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68 Apartment Decorating Ideas and Organization Tips for Renters

by on Dec 18, 2023

If you’re currently renting an apartment or studio apartment, you might feel limited in the projects you can undertake. But there’s no reason to let the homeowners have all the fun.

While extreme renovations like tearing down a wall are definitely out of the question, there’s no end to the amount of landlord-friendly do-it-yourself projects. 

We’ve rounded up some of our favorite rental-approved DIYs for those wondering how to decorate an apartment. From temporary transformations to space-saving projects, there’s a lot of DIY to go around in apartment decorating.

Living in an apartment offers unique benefits that attract people from all walks of life. 

From the convenience of location to reduced maintenance responsibilities, apartments are an appealing option for many individuals, including students, young professionals, and empty nesters. 

While apartments might have space and design flexibility limitations compared to houses, they also present an opportunity to explore creative ways to decorate and personalize your living space.

The Importance of Personalizing Your Space

Turning a generic apartment into a warm and inviting home is essential for your overall well-being and happiness. 

Your living space should reflect your personality, interests, and style, making it a comfortable sanctuary where you can unwind and recharge. 

Personalizing your apartment adds character and creates a sense of belonging, even if it’s a temporary residence.

Embracing DIY Projects for Apartment Decor

Decorating an apartment doesn’t have to be expensive or limited to store-bought items. DIY (Do-It-Yourself) projects offer an excellent way to unleash your creativity, add a personal touch to your space, and stay within your budget. 

Whether you’re a seasoned DIY enthusiast or just starting, countless projects are apartment-friendly and easy to accomplish. 

From wall decor and furniture makeovers to crafty accessories and greenery, DIY apartment decor empowers you to transform your space into a haven that resonates with your individuality.

We will explore DIY apartment decor ideas that elevate your living space without breaking the bank. 

Assessing Your Space and Setting a Budget

It’s essential to thoroughly assess your space before starting any DIY apartment decor project. Measure each room and note any architectural features like windows, doors, and outlets that could affect your decor choices. Also, think about the layout and flow of your apartment to ensure that your DIY projects enhance the overall design.

Setting a Budget

Setting a budget is equally important. 

Determine how much you’re willing to spend on DIY decor projects and allocate funds for materials, tools, and any potential mishaps. 

One of the advantages of DIY projects is that they can be tailored to fit any budget, so be encouraged if you have limited funds. 

With careful planning, you can achieve fantastic results without overspending.

Apartment Decorating Ideas and Organization Tips for Renters

Finding Inspiration from Online Platforms

The internet is a valuable source of inspiration for DIY apartment decoration. Platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, and your favorite DIY blogs are excellent sources for discovering creative ideas that align with your tastes and style. 

Create mood boards or save images that catch your eye, and use them as a reference when planning your projects.

Additionally, join online DIY communities or forums where you can share ideas and seek advice from fellow DIY enthusiasts. Engaging with others who share your passion for crafting and decorating can motivate and provide valuable insights.

Identifying Your Decor Style and Color Scheme

Defining your decor style will help guide your DIY projects and maintain a cohesive look throughout your apartment. 

Whether you prefer modern minimalism, bohemian chic, farmhouse style, or eclectic vibes, understanding your style will make choosing appropriate projects and materials more accessible.

Selecting a color scheme is also crucial in creating a balanced atmosphere in your apartment. 

Consider colors that resonate with your personality and complement your existing furniture and decor. Depending on the room’s purpose, you can use color psychology to choose shades that promote relaxation or boost productivity.

Combining your chosen style and color scheme with the inspiration you gathered from online platforms will serve as a foundation for your DIY apartment decor journey. 

With a clear vision, you’re ready to craft personalized and budget-friendly decor pieces that will transform your apartment into a place you’ll love to call home.

While DIY apartment decor is a fun and rewarding endeavor, it’s essential to prioritize safety and consider the unique challenges of living in an apartment. Adhering to safety guidelines and apartment regulations will ensure that your DIY projects are visually appealing, safe, and apartment-friendly.

Adhering to Apartment Guidelines and Restrictions

Most apartments have specific guidelines and restrictions when it comes to making modifications and alterations to the space. 

Before starting any DIY project, review your lease agreement or speak with your landlord to understand what is allowed and what is not. 

Some apartments may limit wall hangings, paint colors, or the installation of permanent fixtures. 

By being aware of these restrictions, you can avoid potential conflicts and ensure your DIY decor is within the apartment’s guidelines.

Using Removable Adhesives and Hanging Solutions

Apartments often require temporary solutions that won’t damage the walls or surfaces. 

Opt for removable adhesive hooks, tape, or picture hanging strips when hanging artwork, shelves, or other decor items. These options are apartment-friendly and won’t leave behind marks or damage when it’s time to move out.

