It can be difficult to make an apartment feel like it’s your own, especially when it’s small, dated, or otherwise lacking in design appeal. But it’s definitely not impossible.

The key to decorating a studio apartment—or any size apartment—is to focus on the things that you can do to make a personal statement in your rented living space. This includes reversible apartment decorating ideas that make a big impact but that won’t cost you your security deposit later on.

So if you’re one of the many people asking “where do I start when decorating an apartment?”, then you’ve come to the right place. We’re sharing some of our best apartment interior design tips, including simple and straightforward updates that any renter can do to make an apartment feel more like home.

Apartment Decorating 101

How do I decorate my apartment?

It’s a question that gets asked all of the time, from first-time renters getting settled in their very first apartment to long-time renters who have just made the move to a new unit—or who are simply sick of the lackluster décor in their current space.

The good news is that there are plenty of useful ideas for how to utilize space in an apartment with plants and decorating, including design-driven workarounds for when you can’t paint, drill, or make any other sorts of permanent changes. This is true regardless of your design style, so whether you’re into modern apartment interior design or something a bit more rustic, you’re actually a whole lot less limited than you might think.

We’ll be sharing our favorite apartment decorating ideas below, but we also encourage you to look for other ways to edit your space in a way that speaks to your personal style. The more you that you can bring into your space, the quicker it will become somewhere that you really, truly love to be.

This master bedroom makeover by Skillshare student Lara Bobo is totally achievable in an apartment thanks to the plug-in light fixture and other reversible decor picks. 

What About Small Apartment Decorating Ideas?

Being limited in space is among the trickier apartment interior design scenarios. Before we move on to our more general tips then, let’s tackle some of the essentials around decorating a studio apartment or other small living area:

  • Section out the space. Create designated “zones” within your small apartment to give the appearance of more room. Rugs, partitions, and plants are all great for doing this.
  • Avoid clutter. Counterintuitive as it may sound, having empty space is crucial in studio apartment interior design. Use functional storage to keep clutter out of sight, and make sure there’s more than enough room to walk around.
  • Let there be (reflective) light. Mirrors are an excellent way to add more square feet without, you know, actually adding more square feet. Use floor mirrors and wall mirrors to duplicate your space and to double the amount of light as well.

5 Tips for Decorating Your Apartment

When it comes to interior design for apartment living, creativity is the name of the game. Bring some much-needed personality into your rented home with these quick tips, most of which we pulled from designer Albie Buabeng’s Skillshare class.

1. Swap Out Your Hardware

Source: Instagram
Updated cabinet hardware is a standout feature in this simple but stunning bathroom. 

Sometimes it’s the simple things that make the biggest difference, especially when “how can I decorate my apartment for cheap?” is top of mind. Case in point: changing out your cabinet and door hardware, an easily reversible upgrade that just happens to be majorly cost effective too—just look online to find a great deal on new hardware in bulk.

As a bonus, this is one of those apartment interior design ideas that’s particularly well-suited to small spaces, since it doesn’t take up any additional room. Do ask your landlord though before swapping out anything major, such as the hardware on your front door.  

2. Bring in New Light Fixtures

living room
Source: Instagram
Use plug-in lights for pretty new fixtures that don’t require you to mess with your apartment’s wiring system. 

New lighting is one of those apartment interior design ideas that can totally change the look and feel of your apartment. To keep it reversible, opt for plug-in options instead of fixtures that need internal wiring, and consider mixing it up with some interesting sconces or neon signage. Check out antique stores and estate sales for one-of-a-kind fixtures, or keep it modern by shopping your favorite online retailers. Just note that you’ll still have to do some drilling, so have the spackle ready for move out.  

3. Install Temporary Wallpaper

living room
Source: Instagram
No paint? No problem. Stick to removable wallpaper and make a statement that’s a cinch to take down later on. 

Three cheers for whoever invented removable wallpaper. This adhesive backed solution is an apartment dweller’s dream, since it’s easy to apply and to remove. You can get temporary peel-and-stick wallpaper at most home improvement stores, but check out Etsy if you’re looking for something a bit more fun, bright, and original.  

4. Put in a DIY “Mudroom”

mudroom door
Source: Instagram
You don’t need a lot of space or a lot of money to create a designated “mudroom” in your apartment.  

Do you have a wall next to your front door? Perfect, you have a place to put in a functional entryway.

A mudroom-like space is a luxury to have in any apartment, since it gives you somewhere to store your coats and purses and put your shoes on before you head out. And it requires very little in terms of furniture—just a shelf, some hooks, and a cube or chair to sit on will suffice. And depending on your budget, a garage sale or secondhand store might be just the right place for finding what you need.

5. Design a Gallery Wall

lots of posters on the wall
Source: Instagram
The more the merrier when you’re decorating your apartment with art. 

Last but not least when it comes to mastering interior design for apartment living is to hang art, and lots of it. A gallery wall is one way to do it, and provides a focal point that centers your space while also creating a ton of visual interest. And no worries if you don’t want to bother with a hammer and nails—washi tape or removable adhesive are both durable alternatives for hanging prints, so long as they’re not framed.

Looking for even more great modern apartment interior design ideas? There are courses for that! Check out Interior Design for Beginners or Everything Small Home Design to get a broader feel for the essentials. 

Be Your Own Best Designer

Style Your Space: Creative Tips and Techniques for Interior Design

Written by:

Laura Mueller