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Make your Rental Feel Like Home Without Breaking the Bank

make your rental feel like homeHome, sweet home. The one place you truly look forward to being at the end of a long day. However, for those enjoying rental life, creating a cozy space that feels like home may be a bit more of a challenge. It’s time to make your rental feel like home – and without breaking the bank I might add.

Make Your Rental Feel Like Home Without Breaking the Bank

This post was written by our awesome staff writer, Kerah Kemmerer.

Getting Started

Many of us have had to rent – or even still choose to rent – over the years. But with limitations on…

  • what you’re allowed to physically change inside your space,
  • the hesitation to get too many signature pieces that will have to be moved from place to place,
  • and the lack of desire to spend money on improving someone else’s property,

…apartment living can be a little frustrating for the aesthetically-inclined.

But not to fear! There ARE ways you can still make your rental feel like home without breaking the bank. Here are seven ideas to get you started.

Related: Is Home Ownership As Great As It Seems?

1) Change the walls temporarily

Some landlords don’t mind if you throw a fresh layer of paint on the walls to personalize your space. And that splash of new color can make all the difference.

But, if paint is a no-go, there is always the option of dressing  up those drab walls with peel-and-stick wallpaper. This approach CAN get pricey though, so it’s best to choose an accent wall or even use the temporary paper as a faux headboard. Less is more when it comes to patterns. Places like Amazon are usually the best for an array of peel-and-stick wall paper patterns at solid prices.

You can even find plain or textured temporary paper and paint it! Win-win!

Paper not your preference?

If the idea of papering doesn’t appeal to you, try hanging lightweight linens and fabrics as signature wall pieces. Bold, bright patterns work well here and the fabric can eventually be re-purposed, ultimately reducing waste.

Finally, adding some signature art to the walls will really personalize the space. Adhere prints to the walls with command strips and if you are too afraid to hang framed photos, lean them against the wall on dresser tops or shelves.

There is always a way to incorporate art and make your rental feel like home.

2) Spice up the necessities

Thrift stores and yard sales are some of the best places to find unique pieces on a dime. Focus on the details of the aesthetic and decide if the item really brings you joy (hello, KonMari Method!) before bringing it home. No need to have a ton of items just for the sake of personalizing your space, but finding a few pieces that really speak to you and can work in any rental you may find yourself in is always best.

Finding quirky necessities is a fun way to stay on budget and still have fun. Go crazy with:

  • unique and colorful toothbrush holders,
  • fun shower curtains,
  • colorful kitchen gadgets,
  • throw pillows and blankets.

Basically, if you need it anyway, make your rental feel like home by adding splashes of color and personality with the little things.

Related: Your House is a Terrible Investment

3) Window treatments to welcome you home

In my years as a renter, one of the more challenging aspects has been window treatments – or the lack thereof. I’ve lived in rentals with old, torn up mini-blinds and no installation of curtain brackets allowed, and rentals that had no window treatment set up at all.

Considering that every new place will have differently sized and a differing amount of windows, this is probably an area you will want to keep a bit more budget-friendly.

The best way to get around the cost here is to find cheap curtains at a thrift store or Walmart and use tension rods. In fact, tension rods can be your friend in many ways. Check out all the other ways you can use them here! Command strips are another fan favorite and work well for hanging lightweight fabrics.

You can always go the route of making your own cheap window treatments with this quick and easy No Sew Curtains tutorial. 

Or, you can go for a clean and simple look by making DIY cornices or roman shades.

No matter what style you choose, all it takes is a little creative effort and you won’t need to break the bank by adding window treatments to your rental home.

make your rental feel like home4) Don’t let your flooring be boring

Oh, rental flooring. It’s often seen better days…

  • from carpets
  • to hardwoods
  • to old, tiled bathroom floors.

While there isn’t a too much one can do to remedy a rental flooring situation, there are a few workarounds to make it feel more like home. 

First, you can always look for gently used area rugs at thrift or discount stores. Oftentimes you can even find them for sale on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. These carpets can cover a multitude of “ugly” when it comes to pre-existing flooring.

Another option is to spend a little bit of money on a temporary fix.

  • Floating click-together vinyl flooring
  • Peel-and-Stick vinyl tiles, and 
  • carpet tiles (they aren’t too expensive as long as you are working with a small space). Plus, they can go right over existing hard floors and be easily removed if the landlord doesn’t like them.

In fact, it may be worth asking your landlord if he or she would be willing to reimburse you for the cost of the upgrade if the end result is something that really adds value to the space.

Check out this rental bathroom makeover showcasing the use of vinyl tile flooring. In fact, the whole bathroom is a temporary makeover that can be returned to it’s former state if the landlord required it. But seriously – who would want to go back?!? A Reversible Rental Bathroom Makeover under $500

While the upgraded flooring (and whole room) option may only make financial sense if you expect to be in the same rental for several years, it is something to consider if you just absolutely can’t stand the current state of your rental and want to make it feel more like home. 

5) Lights and knobs to personalize your space

Two MORE ways to spruce up your rental space on a budget is to incorporate upgraded lighting and show off some new cabinet hardware.

Apartment lighting can leave a lot to be desired, so adding in…

  • floor lamps,
  • table lamps, and
  • string lights…

…can really brighten up the space or add a bit of mood lighting. Check Target, Walmart and Amazon for quirky lighting options under $30.

Cabinet Hardware

You can also update cabinet hardware and interior doorknobs on the cheap by checking out places like your local hardware store, Amazon or Knob Depot.

The challenge will be finding pieces that match the already drilled holes as you will want to avoid drilling new holes without permission. Be sure to save the original hardware as well so that it can be reinstalled when you leave!

Changing out doorknobs and hardware is another fun and cheap way to spruce up your rental and make it feel like home.

6) Creative storage options for a cozy rental space

There are so many creative ways to add extra storage into your space that I couldn’t even begin to name them all.

I could go on and on! There is no shortage of cheap or DIY storage projects to be found, and a quick Pinterest search should have you immersed in a variety options for hours. Just another way to help make your rental feel like home without going into debt.

7) Add Plant Life

Finally, adding some plant life to your space is a cheap and simple way to really add that homey touch. Adding foliage also creates a calm and soothing atmosphere and some varieties even purify the air inside your home.

Easy ways to incorporate plant life inside your space is to:

  • hang flower boxes from your windows,
  • hang flowing and vine-like greens from your ceilings,
  • place small, potted plants in your windowsills.

And if you are feeling ambitious, you can even try your hand at container gardening.

This type of gardening is exactly like it sounds, and doesn’t require that you tear up any existing lawn. Some plants may even be able to grow inside with the proper amount of sunlight. While plants are just a small investment, they can make a huge impact in your living space.

By the way, be careful when applying these seven ideas. You may end up making your space so cozy that you may never want to leave!

Are you currently renting? What is your favorite trick for making your rental space feel more like home?

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AUTHOR Kerah Kemmerer

Hello! I'm Kerah. I'm a writer and personal finance enthusiast with a background in marketing. I'm also a wedding and portrait photographer, part-time RVer and a lover of simple and minimal living. Always up to some project or adventure over @krisandkerah on Instagram.

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