How to Decorate a Rental Apartment Without Damaging It

a small desk in a corner of a living space

It’s in our nature to want to make our living space feel homier and more comfortable to spend time in. Living somewhere that doesn’t feel like your own may cause mental strain and lead to overall dissatisfaction with where you live. That’s why most of us want to personalize and decorate our homes as soon as we move in.

However, if you’re renting your living space, chances are you won’t be able to make all the changes you would have made if the place was yours. Even if you have a great landlord who allows you to decorate, there is usually a requirement to keep changes and damages to a minimum.

Damaging your rental property or decorating when you’re not supposed to can lead to losing your deposit at the end of your rental term. Luckily, there are ways to decorate a rental without causing long-term damage (and upsetting your landlord).

Keep reading to learn how to decorate a rental apartment without damaging it.

1. Clean the Apartment Thoroughly

a person spraying cleaner and wiping a wood table

The first thing you can do to instantly feel more comfortable in any space is clean your apartment thoroughly. No matter how clean the house is once you move in, chances are you won’t feel entirely comfortable until you give it a good scrub yourself.

Some of the most important rooms to clean when you move in include the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. Once these areas are clean, it can scrub away the feeling of the old inhabitants and make the apartment feel more like your own.

When the entire apartment is cleaned by you, you should instantly be able to feel the difference in how comfortable you are.

2. Change the Color Scheme Without Painting

The next thing you can do is change the color of your living space. When changing the color scheme of a living space is mentioned, people instantly assume we’re talking about repainting it. But, with the rise in renters across the nation, there are now more and more ways to change color schemes without reaching for a paintbrush.

Instead, get your hands on different colorful furniture covers, throw pillows and blankets, and similar décor elements. If the base of your décor is neutral, you can easily add any color into the mix and have it entirely transform the space.

What’s more, some interior design experts actually encourage this approach over repainting the room. Using this approach leaves more room for creativity and potential upgrades later on.

3. Warm Up Flooring

Similarly, another way to decorate a rental apartment without damaging it is to add more warmth, depth, and interest to the flooring. Throwing a couple of area rugs in key spaces, like the hallway, bedroom, and living area, can make a huge difference in how homely and comfortable an apartment feels.

When considering the type of rugs you wish to go with, it’s always best to choose natural materials. For instance, New Zealand wool is one of the softest and comfiest options on the market. This is why area rugs from NZ are such a popular option across the globe.

New Zealand has tons of sheep, which is a big reason why the wool is so great. Don’t be surprised if you see this material around your house in the United States. Wool is super comfortable, easy to maintain, and hypoallergenic, making it even more pleasant to live with.

4. Play Around With Lighting

colorful smart home lighting above kitchen cupboards

Lighting is another element of interior design that can instantly change the vibe of the entire space. When deciding how to decorate a rental apartment, adding new lighting fixtures to a room doesn’t necessarily have to be intrusive.

Floor lamps, table lamps, and LED light strips can create a stunning mood in your interior without having to drill any holes and mount new fixtures on the walls. When organizing these fixtures, make sure you go for a layered look that enables you to control the amount of light you have in your space at any given time.

For example, choose lighting that has different moods, colors, and dimmer options, so you can lower or increase the brightness depending on the occasion.

5. Add Interesting Window Treatments

To further boost the coziness and style of your rental apartment, consider adding window treatments in key living areas. This is an easy way to achieve more depth, color, and personalization in a living space, without causing any long-term damage.

For example, chances are that your rental already has some sort of curtains installed. However, if you don’t like them or you simply find them clashing with the rest of the design, changing them can make a huge difference. Ideally, you should try to layer different curtains to add more visual interest to your room while increasing privacy. 

For instance, you can hang light, breezy, translucent curtains in any color and thus add more vibrancy to the space. You can also layer opaque drapes over those curtains – and potentially add even more color – so you can block your windows and have more privacy whenever you need it. 


Making a rental apartment feel like home is important for anyone, particularly if you plan on renting vs buying long-term. These are just some of the ways you can decorate your rental and make it feel homier, without necessarily changing or damaging the property in any way.

Plus, the best thing about most of these home renovation ideas is that you can take everything with you when you move from one rental to another in the future.

As a landlord, it’s important to ensure your rental property attracts good tenants. Letting tenants decorate a rental in a damage-free way ensures they are happier, making them more likely to stick around long-term. For more advice on how to attract better tenants, chat with our team of real estate experts today.

At Brotherly Love Real Estate, we buy houses fast in Philadelphia and San Diego. If you’re looking for a new rental property, like a multi-family development, or want to sell a rental fast, we can help. Contact us online today or give our friendly team a call at (215) 769-9875.

Author: Mike Johnston