8 Things You Can Do Now to Improve Your Rental

Today I'm having a chat with all my fellow rental / apartment dwellers. Just because you live somewhere you don't OWN shouldn't stop you from decorating it and making the most out of it. That's a lesson I learned through college, especially while living in situations I didn't love...you can make anything feel like home! (Trust me, I lived in a dining room of a downstairs basement apartment once...) Living in quite a few rental places over the course of my adult life had me thinking about all the ways you can improve the look of them. Most of these ways don't even break the bank or take too much effort!

1. Hang curtains.

I think this is the number one thing that helped transform my last apartment! I hung pretty gold curtains from Crate & Barrel really high up above the window, which gave the effect of taller windows and ceilings. It really opened up the space and added height, texture and color. If you're not hanging curtains, you are missing a huge opportunity to dress up your rental!

Designer tip: make sure your curtains are not hung right above the window, but instead, a lot higher to create the look of even taller windows and ceilings. Also be sure your curtains touch the floor!

2. Add character.

Need more surface area in the kitchen but don't have an island? Consider getting a piece with character to wheel in for an island. My roommate and I did that in our LA apartment. You can do this with other pieces of furniture and wall hanging that you might find a flea markets, consignment shops, or the like.


3. Replace a few light fixtures (and keep the old ones!)

In my last apartment, I was able to replace a hideous light fixture above the dining table with this beautiful chandelier. It made a WORLD of difference! The old one (which I don't even have a picture of) looked like a UFO. It was nuts. This one helped open up the space because it was more delicate and airy. I got it from World Market and though it's sold out, this one has the same look.

4. Paint, if possible!

If your landlord allows it, a fresh coat of paint always breathes new life into a space! The apartment we live in now has a nice greige color on the walls, which I would have picked out myself, but in my last place, it was ALL a flat, builder white. I know white is in, but I would have chosen a different one ;) The bathroom shower, sink and toilet weren't stark white and since the walls were, it was just an awful combo. I got permission to paint the bathroom and ended up going with Stonington Gray by BM. It looked SO much better! I got a white shower curtain and that really made the gray/blue shade I chose pop.

Granted, the floors and cabinets are still terrible, but it's so much better!

5. Hang art.

What a major way to add personality and color! Whether your art consists of abstracts, wedding photos, wood signs-- hanging things on your wall not only brings interest and something to look at, but it always creates height in the room + makes it feel more "lived in" and homey!

6. Switch out your hardware!

I've switched out hardware in my apartment kitchens and bathrooms before and it really does make a big difference! Sometimes rental kitchens have terrible hardware because, well, the landlord just doesn't care! You can go to Anthropologie, World Market, or an antique shop and find adorable hardware to change it to. Instant facelift!

7. Bring in life.

A few house plants and succulents always make a huge difference! Bring the outdoors in, no matter how big or small your place is.


8. Add a rug.

Even if it's on top of carpet, it's okay! Rugs help define spaces, which often needs to be done in apartments. They also add warmth and texture.

Design tip: if you're building a house or replacing carpet in your current house, I always prefer a low-pile carpet for bedrooms (and anywhere, really!) Low pile carpets give you the freedom to layer rugs on top so easily. Another tip is if you have a higher-pile carpet, try not to layer with a really high-pile rug.


Hopefully these tips are helpful in making WHEREVER you live feel like home! I really do believe you don't have to wait until you've purchased a house, or live in your "forever" house to love where you live. Did I miss any tips for decorating rentals?!

Happy Thursday!


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Thank you for stopping by! If you have a specific question, please email me at hello@michaelanoelledesigns.com. I always reply to emails! Have a blessed day! xoxo

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