6 Safe Ways for Renters to Personalize Their Apartment, According to Interior Designers

These renter-friendly tricks will make any space feel like home

an apartment with a terrace
(Image credit: Sivan Askayo. Design: Studio Oshir Asaban)

Interior design is all about making a space your own and putting your stamp on a place to reflect your style. When you're renting, however, adding character to a space becomes much more difficult.

As a renter, I know the pain of feeling like you can't personalize your space. There are so many unique paint ideas and amazing kitchen trends I'm desperate to join in on, but can't. You can easily feel disheartened and resigned to the fact your house will never feel homey. 

The good news is that there are many ways you can make your mark without painting, drilling, or knocking anything down that still make quite the impact. Here we spoke to interior designers to find out the simple, safe ways they recommend decorating a rental to introduce personality and charm, all of which will have your house feeling like a home in no time.

1. Peel and stick wallpaper

A hallway with poppy wallpaper and green trim

(Image credit: House of Hackney)

Often when you rent you're stuck with bland white walls but, instead of seeing this as a curse, view it as a blank canvas for your personal stamp. 'Almost every wallpaper company has a peel and stick option these days,' says founder and principal designer at Zinnia Design Studio, Patricia Knight. 'Pick your favorite and go for it.'

Wallpaper is a quick way of adding personality to a soulless space, instantly transforming it into something more homely. There are many prints, textures, and wallpaper trends for you to discover, and we guarantee there's something for everyone.

'There are very affordable price points for this wallpaper and you can apply it yourself,' Patricia says. 'You can add this to one accent wall or do an entire room in your favorite pattern or color arrangement,' she explains.  And when you want to switch it up or you're moving out, simply peel it off and it will be as if it was never there.

2. Add color

Built in wooden tv console with decorated shelves and a frame TV

(Image credit: Heidi Harris)

The easiest way to make your rented house a home is by utilizing color. Too often people leave their rented homes neutral to match the plain interiors, but all this does is contribute to the emptiness.

If DIY isn't your thing and you're reluctant to add color through peel-and-stick wallpaper, try creating a color story through decor instead. 'You can then pair plain walls with statement-making distinct pops of color using decor and accessories like throw pillows and bright kitchen appliances,' says Patricia. 'This is not as big of a time and budget commitment as well,' she explains. Making it perfect for renters.

To increase harmony in your home opt for a color palette for each room. Be inspired by 2024 color trends and unusual combinations to test in your home. It will elevate your home and demonstrate your design credentials to any guests.

3. Use plenty of lighting

Statement lighting in kitchen

(Image credit: Novogratz)

Lighting is one of the most important elements in interior design. It can make or break a space, and I think we can all agree that soft warm lighting is the key to creating a warm and cozy space. There is no space for harsh overhead lighting in our books.

Celebrity design duo, Robert and Cortney Novogratz, recommend opting for a statement light fixture with a dimmable soft warm bulb to create a welcoming ambambience. 'Good kitchen lighting is essential,' they say. 'It's an unexpected and stylish design detail that totally elevates the space.'

Try adding an unusual lampshade to upgrade your lighting solution and, to create a homey and cozy living room feel, ensure you have multiple lighting options to avoid the big light. We love this fun lamp from Anthropologie, but there are many options out there for every aesthetic and budget imaginable. 

4. Add art

a living room with a modern gallery wall

(Image credit: Blaine Davis. Design: Timothy Godbold)

'One way I would advise renters to personalize their space is through art,' says designer Kathie Chrisicos, founder of the eponymous Chrisicos Interiors. Curating a gallery wall can be an easy way to show a bit of personality and flair. With the use of command strips, like these ones from Amazon, this can be done in a totally damage-free way - no nails or holes to be seen. 

The art doesn't have to break the bank either. There are many prints available online for reasonable prices, alternatively, you can pick them up at second-hand and vintage stores for something a bit more unique. 'Focus on accessories that you love with a plan of future use in a wide variety of spaces, such as oversized books, vases, sculptures, and pottery, as well,' says Kathie. This can provide a focal point to shelves and tables to make them look more considered and design forward.

5. Layer textures

light grey rug in minimalist living room with fireplace and boucle chair

(Image credit: Armadillo)

Texture is a surefire way to make a space feel more inviting. Think sumptuous velvet, boucle furniture, and soft wool. Layering textures together is a great way to make bedding appear fluffier or curate a cocooning living room. 'Layers can bring warmth to just about any location,' says designer Courtney Novogratz. 'We use pillows and throws, and love mixing and matching bedding.'

Another way to incorporate texture is through a statement rug. 'We believe a great rug is the soul of every room and should be a reflection of who you are,' says Courtney. 'Sometimes the rug is a supporting cast member, other times it can be the lead,' she explains. If you have hardwood floors a rug is a hug to continue to create a more homey atmosphere that can also contribute to the overall design of the space.

6. Use a statement headboard

velvet headboard

(Image credit: Chrisicos Interiors)

Making a bedroom feel personal can be difficult when you're renting. You can add art and a rug to kick-start the process, but if you really want to elevate your sleep space and make a statement go for a unique headboard.

'I would add a creative oversized headboard in your bedroom to create a sense of design and permanence,' says Cathie. 'Then take it a step further by accessorizing your linens. It might feel like an investment, but it's a good one as they travel with you wherever you live.'

Follow these tips and your rented space is bound to feel like a true extension of your personality in no time. Finally, you can begin to call your rental 'home'. 

What to buy

Amy McArdle
News writer

Amy recently completed an MA in Magazine Journalism at City, University of London, with experience writing for Women’s lifestyle publications across arts, culture, and beauty. She has a particular love for the minimalist aesthetic mixed with mid-century furniture, especially combining unique vintage finds with more modern pieces. Her previous work in luxury jewellery has given her a keen eye for beautiful things and clever design, that plays into her love of interiors. As a result, Amy will often be heard justifying homeware purchases as 'an investment', wise words to live by.