How to Decorate Your Rental Easily and For Less

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It doesn’t matter if you own or rent—your home should feel like your own. Help it look that way with apartment decorating ideas that won’t break the bank (or the fixtures!). Here are 13 easy and affordable tricks for your rental, including stylish décor you can take with you anywhere!

In this guide

1. Add an area rug

Kids jumping on a white rug while their moms look on from the couch.

A rug instantly adds warmth to a space, and depth to design, especially in living rooms and bedrooms. (It’s also an easy way to hide rental floors that aren’t your cup of tea!). Durable, stain-resistant rugs in classic patterns will last a long time and can easily move with you when you’re ready for a new home.

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2. Transform your balcony

Beautifully decorated outdoor balcony with lights, BBQ, table, brown chairs and outdoor rug.

Don’t forget your outdoor space! Decorative flooring feels nicer underfoot and will turn your balcony into a true extension of your home. Top it off with outdoor seating, twinkle lights and a few plants for your very own oasis.

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3. Decorate with light

Kitchen with attractive overhead lights.

Swapping in new light fixtures can brighten up even the most boring living space without breaking the bank. It’s wise to consult with your landlord first before making the switch, and then measure your space before ordering a new fixture to ensure it will fit. And of course, keep the original light fixture so you can swap it back into place if you move in the future.

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4. Consider a coffee table

Rental apartment with white rug and wooden coffee table and grey couch.

Whether you’re kicking up your feet at the end of a long day or gathering family together for a game night, evenings tend to centre around the coffee table. Look for one with a slim profile that’s easy to move around (with no sharp edges for children’s safety). Hidden storage is always an asset too!

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5. Practice practical bathroom décor

Bathroom with nicely folded towels on stool.

A stylish shower curtain or ultra-soft Turkish towel can turn a utilitarian bathroom into a truly unique space (and still keep your floor and body dry!). To turn towels and other everyday items into décor, follow a consistent colour scheme or pattern, and avoid overcrowding—think sleek, not sloppy.

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6. Install a floating shelf

Bathroom floating shelves with carefully folded towels, floral arrangement and small basket.

A floating shelf is an easy way to create visual interest on a bare wall, and to increase storage space without expensive custom cabinetry. We especially love using floating shelves over a bed or sofa—swap art, framed photos and objects in and out to change the look of your room.

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Affordable floating shelves can do the job of a nightstand and save precious space in a tiny bedroom.

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7. Dress your windows

Living room with couch and nice grey curtains.

Practical and attractive, drapes, curtains and window shades double as décor. Choose neutrals, patterns or vivid colours depending on your personality and colour scheme. Consider blackout shades or curtains for the bedroom to block bright lights at night and sheer, gauzy options for kitchens, to allow light in while providing some privacy.

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8. Fake some custom cabinetry

Storage closet with built-ins.

Planning to stay for a while? Bust out the tape measurer and find a cabinet, storage unit or bookshelf that fits your space as exactly as possible. Fill in gaps with mouldings for the complete built-in look.

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9. Pile on the pillows

Bed piled with decorative pillows.

You know that a good accessory will transform your outfit, and apartment accessories—think throw cushions or cozy, decorative blankets—will do the same for your home. Use them to jeuj your living space without breaking the bank.

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10. Expand with mirrors

Bedroom bed with large mirror to the right.

Create the illusion of a bright, expansive space with the simple addition of a tall mirror. In small spaces, a large mirror gives the impression of a doorway and reflects light throughout a room. Place it opposite a window or your favourite piece of art so no matter where you look, you’re greeted with a cheerful view!

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11. Define your entryway

Nicely decorated entryway with baskets, table, art and mirror.

Small rentals don’t always come with spacious entryways, but through clever design, you can still define a foyer. A sleek console table with drawers creates storage for accessories, spare face masks and hand sanitizer bottles. A small rug or a statement piece of artwork can also help to define the space and create visual separation from the living area.

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12. Add wallpaper

Beautiful floral wallpaper and chair.

Give the builder’s white walls of your rental apartment an instant boost of personality with removable wallpaper. The peel-and-stick variety gives the appearance of a costly custom design, for a fraction of the price. For maximum effect, pick a wall that’s immediately in view as you enter your apartment, and one that’s a true square or rectangle for the easiest application.

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13. Get fresh with plants

Clean apartment decorated with plants.

If there’s one thing that can perk up a bare space, it’s plants. Not only do they add colour and improve air quality, caring for a plant and watching it grow can be a joyful experience in itself. Tending plants is also a great way for children to learn about taking care of their home, and the life within it.

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Shop Décor for Your Rental Apartment

Mia Shulman is a lifestyle writer, editor and content strategist who's contributed to brands such as HGTV Canada, Food Network Canada and Fashion Magazine. She lives in Toronto with her young family, and enjoys crafting with her daughter and arranging flowers.

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