If you live in a rented house, apartment, or bedroom, your options for beautifying the interior are limited…
After all, you’re not going to spend your own money to renovate the place! And even if you wanted to, any kind of permanent changes (even as small as hammering nails into walls) will likely be disapproved of by the owner of the property, and they will undoubtedly take money out of your security deposit when you move out (especially if you didn’t ask for permission to make the changes!)
But living in a tasteless apartment is torture… so worry not, there are ways to make it look better without risking the owner taking money out of your security deposit!
1. Change the light bulbs.
If you think your skin looks bad in your apartment at night, it’s most likely not your skin, it’s your light bulbs.
Why do you think photographers obsess about lighting so much? Because it makes a HUGE difference as to how good you look!
But don’t worry, our sources say that you look good in any lighting. 😉
That said, a well-selected bulb will “paint you in the best light”, making you and your whole apartment look your best.
Bulbs are sold not only according to how bright they are, but what color they are. And we’re not talking about some special, dramatically colored red, green, or purple bulbs…
Most standard bulbs are just good ol’ white… but not necessarily a “true” white. They often have a gentle hue of either blue or red. This is expressed on the packaging of each bulb as the “color temperature” and given in degrees kelvin (often abbreviated as “K”)
The best bulbs for both flattering your skin and providing usable light for your interior have a color temperature of 2700 Kelvin (this number is almost always written on the packaging of light bulbs, and even on the light bulbs themselves).
The lower the color temperature, the warmer and more “romantic” the tone.
You can buy regular 2700 K LED bulbs, or you can make an even more dramatic stylistic statement and buy LED bulbs that look like they have old-fashioned filaments like these from IKEA. These types of bulbs are usually a little dimmer and have an even warmer color tone (around 2000 K), giving a very romantic, almost candlelit-type vibe to your room(s) at night… which may or may not be what you are going for.
2. Breathe a little magic into the existing furniture!
You don’t have to buy your own new furniture to spruce up a rental unit. It’s surprising what difference a few small changes to the existing furniture can make, and these are things people often overlook!
Coffee tables, end tables, sideboards, etc.
Again, you don’t have to buy new tables, but placing nice books, lamps, and/or framed pictures on the existing ones can really make them pop!
Couches, futons, accent chairs, etc.
Yeah… a new couch is definitely not something you want to invest in when living in a rental unit, especially if you don’t plan on staying there for long. Moving big furniture around is a “big” hassle.
But you know what’s not a big hassle? Throwing on a couple of good looking pillows and blankets to change up the look of a couch!
If you are willing to spend a little extra time and money for a more refined look, you can pay a seamstress to make a custom cover for your exact couch/futon from the fabric of your choosing.
Pictures, paintings, wall art, etc.
If your rental unit already has paintings hung on the walls, hopefully they are in tasteful locations… because now it’s just a matter of replacing them with ones that match your style!
If there aren’t any paintings already in your rental unit, you can hang your own, but to make life easy for yourself, use products that are meant for damage-free removal when you’re done with them, like 3M’s Command line of products.
Handles are important accent pieces for any furniture with drawers or doors. Furthermore, new handles for desk and cabinet doors/drawers are very easy to replace by yourself, and you can almost always do so without causing any damage!
To top it off, new handles are relatively cheap!
3. Do something with the curtains and shades.
Curtains are another thing that make a big difference in the appearance of a room.
If the curtains that your landlord put in your apartment are ugly (and let’s be honest, they probably are), hide them away in a closet, and replace them with some that match your style!
Or maybe even don’t put any up at all? That’s right, sometimes a room could look better without curtains! It will certainly appear larger. And if you want to spend as little money as possible, no curtains are decidedly better than ugly curtains.
4. Get a stylish rug
A tasteful rug can completely change the character of a space.
In many rentals, especially in low-priced (or even reasonably-priced) units, you will find old, tortured parquet floors or dated linoleum. Yuck.
If you are working with a small room, most interior designers will laugh you out of said small room if you try to cover the entire floor with a rug. But if the floor is ugly enough, covering up as much of it as possible may be the lesser of 2 evils.
That said, generally speaking, a rug should be picked according to the style you are going for and for the type of space (bedroom, living room, etc). Check out this awesome guide by Wayfair.
Nothing brightens up a day spent indoors like a nice flower in a pot.
And we’re not kidding, numerous studies show that indoor plants reduce stress for various reasons. You can check out this article on Forbes for a little more insight.
And if you don’t have a green thumb, you can opt for more low-maintenance plants like succulents.
… or just ask any employee at a garden center, they should be able to advise what plants are the hardest to kill.
… or check out this awesome guide on YouTube.
And don’t forget that flower pots are also a decorative element. Instead of buying plain, plastic pots, look for stylish ceramic pots that compliment the rest of your decor!
Whatever you do, remember that these changes are temporary! Your goal is to easily take them all down and replace them with the original things your landlord had when it’s time for you to move out.
So it’s a good idea to take pictures of your entire house/apartment/room before you start taking anything down, that way you can refer back to them when you have to put everything back.
It’s also a good idea to store absolutely everything you take down in a safe place, ideally all in the same place and in e.g. a storage bin just for the landlord’s original things. This way even the “Scrugiest” landlord won’t be able to gouge your security deposit for losing something.
After altering your rental unit with decor to match your style, you can live better everyday… basking in a room that doesn’t put a damper on your mood. Plus, you won’t be embarrassed to invite guests over for pleasant (and/or romantic 😏) evenings.