6 Rental-Friendly Decorating Ideas That Won't Affect Your Security Deposit

Yes, you can design without damage.

Updated 08/23/19
Product Disclosure
Patrick Cline ; DESIGN: danielle colding design, inc

Getting an apartment is a financial hustle on its own. From security deposits to packing supplies to movers, the costs involved with securing and moving into a new apartment make it no easy financial feat. So, it's not a huge surprise that decorating is frequently put off until those funds are replenished. And knowing you’ll have to paint a wall back to white at the end of your lease or use spackling paste to fill holes might mean you avoid decorating altogether (we all want that deposit back, right?). But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here, some lease-friendly and budget-friendly furnishings and décor that won’t affect your security deposit, or relationship with your landlord.

Use Adhesive Wallpaper

wallpapered stairs
Patrick Cline ; DESIGN: danielle colding design, inc

Brands have come a long way when it comes to removable wallpaper. Now, instead of cheesy wall stickers that look cheap, or worse, stay stuck to the wall, we have amazing, chic designs to choose from. And when you're ready to move, or just make a change, all you have to do is peel down the strips. So you're free to create a statement wall or paper your whole space without fear.

Use Bookcases as a Focal Point

living room
Sean Litchfield , design by Mara Silber

If you’re not down for painting your apartment (or can’t, usually), don’t want to use adhesive wallpaper, but are sick of white walls…consider the bookcase. Grab a few cheap, tall options (think: IKEA, target, Craigslist….), make sure they’re the same finish or color (hello, paint), and then stack them with books and knick-knacks to your heart’s content. You might want to consider painting the back panels a bright hue for a pop of color behind the books and additions as well.

Don’t Be Afraid to Change the Knobs

zen bedroom decorating ideas
Alyssa Rosenheck for Oxford Exchange Design

Sure, you didn’t pick out the cabinetry, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give some personal style to the space. Swap out the pulls and knobs on your kitchen and bathroom cabinets for cool ones from the local flea market, home store, or—my favorite—Anthropologie. (Just make sure to keep them safe to replace when you move out)

Remember Lighting Is Everything

Blue Living Room Paint
Studio McGee

There’s nothing that dates and makes a rented apartment feel small and dingy than bad lighting. Make sure to combat the overhead disasters that inevitably fill your apartment with ambient lighting from table lamps, floor lamps, and even candles. Trust, the mood will completely change.

Rugs Are Your Friend

Living Room Rug
Mel Burstin for EHD / Tessa Neustadt

Not only are rugs preferred in apartments because they mute the sound for your downstairs neighbors while also protecting hardwoods, but they’re also the easiest way to add coziness, color, and pattern to a space. Make sure you don’t go too small—area rugs should go under the furniture assortment, not next to it. Rugs USA has a ton of area rugs to choose from, and are totally budget-friendly, to boot. (Look out for their sales, as well.)

Consider Renting Your Furniture and Accessories

Modern Dining Room
Bethany Nauert for MyDomaine

If you don’t know how long you’re going to be in an apartment, let alone the city that apartment is in, you might want to consider renting your furniture as a sustainable and easy option—think of it like Rent the Runway, but for the home. There are options like Feather, Cort, and Mobley.

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