Solutions for Renters: Bedrooms

By Kate Riley January 29, 2013

Two things have occurred in the last 48 hours to bring this “solutions for renters” topic to my attention.  First, I learned from yesterday’s survey (thank you!) that 1 out of every 5 readers of this blog is a renter.  You left me comments like this:

“I currently live in an expensive city where we will be renters for a while. I would like to see posts on how people decorate their rentals when they can’t make permanent changes. Especially how to decorate around plain white walls.  If you could link to those stories or give ideas that would be great!”

“After submitting the survey, it occurred to me that I would love to see more projects for people who rent. Many readers are doubtlessly people in cities who live in rentals and can’t/don’t want to invest in ”permanent” projects, but still need solutions to problems like – my bathroom is ugly! my kitchen doesn’t haven’t enough storage! or the universal problem of storage in apartments… just a thought!”

Second, I stayed with my sister and and brother-in-law last weekend and they rent a small condominium while they save and search for the perfect house.  She suggested as a renter that I tackle this topic too.  Matt and I rented a home when we were first married and I also rented apartments for a few years when I was pursuing my degree, so we’ve both been there too.

So I decided to tackle this topic on in a series.  I’ll do my best to offer suggestions on how to personalize rental spaces in separate posts over the next month including today’s topic on Bedrooms, and also Living Spaces, Kid + Guest Rooms, Offices, Kitchens and Bathrooms. 

Sound good?  Let’s get this party started and go straight to the bedroom.   Shame on you if you misinterpret that last sentence.

solutions for renters in the bedroom

There are several elements to consider when you take on the challenge of making a rental space your own and they are the following: pattern, color, storage, and personality!   How to you incorporate these four essentials when you rent?   Here are some tips!

Pattern.  One of the first things I noticed in my sister’s bedroom was her use of modern floral window panels to set the palette for her bedroom (plums, grays, and teal).   Pattern is a great place to start when your walls are neutral!

When choosing patterns, you can’t go wrong with the design trifecta: a large scale motif (floral, Ikat, paisley, etc.), a smaller scale geometric, and a classic stripe in a complementary colorway.  This perfect trio works in every bedroom and provides just enough pattern to keep a space with neutral walls interesting.

mix of blue patterned fabrics

Brunschwig & Fils

Layering a rug that complements your bedding is a stylish way to introduce a pattern to your bedroom.  It doesn’t matter if your bed is an antique or something more subdued and modern, stationing a brightly painted nightstand (find them in at thrift stores and spray paint them!) also scores major style points. 

geometric bedding striped rug styleathome

Style At Home


Have you heard of temporary or “renter’s wallpaper” ?  There are several companies that offer removable wallpaper from Spoonflower to Sherwin Williams.  Do an online search to discover companies that make this product – it’s an investment but if you crave a bold pattern in your bedroom space, or even just behind the bed, it’s worth looking into!

wallpapered bedroom styleathome

Style at Home


Color.    White walls don’t mean your bedroom needs to be bland, if you have a favorite hue that speaks to you, bring it into the bedroom with your chosen linens and window panels.

pink and orange linens styleathome

Style at Home

pink panels and coverlet bhg

Better Homes & Gardens


Another simple way to bring color into the bedroom when the walls are neutral or white is with a piece of painted furniture nestled next to or across from the bed. 

blue bedside chest splendidwillow

Splendid Willow

painted bedside dresser sara tuttle

Sara Tuttle

Don’t forget accessories too, a vivid or shapely lamp, and mirrors or artwork on the walls will bring even more color and character to your space.

