Designer Tip: Personalizing A Rental Apartment

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY The Havenly Team

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Published on November 20, 2013

So the VAST majority of us have rented an apartment, condominium, house, or dorm room at some point in our lives.  If you’re anything like me, you’ve done the bare minimum to decorate your rental namely because you weren’t quite sure how to work around the restrictions set in place by your landlord.

I can’t paint?  I can’t wallpaper? I can’t change this that or the otherwise?  What exactly can I do?

Lots of things!  Our Director of Design Ops, Shelby Girard’s got your back:


If allowed, a fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest ways to update a dreary rental. If you can’t paint or want to do something a little bolder, how about stickers for grown ups?  We LOVE removable wallpaper tiles which allow you to add pattern to a wall that you can easily remove before you move out.



(Image via Hygge & West)


Don’t you loathe generic rental cabinet knobs? Us too. Switch out hardware on cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom with something more unique. Door handles, outlet and switch covers can also really personalize a space. Just keep the originals and switch them all back before you move.


(Images via Anthropologie)


Sometimes you are just stuck with those crappy plastic blinds (you know– the ones you’d rather make slap bracelets out of?) and flesh-toned carpet (that’s likely seen better days). Area rugs and window treatments are renter’s saving grace to help disguise those features you can’t change! Add curtains or roman shades to cover up and help disguise plastic mini-blinds or vertical blinds. Cover up a good portion of bad carpet with an area rug – jute or sisal rugs are usually inexpensive, neutral ways to cover a good amount of space.



(Image via Madeline Weinrib & Gilded Mint)


When I moved into my apartment I immediately installed dimmers so that the blinding kitchen track lighting could be toned down at night. You can pick up a “dimmer switch” at Home Depot or any other hardware store and simply install it in place of your current light switch.  You’ll have to attach the wires to the new switch, but it’s quite simple and there are a number of great tutorials online to guide you through it!  Creating levels of light with lamps and dimmers is one of the easiest ways to completely transform the mood of a space – also really helps with the ambiance when entertaining.


(Images via House of Fifty)

Still not convinced?  Check out the way Shelby personalized her own rental apartment in Chicago via this awesome Design Sponge Home Tour!

I don’t know about y’all, but I’m inspired to make some changes around here!  Do you have any tips for a renter looking to update his/her space?  We’d love to hear from you!  xx, A

And do not forget to enter our giveaway for an autographed copy of Jeffrey Alan Marks’ new gorgeous design book!  It takes maybe 10 seconds.  You can even follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook for extra entries.

xx, Alana

**  Havenly, an online interior design service, makes decorating simple, convenient, and affordable. For one low flat fee per room ($185), you’re matched with a personal interior designer who creates a space to match your style and budget. Then, buy what you love through our e-commerce platform, and a custom-designed Havenly room is delivered to your doorstep. To meet your online designer and #getdecorated, fill out our questionnaire at