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Design Tips for Your Rental Apartment

The life of a renter is great from many points of view, including freedom and flexibility. However, there’s one area that’s rather beige than pink: decorating. With so many restrictions regarding how you can customize your rental apartment, sometimes it seems too difficult to make it feel like your own. 

Fortunately, as always, there’s a workaround. By paying attention to colors, textures, and lighting, you can change the feel of the entire apartment. And, depending on which interior design style you prefer, there are certain tricks you can apply to each room to make it feel more personal. 


The color scheme of the room is the one thing that will completely change the way it feels. If you don’t like the base color and want to change it, simply ask the landlord for permission. Then, choose a neutral base that’s versatile and easy to incorporate in various designs. This will also be beneficial if you want to change the color palette of the room more frequently, such as for different seasons. 

For a great base color, consider earthy ochre for a warmer feel or light gray or silver for cooler schemes. Beige or white are both classic and elegant, while coffee works amazing for a darker base. Of course, you can choose more colorful options—such as sage or sky blue—which are faded but still provide a central color for your palette. 

For the complementary colors, go bold with furniture, smaller pieces, and décor pieces. Very bright shades of orange, green, or purple—depending on your base—can really make a room feel alive. Research color combinations online and decide which ones make you feel good. To add something different and refreshing, go for the shimmer of gold, brass, or copper for stylish accents.

Textures & Shapes

Another aspect of a room that’s important for both the eye and the touch is texture. Think about what you want to incorporate in the room. For example, do you want it to reflect nature, or do you want it to feel modern and sleek? If you’re a nature lover, try textures like rock, brick, wood, or concrete. If you want a smoother feel, focus on soft materials and clean lines. 

The shape of your items should complement both the colors and the textures you select. You can either go with straight lines and clear-cut designs, or aim for combinations that result in a flowing design with rounded edges and smooth surfaces. If you feel like embracing a more random aesthetic, try combining them to achieve that shabby chic look.

Curtains & Rugs

Two of the most important—and often overlooked—elements of a room are the curtains and the rugs. These items set the base for your design through fabric and color. If you don’t have the time, budget, or willingness to change anything else in your apartment, at least focus on these two items. They can cover up blinds and floors where needed, but they can also emphasize them—if you want to highlight these features. 

Natural Details

Every room comes alive you allow natural details to emerge. To do this, focus on lighting and allow plenty of opportunities for sunlight to pour in. Pay attention to how you arrange the furniture in order to leave room next to the windows for the light to diffuse. To filter it a bit, simply invest in some linen curtains, which are flowy and light in color. 

Next, add plants to the areas you want to enliven. Your kitchen and bathroom will really benefit from them, and a splash of green is a great resting point for your eyes. If you don’t have a green thumb, search for low-maintenance plants and make sure to position them properly. Also, if you have kids or pets, be sure to research which plants are non-toxic and harmless.

Specific Design Styles

If you want to center your entire rental around one particular design philosophy, it’s best to choose one that’s easy to implement in a rental space, such as the following: 

  • Minimalism, with its clean and organized design, is great for those who want and like to keep things tidy
  • Shabby chic design looks effortless and lets the mess blend in—for those who enjoy a little bit of chaos. 
  • Asian Zen focuses a lot on furniture and can be achieved with a simple, basic color scheme. 

More challenging styles—such as rustic or industrial—are harder to achieve in rentals, but not impossible. Make sure to check with your landlord before starting any such project so you don’t risk your security deposit. Also, if you invest in high-quality furniture and décor, make sure to get renters’ insurance, which will cover your belongings in case of an unexpected, unfortunate event. 

If you’re ready to embark on this journey, just remember that the most important thing is to feel comfortable in your home. Take a good look at the rental before moving in and then take it one step at a time. Eventually, your apartment is going to look exactly how you imagined. About the author: Mihaela Buzec is a passionate reader and writer, with an affinity for language and linguistics, as well as the latest technological developments. She discovered her passion for real estate at RENTCafé, and you can read more of her articles on their blog.

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