Storage.   Closet space is precious in small spaces and this is one clever solution to give you more.  In their first house, John & Sherry of Young House Love added IKEA wardrobes and hung curtains in front for extra storage for their clothing. 

bedside wardrobes bhg

bedroom wardrobes younghouselove

 Better Homes & Gardens


Furniture that also acts as storage comes in handy in a bedroom, so think about trunks for linens and containers under the bed for out-of-season clothing.

trunk storage in bedroom bhg

Better Homes & Gardens


Space permitting, I think every bedroom could use a place to rest where you can toss your coat and take off your shoes.  Bedroom corners are a great place to tuck a chair to catch up on some casual reading too, and consider those small scale plug-in fixture or floor lamp above as additional lighting. 

bedroom chair in corner bhg

Better Homes & Gardens


Personality.   At the end of the day you want to retire in a space that reflects who you are so inject your personality into your rented space.  Got a fun or vintage textile you’ve inherited or purchased in your travels?  Hang it up as a focal point behind the bed.

textile behind bed bhg

Better Homes & Gardens


Anything vintage, old, or one-of-a-kind will add instant character like these weathered doors playing the role as headboard.

weathered door headboard rue mag

Rue Magazine

Kristin’s bedroom is another example of personality on display, that gold framed map headboard and green rustic bench are two accents that make her bedroom unique.

painted hive bedroom

The Painted Hive


Renters (current and former) let’s hear from you.  How do you personalize your bedroom spaces to add color, pattern, storage, and personality, and make them feel like you?




  1. Hi all! Just wanted to add, when I rented, I didn’t want to waste an absorbent amount of time painting, so I actually purchased regular wall paper, and put a ton of command strips to the back, and adhered it to the all. Worked beautifully, was fast, and left no damage to the walls! Plus it gave me the fun, modern style I wanted in my bathroom, and the shiny metallic stenciled damask print in my bedroom! You just have to ensure to thoroughly press down the corners and around the baseboard and trim areas; smoothing it out evenly. You truly can’t tell it isn’t adhered in the traditional format, if you use enough tape/adhesive method on the back!

    Since we purchased our home, I’d often thought about doing this in our study or this weird third living room area we have.. to give it definition and purpose!

  2. These are all great ideas, but what do you when you have off white glossy walls with a bad texture (think mop/fan texture all over!) and popcorn ceilings! There’s just so much going on. We painted one room, but we have to prime over whatever we paint when we leave, which could be a bug task if we paint to much.

    • Hi Lauren, yes if painting is allowed then go for it! It’s possible but it’s up the landlord, and is negotiated with the lease, and you have to paint it back, but I know of plenty of situations where neutrals are allowed and if you pick a good one, you might not have to paint it back when you leave, assuming the landlord likes it.

  3. We’re renters in a 2 bed/2 bath apartment so I’m always looking for ways to personalize it. I just hung sheers over our ugly plastic vertical blinds and am going to do a post on it later this week. Also, I’ve attached some vintage iron brackets on either side…it helps to add more character:) Since we’re planning on living here for quite some time I want to look into some of those faux vintage tiles to stick behind my stove, maybe with Command stick strips or something?

    I wish I would have seen the survey yesterday! In blog world I often feel like I’m the only renter!

  4. We are newbie renters, having to relocate to another state for my husband’s job. Our furniture is thrifted, which adds personality, and our bedding has a pretty pattern that makes the room feel clean yet cozy. I hung a large handmade book wreath over our bed to add visual interest to our ordinary white walls. It helps me focus on what is pretty in the room instead of the unpacked boxes that are stacked in the corner ;)

  5. I love this post. Thanks so much for all these tips. I’m definitely bookmarking it for when I get started on redoing our bedroom! We’re renting, and we’ve been faced with a lot of these challenges! The day I can paint my walls will be a beautiful day!

  6. We lost our home in foreclosure three years ago. We now rent and it is a priority for me to make our rental a home for our three children (4, 2, 9 months). It is my hope they will look back at their childhood and have the same warm feelings and attachment to the home they grew up in as I did (do). Though our financial situation is daunting and a cause of anxiety for my husband and I, we want them to feel secure and our (rental) home is a big contributor to that. We are certainly not alone in this situation; many lost their homes when the housing bubble burst. Decorating might seem trivial to some; but we learned, the hard way, that home is where you make it.

