You Can Add Character & Personality to Your Rental, Even if You Can't Paint

You Can Add Character & Personality to Your Rental, Even if You Can't Paint

Nancy Mitchell
Aug 10, 2016
(Image credit: Domino)

Your dream rental has beautiful, ornate moldings, a working fireplace, and chevron floors, like some beautiful Haussmannien flat on the left bank in Paris. Your actual rental has builder-grade everything, boob lights that lovingly recall the less pleasant aspects of 1992, and no character whatsoever. And your landlord won't let you paint. So what can you do? Here are a few renter-friendly options that will bring your real apartment a bit closet to your dream apartment, without breaking the bank, or your lease.

Vintage hardware

Little details can make a big difference. Using vintage hardware on your cabinets, and maybe even your doors (like designer Jessica Helgerson did above), will add a touch of old-world charm to even the most generic space. Be sure to keep the original hardware to swap out when you turn back in the keys!

(Image credit: Elle Denmark)

Ceiling medallions

Adding moldings to a room where none exist is a pretty ambitious undertaking, but a ceiling medallion, on the other hand, is fairly easy to install, and still has a big impact. (image via Elle Denmark)

→Ceiling medallions don't just have to go overhead, either! Check this story out for more crafty ideas: 5 Artful Uses for Ceiling Medallions (That Don't Go on the Ceiling)

Swap out lights

"This apartment has really great light fixtures!", said no one ever. Fortunately, changing out the lighting in your rental for something less objectionable is actually pretty easy. Just remember to save the old fixture to put it back in place when you leave.

(Image credit: Domino)


"Add wallpaper? In a rental?" you may be thinking. But there's actually a really simple way to do this, even if the wallpaper in question is not temporary or removable. The secret? Double stick tape. (image via Domino)

Matte velvet curtains from Anthropologie
(Image credit: Anthropologie)

Interesting Window Treatments

Even if your windows are sad and frameless, you can still dress them up with a nice pair of curtains (like these velvet beauties from Anthropologie), which will draw attention to the windows and give the room a little more oomph. Hang the curtain rod as close as possible to the ceiling — it's a neat little trick that will make your windows, and your ceiling, seem much taller.

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