How to Adapt Landlord’s Decor to Your Style

There’s no doubt that decorating your new apartment with your personal style can be really exciting! Unfortunately, when we rent an apartment within our budget, we are subjected to the features that the landlord chose for the apartment. Most of the time that means “landlord white” paint, shabby floors and cheap cabinets. In addition to these less than ideal touches to your apartment, your landlord most likely has a list of rules within the lease that prevent you from making permanent upgrades. As someone who is struggling with this right now, I’ve come up with some solutions to common decorating problems that helped me turn my apartment from drab to fab!

Situation 1: You love hardwood floors, but you’re stuck with wall to wall carpet.

Empty living room. View of kitchen cabinetsFirst thing’s first, determine when was the last time your landlord has cleaned the carpet. Ideally, the carpet should have been cleaned before you moved in. If this wasn’t the case, either ask your landlord if they can have a cleaner come by, or pay to do it yourself. A good carpet shampooing can definitely help make the floors look better when old stains and spills are removed. If the carpet is a color you absolutely hate, try adding an area rug to help hide the carpet. To keep the idea of rugs on carpet “modern”, look into sheepskin rugs, bright patterns or rugs with lots of texture to give dimension to your floors. Check out Apartment Therapy for inspiration for choosing a rug for your carpet.

Situation 2: The walls of your apartment are not the color you wanted.

Empty house interior. Simple bedroom with three windowsFor a quick fix, first try asking your landlord for a fresh coat of paint to get rid of old scuffs on walls from past tenants. If that doesn’t help, suggest painting a neutral colored accent wall (with their permission of course) to bring depth to the apartment. Some ideas can include taupe, gray, or a subtle blue. If your landlord already got creative and painted an accent wall (this happened to me, I have bright mint green accent walls), you may have to change the color scheme you envisioned so that your belongings blend with your apartment. For me, I let go of playing with a gray and white color schemes to embrace tan, white and sage green accents within my apartment and it turned out better than I thought! It’s also a good idea to try wood, acrylic or leather furniture for your apartment since these materials tend to match any color.

For more tips on adding color without paint check here and here.

Situation 3: The kitchen/bathroom cabinets lack style or look too plain.

Kitchen in a modern apartmentOne quick fix for boring cabinets is to replace the knobs or handles to something more your taste. My favorite places to search for knobs include Anthropologie and Cost Plus World Market.  (For a huge and more affordable selection, also pay a visit to your local Home Depot.) New knobs and pulls are relatively affordable and can add a lot of personality to your apartment!

I hope these tips help you make your rental feel more like home! Remember there are lots of ways to update your apartment without having to break your lease. But when in doubt, just ask your landlord for permission to do something! You’d be surprised with what they’re OK with if it means making their rental more pleasing to you (and more desirable to future tenants)!

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Author My First Apartment
Anna R.

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Anna R. is currently a research assistant in a biology lab in the Bay Area and is interested in pursuing a Ph.D in Genetics. When she’s not daydreaming about food and browsing recipes on Pinterest, she likes to spend her free time dancing, paddle boarding and swimming. She’s been through a number of different housing situations and is eager to share her experiences with other MFA readers!

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