Ensuring Proper Ventilation and Safety Precautions

Some DIY projects may use paints, adhesives, or other materials with strong odors or potentially harmful fumes. Working in a well-ventilated area is crucial to avoid inhaling toxic substances. 

If working with chemicals or power tools, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and wear appropriate safety gear, such as goggles and gloves.

Fire Safety and Electrical Considerations

When working with DIY lighting projects or adding electrical elements to your decor, be cautious about fire safety and electrical safety standards. 

Avoid overloading electrical outlets and use surge protectors when necessary. If you need more clarification about handling electrical components, it’s best to consult a professional electrician to ensure everything is installed correctly and safely.

Avoiding Heavy Fixtures on Weak Walls

In some apartments, the walls might not support heavy fixtures or wall-mounted items. Be cautious when hanging heavy mirrors or shelves, and use wall anchors or molly bolts to distribute the weight evenly. 

If you need more clarification about the wall’s strength, consult your landlord or consider alternative decor options.

You can confidently tackle your DIY apartment decor projects by keeping safety in mind and respecting your apartment’s guidelines. 

These precautions protect your living space and ensure that you won’t encounter any issues when it’s time to move out. 

With a bit of creativity and consideration, you can achieve stunning DIY decor that will transform your apartment into a stylish and personalized haven, making it a place you’ll cherish and be proud to call home.

DIY apartment decor offers a rewarding and satisfying way to transform your living space into a personalized oasis that truly reflects your style and personality. 

The satisfaction of DIY apartment decor goes beyond the end result. It’s about crafting something with your hands and seeing your vision come to life. Each project allows you to embrace creativity and personal expression, turning everyday items into works of art that hold sentimental value and character.

By incorporating DIY elements into your apartment, you’re not just decorating; you’re creating a space that feels uniquely yours, a place that resonates with your individuality and brings a sense of belonging.

Furthermore, transforming your apartment into a stylish and cozy retreat is about aesthetics and enhancing your well-being and comfort. 

Whether it’s a DIY Roman Shade that adds elegance to your windows or a DIY Wooden Magazine Holder that keeps your reading materials organized, these DIY projects contribute to a more enjoyable and functional living environment.

In the end, DIY apartment decor is more than just a hobby; it’s a journey of self-discovery and a way to turn a generic space into a home that tells your story. So, grab your tools, get inspired, and embark on the exciting adventure of DIY apartment decor. Let your creativity soar and witness your living space’s incredible transformation into a uniquely and beautifully Crafted haven.

How to Decorate an Apartment

Apartment decorating tips: Let light in

1. Let light in: The easiest and fastest way to improve a space is to let in more natural light. This is especially true in smaller apartments, where you might otherwise feel cramped. Pick sheer window treatments to allow for more light flow, and layer with shades or regular curtains to block out unwanted light at night.

Apartment decorating tips: Don't fight the color scheme

2. Don’t fight what’s there: The worst thing you can do when decorating an apartment is to try and force a theme where it isn’t wanted. If (for instance) there is a teal carpet in your living room, you have to learn how to style with it, not ignore it. Compliment it by bringing in coordinating yellows and oranges – even if you really want to decorate in red. Wood paneling in your kitchen? Work those warm tones into your decorating plan. 

Apartment decorating tips: Style with round objects

3. Style with rounded objects: Newer apartments can feel stale and boxy. Fight the formulaic floor plan by styling with rounded, curved furniture and fixtures.

Apartment decorating tips: Do a deep clean

4. Do a deep clean: My favorite thing to do in a new rental property is a top-to-bottom deep clean. Even though the previous tenants “cleaned” before they moved out, there’s always foreign, unknown dirt in the nooks and crannies of your new place. Your apartment will feel like new if you give it a good scrub.

Apartment decorating tips: Add a plant

5. Always add a plant: Quickly liven up a space with greenery. It’s a low-cost, non-permanent way to add style to any apartment decorating scheme.

Apartment decorating tips: Ask your landlord

6. Ask your landlord questions: If there are any big changes you want to make to your apartment – like switching out a light fixture or painting an accent wall – don’t be afraid to ask. You won’t know how lenient or strict your landlord is until you ask, and it’s safer to get permission first than needing to get it after the fact.

Kitchen Organization Hacks and Styling Tips for Renters

Pegboard wall storage

7. Storage can be a huge issue in rental kitchens. Expand your space by creating some pegboard wall storage. If you can’t put holes in the wall of your rental, you can prop up a pegboard like this one along a wall or under a cabinet on the counter. Just be sure to add a few heavy-duty Command Strips to keep it in place. 

Wine rack shelf

8. You can make use of every inch of storage space in your kitchen by creating above-cupboard storage using wine racks and a board. Plus, the space above your cabinets gives you a bonus opportunity to add your personal stamp to your rental. Arrange the space in a way that you love, adding color, pattern, or plants.

