Thus far in my life I’ve never owned a house and at age 23 it’s not likely I’ll be investing in my own property any time soon. I’ve lived in a variety of spaces since graduating high school- a dorm room, sorority house, fraternity house (ick!), studio apartment and various regular sized apartments (because I don’t count less than 400 sq. ft. for 2 people and a dog as regular). I am obsessed with living in a space that lives and breathes “Jordyn” which is I want my space to feel like home. Even in the most dismal environments (aka the frat bedroom) I’ve done what I can to decorate a space so I feel inspired! Over the years I’ve discovered some simple ways to add decor touches to a rental without paint (or anything too permanent). Just because you’re living in a temporary space doesn’t mean you should have to sacrifice decor or waste your eye for design.
1) Paint a piece of statement furniture.
Giving a room an interesting flair can be as simple as adding a bright desk or coffee table. In one of my apartments I used an old dresser (painted turquoise) as a media center in the living room. The room its self was sparsely decorated (roommates, ugh…) but I couldn’t help but smile each time I walked in the door and caught a glimpse of my shabby chic piece. Check out Goodwill or Craigslist for inexpensive old wooden furniture, use your imagination and visualize what an afternoon and can of paint could do to spruce it up!
2) Add a gallery wall.
If your living room, bedroom (or even bathroom) has a giant boring wall feeling lonely and stark create your own gallery wall. Your gallery wall can be filled with photos of you and your besties, art prints or even framed letters or keepsakes. One of the best part about gallery walls is that there really is no limit to how creative you can be and often times the most random combinations of photos, art and objects look the most interesting. A gallery wall can fit into almost any decor style and every color scheme. I recently created a gallery wall in my living room featuring whimsical fairytale inspired art pieces and faux taxidermy unicorn head. It gives the room a completely magical vibe and I could not be more pleased with the results!
3) Apply temporary wallpaper.
While the idea of applying wallpaper to a rental is understandably daunting, temporary wallpaper is a fairly inexpensive and quick fix! I adore the look of wallpaper and it doesn’t have to be applied to an entire room to make an enormous difference. Add temporary wallpaper to a single wall, two walls, the entire room or frame it and display as a piece of large statement art. Don’t be afraid to try out a bold print or crazy pattern-it is temporary after all! You can find temporary wallpaper at Target, Anthropologie and Chasing Paper.
4) Add an area rug.
Sometimes the best sources of inspiration can come from below you. If you have beat up old carpets (as many rentals do) or cold feeling wooden floors a rug can add warmth as well as interest. A rug can can really transform a space and add dimension, texture and color. I am currently looking for a rug for my living room/dining room area in my apartment. Since my apartment is an open concept I think adding a rug to the designated living room area will help create a separation between the cozy living space and the uncarpeted dining room space. What do you think?
5) Introduce a touch of life.
Plants, flowers, and aquariums all add an interesting breath of life to a room. As someone who finds nature incredibly inspiring I find that plants in a room really do radiate sunshine on the (many) cloudy Seattle days. Even if you don’t crave nature as much as I do, plants (and fish) can make beautiful decorations. If you don’t exactly have a green thumb succulents are trendy and relatively easy to care for (don’t over water!) or if you really don’t trust yourself you can find inexpensive fake plants at Ikea or Target. I personally love picking up a bouquet or two of fresh flowers weekly to adorn the living room-these bouquets change with the season and really make a drab room feel like a sunny garden!
6) Get crafty.
If you (or one of your besties) is crafty display their art throughout your home. Art from a friend or family member is sure to make your home feel original (it is a one of a kind piece after all). If none of your friends or family members are artsy check out Etsy, there are thousands of artists out there many of which whose talents go unrecognized. Other ways to get crafty can include creating your own chalkboard and decorating it weekly/monthly, changing out generic knobs on furniture for statement pieces (I found lots at Anthropologie) or making throw pillow covers with fabric from the craft store. When it comes to crafting your options are as endless as your creativity (and your budget).
7) Add vintage details.
One of my least favorite parts of decorating is that I can’t snap my fingers and have it done the moment I move in. While I love the decorating process I sometimes feel disheartened knowing that a room will never feel “truly finished”. Most of the furniture in my apartment is pretty generic (Ikea) but I want my place to feel special with lots of character. One of my favorite ways to add quick pops of character is with quirky finds from vintage shops and farmer’s markets. I have a great golden unicorn book end I picked up while browsing for vegetables at a farmer’s market-it adds so much girly whimsy to my bookcase, I can’t imagine ever growing tired of it. Even if you aren’t into creatures of folklore there are lots of great (and inexpensive) accent pieces to be found in vintage stores. My next great display piece I’m on the look out for is an antique globe!
8) Decorate a cart.
Bar carts are all the rage in interior design right now but they don’t need to be just for alcohol anymore! As someone who doesn’t drink very often (and almost never drinks anything but champagne) I don’t like the idea of a big ode to alcohol in my apartment (it just doesn’t fit my personality) however I’ve recently discovered how multi faceted a bar cart can be. Try curating a candy cart if you’re a sugar junkie who likes to entertain, a book cart for additional storage, a plant cart to give off a conservatory vibe, or a shoe cart if you have those heels that NEED their own display.
9) Display jewelry as art.
On an art budget? Rather than allowing your gorgeous jewelry (even Forever 21 jewelry can be gorgeous by the way) to hide in your jewelry box hang it as a display. I personally just have used tacks to adorn my wall with necklaces but old dresser knobs work, a vintage frame with wire used to hang earrings or if you’re feeling really creative use your old broken pieces to make a dreamcatcher!
10) Add colorful stacks (of books & boxes).
Sometimes my friends tease me because I love to save all of my old Kate Spade, Tiffany’s and any other bright pretty boxes. I can’t even imagine throwing them out! I love to stack boxes (bonus: store unsightly necessities inside) for a burst of color and dimension in any room. I stack coffee table books underneath lamps/vases, on the coffee table, a bookshelf or anywhere else they can fit. I think book stacking (and box stacking) is an adorable way to add decoration to a room that is very inexpensive (especially if you already have the books/boxes) and takes only minutes. Love this link with 21 cool ways to use books to decorate your apartment (it works well for those of us with a library too overflowing for our bookshelf).
Just because you aren’t living in your “forever home” just yet doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice the stylish curated feel you love! Let me know if you try/have tried any of the suggestions listed and of course if you have any more tips for making a rental feel homey and original. Have a lovely weekend pretty peaches!