  7. I’m so, so excited about this series! We rent in a big (expensive) city right now and are always looking for creative solutions to make our one-bedroom more personalized and pretty. We’ve got a big painting over our bed (similar idea to the one you showed), a gallery wall of meaningful items (hung mostly by command strips so we don’t end up with too many holes in the wall) and accessories that personalize the space. I can’t wait to see more of your ideas!

  8. Thank you! I am one of those renters who answered your survey! I am actually moving into an apartment on Friday. We are moving 500 miles and have planned this move in two weeks. So, house hunting wasn’t really an option. We are going to stay in an apartment for a year while we look for the perfect house. It’s only a year but it’s an ENTIRE year. I am a stay-at-home mom, so I spend a lot of time at home and want to feel happy there. We will be blessed with large bedroom closets but next to nothing when it comes to kitchen or other utility storage. I would love for you to incorporate some ideas into what you have planned. So many blogs/newsletters/etc. focus on revamping a closet. That’s not an option when you don’t have a closet to revamp! Off topic… I’d really love to see things about kid-friendly furniture/fabrics/etc. too. As a mom, I’m sure you understand the concerns. Thank you so much!

  9. To be quite honest we don’t really do anything different than we did when we were homeowners. We have owned twice and decided to rent this time around (military family) because we have no intentions of staying in this state so no need to fight trying to sale a house in a bad economy (been there). I guess we lucked out with a landlord that didn’t mind if we painted. He even bought the paint for us because the place needed a good painting after the last tenants. If I had to live with simple white walls though then I would definitely use color and texture in art, throw pillows, etc. I think a simple way to add some color to your walls if you are a renter is to hang some curtains all the way across one wall and make it your focus point. It gives the look of a painted wall but adds a element of texture as well. It can also be helpful in small spaces when you have awkward windows.

  10. I used to rent for many years and I found that my landlords had no problem with me painting – they often complimented me on my choices. I think if you have a good relationship with your landlord, that you can discuss this with them. It’s been my experience that they appreciate tenants who want to take good care of their property and make it look nice. When you keep a nice home, they tend to be more open.

    My last apartment, where I lived for ten years before I bought my current place, had an ugly old kitchen with faux wood cupboard doors when I moved in. I painted the cupboards white, the walls a celery green and even painted the laminate countertop white AND installed peel & stick tiles over the ugly old linoleum flooring. My landlord loved it.

    • Wow Deidre, you had a great landlord, if only they were all as trusting of those of us with great taste! *wink*

  11. I’m so excited for this series. I was one of the renters that responded to your survey yesterday. Thanking for listening to our comments and starting this series so quickly!

  12. What a great post!!!
    As a landlord, I know a lot of renters think they are stuck with neutral walls, but if you are leasing long term (years), ask your landlord about painting. If a tenant has been in the place for years, the landlord may need to repaint anyway.
    Don’t be afraid to ask – we paid $900 to install custom doors for a tenant who agreed to a 2 year lease, because 1) they simply asked 2) we felt it added to the property. Another tenant proposed that we pay for materials and they pay for the labor for a (cosmetic) project and we agreed. These ideas may not work at a big corporate run apartment complex, but everything is negotiable and it’s cheaper & easier to have a happy tenant renew a lease, so it never hurts to ask. Just remember to consider from the LL point of view too.

    As a renter (we moved cities a lot), it *is* frustrating, but I’ve found us to be much happier when we make the rental our “home” (bought a custom seat cushion, etc) versus living there with a “this is just temporary” attitude (I did that once & refused to hang any of our artwork).
    Looking back, perception made a big difference for us.

  13. Great choices…even for those who don’t rent!!! Owners who are on a tight budget can put these ideas to work too. Thanks for sending out great and creative posts!

  14. Thanks Kate for this post. I am not a renter but enjoyed the topic and great ideas you shared. I did want to mention for everyone who is a renter, even though I am sure everyone knows this already, that the Nesting Place blog is written by “a renter”. Though she has painted the walls and her rental house is not a small one by any means, she has turned her rental into a drop dead gorgeous home for her family and on a budget. This comment was not to endorse Nesting Place and I do not know the nester personally, I just thought there might be some helpful information for renters on there.

