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Improve The Look Of Your Apartment Without Getting The Landlord Mad

Aug 17, 2007
One of the drawbacks of renting is that you are fairly limited as to what you can do to enhance your decor. Most landlords do not allow you to change any of the wall or floor coverings so you kind of have to live with what you have. To make matters worse, most apartments are bland with off white walls and beige rugs.

So what's a renter that wants snazzy digs to do?

First of all, you can talk to your landlord and see if he or she is receptive to you giving the apartment a makeover. If you present them with a good overall plan, including colors and materials you might be surprised at what they will say. You may even be able to take some money off your rent in exchange for sprucing the place up! Having said that, most landlords probably won't want anything too funky so you'll have to stick to something that will be easily rentable once you move out. That custom made zebra print wallpaper might not work, but you can paint the walls an earthtone color and put some zebra print pillow around the room as a comprimise.

Another thing to consider is that since it is only a rental, you might want to really give some thought as to how much time and money you want to spend. Of course, you want the place to look nice while you are living there, but if you will be moving in another 6 months it's probably not worth spending thousands of dollars and 8 weeks to fix it up. If, however, you are committed to living there for the next several years then it might be a good investment to spend some time and money.

If your landlord gives you the OK to paint and replace flooring, it's best to go with neutrals and earthtones and let your accessories jazz up the place, but even if your landlord won't allow you to paint, there's still quite a few things you can do to give your apartment some pizzaz.


Your apartment probably has boring white or off white painted walls. You can jazz these up in a couple of ways. First of all, you can hang lots of pictures or artwork. If you put enough up you can basically hide the boring paint and transform your walls into a gallery of sorts. In order for this to be effective, however you need to group the pieces appropriately. First off, it's best to pick a theme like black and white photography, floral oil paintings or watercolors with animals. Then you need to lay out the paintings in geometric patterns - try this on the floor first to see how it looks. It usually looks better if you group them in odd numbers. You don't have to use paintings either, you can hang fancy plates, wooden masks or just about anything else that will stick on the walls.

Another way to mask those white walls is to hang rugs on the wall. A large rug can add softness and color to the room and hide most of that plain ugly wall. If a rug is too much, you might try using room divider but instead of plunking them in the middle of the room set them flat against the wall.

If you really have a lot of time and energy you can build a faux wall that fits in front of the actual wall - then you can cover that in whatever you want!


You're probably going to be stuck with the flooring that your apartment came with if it is in good condition. If it is in bad repair, you will have more leverage to talk the landlord into replacing it - make a deal with him where you do the work and he pays for materials as this is a win-win for everyone.

If you can't get a new floor, however, you can try to hide yours by using area rugs. Don't be afraid to put rugs on top of rugs but you'll have to be careful around the furniture if the rug underneath is plush as this can cause the area rug to bunch up.

When using area rugs, be sure to "anchor" them with a piece of furniture. A rug will look better if the sofa or chair is sitting on at least part of the rug.

Finally, you can make your apartment look great by adding shelves filled with mementos and collectibles. Think about making one whole wall a big shelving unit and fill it up with decorative accessories. Even if you can't do anything else to give your apartment decorative appeal, you can add lots of interesting accessories to add unique drama to your place.
About the Author
Lee Dobbins writes for an online Apartment Rental Guide where you can learn more about apartment living and to learn more about finding a great apartment.
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