Settling into a brand-new apartment? Congratulations! Your first job is to make it feel less…well, like every other apartment, and more like home. Your home. “You found the perfect apartment and location. Only downside is that it lacks personality and style,” says Michelle Harrison-McAllister, an interior designer based in San Diego. “There are easy and affordable temporary solutions to add your vibe.”
Outfitting your space, though, is not just about bringing out your style. You’ll want to optimize the limited space you have while not damaging walls or fixtures. Happily, we’ve got the proof it’s not nearly as hard as you may think. “For instance, if you are allowed to paint in your apartment, this is an inexpensive way to personalize your space,” suggests Colin Haentjens, an interior designer and licensed architect in Los Angeles. And we’ve got plenty more simple ideas that’ll wow you — and make sure you get your security deposit back — whether you’re a renter or a serial redecorator.
Apartment living room decor
This is where all the fun happens. Make your main space look the part with fresh design ideas.
Mistana Timm Chevron and Herringbone Peel and Stick Wallpaper Roll ($25.08 per roll; wayfair.com)
Ideal for renters, these removable panels give you the look of honest-to-goodness wallpaper without fuss. Just peel and stick to any smooth surface. You can even use them to spruce up furniture. You can calculate how much you’ll need by the square foot, or by the roll, which covers 16.5 feet by 20.5 inches.
Manchester Entertainment Stand ($84.99; target.com)
Vinyl has come back in a big way, so this space-saving piece may well be a must-have addition to your living room. It’s midcentury-inspired, and just check out that cherry wood finish. It could also work as a side table or nightstand, or be a multifunctional piece.
Rust-Oleum Chalkboard Paint ($10.98; homedepot.com)
Haentjens is a big fan of this specialty chalkboard paint, even if only used on a portion of a wall. “You can constantly update your environment,” he says. “By allowing your friends to express themselves, you’ll have an evolving piece of original and meaningful art.” It can even be used on wood, metal and glass.
Let the Sun Shine In Wall Tapestry ($31.49, originally $44.99; society6.com)
“Tapestries are an easy, temporary way to cover a large expanse of wall,” says Haentjens. “Styles range from subdued to wild, and they come in an array of shapes and sizes, so you can liven up any wall area you like.” If this one isn’t quite your taste, take a look at the Society6 store — one is more beautiful than the next.
Falsa Polychrome Washable Rug (starting at $109; ruggable.com)
This festive rug with New Mexico vibes will instantly add cheer to any home. And — get this — you can toss it in the washing machine. You just need to take off the nonskid backing first. And it’s more than pretty — it’s pretty tough. It’s also water- and stain-resistant.
Apartment bathroom decor
You may not spend all that much time in your bathroom, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t make a style statement.
The Twillery Co. Long Trellis Bath Rug ($34.99, originally $99.99; wayfair.com)
It’s hard to think of an easier way to give your bathroom a new look than switching out the rug. This one, with a modern geometric design and an anti-skid backing, is made of 100% cotton and is odor-resistant. It comes in a slew of great colors and can be machine-washed and machine-dried too.
Tuva Knobs, Set of 2 ($20; anthropologie.com)
“Cookie-cutter apartments typically have cheap hardware in bathrooms,” says Haentjen. Swapping out cabinet knobs and drawer pulls is not hard, he adds. These elegant knobs will give a boring washroom new life.
Segbeauty Shower Dispensers, 3-Pack ($16.99; amazon.com)
Replacing product packaging with sleek containers is a fast, easy way to elevate the aesthetics of your bathroom. Enter this trio of plastic pump dispensers for shampoo, conditioner and body wash. The warm golden color is great for fall, but the set also comes in a pretty blue. (At this price, you can grab both and swap out.)
Vintage Palm Shower Curtain by Drew Barrymore Flower Home ($25; walmart.com)
Give your bath a shot of vintage drama with this woven cotton shower curtain. It’s lined so splashes are contained, and it’s festooned with tassels for extra flair.
Apartment kitchen decor
Those often cramped apartment kitchens need to be done up with an eye toward functionality as well as flair.
Very Berry Marble Effect Peel-Stick Countertop ($34.90; amazon.com)
Rentals often have outdated, basic countertops. A peel and stick countertop, or an adhesive countertop, is a budget-friendly and fast way to make your new apartment channel your style. They can also be easily removed when it’s time to move on. As you can see from its happy reviewers, this lustrous white marble effect vinyl can instantly modernize a more outdated-looking kitchen. It wipes clean, so it’s easy to maintain as well.
Legrand Radiant Wireless Charger ($57.17; amazon.com)
Kitchen counter space is precious. This genius charger will replace any standard outlet in about 15 minutes. (Don’t worry: No new wiring is needed.) Your phone will be up and out of the way as it charges. It looks a lot nicer than a charging cable next to your toaster too.