  15. I live in a condo with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. I notice that in all the photos you show that the rooms all have wood for the floors. I have carpet which is ok, but I love the look of rugs on floors. Any suggestions?

  16. My wife and I share a one bedroom basement apartment with our two kids (2.5 y/o and 6 m/o). It’s maybe 500 sq ft. It was originally a very temporary downgrade in size while we looked for something a little bigger (or with a better layout) than our old 2br/1ba condo. It’s almost a year later now, and we plan to be here for at least many more months, if not another full year.

    With the original plans of staying for only a matter of months, we didn’t let ourselves settle in. Once we realized the set-up actually worked with two kids and our plans changed, we’ve started settling in more.

    The biggest focus now is just getting rid of things that we were “saving” for when we moved into a bigger space. Managing to go so long without using a lot this stuff made us realize we don’t need it to begin with. We’re also trying to make an effort of no longer storing things in plain sight (when we saw it as “temporary” we could live with the clutter). Our place organized is completely different than our place when it isn’t.

    Also, house plants! Get some. Get lots. Such a good way to breath life into a space without having to paint or change the flooring, etc.

  17. It sounds like there are a number of us in the same used-to-own-a-house-but-now-we-rent boat. We’re renting for the first time in a number of years and it’s hard to control the itch to simply change something that isn’t to our taste. We’re lucky that our apartment has gorgeous bones and was only slightly neglected. The walls are a cream color and the trim is lighter so it’s not unbearable, just boring. We jazzed up the bedroom with art, plants, colorful bedding and accessories.

    I’m looking forward to more in this series!

  18. When I answered your survey, I didn’t even think about mentioning that I’d like to see more stuff for renters! But, I too am a renter. So far, in our bedroom, we’re keeping the bedroom linens mostly neutral, but I have hung some lovely purple Ikat curtains (a friend sewed them for me, from a Waverly fabric). I’ve been wanting to purchase a purple coverlet and matching shams from LL Bean, but it’s hard to justify the cost. Perhaps just a simple throw/blanket in purple, and some plain purple shams might do the trick, instead. (Hubby isn’t a fan of lots of throw pillows.) It’s a tiny space, but we’re trying! Thanks for your tips!

  19. We’re medium-term renters (2 years in the same place so far, with probably at least 2 more). Our landlord paints in between tenants, so he was okay with any paint color so long as it didn’t require priming (or alternately, that we prime before we leave). We went with a light grey in the bedroom, and it makes world of difference in terms of feeling like “our” place.

    Other than that, I have to say my main issue with DIY blogs (and I read a lot of ’em) is that they assume a certain level of architectural interest in the home that just doesn’t exist for apartments where I live. We chose our apartment for proximity to the bus system and affordability, but that means it’s a plain-jane place with builder-grade everything. What happens to be “interesting” isn’t usually a good thing. (Why would someone choose to add random brown and yellow tiles to a white bathroom floor? Why?!)

    • I cannot explain or understand bad tile choices either LC! There are peel and stick linoleum tiles for bathrooms…. I’ll try to round up some quality examples for that post. :)

  20. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I was just dealing with this issue myself the other day. My husband and I are in graduate school, and I’m trying to keep our rented apartment from looking… well… like a college student’s rental.

  21. I relocated about 4.5 years ago to San Diego and we “temporarily” rented a house until we sold our house in bay area…we are still renting :-)

    When we signed the lease for yet one more year – I decided to paint a few walls – not the whole room – but one accent wall in the living room, my bedroom and one of my kids rooms. Made a HUGE difference. My landlord said as long as I paint it back to while – he didn’t care.

    I also recovered my furniture to go with my new “beach vibe” and added accent rugs and a few painted pieces of furniture. It finally feels a little more like personal space and not so temporary.

