33 Apartment Decorating Ideas to Make Your Rental Feel Like Home

living room gallery wall
Photo: Kim Cornelison

Making a small space feel truly homey can be tough, especially when your decorating options are limited by rental rules and landlord laws. If you live in an apartment, condo, or rental, you can still make a space your own with a few strategic design ideas. Let these apartment decorating ideas inspire you to fill your rental with style and personality.

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Install Floating Shelves

layered shelves above copper and rose gold décor
Scott Little

Use floating shelves to show off a collection of decorative objects and mementos in your apartment. Basic shelves, staggered for a unique look, serve as a strong basis for rotating displays. Wood or metal shelving will go with almost anything, which means you can easily change the look of the vignette without making any more holes in your apartment walls.

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Swap Out Apartment Furniture

living room gallery wall
Kim Cornelison

You might be stuck with basic apartment finishes and materials, but that doesn't mean you can't have fabulous furniture. Fill the space with pieces you love to help make it your own. In every room, choose a statement furniture piece to become the focal point. With a stunning mustard-yellow sofa or midcentury modern dining table, you'll quickly forget about any less-than-ideal features you can't change.

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Update an Apartment Entryway

coral hanging shelf and round mirror in entryway
Maria-Carla Atencio

If your apartment lacks a designated entry, create your own dropzone with a few wall-mounted pieces. Hang a set of hooks for hanging hats, purses, or light jackets. Choose a unit with a shelf on top for placing grab-and-go items like your keys and sunglasses. Finish the setup by hanging a large mirror for last-minute touch-ups on your way out the door. And if your rental doesn't allow you to screw into the walls, pick up a few adhesive-back hooks to do the job.

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Maximize a Small Apartment Kitchen

white kitchen open shelving over sink brass accents
David Tsay

Apartments are notorious for having minuscule kitchens. Take advantage of every inch of kitchen storage by maximizing vertical space. If your setup includes open shelves, place several stacks of dishes on each shelf, arranging like items together. Use the upper shelves for lesser-used items you don't need to access as often.

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Update an Apartment Bathroom

camper bathroom with tile wall and wood-framed mirror
The Wilde Project

Finding non-permanent ways to update your apartment is key to making a rental feel like home. You might want to add patterned tile to your bathroom, for example, but your rental agreement makes it a no-go. Instead, use peel-and-stick tiles that are easy to apply and remove when needed. Choose a small area, such as the wall above the sink, to keep costs low.

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Creative Apartment Bedroom Design

bedroom with bench
Kat Teutsch

Introduce a rental to luxury with gorgeous draperies. Hanging several sets of draperies along a wall is an apartment-approved way to give your space personality without the permanence of wallpaper or paint. It also gives the illusion that there are windows hidden behind the draperies, rather than just an expanse of blank walls.

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Faux Built-In Storage

bedroom hidden storage cabinets and drawers
Kim Cornelison Photography

Some vintage apartment buildings come with gorgeous built-ins, ideal for storing modern necessities. If your apartment is lacking, fake the look by adding a storage unit or bookcase that reaches almost to the ceiling. If allowed in your building, install moldings around the tops of the shelves to reinforce the built-in look.

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Apartment Living Room Ideas

Sitting area with tv and framed artwork on wall
Helen Norman

Turn your TV wall into a focal point in your apartment living room. Hang a gallery wall of artwork around the TV to frame it, and surround the display with furniture. This TV could have been placed on the console table beneath it, but taking it to the wall creates a surface that can be used for serving when entertaining. Plus, having a piece of furniture beneath a wall-mount TV grounds it and prevents it from seeming as if there's a random object floating on the wall.

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Hardworking Apartment Furniture

wooden daybed with ottomans
Werner Straube

A daybed can be a sofa by day and a guest-bed by night. Accented with plenty of pillows for back support, you can sink comfortably onto a daybed to watch TV or read a book. When overnight guests come, they'll have a comfortable place to sleep. Keep a large basket nearby for extra linens to make the transition from sofa to bed easy.

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Studio Apartment Ideas

living room with loft
Kimberly Gavin

Employ a few smart studio apartment ideas to make your all-in-one dwelling seem cozier. Stick with a consistent color palette from the kitchen to the bedroom. Similarly, repeat finishes and materials to create a cohesive look. Employ rugs to anchor different zones and provide visual boundaries between areas.

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Apartment Kitchen Storage

open kitchen storage
Brie Williams

Employ an industrial metal shelving unit as extra kitchen storage if your apartment's kitchen storage options are less than generous. The cool finish of this unit recalls metal touches that are standard in pro kitchens. Use baskets to corral kitchen staples, and incorporate a few decorative touches to keep it fun.

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Apartment Wall Art

black and white art pink washi tape
Nicolas Gourguechon

Small apartment decorating ideas on a budget require a little creativity and ingenuity, especially if you want your deposit back. Proving that temporary can be clever, this art display of black-and-white prints is installed with neon pink washi tape. Mixing almost-all-black prints with lighter fare brings depth to the casual arrangement.

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Showcase Colorful Apartment Decor

blue chest home décor flowers wall photos
Brie Williams

If you can't paint the walls in your apartment, paint your furniture instead. A new paint job on a bed frame or dresser can be just as impactful as a new color on the walls. Use the furniture colors as a springboard for other apartment decorating ideas to incorporate into your space. Repeat the colors on accessories and fabrics for a pulled-together look.

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Ideas for Apartment Floors

bold Brazilian blankets as rugs under table with acrylic chairs
Michael Partenio

In a rental situation, you're often stuck with whatever finishes are in place when you sign the lease. If your apartment's carpet or flooring is not so stylish, camouflage the problem with an extra-large area rug, or multiple layered rugs, that coordinates with your other decor. Plus, if you're looking for small apartment decorating ideas on a budget, this fills the bill. You likely won't need an oversize rug, which can get pricey.

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Apartment Window Treatments

You're not limited to the mini blinds that come standard in most rentals. Dress up your windows with easy DIY curtains. This no-sew project can be done in a weekend!

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Consider Apartment Furniture Placement

White desk in living room with wicker baskets
Greg Scheidemann

Picture your apartment's living space without any furniture to help you think beyond your current furniture arrangement. Decide if the room is large enough to divide into zones that will make the space more functional. Then get creative with how you start to arrange furniture. It might make the most sense to "float" the sofa in the middle of the room and place your TV on the wall facing it. You can then use the space on the other side of the sofa for an office or dining area. Place a console behind the couch to use for storage to serve both zones.

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Pile on Throw Pillows

living room couch leopard print pillows
David A Land

Even if your rental walls are white and your seating is nondescript, the smallest of decorations can make a big impact. Bring personality to your apartment with plenty of fun throw pillows. To make changing your look easier down the road, buy pillow covers and pillow forms separately. New covers can go on the forms, and the old covers can be stashed away without taking up much storage space.

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Apartment Bathroom Storage Ideas

open bath cabinet with organization
The Wilde Project

Using the storage your apartment comes with—such as a bathroom vanity—to your full advantage is a smart small-apartment idea for saving space. By maximizing what you already have, you eliminate the need for add-on storage units that make a room feel cramped. Stackable or pull-out storage in a bathroom vanity fills the vertical space and tidies up bathroom necessities. Utilize behind-the-door storage to further maximize bathroom cabinets.

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Out-of-Sight Apartment Storage

bohemian decor ikat entryway
Kim Cornelison

A beautifully skirted table provides both style and storage. Beneath the fabric, you can use the open space or shelves for out-of-sight storage. Try the skirted-table trick as a small apartment bedroom idea that houses shoes or handbags below or in a living room to hide media components.

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Add Color to a Neutral Apartment

bedroom yellow upholstered headboard
Kat Teutsch

Neutral walls can be the bane of an apartment-dweller's existence. But rather than lament, use the sea of beige to your advantage. Layer in luxe-looking elements, such as sumptuous bedding and enviable area rugs—yes, it's OK to put a rug over carpet!—all in similar neutral tones. Then add a strategic punch of color. Stick to a two-color scheme and place the colorful elements so that the eye travels around the room. Here, blue-patterned curtains dress the window. The color travels to the bed with throw pillows and passes the baton to the room's second color, a cheery yellow headboard.

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Layer Apartment Area Rugs

layered rugs in living room
Shaun Sullivan

Layering gives a ho-hum apartment a touch of sophistication. Take this trick to the floor with a duo of area rugs. Anchor a furniture arrangement with a simple neutral rug, and place a second statement rug on top. Arrange apartment furniture around the rugs for a cozy seating area.

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Work with Apartment Features

Bathroom in white and green
Edmund Barr 

Vintage buildings have plenty of charm, but some original elements can pose roadblocks for your best apartment decorating ideas. Rather than cringe at something you don't like, embrace it and find a work-around. If the bathroom tile is a shade you can't stand, for example, pick a color you do like to serve as the room's main hue. The tone of green used in this bathroom has just a twinge of yellow, which helps the accents to stand out and the yellow tile to recede. Try a blue-green with powder blue tile or sherbet orange with salmon-color tile.

