8 Renter-Friendly Design Tips To Make Your Space Feel Like Home

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I have lived in rented homes all of my adult life. In my early 20s, I didn’t think it was worth the effort to personalize a rental—this was a temporary space, so why bother? Over time, however, I realized I didn’t feel relaxed or at ease in my home. The beige walls, overhead lighting and thrown-together furniture and decor I had left me feeling unsettled. Learning how to turn my rented apartment into a home was the beginning of my love affair with interior design.

8 Interior Design Tips for Renters

Through trial and error, I’ve discovered that living in a rental doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style or a personalized space just because you don’t own your home. There is so much you can do—from paint and wallpaper to upgrading fixtures and lighting. Ahead, I’ve rounded up the best interior design tips for renters from my personal experience in turning beige boxes into warm and stylish homes. 

Maximalist bright kitchen paint.


Rental walls usually come in a safe, neutral beige which may appear… well, a bit boring. The best interior design tip for renters I can give is to love up on your walls. Give them a makeover by adding a bit of color or by choosing a neutral that suits you better. Even taking your walls from a beige to a crisp white will brighten up your space significantly. Most landlords have no problem with paint as long as you’re willing to paint the walls back to the original color once you move out, or they may let you keep it.

One of my favorite things to paint is the interior of my front door. My current landlord, as well as my previous one, said I can leave it as is when it’s time to move out. I love pink, so my front door is Sherwin-Williams Coral Perfection. It’s a delightful pop of color that makes me smile every time I look at it. Plus, it makes our entryway is cheery and inviting. The whole project was less than $20—proving that paint is an affordable way to make a big impact in your space.

Peel and stick kitchen backdrop

Peel and Stick Products

A round-up of interior design tips for renters wouldn’t be complete without giving peel and stick products a major shout-out. Peel and stick is incredible for renters, since they’re temporary solutions for bigger projects that would normally require renovation. Here are a few of my favorites. 

Peel and stick wallpaper

If painting is a no-go, peel and stick wallpaper is an excellent option for zhuzhing up your walls. I am a huge fan of adding peel and stick wallpaper anywhere your heart desires. Create a statement wall in your living room or make your powder room pop with a bold color or pattern. I’ve added peel and stick wallpaper to my kitchen, my laundry room, and most recently my home office.

Wallpaper has completely transformed these spaces, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how they’ve turned out. Plus, removable is a breeze—I’ve had no wall damage when I’ve removed peel and stick wallpaper. There are tons of installation YouTube videos you can watch, but I will say from personal experience that it’s not quite as easy as it looks. Don’t be afraid to hire a TaskRabbit or wallpaper pro to get the job done!

Peel and stick floor tile

Renter floors can range anywhere from vinyl to tile to even hardwood. Peel and stick floor tile now makes it possible for renters to update their floors in a temporary and affordable way. I’ve never tried them myself, but peel and stick floor tiles look fantastic in a kitchen or powder room. They can make an outdated floor feel current without costing a ton as well.

Be sure to thoroughly clean your floors and allow them to dry before applying, and map the tiles out before sticking them to the floor. There are adorable floor tile designs out there, from checkerboard tile to starbursts, and loads of color options as well. And just like with any renter-friendly project, check in with your landlord and be prepared for removal when it’s time to move out!

Peel and stick backsplash

One day when I have an unlimited budget for my home, I will add gorgeous tile to my kitchen. Until then, a peel and stick backsplash will do the trick. It is totally possible to update a rental kitchen without a big renovation. Peel and stick backsplashes range from thin sheets to peel and stick ceramic tiles, so you can pick and choose what works best for you, your budget and your rental.

Be sure to look for peel and stick backsplash that is heat and water-resistant, and make sure the product is appropriate for your specific project. Peel and stick tiles are not only suitable for kitchen backsplashes, but also bathroom vanities, fireplaces, and laundry rooms to name a few.

A bathroom with warm wood and wall sconces

Add Puck Lights

Overhead lighting is my personal nemesis. Instead of relying on big overhead lights, fill your rental with both table and standing lamps. This will create a much more relaxed atmosphere. For an even cozier touch, utilize puck lights. These battery operated lights often come with a sticky adhesive so you can place them under cabinets for gorgeous accent lighting that looks especially lovely at night.

Puck lights also make wall sconces renter-friendly, with no hardwiring required. Sconce lighting instantly elevates your space and can add a cozy, personalized lighting effect to your entryway, bedside, or over framed art or pictures.

Bold lighting fixture living room.

Update Lighting Fixtures

Ah, the dreaded boob light. Most rentals are full of them, but that doesn’t mean they have to stay. An interior design tip for renters that many aren’t aware of is that it’s possible to update lighting fixtures. You can do it yourself (just be sure to turn off all the breakers!) or bring in an electrician. I’ve swapped a dated dining room light fixture for a woven pendant that is much more my style and it makes a huge difference in our space.

I have my eyes set on swapping our overhead entryway light, and even bathroom light fixtures as well. Personalized lighting fixtures can take a boring, neutral space and turn it into one full of character. Just be prepared to take your incredible vintage chandelier with you when it’s time to move out. 

Shower head design tips for renters.

Give Your Shower Head an Upgrade

There’s nothing more deflating than a shower with dismal water pressure. My current home came equipped with a handheld shower head that had a very gentle flow of water. I’m not especially fond of shower heads that detach and the water pressure just wasn’t doing it for me. A simple swap couldn’t have been easier, and I now have a spa-like shower with water pressure I find suitable. Most shower heads can be removed simply by unscrewing them, and I applied my fixed shower head in minutes. 

Read more: We tested the viral Jolie shower head—these are our honest thoughts.

Swap Out Your Switch Plates

The little details in your home are everything. Even the smallest of swaps can make an impact in your space. One of my favorites is swapping out switch plates. Your renter switch plates probably match the beige walls, which is less than exciting. But there are many decorative options to choose from to match whatever your aesthetic may be.

Decorative switch plates usually don’t cost more than $20, and they come in brass finishes, different colors and prints, and some even have wavy perimeters. Switch plates don’t come with matching screws, but a little bit of nail polish on the top is an easy way to blend the screw in with the rest of the plate.

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