    Now if I could just get him to put in hard wood floors and granite counter tops :-)

  22. I became a landlord earlier this year when I relocated to a new state for work. I told the tenants they could paint if they wanted to. I’ve also been renting a house for the last 5 months in the new state. I haven’t hung one piece of artwork. Sad I know. I”m sure anything I do will be fine with the landlord as the walls were covered in holes and peeling paint when we moved in. It’s a decent sized house but very old. I’ve been saying its just temporary since we moved in but I have a feeling I would probably be much happier here if I invested a little time and money into fixing it up with some paint. The landlord also let me have 3 pets which I’ve found is almost unheard of so I have a feeling we will be here a while… Thanks for all these suggestions. I look forward to reading more:-)

  23. You know what doesn’t make sense to me? If you are living in a rental (which I am) and you move out, wouldn’t you expect that the landlord would go in and put a new fresh coat of paint on the walls for the next renter considering walls get dirty and dinged up? So what does it matter if the walls are white or a beautiful shade of gray? I’m fortunate enough that I can paint the walls but I really don’t understand why you shouldn’t be able to!

    • I totally agree Cindy, we’ve owned condos in the past (not any more) and every time it turned over we repainted, so my thought is the same, why not let them paint the walls? Maybe not the ceilings and I can understand running the color past the LL first but it seems perfectly reasonable, right?

  24. I love that you’re doing this series. I own a condo, but it’s more like living in an apartment since it’s only 850 sq ft. I figure that a lot of your suggestions would apply to small space living. I’ve lived in quite a few rentals in my life and one thing that I like to do to spruce up my living room is to put a new cover on the couch. Usually I had hand-me-downs so a cover was guarateed to make it look 10 times better. Just a thought.

  25. My very large condo-apartment has huge windows that go right up to the ceiling. To make things even more difficult, there is no wall space between the glass the the adjoining walls on which to attach hardware for blinds or drapes. Everything must be hung from the ceiling. What ideas can you give me for window treatments. Another problem is that the heater boxes (8 inch) are under the windows, at the floor, so drapes can’t go ceiling to floor.

  26. I love my white walls all over the townhouse we rent!!! I live in Portland where it rains 9 moth of the year, so every spec of light is welcome… on the other hand, I have too much on my mind all day, that coming to a white, simple home, soothes me… Last Summer (inspired by this blog) I also painted the dresser and small desk white, change the comforter (white, of course!) and I got the following question from my daughter: mom, are you planning on going monochromatic? No, I¨m not.. my bed and nightstands are modern, dark wood finish… and the contrast is nice!
    Next Summer I´m going to follow your tutorial and paint the kitchen table white…
    I give personality to my home with colorful accents, happy kids that play around and tasty food that “perfumes” the house and invites to stay… If it were up to me, I´d live in a very simple (kind of Scandinavian) home.. but my husband is a baroque man… what a combination, right?
    I really like your blog and inspires me every day!

  27. Curtains made the biggest difference for me, just like your sister. I would love to see her window panels…sounds like the pattern I might be looking for. Just starting to update my bedroom from the linens I picked straight out of college.

  28. I’ve only lived in rented spaces, so this subject is something I’m constantly perfecting & learning about!

    One way I like to decorate in an apartment you can’t paint is to incorporate color on the walls otherwise. This can be done with wall hangings in the form of curtain panels, fabric, placemats, table runners, painted blinds, frames, large pieces of art…

  29. Oh, I didn’t even know I wanted rental tips until you just suggested some! My husband and I were homeowners and remodeled our entire house ourselves. But last year, we relocated for my job and now rent the third floor of a turn-of-the-century mansion. I adore all the great architectural features (transom windows, chunky baseboards!), but hanging things on the plaster walls terrifies me even though we have permission. Any tips for that?

