Add Living Color
Short on outdoor space and verdant views? Bring organic colors, textures, and forms inside by displaying an array of plant materials. Cultivate a countertop herb garden. Fill a tiered plant stand with ferns. Suspend cascading spider plants in front of a window. Tuck a potted fig tree into a bright corner.
Shine a Fresh Light
After checking with the landlord, replace existing light fixtures with more fashionable fittings. Opt for fixtures with personality-plus profiles that attract attention and further your design vision. When replacing an old fixture with a new one: Turn off the power for the room where you'll be working, and remove the fixture. If the electrical box is loose, tighten the screws. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for installing the new fixture. Store the old fixture somewhere safe so you can reinstall it before you move on.
Update with Fabrics
Utilize lively patterned fabrics or touchable textiles to create captivating walls. Get an upholstered look by tacking fabric panels at the top and bottom of the walls. Or wrap a plywood panel in fabric to use as a jazzy headboard or to frame as cool artwork. Frame multiple fabric-wrapped panels and set them against a wall as a faux paneled wainscot.
Be Shelf Savvy
Optimize wall space by adding attractive shelves that increase your small home's purpose and good looks. Mount shelves that show off your favorite collections, books, and artwork or that can be used to store kitchen tools and bath essentials. Opt for shelves equipped with pegs or hooks for holding towels, coats, or backpacks.
Enhance an Entryway
Purchase a bookcase with removable shelves that you can convert into a mudroom/coatroom of sorts. Set the bookcase near your main entry, remove the upper shelves, and install hooks for holding outerwear. Outfit lower shelves with shoe racks and baskets for holding gloves and boots. Entryway too tight? Set a coat tree or a wall-hung coat rack near your front door.
Dress Walls for the Short Term
Give your perimeters panache using peel-and-stick wallcoverings that are removable, repositionable, and oftentimes reusable. Shop for self-adhesive wallpaper panels, wall-size murals, quotable-sayings stickers, and artistic motifs to temporarily add color, pattern, and dimension around a room or on a single feature wall.
Layer Interest Underfoot
Hide the tracks of those who rented before by dressing outdated floors and worn carpeting with high-fashion area rugs that further your color story. Instead of store-bought rugs, create floor cloths from canvas or vinyl flooring remnants that you can personalize with paint and pattern.
Organize Your Wardrobe
Outfit clothing closets with specialty racks and hangers, storage bins and baskets, shelf and drawer organizers, and hanging organizers that expand storage capacity. Free up closet space by utilizing under-the-bed bins, bags, and rollouts to store out-of-season togs, bulky sweaters, and smaller things like shoes, purses, and scarves.
Paint It Personal
If the landlord allows, refresh walls with paint colors that appeal to your decorating eye and complement your favorite things. Lighter hues reflect natural light and expand the perception of space. Deeper tones cozy up lofts and add pizzazz to tract-style apartments. Choose light paint colors if you will be required to repaint before moving out.
Compose Collected Character
Rely on a mix of flea market finds, repurposed furnishings, and fun collectibles to make your rental feel like home. Refresh down-but-not-out wooden, wicker, and metal furniture with your favorite color or colors of paint. Boost each piece's impact by adding stenciled patterns, decoupaged images, and/or fetchingly formed hardware.
Hang plenty of mirrors to enhance light, spatial perceptions, and style. Choose large and small mirrors that suit your aesthetic leanings. Display the mirrors individually, as part of an art arrangement, or as a gleaming all-mirror grouping. Add a full-size mirror to a bedroom or bathroom door to support your best-foot-forward pursuits.
Create Temporary Transitions
Divide wide-open spaces without building walls. Place folding screens, bookcases, console tables, standing lamps, or sofas as partial partitions that separate eating, living, and cooking spaces. Use area rugs and hanging light fixtures to further define spaces with different purposes.
Make a bare-bones rental kitchen more functional. Enhance cooking, serving, and organizational processes by moving in a freestanding island, wheeled bar cart, or shelving unit. Optimize efficiency by choosing storage pieces equipped with a work surface that you can use for prepping food and setting out buffets.
Swap Out Hardware
Effortlessly update kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities by switching old hardware with more appealing pulls and knobs. Since you'll be taking the new hardware with you when you move, consider investing in quality options. Store the "old" hardware in an envelope placed in a rarely used cabinet drawer so you can easily reinstall all the pieces before your lease is up.
Renters often find themselves with minimal cabinet space. Make the most of the cabinets you do have by outfitting their interiors and drawers with inserts that double their utility. Use compartmentalized drawer organizers, back-of-the-door racks, turntables, stacking bins, and tray holders to keep kitchen and bath essentials sorted and accessible.