own, it’s still important to have a home that feels like a home.

Are you stuck with an impersonal or ugly rental? Are you considering any projects to upgrade your space?


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Sarah Graves, Ph.D. is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance, parenting, education, and creative entrepreneurship. She's also a college instructor of English and humanities. When not busy writing or teaching her students the proper use of a semicolon, you can find her hanging out with her awesome husband and adorable son watching way too many superhero movies.