    Another problem is pinky beige walls AND beige carpet that clash pretty badly with our grayish neutral-colored furniture. In our last house, I painted our walls soft greens and blues and grays… the pinky-beige is starting to make me crazy! Our lease did sort-of leave the possibility of painting open, BUT it said that the property had just been painted and therefore we couldn’t paint without her permission. We haven’t signed a long-term lease (yet) and our landlady lives below us, so I’ve been to chicken to ask!

    Then there’s the kitchen… beautiful cherry cabinets, but with GREEN faux-marble laminate and GREEN linoleum floors. I… don’t even know what to do with that.

    Thanks for any future renting tips you’ve got!

  30. Great topic! I rent a little almost-cottage-style triplex with a natural light disparity. And for the record: the only thing worse than white walls you can’t paint is painted walls you didn’t choose! We have baby blue walls and dark beige carpet in the bedrooms (neither would be my choice, especially not the two together), but my bedroom is actually my favorite place in the apartment! After reading your post, I think I understand why: my furniture is neutral (white bed frame / dark wood nightstands and “dresser”) and I unintentionally created a little pattern trifecta with my bedding. I made euro shames out of a World Market blue, floral-ish patterned table cloth, I made a big bolster pillow with two navy stripes, and my duvets are both geometric (one is beige gingham, the other is blue stripe). All of the other textiles are solid beige (curtains, blankets). Also, although the style of the furnishings really isn’t what I would choose ideally, they are things that work really well in our space and seem to “fit” in both scale and style (to mimic the almost-cottage-style going on around here).

    Our other “bedroom” is our catch-all room. It’s my dressing room, sewing studio, and painting studio. It’s our home office that we don’t use as much anymore. It’s where my husband gets to play video games (not that it happens as often as he’d like). It’s our “pet” room: the cats have their cat tree in there, and it’s where we sit on the floor and brush the dog (and where he runs around crazy after a bath). It has so much going on (and it has baby blue paint and dark beige carpet), and it’s UGLY. Help on these multipurpose rooms would be great, but I understand that everyone has their own strange needs for catch-all spaces. It’s the one spot I really want to improve, but I estimate it will take at least $600 in new or new-to-me furniture (I think everything needs to be clean-lined and white since it has so much going on), and I feel like that $1000 would be better put towards buying a house. When does a renter know to “grin and bear it” vs. “make it livable”?

  31. This wonderful advise for renters as well as owners who like to “change things up” often as I do.

  32. I have carpets and have layered rugs over them. I found a special rug pad for rugs layered over carpets (at Pier 1 years ago) and I’ve had no problems. I think it looks great. Dare to layer your rugs over carpet!

    • Thanks Stacey, you’re so right, an area rug over icky or off color carpet helps!

  33. I am currently renting and have one and and off for 20 years, we have owned, been landlords and now we rent! Another thing I do is switch out the light fixtures! I keep the ugly ones in storage and then put them back up when we move. I also take down hideous blinds, hang up drapes and have made roman blinds for the windows. They then come down and the hideous blinds come back up. I don’t invest alot into drapery. Ikea is the best for that, but I customize it by adding trim, drapery hooks, etc. I don’t cut the hem but use the iron tape they have to hem, they are easy to let out and adjust in another place. I also then cover up that hem line with ribbon.

    I have always painted my homes, the landlords love it! You can see my living room transformation on my blog when I participated in the One Room Challenge last summer:

  34. Not Just For Renters!
    Although we are long time homeowners, you gave me lots of quick ideas to freshen any space without feeling trapped in one of those endless renovation projects.
    Also, you have given me so many inspirational ideas that I can use when I help family and friends redo their space.
    Speaking of inspiration, I have my ‘wake up’ coffee with you and your site most mornings. More often than not, I leave the computer thinking, “I could paint that chest or move those pictures or brighten that (fill in the blank) room. Some times, I even get it done! Thank you.

  35. Some great ideas! 5 years ago, my husband joined the US Public Health Service, a uniformed service, and our first duty station was the Navajo Reservation in NE AZ. We moved from our mid century modern (very cool, floor to ceiling windows!) 4 bedroom home to a single wide trailer circa 1980s! It had ugly wall covering in every room, a hideous kitchen, and was a general disaster. (It was condemned after we moved out !!!)
    As we were in a very remote location-150 miles to Flagstaff and stores, and for my own sanity I needed to make this place as nice as possible. I found some silk blend drapes at Big Lots for the living room, painted every room, hung our art and family photos from our house, and bought a rug for the living room. The transformation was so great that when one of my daughters was visiting, she commented that “this feels like home, Momma”.

  36. I am a renter. I have learned that patterns and color accents are a life saver. I especially add patterns to the wall with curtains and pictures. I even create curtain backdrops to lay flush against walls sometimes.

  37. Thank you SO much for this post!! We moved to our first apartment a few months ago and have been struggling to find ways to bring color into our space. I also felt (like many others have said) like the only renter in blogland. I appreciate that you’re doing a series on this and cannot wait to see what else you have in store!!

    Thanks again :)


  38. OH my, this is the best post I’ve read of yours. I am a renter. I’m also retired so budget is an issue. I love all your suggestions, photos and LINKS…fabulous. I love your link to spray painting furniture..that’s a project in the can. I’m working hard to make this my home. I don’t know how long I’ll live here. My biggest struggle right now is the windows. I live in the country and wide open spaces and big windows…have and love them. However, I guess my bedrooms really need some sort of shade or blind (mostly in case someone else wants to sleep in them…I just love them open). Even the least expensive cut to fit cellular shades at Lowe’s are about $135 per window times 4. That’s a lot of money to “leave behind” when I move out. Windows are 72″ x 59″. Any suggestions anyone? Thanks again for a great post> I look forward to your series!

  39. The problem in most rental is that the walls are not WHITE but a CREAMY OFF WHITE and for me, it makes all the difference (mush harder). Also, you’ll notice that in the pictures you posted, all the floors are hardwood whereas in rentals, you’ll most often get the beige carpet; that too makes it harder to give personality.
    I move every 2 years (military) and all over the world and I found out that every place has it’s personality, the same if you moved in different regions in the States I guess: what works in one region style, looks weird somewhere else. That’s said, i paint every single place I moved to and repaint the original color when it’s time to leave. After,all, it’s only a gallon of paint and a day of work and makes the landlord happy to have fresh painted walls with no holes.

  40. I’m thrilled you are starting this series! We just became renters again and I’ve been struggling with those bland white box rooms but at least we have hard wood floors and not icky carpet! I used lots of white bedding and white curtains in our last house with color on the walls. Now I need to switch to color in my linens lest I get lost in the “snowstorm.” Looking forward to much inspiration.

  41. I love this topic! I’m a renter and we just moved into (hopefully) our last apartment before we settle down in a house. We’re currently working on incorporating both of our styles into our entire apartment (I’m beachy-coastal and my partner is more traditional/dark-wood lover). One thing is that we purchase new pieces that we absolutely LOVE and that also works with our current unit and furnishings. We were both dreaming of this beautiful lamp we saw in a store a few weeks ago but after visiting the lamp a second time, realized that it might not be tall enough for our side table next to our couch – which would hide the gorgeous lamp altogether. So we refocused and started looking for taller lamps and finally settled on a green antique-finished lamp with a burlap lampshade that we thought had timeless personality.

  42. so helpful. As a renter I am constantly struggling to find ways to turn my rented condo into a home for me, my boyfriend and out two dachsunds and all on a budget too! Yikes!!! You can follow my travails on my own blog but I do appreciate your helpful and inspirational ideas

  43. We’ve used several tall freestanding units for shelving and extra storage, with the added bonus of covering a significant amount of bland wall space. Additionally, I prop mirrors against the wall wherever they’ll look right – more camouflage and more light! We’re probably the “lucky” renters, but we asked our landlords if we could paint the living room yellow, and they said yes! I think they were shocked that we would invest money into the place like that, but it has been soooooo worth it for the warmth and personality it added to the room.

