We’ve all been there. Living in a rental apartment with vanilla walls and beige wall-to-wall carpeting. And, you’re not allowed to paint. Now what?

Here are 6 simple and affordable design tips to add some drama and personality to your rental, without ever having to pick up a paintbrush.

1. Layer your rugs

Rug over carpet


Go ahead and add a fun area rug over your wall-to-wall carpeting! Not only does this help define certain areas in an open concept floor plan but it’s also a great way to introduce texture, pattern, and color.

Flatweave or low-pile rugs like the one below work best in this scenario.

2. Choose large artwork

Czart Design

Don’t skimp on size. Bring in large dramatic pieces of artwork that take center stage on your walls and demand conversation.

The smaller you go, the more you pieces will need to fill the walls. Too many frames and small pieces scattered around can start to make your space feel busy or cluttered and throws off the scale of the room.

3. Add dramatic Lighting

layered lighting

Blog Lovin

Lighting can go a long way in changing the look and feel of your apartment. Make sure you layer a variety of different lighting throughout. For example, you’ll want up lighting for conversation and entertaining. Plus, you’ll want some task lighting for reading/working.

This should be in addition to the general overhead lighting and natural light.

Small spaces should let in as much natural light as possible. Don’t cover up your windows with bulky curtains. Opt for sheer panels when you can or even roman shades that can be opened all the way.

Hue bulbs or smart light bulbs are a great way to change the mood of a space. You can set them to “energize” mode for working, “calm” mode for relaxing, etc.

4. Bring in some Plants

living room plants

On Design Interiors

Adding plants to your home can have many benefits from the air purifying qualities to improving your mood and adding some color and life to your home.

If you’re low on natural light there are plenty of easy to care for plants that can still thrive in low light areas. Some of my favorites are succulents and spider plants. They are super easy to care for and hard to kill! Win, win!

5. Pillows, pillows, + more pillows!

layered pillows

Hi Sugar Plum

It’s my favorite kind of party, a pillow party! I could be biased, but just look at what a difference throw pillows can make! And, once you have the inserts it’s SO easy and cost-effective to switch up your look anytime with some new pillow covers. If you have a small space, I recommend really going for bright colors, bold patterns, and dramatic textures.

6. Peel + stick wallpaper

removable wallpaper


Last but certainly not least, peel and stick wallpaper can be a fantastic option for sprucing up your rental. There are so many fun patterns to choose from. It’s easily removable and won’t damage the walls, which should keep your landlord happy!

Have you already tried some of these design tips in your own apartment? What’s your favorite? Comment below, we’d love to hear!

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