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68 Apartment Decorating Ideas and Organization Tips for Renters

by on Feb 24, 2021

Source: Apartment Therapy; Photo Credit: Sophie Timothy

Renting your home has some perks (no mortgage, no maintenance costs, no headaches), but there are downsides: apartment decorating can be a challenge, and limited storage space makes it hard to stay organized.             

Many apartments are too small or don’t offer much storage. Maybe the landlord won’t let you paint or put nail holes in the wall. And rental properties are usually fitted with unsightly light-fixtures or unattractive flooring. Even though many of the elements in your apartment may seem out of your control, there are plenty of ways you can make it feel like home – temporarily, and in ways that are easy to reverse. Here are 68 apartment decorating ideas that will make living in a rental better, from design tips to organizational ideas to clever tricks for hiding eyesores.       

How to Decorate an Apartment

Apartment decorating tips: Let light in
Source: Chris Loves Julia

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
Source: Rain on a Tin Roof

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
Source: Decor Pad

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
Source: Curbly; Photo: M.E. Gray

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
Source: Curbly; Photo: Melissa Oholendt

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
Source: Apartment Therapy; Photo: Claire Bock

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
Source: Inspired by Charm

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
Source: One Kings Lane

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
Source: A Beautiful Mess; Photo: Janae Hardy

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
Source: Amazon

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


Stove top cutting board
Source: Improvements Catalog

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


LED lights under cupboard
Source: The Home Depot

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
Source: The Picket Fence Projects

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
Source: Aunt Peaches

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
Source: Door Sixteen

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


Sticker paper backsplash
Source: Curbly; Photo: M.E. Gray

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


Peel-and-stick smart tiles
Source: The Home Depot

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
Source: Make Do and DIY

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
Source: Vinyl Home

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
Source: Curbly; Photo: Faith Provencher

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
Source: IKEA

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
Source: Wayfair

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


Standing closet surrounded by a curtain
Source: Design Sponge

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
Source: @belpaoliello_loja

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
Source: Apartment Therapy

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
Source: Kmart

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
Source: In My Own Style

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
Source: Curbly; Photo: M.E. Gray

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
Source: Emily Henderson

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
Source: Melodrama

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


Cleaning grout
Source: Apartment Therapy

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
Source: Cherished Bliss

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
Source: Young House Love

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
Source: Young House Love

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
Source: Amazon

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
Source: Martha Stewart

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
Source: Curbly; Photo: Jennifer Farley

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
Source: Target

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


Curtains hung from hooks
Source: Dorsey Designs

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
Source: The Homes I Have Made

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
Source: Emily Henderson

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
Source: Apartment Therapy

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
Source: Curbly; Photo: Holly Wade

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


Curtains hung from floor to ceiling
Source: Kara Paslay Designs

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


Large floral tapestry
Source: Pink Palm Decor via Etsy

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


Vinyl dots on wood door
Source: Sarah Hearts

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

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
Source: Treasures and Travels

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
Source: Homey Oh My

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


Rug hung on wall
Source: Apartment Therapy

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


Removable floor tiles
Source: Mirth Studio

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
Source: Petite Modern Life

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
Source: Apartment Therapy; Photo: Sophie Timothy

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

Source: IKEA

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
Source: Hayneedle

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


IKEA shelving used as wall
Source: Freshome

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


Wood boxes held together by clamps to create bookshelf
Source: Livet Hemma

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


Drawer lined with colorful paper
Source: The Kitchn; Photo: Coco Morante

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
Source: IHeart Organizing

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


Organization on back of closet door
Source: Better Homes & Gardens

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
Source:  It’s Just Laine

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


Pull-down poster to hide wall-mounted TV
Source: TV Pull Downs via Etsy

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
Source: Curbly; Photo: Faith Provencher

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
Source: Curbly; Photo: JoAnn Moser

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


Flush-mounted light fixture accented
Source: Simple Details

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


Group of hanging lights that plug directly into wall
Source: Hangout Lighting via Etsy

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
Source: Curbly; Photo: M.E. Gray

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. 

68 Apartment Decorating and Organizational Tips for Renters
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