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Space-Saving Apartment Ideas

space saving storage
Richard Leo Johnson 

Small apartment ideas for space saving rely on multipurpose solutions. Invest in a large, multifunctional bookcase that will serve multiple storage needs. Place it in a central location in your apartment unit and store books and dishes on the upper shelves; place bins, baskets, or drawers on the lower shelves to house linens, flatware, office supplies, and any extra things that don't have a place to live.

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Small Apartment Ideas

mirror and desk
Michael Partenio

In any small space, using mirrors is a decorating trick that works wonders. They reflect light and make a space feel bigger. Hang a large mirror in your apartment's dining space, living room, or bedroom across from a window, so it is in a prime position to reflect natural light back into the room.

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Apartment Dining Area

clear dining room set
Anthony Masterson 

A cramped dining nook can become worthy of dinner parties with a few smart strategies. Use clear chairs or a glass-top table to visually expand the space and make it feel bigger. Then hang up some artwork, and adjust the lighting. Install wall-mount sconces that don't need to be hardwired, or place lamps on a narrow console. If your dining area came with a chandelier, see if you can cover the bare bulbs with shades. Keep safety in mind by taking measures to ensure the bulbs won't get too hot with the shades—and, of course, check with your landlord first. Shades will diffuse the light, softening the room's glow.

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Apartment Living Room Furniture

couch and garden stools
Michael Partenio

Use colorful garden stools as impromptu coffee tables or bedside tables. These relatively lightweight furniture pieces can easily be moved from room to room and are much easier to carry up apartment stairs than a bulky table. Look for a color or finish that coordinates with several spaces in your home so they can travel between spaces and always look like they fit right in.

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Expert Small Apartment Decorating Tips

Decorating expert Eddie Ross is a pro at giving small spaces big personality. Watch as he spills the small apartment decorating ideas he used to make his own home look fabulous. Embrace these inspiring ideas and customize them for your own decorating needs.

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Extra Apartment Storage

shelves with curtains
King Au

Turn awkward apartment features in your favor. Tap odd corners or narrow closets for storage or a cozy seating area for one. In this living room, two narrow nooks provide storage for office and crafts supplies, and curtains can be drawn to conceal the spaces.

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Apartment Bathroom Furnishings

Richard Leo Johnson
Richard Leo Johnson

Bring furniture into your bathroom to add function and style. A slender table with a drawer can be used for storage and as extra counter space. A sturdy chair can become a perch for clean towels.

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Decorating Ideas for Apartment Walls

frames on wall
David Prince

Go all out to fill up boring apartment walls. Hang a grid of favorite pictures or prints inside frames with large mats. The bigger mats will provide much-needed white space for an active display. Onlookers will be able to take in each photo, which makes for an effective display.

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Multipurpose Apartment Storage

Multipurpose Hamper
Jay Wilde

Hampers can hold more than just dirty clothes. Use them around your apartment for stashing umbrellas and hats, extra linens, or kids' toys. Employ clever add-ons, such as a basket intended for over-the-door storage, to prevent the hamper from becoming a bottomless pit. Here, a basket clips to the side of the hamper to corral hats and scarves.

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Apartment Lighting

Apartment Lighting
Michael Partenio

Good lighting can completely transform a room, and its source doesn't need to be a hardwired ceiling fixture. Invest in lamps to place on end tables, nightstands, and side tables. Position floor lamps to illuminate dark corners, and hang plug-in sconces in hallways or above sofas. Plug-in undercabinet lighting will give your kitchen work areas new life and make cooking tasks easier.

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Hidden Apartment Storage

secret storage
John Bessler

Place furniture in the corners of rooms at an angle, and use the space behind to stash baskets of extra linens, toys, crafts supplies, or whatever else you need to store. Select baskets that coordinate with the room's style. This helps functional storage read as stylish decor.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the top apartment decorating trends this year?

    Design trends this year range from nature-inspired color palettes (think colors of blue, green, and even taupe) along with vintage vibes and lots of prints and patterns that add personality to any space.

  • What should I invest in to make my apartment look more expensive?

    In order to make your apartment look more expensive, invest in items and upgrades that increase the personalization of your space. Paint or peel-and-stick wallpaper is a great way to up the design of your walls, while things like custom curtains, artwork, and even finishing upgrades (like swapping out lighting or cabinet hardware) can make your apartment feel—and look—more expensive.

  • What is the best way to decorate a small apartment?

    When it comes to designing a small apartment, it's a good idea to choose furniture and accessories that pull double—or even triple—duty. A couch with a hidden storage solution or a kitchen table that can double as a work from home desk are all great ways to make the most of your square footage without sacrificing style and function.

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