Honeywell UltraPro Puck Lights, 3-Pack ($29.99; amazon.com)
Hello, under-cabinet lighting! These would look amazing in a galley kitchen. They’re both linkable and dimmable. They’re easy to install — and to remove and take with you to your next home.
LongKing Peel and Stick Backsplash ($34.99, originally $39.90 for 10 sheets; amazon.com)
“This fabulous marble-look tile backsplash is as easy to clean as it is to put up. You just wipe with your normal cleaner,” says Harrison-McAllister. It’s heat- and moisture-resistant, so it will hold up fine even next to the stove or sink. You can pick from 10 different color palettes and tile designs.
Smoko Potato Light ($22; urbanoutfitters.com)
We only have eyes for this spunky spud. Its soft glow turns on and off with a touch sensor, and it’s USB rechargeable. No, it does not serve any purpose besides sitting on your counter looking astoundingly cute. Isn’t that enough?
RoomMates Tin Tile Peel and Stick Wallpaper ($34.99 per roll; amazon.com)
This goofproof wallpaper can be peeled off and repositioned, and it doesn’t leave any sticky residue behind. It’s durable and thick, with each roll covering about 28 square feet. You can also get it in a nice copper shade.
Apartment bedroom decor
We spend a third of our lives asleep, so it’s well worth the effort to turn your snoozing space into a sanctuary.
Opalhouse Tropical Peel & Stick Wallpaper Green ($34 per roll; target.com)
This sunny wallpaper couldn’t be easier to put up. It’s completely self-adhesive. And it can be peeled off — no residue — and put back if you don’t line up the print just right the first time. Whether you’re reimagining an accent wall or your whole bedroom, peel and stick wallpaper is one of the easiest products to work with, asserts Harrison-McAllister.
“With so many colors and patterns to choose from, you can express your personality,” she says.
Nanoleaf Rhythm Smarter Kit ($199.99; homedepot.com)
How cool is this? Put together your own design with modular light panels, then place it on your wall with mounting tape. Colored lights will sync with soothing music as you wind down for the night. Through the app, you can even set a gentle wake-up “alarm.”
Marseille Rug (starting at $60; riflepaperco.com)
This stunning yet affordable floor cover, starting at roughly 2 feet by 4 feet, is just the right size for a smaller bedroom. It’ll look great at the foot of your bed. Larger sizes and lots of other gorgeous designs and colors are available too.
Fasade Brushed Nickel Waves Backsplash ($19.95; homedepot.com)
Who says a backsplash is only for the kitchen? The metal-look backsplashes by Fasade are a favorite of Harrison-McAllister’s. She uses them throughout clients’ apartments, including bedrooms. “The illusion of metal works with both rustic and modern styles,” she says. “I like this funky wave pattern on headboards.”
Novogratz Webster Plant Stand ($64.99; target.com)
Greenery adds life, color and visual interest to a room. You can display three potted plants on this industrial-rustic piece. It’ll be perfect in an apartment where there aren’t enough windowsills that work for your philodendrons.
Pompom LED String Lights ($16; urbanoutfitters.com)
This jaunty set of lights brightens up your bedroom without the surface-scarring adhesive most LED light sets use. They work on batteries, so you don’t need to display them near an outlet.
Apartment office decor
A work-from-home space is a new necessity. Whether you’re lucky enough to have an actual room, or only a nook, we’ve got the goods that’ll inspire your best work.
Erin Gates by Momeni Zebra Area Rug ($123.29, originally $399; amazon.com)
Elevate your work area with a chic faux fur rug. It has a low pile — only 1/10 of an inch — so it looks like actual animal hide. The soft backing grips bare floors to keep it from slipping around. It also comes in cheetah and brown cow designs.
Wiremold Cable Management Kit ($11.18, originally $13.99; amazon.com)
Keep your workspace from becoming a tangle of wires. Corral all those cords in sleek covers that set up with easy-peasy adhesive backing. Tip: Paint them the same color as the wall to turn ugly wires into an architectural element.
Lasko My Heat Personal Electric Heater ($38; walmart.com)
This personal ceramic heater will keep you cozy while adding a pop of color to your work spot. Another plus: It takes up hardly any space, and it’s truly small enough to sit on your desk. Oh, and if you pay for utilities, you’ll be happy to hear it runs on only 200 watts. It’s also available in white, a vivid blue and black.
Midcentury Geometric Removable Wallpaper ($59; urbanoutfitters.com)
A cinch to stick, unstick, restick and remove, this graphic wall covering will infuse energy into your work area. An Urban Outfitters exclusive, it comes in convenient panels. Use one to set off a small area or several to enliven an entire wall.