22 rental home decorating ideas to upgrade your space under $40

Have you ever thought that the only things standing between you and a delightfully decorated apartment are the lack of a huge budget and the threat of losing your security deposit? It’s true that you could send your landlord into a bind with too many nail holes in the wall. But that doesn’t mean you have to settle for living in a dull apartment with even duller walls just because you’re not allowed to paint them.

” To show creativity [with] decorating a rental home or apartment can be tricky,” says Sarah Cooper, interior designer and studio manager for Atlanta-based Ashton Woods Homes, an award-winning luxury home builder. “After all, every item must be removable and cannot prevent you from receiving a full security deposit.”

Luckily, there are plenty of budget-friendly ways to put your own stamp on the place with accents and décor that can be easily removed when it’s time to move. We reached out to Cooper and several other interior design experts to get their thoughts on ways to improve your apartment rental. The best part? Everything here is $40 or less, and none of them should bother your landlord.

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Add texture and layers with rugs

“A great option for adding style to your apartment is to use area rugs to add a layer of depth to your room,” says Forrest McCall, co-owner of home improvement blog, Mama Needs a Project. “If you have hardwood floors, adding an area rug can help limit the ‘harshness’ of your space and also reduce noise.”

Besides the comfortable feel of the rug underfoot, McCall says you can choose colors and patterns to make your space “unique and special.” Here are a few that look premium but won’t break the bank.

For an overview: “These are very soft and just beautiful. A nice surprise as the cost wasn’t bad at all and they are washable which is great since we gave away pets. Definitely recommend.

For an overview: “The softest blanket ever.”

Upgrade kitchen cabinets with new hardware

“With holes already drilled in your cupboards, [you can make] a statement with fun colored pulls or simple stylish pulls,” says Cooper. It’s a DIY project you can complete in a day, she says – just be sure to keep the original hardware so you can replace it before you move.

For an overview: “I absolutely loved the look of these drawer pulls when installed BC [because] they had a nice clean look that is classy but not garish.

Add color with plants and flowers

“Using plants as space fillers is another great way to make a space feel cooler without using large objects,” says Rachel Robarge, design manager at June Homes, an apartment rental company.

No worries if you don’t have a green thumb. Here are some fake versions that will add “life” to your space.

For an overview: “I basically took this plant out of the box and dropped it straight into the basket,” said one 5-star reviewer on Amazon. “I separated some of the stems to get the look I wanted and that was it. Great faux plant!”

Decorate the walls

Some landlords will let you paint the walls, but if you do, you’ll probably have to change them back to their neutral color when you move. Make your life and the walls themselves easier with peel and stick wallpaper. When it’s time to remove, follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully so as not to damage the walls – a little heat from a hair dryer might do the trick to loosen the adhesive.

For an overview: “I get so many compliments on how beautiful this look is! People can’t believe it’s wallpaper!

Raise the stakes – or just your curtain rods

“An instant way to make your space feel more luxurious without making any structural changes is to lift your curtains,” says Jessica Harris, Production Design Manager at Living Spaces. “It’s a common misconception that curtains should hang directly from the window frame. Hang your curtains about a foot above the window frame to create the illusion of a high, raised ceiling. Harris advises hemming longer curtains if necessary so they don’t flood below the window.

You can also try this trick in the bathroom with your shower curtain, says Harris. Simply hang the tension rod a little higher and your bathroom will instantly look like it has a higher ceiling.

For an overview: “I like the simple design and it was easy to install. Able to hold curtains a bit heavier than I expected.

In the bathroom, hang the tension rod wherever you want and slide over a hookless shower curtain to easily achieve the desired length.

Consider your space

A well-placed mirror not only makes it easy to check your reflection, but it also reflects off your space to make it look bigger.

Robarge recommends leaning full-length mirrors against a wall so you don’t have to worry about damaging the wall. If you want something on the wall, here are some lightweight mirrors that double as decoration.

For an overview: “They were cheap enough that if they didn’t work I wouldn’t be upset at the money spent. They ended up being beautiful anyway! They really helped bring together some of the wall space that I didn’t know what to do with.

Shedding light on the situation

The light fixtures installed may be minimal in your rental, and it may be difficult to add more even if you get the landlord’s approval.

“Instead of hanging light fixtures in your space, which can be heavy and difficult to remove, try using different light sources to create an intimate feel,” says Robarge.

Here are some lamps that are easy to place or install, without taking up too much space.

For an overview: “Simple setup, looks great. Worth the price.”

Simplify the shelves

You might think you’re relegated to bulky bookcases to store books, decor, and more in an apartment. But with easy-to-hang floating shelves, you can free up floor space and your conscience since you’re not damaging the walls.

For an overview: “Love!!!! Works like a charm!”

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