How to Decorate a Rental Home

I18B9527There’s no place like home, right? Well what about those of us that don’t own our own homes? Those of us that have the potential to have to pack up and move every year when our lease runs out? How do we make those temporary houses or apartments be our home? Be our safe haven where we know we belong? According to the National Multifamily Housing Council, 35% of families in the US rent either a house or an apartment, and that only continues to rise every year.

We have lived in 3 places in 4 years. We went from an apartment, to a house, to a different house. However, even though we have lived in 3 different places, I can confidently say that I have always felt at home. I have never felt like we were just stopping by before we had to pack up and leave again. We had a nest, a place to call home.


Anytime I have settled anywhere, no matter how long or short I was there, I have had to make it feel cozy. I have had to make myself comfortable in order to feel settled. In college I covered the couch with new fabric because I hated the color of the cushions, and now, in every place we have lived, I have intentionally decorated it to look as if we were going to live there forever. I have hung photos, stacked books, and thrown blankets around to make sure it felt like a home well lived in. Our home.


Now, I know you may be thinking, why spend the time or the money decorating when you aren’t going to be there forever? When in a year or two you are going to have to pack up and do it all over again? Well, I believe that there is nothing more important than having a place of your own to land at the end of the day. A place that reflects you and your family. We can’t all afford to buy a house quite yet, but we also can’t afford to not have the comfort and security of “our home”.


Over the years I have adopted and “perfected” a few tips and tricks to help when decorating a rental home. These help find the happy medium in it all. They are cost effective, reusable, and quick fixes that can make all the difference in your space.

  1. Buy things you can remove and take to the next place: You may be surprised how much these few things completely transform a room. 
    – Light fixtures 
    – Rugs 
    – Curtains 
  2. Hang big pieces: Instead of doing a whole gallery wall, with 20 different frames, hang one big picture that still make a statement, yet is a quick up and down. 
  3. Buy functional pieces you love, not ones tailored to the space: Buy basic and functional pieces that can be multi-purpose. A bookshelf in one house might serve as a tv stand in the next. Don’t buy custom pieces for a space until you own that space and know that it will be there for many many years to come. 
  4. Nuetrals: Try to stick to neutrals, that way you can mix and match whatever you need to. 
  5. Personalization: Hang photos, art work, and sentimental pieces. These are the items that are going to make your house feel like home. 
  6. Plants: This is one of the easiest ways to add warmth and life to a room. Put a pretty potted plant in the corner and there you have it. The most beautiful decoration with no nails in the wall.
  7. Paint: As long as your landlord approves, a little paint goes a long way. Yes, it may seem like a lot of work when it you don’t own the place, but if you are going to liv there for any stretch of the time, I can almost guarantee you that spending $25 on a can of paint will be worth it. 

So no more feeling unsettled just because you can’t pull together the money for a down payment yet. Time to take nesting into your own hands and give yourself the gift of feeling at home wherever you may be.


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  • Reply Ro

    I love your decor! It’s so light, airy, and rustic! My husband and I live in an apartment and would love to own a home one day, but the truth is we can’t really afford it. I love these tips you have put up here for making a rental home feel like home!

    March 27, 2017 at 2:01 pm
    • Reply NICOLE

      Ro, I totally get it! Renting can be so hard, just feeling like it’s not quite your own, but I really do believe that by making it your own, you can enjoy it as your own! And not have to pay an arm and a leg when the AC goes out 😉

      May 17, 2017 at 11:00 am
  • Reply Emmi

    These are great tips! I just moved and am working on making my new apartment feel like home and like “me”, and these are great ideas!

    March 28, 2017 at 3:57 pm
    • Reply NICOLE

      Thanks Emmi! I hope they are helpful. Moving into a new space can be so fun, having a blank slate, but also pretty overwhelming!

      May 17, 2017 at 11:00 am
  • Reply Ashlee @ The Normal Mom's Guide

    I love this! We have lived in 9 places in the last 10 years, most recently selling our home and moving across the country to an apartment. We’ve never felt settled, not even in the two years we owned a house because it just never felt like home. Great post – thank you for sharing!

    April 10, 2017 at 3:11 pm
    • Reply NICOLE

      Wow! I thought we had moved a lot. You’re a warrior my dear! Hope you are able to find some peace even amongst the busyness of life and moving. I have found that even just creating one space, corner, or room in the house to be just for me, has helped so much!

      May 17, 2017 at 11:02 am

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