We know firsthand that it's not always easy to make your rental feel warm, welcoming, and customized to you. No one likes spending a ton of money on a temporary residence, plus it's difficult to find renter-friendly, landlord-approved, easy enhancements. The good news? We asked four top interior designers to weigh in on the simplest and chicest ways to make any rental house feel like home. Meet Tiffany Leigh Piotrowski of Tiffany Leigh Design, Pramiti Bhargava of BlueGrape Staging, McCall Dulkys of Interiors By McCall, and Shaolin Low of Studio Shaolin. These experts offer all their hottest tips, including some we didn't even know existed. It's time to give our rentals the upgrade they deserve.
1. Use peel and stick backsplash and floor tiles.
Whether you're looking to reinvent your rental's flooring, kitchen backsplash, or bathroom wall, peel and stick tiles are all the rage right now. And for good reason. In Piotrowski's last rental, she hid an old backsplash with removable stick-on subway tile, and Dulkys is a big believer in peel and stick decal for dated floors. Plus, since it's an affordable, impermanent option, you can experiment and go bold with patterns and colors you may not otherwise commit to.
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Tiffany Leigh Piotrowski's pick: Tic Tac Tiles Removable Stick On Subway Tiles, $45.99
Our pick: Quadrostyle Peel and Stick Floor Tile, $17.90+
2. Stock up on storage furniture.
Invest in a beautiful piece of furniture and useful storage space all in one. A few of Low's favorites are hollow ottomans, couches with hidden compartments, and beds with drawers underneath. Rental units often lack built-in storage, so get creative here.
3. Hang wall art and mirrors.
Piotrowski is all for hanging art on the walls, which she emphasizes doesn't have to be an expensive process. She "love[s] to print and frame photos from [her] travels, as they're conversation starters, remind [her] of fond memories, and they're free." Plus, it's super easy to close up the holes with spackling when you choose to move. In a similar vein, Bhargava loves mirrors for smaller rentals since they're a great way to make the space look immediately larger. They also double as artwork.
Pramiti Bhargava's pick: West Elm Round Modern Hanging Mirror, $299
4. Upgrade your light fixtures.
Whether it's a pendant, sconce, or anything in between, "light fixtures are one of the single most impactful, yet overlooked, design elements," says Piotrowski. She continues, "Since light fixtures are generally suspended from blank ceilings, they can unintentionally become focal points in spaces." Having said that, she fully supports investing a little extra money in these accents, since they're super easy to move to your next home or apartment.
Pramiti Bhargava's pick: World Market Bamboo Open Weave Orb Pendant Shade, $79.99
Our pick: West Elm Mobile 2-Light Sconce, $99
5. Spruce up your shower.
Opt for simple bathroom upgrades, like switching hardware or hanging shelves. Dulkys suggests changing out vanity mirrors — something many renters don't consider. Bhargava and Piotrowski also emphasize the importance of updating your shower curtain and hanging the rod a bit closer to the ceiling for a more elevated, custom look, and to give the illusion of a bigger space.
Tiffany Leigh Piotrowski's pick: mDesign Long Waffle Weave Shower Curtain, $55.86
6. Refresh with paint.
Bhargava recommends painting an accent wall or adding some extra flair with patterned wallpaper (removable peel and stick options included), but if you're more of a neutral person, she loves refreshing the space with a subtle color as well. Plus, did you know you can paint your countertops to look like marble? It's another affordable option Dulkys loves. This upgrade makes a huge difference without investing in a major project for a temporary rental.
McCall Dulkys' pick: Giani Marble Countertop Paint Kit, $179.95
Pramiti Bhargava's pick: Alabaster, Sherwin Williams, $19.48/quart