Baskets on cabinets

9. Try corralling items in baskets to organize above the cabinets. Even if you don’t need the extra space, some well-organized items on display give flair to a boring kitchen.

Stove shelf

10. Need more room for spices? A heat-safe, over-the-stove shelf like this one snaps on with magnets.

Stove top cutting board

11. If counter space is an issue, create an extra workspace with an over-the-sink/oven cutting board.

LED lights under cupboard

12. If lack of light is an issue in your kitchen, stick some temporary LED lights under your cabinets. Not only will lights help you see as you cook, but they will also brighten up the mood of your kitchen – literally!

Storage on fridge

13. Don’t forget about the top of the fridge! There’s lots of space up there for storage and style. Make use of the space above the refrigerator by going vertically up.

Wallpapered refrigerator

14. Speaking of refrigerators – is yours unsightly, or just dull? That can be fixed with some temporary wallpaper, a squeegee, and a little free time. And when you move out, all you have to do is peel it up.

Plywood backsplash

15. Ugly backsplashes are an epidemic in rental homes. See how these renters hid their  kitchen backsplash with plywood and paint.

Sticker paper backsplash

16. Did your rental come with no backsplash at all? Use affordable sticker paper to create a new one.

Peel-and-stick smart tiles

17. If you plan on being in your rental for a long time, consider using a high-end coverup for your backsplash. You can purchase these peel-and-stick smart tiles from The Home Depot, and when you move out, all you have to do is use a little heat from a hair dryer to remove them.

Contact paper on countertops

18. Stained and yellowed laminate countertops are well-known in rental properties. See how this lessor temporarily upgraded her countertops with marble contact paper

Vinyl-wrapped cupboards

19. Don’t like the color of your kitchen cupboards? Vinyl is at it again! It’s a lengthy process, but if you have the patience for it, you can transform your cupboard doors by wrapping them in vinyl contact paper.

Apartment Decorating Ideas and Storage Hacks for the Bedroom

DIY under bed storage

20. There’s lots of space under the bed for storage, and you can be smart about it, too. Learn how to build your own under bed storage on wheels for easy access. 

Bed with pull-out storage

21. A great way to add storage space to a room is to look for furniture pieces with extra space built in. For example, this built-in storage bed from IKEA gives you extra space with drawers underneath. 

Bed with headboard shelf

22. Or work extra storage at the head of the bed with a headboard shelf.

Standing closet surrounded by a curtain

23. Is your rental lacking a closet? If a minimal, open clothing rack isn’t your style (and I’m right there with you – I have too many clothes to display them in an aesthetic way), try hanging a curtain over your free-standing closet or shelf.

Closet hanging off wall

24. If you don’t mind your garments out in the open, you could install a closet rod right off the wall like this one seen here. Just be sure to install the handing system on a stud, and don’t forget to anchor.

Closet in attic with fabric doors

25. Curtains to the rescue again! You can create a closet anywhere so long as you have a closet rod, two brackets, and a curtain to hide everything.

Rolling closet
Source: Curbly; Photo: M.E. Gray

26. If you can’t put any holes in the walls but you still need more storage, a stand-alone clothing rack might be the best solution for you.

How to Improve a Rental Bathroom or Laundry

Pedestal sink organizer

27. One of the biggest points of contention in a rental bathroom is a lack of storage space. If your place comes with a pedestal sink but you need more shelf space, a pedestal sink organizer is an affordable and quick resolution to your organization woes.

Sink skirt DIY

28. To hide stuff from display, a sink skirt can do the trick, and it add extra color and pop to a place.

Curtain hung over glass shower doors

29. Trying to hide an ugly shower or glass doors? Hang a fabric curtain on a tension rod right over that glass.

Emily Henderson Jack-and-Jill bathroom makeover

30. Just styling a bathroom can go a long way. Get some nice towels, hang curtains or artwork, and add a plant or two.

Tropical and flamingo bathroom

31. An accent wall can add major impact to an otherwise understated bathroom. This wall was created with temporary wallpaper. 

Cleaning grout

32. Sometimes all your rental bathroom really needs is a little cleaning. A little bleach can go a long way in eliminating moldy grout.

Laundry room makeover

33. If you want to hide plumbing, you could hang artwork over it. This “laundry” sign is covering the cold and hot water hookup in this laundry space.

Laundry closet shelving

34. A shelf over your rental washer and dryer will also do wonders in terms of storage and styling.

Folding doors to hide hot water heater

35. Need to conceal a bulky hot water heater? A brightly painted folding door does the trick.

Curtains and Window Treatments that Work for Apartments and Rental Properties

Static cling glass decoration

36. If you’re itching to ditch the blinds but still need some privacy, there is a wide variety of attractive static window clings on the internet. And because they’re static cling, they can be removed in seconds.

