New rent? How to turn a nice space into a personal sanctuary

Even though she was moving into a rented apartment, Alexa d’Argence was eager to put her own personal stamp on it.

“The love of my space is more important to me than my security deposit. So I just used paint, shelves, window treatments, and a medicine cabinet upgrade,” says Dargens, as a senior designer at BAR Architects in San Francisco, who knows something. About creating an elegant space.

“The owner has really appreciated the improvements. I would say, consider changes that add value, which will not be removed if they go out.”

Non-designers may not feel comfortable doing this, because most rental agreements state that you cannot change anything permanently. Another way: start a conversation with your landlord to talk about possible changes, and perhaps offer to pay the bill.

People also read…

Or, just make some temporary tweaks, little personal touches that can turn cute and basic into a hip and home with just a trip to the hardware store.

“Personalizing a rental is really easy these days; there are plenty of great accents designed to be temporary,” says Jessica Doodle-Veder, executive editor of HGTV Magazine.


Jessica Shaw, director of interior design at The Turrett Collaborative in New York, is a fan of removable wallpaper. “I’ve used it in my home. Etsy, which is where I found mine, has custom prints, murals, and options. When your lease is up, you can gently remove it without any residue.”

And don’t forget the roof. In one project, I created a wow factor by placing a removable colorful geometric Flavor Paper on the bedroom ceiling. Night sky patterns or forest montages can be especially nice for city dwellers.

Denver-based designer Rachel Hoeback puts eye-catching star-shaped mosaic wallpaper on her staircase. “This was a very quick and affordable project that made a huge difference to the look of our ladder,” she says.

Removable backdrops can also add excitement to kitchen backsplashes, bathroom walls, and cabinets. Tempaper, for example, offers a range of designs, including those that look like painted ceramic tiles, terrazzo, marble or embossed metal.

Liz Morrow of Tacoma, Washington, temporarily covered her refrigerator.

“The refrigerator can be ugly or boring, but removable wallpaper can easily turn it into the most interesting part of the entire kitchen,” she says.

Dodell-Feder agrees: “This is a no-nonsense, fun solution to a blah kitchen.”

Alexa d’Argence, Senior Designer at BAR Architects, in front of the newly renovated dining room cottage, left, and a photo of the dining room prior to the renovation.

Alexa d’Argencé, via The Associated Press


“We don’t tend to think about customizing our rental storage spaces, but there are ways to improve their aesthetics and functionality,” says Shaw.

Set up custom organizers in closets to efficiently store wardrobe and household items. (The Container Store and California Closets are among the largest retailers with options.) Coordinating containers and baskets are inexpensive and ubiquitous in home decor stores.

Or create a spacious closet against the wall. You can take the clothes rack with you when you move. The heavy-duty Liddle Adjustable Rack from Rebrilliant, for example, has rubber feet that are attached to the floor and ceiling.

In a small kitchen, shelf lifts and sliding bins that protrude from cabinet shelves increase your storage capacity. And the adhesive hooks are good for hanging not only artwork but pans and utensils.

Metal service carts come in a range of colors; If you can paint, then stencil or decoupage yourself. They are handy for frequently used cooking items, or for bar equipment.

Homes - Personalize your rental

Designer Liz Morrow poses beside her refrigerator covered in removable cardboard in style at her home in Tacoma, Washington.

Liz Morrow via The Associated Press


New York City PR executive Geeta Merchandani added colorful and meaningful pieces from her favorite designers to her overall white apartment. There are Eames chairs, a George Nelson stool, Jonathan Adler screens, and Philippe Starck dining chairs. “Each one is a milestone for moments in my life,” she says.

She’s also customized her bedroom and honored her heritage. “My headboard is a colorful, hand-painted Indian screen that reminds me every day of my cool background,” she says.

Convertible furniture allows you to create specific spaces that did not exist. Murphy-style beds fold into a closet, with options like a sofa or an attached table. Tables like the one at Resource Furniture transform into dining tables, desks, coffee tables, or consoles.

And a simple room screen can be a key factor. There are solid framed panels and foldable screens in colored canvas, textiles, paper, and metal and wood slats.

Homes - Personalize your rental

This easy-to-install shower faucet provides a quick way to personalize your apartment shower with bright colors.

Sprouse via The Associated Press


Blinds or blinds can bring texture, color, and privacy.

If there are no bars already installed, spring or twist-and-fit tension bars adapt to different window sizes and have protective rubber ends. Kwik-Hang brackets can be clicked into the window frame, no drilling. Or look for Redi-Shade peel-and-stick window treatments; Some also offer improved light control.

Homes - Personalize your rental

Resource Furniture shows off the Passo table that turns coffee into a dining table.

Gabriotti Stefano, Resource Furniture via The Associated Press

final touches

Painting—and especially spray paint—is an affordable way to upgrade a space. Some types can be used on carpets and decorative fabrics on furniture or curtains. (Glidden’s Max Flex is one brand.)

Purchase some basic cabinet hardware or switchboard covers at the hardware store and paint them your favorite colors. Follow product instructions for preparing and testing surfaces before painting.

Homes - Personalize your rental

Resource Furniture shows the Tonale sectional wall bed.

Furniture Resources via The Associated Press

Changing knobs and knobs is another easy way to change the feel of a room, and there are many creative options available.

Upgrade your bathroom by changing the shower head to a colorful one, spray like rain or colors; Spros! And SparkPod and DreamSpa are some of the brands.

%d bloggers like this: