6 Affordable Ways to Personalize Your Apartment


As soon as you turn the key and open the door to your new place, you feel a sense of excitement — that is, until you remember that the interior is pretty blah. Most rentals come without much character in order to appeal to a wider range of potential renters. This strategy does nothing to make you feel at home, though.

That’s why, once you’ve turned the key and moved into your place, you want to personalize it as best you can without breaking your rental agreement. There are plenty of ways to work around the clauses that forbid you from painting, renovating and piercing too many holes into the walls. Here are six of the many design tips that do just that.

Light It Up

Your apartment likely has overhead lighting, but it’s not often that landlords choose bulbs that cast a warm, cozy glow over the space. Instead, they typically go with budget-conscious, long-lasting fluorescent bulbs, which drown everything in a bright white light that can be overpowering, to say the least.

If this is the case in your new home, forego built-in lighting for lamps of your own. You can plop them on tables and sit them on floors. Perhaps more importantly, though, you can outfit them with lightbulbs that create a warmer environment in your apartment.

Swap Cabinet Hardware

Your apartment’s kitchen may not be the modern culinary paradise of your dreams. Since you can’t renovate it to suit your envisioned design, you should try swapping out the cabinet hardware. This is an extremely easy task if you choose cabinet hardware that matches the preexisting holes in your cabinet doors from sets of hardware past. Simply remove the existing handles and knobs with a screwdriver, and then secure your new ones into place with the same tool.

Store the original cabinet hardware somewhere safe so that, when you move out, you can put them back for the next tenant. Your landlord will appreciate that, too.

Cultivate a Houseplant

You may think you have the opposite of a green thumb, but many houseplant varieties are resilient and, more importantly, very easygoing. This means you can forget to water them for weeks on end and they’ll stay green, healthy and happy.

Houseplants do more than just look lush and pretty, though. They also help clean the air in your apartment, filtering any lingering toxins and making every inhalation a bit fresher. Once you put one small bloom in your new place and see how it improves the look and feel, you might just find yourself becoming an indoor gardener in no time at all.

Paint — but Not the Walls

Obviously, your landlord would not be pleased if you brushed a new coat of paint onto the decidedly neutral walls of your new apartment. That doesn’t mean you have to put down your paintbrush permanently, though.

Instead, add a pop — or pops — of color by painting pieces of your furniture. A neutral wall creates the perfect backdrop for a pale blue dresser or a hot pink coffee table. You’ll be surprised at just how effective a coat of paint can be in making your new home a bit more you.

Cover the Carpet

The walls get all of the attention when it comes to their plain, neutral colors, but it’s likely your apartment’s floors are a bit blah, too. In that case, it’s time to invest in area rugs for each of your separate living spaces: living room, kitchen, dining room, bathroom, etc.

You can do so much more than lay a single rug in each space. Pioneering designers before you have learned the value of layering rugs to create a serious design statement. This is great news for your budget, too, since smaller rugs cost less. Go for the more intricate and expensive design on a smaller tapestry, and you’ll pay much less to create a focal floor.

Hang Art and Mirrors if You Can

Most landlords are OK with you hanging things on the wall, but double check your lease before you take this bit of advice into consideration. A piece of art is a surefire way to add a bit of personality and a lot of color into your space. The canvas you choose will say a lot about you once it’s hanging on the wall. It will be even more personal if you design and paint it yourself — it’ll save money on your budget, too.

Mirrors can also have a huge impact. They reflect light to brighten your space, and an intricately designed frame can speak to your style. With both mirrors and art, you can display them without hanging them up in the traditional way. Leaning them against a wall is the easiest way to do it. Extra-large pieces can stand on their own, while smaller ones might need to be placed atop a table or dresser before they’re leaned against a wall, too.

The simplicity of the above six design ideas shows just how quick and easy it can be to personalize your new home. Don’t see your apartment’s beige-on-beige color scheme as a bummer: See it as a blank canvas waiting for you to make your mark.

Sarah Landrum

After graduating from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR, Sarah moved to Harrisburg to start her career as a Digital Media Specialist and a writer. She later founded Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to helping young professionals navigate the work world and find happiness and success in their careers.