  44. This is a fantastic post and series. As a renter I definitely feel that injecting personality is hard. Particularly when I see beautiful bright paints and patterned wallpapers I’d love to use. I get creative with my furniture, since I can’t hang anything on my walls or change the window treatments (VERY strict landlords – I think it’s a British thing). I have a really nice clothes rail and I sort of use my clothes as decoration. I also prop art on shelves, radiators (that I keep turned off) and furniture.

  45. I love this! When we sold our house in Minneapolis and moved to the East Bay, I was so sad that I wouldn’t be able to personalize our rental, like I did in our house. I felt as if the only way to live in a rental was to regress back to our college days of thrown together items (not what this 30 something wanted). It has taken a few years for me to realize that just because we are in a rental doesn’t mean that we can’t invest in lifelong pieces (chairs/ottoman, bookcases) and add personality through fabric. I recently added window treatments to all the rooms, that addition in itself has made it so much more cozy. While there are still a few things that I struggle with – a real dining table would be wonderful to allow us to have proper dinner parties, however the dining room space that we have is just too small to justify purchasing a table, for fear that we would outgrow it immediately upon buying a house.

  46. Thanks a lot for this great popst, you’ve give me some great ideas! The only thing that me and my girlfriend could think to do with our apartment was to hang some paintings, change the carpets and the curtains and it still needs work. I have never heard of “renter’s wallpaper”, this is realy great I have a wall behind our bed that need to be covered up with something because it looks awful. I think it could be interesting if you can made a whole wall covered up with textile – something like textile wallpaper. Thanks for the ideas!

  47. Thanks so much for this series (looking forward to seeing what you do with bathrooms and kitchens!). I’ve gleaned a lot from this post, especially about the design trifecta. I never knew that!

  48. I have used liquid starch on fabric to hang it on walls like wall paper. It works well and when you want a change, you just pull it off the wall. The fabric I used was colorful sheets.

    • Fantastic Elise, I’ve heard of that but never tried it, thank you for the suggestion!

  49. Thank you for this post! I long to do some of the projects for homes on blogs but as long as we live in Orange County, CA we’ll be renters because the housing market is so insane here! My bedroom is So blah and I needed color infusion ideas badly. One thing that works very well in apartments is gallery walls. They add a lot of personality and with colorful frames it can brighten an entire prevously yucky beige wall.

  50. A cheaper way to get the wallpaper look is to use fabric and liquid starch as your glue. It pulls of cleanly and the starch (found in the laundry section at the grocery store) washes right off. I have done this with accent walls, stripes, a backsplash in a kitchen, or cut outs instead of vinyl. You may want to wash a dark color 1st if it may bleed when wet, and use very sharp scissors to get a crisp finish. I love that I can take my fabric and reuse it another way in my next home!

    I have friends who have placed wood laminate over carpet in a dining room. Large mirrors and pictures make the walls feel more like your own. Hot glue can hold up makeshift curtains that can also look very professional. Clean all the dirt that is not your own–and your own as well! Clean helps, I think. And we like to take ownership of fixes we really can do ourselves. We may not own it, but it is still home to us.

  51. So glad that you are doing this for renters. I particularly like the ikea units with curtains, might try it in my apartment. Hope you do more!

  52. This is awesome. I’m about to move again so I haven’t put a lot of time into my apartment but the next one I will as I’ve learned a few tricks along the way and this blog is going to help! ONe thing I have used is vinyl lettering. You can put it up and take it right back down. Also I found a tutorial once that shows how you can add starch to fabric and then iron it directly to the wall! You can remove it later and not leave any marks. Thats an easy way to “paint” a wall or create your own headboard. I also learned that most apartments will give you “touch up” paint. I took plastic containers to the office and they gave me some of both the white trim and the off-white paint on the walls. Now I can repaint over anything I do, not to mention freshen up my kids room every now and then :)

  53. Also you can take your own photos have them blown up and put on canvas to add your own personal touch. You could even have your photo blown up and put on fabric and make your own headboard.

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