Faux Roman shade

37. A simple window treatment, like this tension rod faux Roman shade, is enough to provide privacy and a pop of interest.

Cheated curtains for renters

38. You don’t have to drill holes to hang a nice curtain – see this apartment decorating hack on how to cheat hanging a curtain rod

Twist and fit curtain rod

39. Or buy a twist and fit curtain rod that can be hung without any drilling.

Curtains hung from hooks

40. You can abandon the rod idea all together and hang rod-free curtains using a series of hooks to create a pleated look.

Faux Roman shade

41. Still looking for no-drill window treatments? This tutorial walks you through using velcro to create faux Roman shades.

How to Decorate Your Apartment Walls and Floors

Vintage-inspired bedroom

42. It’s become an apartment decorating stand-by, but in case you didn’t know – temporary wallpaper is amazing! Quickly add removable accent to any space with affordable vinyl wallpaper. 

Paintable vinyl wallpaper

43. Landlord won’t let you paint? Apartment decorating doesn’t always have to require buckets of interior paint. You can actually purchase paintable, peel-n-stick wallpaper.

Paintable vinyl wallpaper

44. Try “painted wall” by the roll that you decorate as you wish with painted patterns. 

Curtains hung from floor to ceiling

45. You can cover unsightly walls by hanging curtains from the ceiling to the floor.

Large floral tapestry

46. Or simply hang a colorful tapestry to cover ugly walls.

Vinyl dots on wood door

47. A few polka dots cut out of vinyl can spruce up even the dullest of rental doors. 

Desk and a chair sitting under a "stay golden" sign painted on the wall.

48. You know about using vinyl wall decals in apartment decorating, but if you can’t find a design you want, try making your own wall decal.

Accent wall made from washi tape

49. Washi tape is a great material for renters to use because it pulls up from painted surfaces without leaving any residue. By cutting washi tape into triangles, you can create a patterend, temporary accent wall

Diamond design made from washi tape

50. Or use washi tape to create temporary wall art and murals. 

Rug hung on wall

51. Using a large area rugs, you can hide just about anything you don’t want to see on your apartment walls.

Removable floor tiles

52. If you’re planning on staying at your rental for a while but can’t stand the floors, add some peel-and-stick floor tiles into your apartment decorating budget.

Blue and white bedroom with sheepskin rug on carpeted floor

53. It seems like 95% of the time a rental property will come with wall-to-wall beige carpet. So what do you do if you hate beige? Adding a rug with different texture can help break up the monotony. 

Melbourne apartment

54. Or add an accent rug with a bold shapes and patterns. Whatever accent rug you pick, make sure it stands out from the original carpeting.

Apartment Storage and Organization Tips

55. Using a room divider is a cheap and effective way to organize space, or to – as the name suggests – divide rooms.

Room divided by large curtain

56. Hanging curtains in doorways or archways also creates spacial organization.

IKEA shelving used as wall

57. Organize space and your entryway by using bookshelves, like the IKEA KALLAX system

Wood boxes held together by clamps to create bookshelf

58. If you need storage quickly, a few wooden boxes clamped together make a makeshift bookshelf. 

Drawer lined with colorful paper

59. Aside from being sanitary, lining drawers and shelves with bold contact paper makes organizing so much more fun. When it comes to apartment decorating, it’s the little things that can make the biggest impact.

Shelf lined with foam core and colorful paper

60. Maybe the storage in your rental apartment is ugly? Create sturdy liners from vinyl and foam core.

Organization on back of closet door

61. When is comes to apartment decorating and organizing, no space should be left behind. There’s always room to organize on the door.

Hidden TV in coffee table

62. Super limited on space? Maybe this hidden TV in a coffee table will inspire you.

Pull-down poster to hide wall-mounted TV

63. Or, if your television is visually junking up your apartment, try hiding it behind art or a pull-down poster.

Lighting Solutions for Rental Properties

Flush-mounted light fixture hidden by beads

64. Did your rental property come with an ugly flush-mounted light fixture, commonly known as a boob light? Why not cover that thing in glamorous beads!

Flush-mounted light fixture hidden by barrel shade

65. If beads aren’t your style, how about a simple and temporary barrel shade cover?

Flush-mounted light fixture accented

66. Instead of hiding your ugly light fixtures, sometimes adding to them makes them shine.

Group of hanging lights that plug directly into wall

67. If your apartment decorating needs to include shedding more light, you can create overhead lighting without electrical know-how. All you need is some plug-in pendant lights.

Light switch plate covered in contact paper

68. And for our final apartment decorating tip, let’s give light switch plates a little love, too. Add some flair to your walls by covering them in contact paper or washi tape. 

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