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7 Ideas That Add Character To A Cookie-Cutter Rental

apartment decor ideas
Here’s proof that color, custom storage, and style aren’t limited to homeowners.

Unless you’re lucky enough to live in a grand older building, a loft, or one of the high-design modern luxury developments that are popping up everywhere, your apartment might best be described as a plain white box defined by a distinct lack of character. After all, apartment complexes are generally built to appeal to just about everyone.

That’s where decor comes in. But decorating that new apartment for rent in Boston, MA, isn’t necessarily about what you like — it’s also about what won’t affect your security deposit. The following apartment decor ideas will help you bring personality to your pad without freaking out your landlord. (Just make sure to read the fine print of your lease or get the OK from said landlord before reaching for that paint roller.)

If your cookie-cutter apartment needs a makeover but you’re short on funds, you can follow along with GingerFred’s 12-day house hunt and enter to win $2K a day of Daily Dough every day from December 1 to December 12!

Repurpose a craft staple

Washi tape is all over Pinterest, and for good reason. The adhesive-backed paper strips are affordable and come in a rainbow of patterns and colors. Since it’s basically pretty masking tape, washi tape presents endless DIY options for renters. We love how Molly Madfis of the blog Almost Makes Perfect used washi tape to create a pattern on her plain white closet doors that’s reminiscent of architectural molding.

Can’t paint? Go for (temporary) wall coverings

“Look into removable wallpaper. The stuff has grown leaps and bounds in recent years — there are so many cute varieties on the market,” says designer Jacqueline Clark. “It’s a great way to personalize your space, without any permanency.” Chasing Paper is just one of the many companies offering an impressive range of motifs and solids that rival “real” wallpaper, with precut options backed with a low-tack adhesive that allows you to simply peel away panels once moving day rolls around.

Use color strategically

Whether you use removable wallpaper or can actually paint your apartment, a “statement wall” makes the task easy. By focusing the attention on just one wall through color or pattern, you’ll create a visual illusion that makes a room seem longer or wider (depending on the dimensions of the wall you choose).

Hide visual clutter

Apartments never quite have enough outlets, which leads to a mass of wires, cables, and extension cords. However, this inconvenience presents an option to get creative. “When it comes to hiding wires, try your best to camouflage them into your existing decor,” says designer Kristin Jackson of Hunted Interior. “I like to use garden stools for hiding wires and routers to keep my desk area clean and stylish.”

Choose dual-purpose pieces

Jennifer Koen, vice president of business development at designer furniture consignment site Viyet, has noticed a demand for furniture that can serve more than one purpose. “Dual-purpose pieces such as ottomans with storage inside, small x-base benches that can be tucked under a console and pulled out for extra seating, pull-out sofas, and nesting tables for entertaining are always on trend,” she says. Koen also points to the trend of bar carts, which can add style and be of endless service. You can use the cart for entertaining, as a movable bookshelf, or as display space for small items and art. Use it by the door to bring a welcoming touch to your entry (no matter how tiny).

Accessorize with storage

There’s only so much that can fit in an under-the-bed box. Baskets and decorative bins provide a spot to hide clutter while adding a little personality to your space. You can also pair them with open shelving or a storage piece, a la Liz Fourez of the blog Love Grows Wild. She used rustic bins to bring a vintage feel to the credenza.

Fix a boring view with window decals

Peel-and-stick film ranges from privacy-boosting frosted effects to patterns reminiscent of stained glass. No matter what you choose, it’s one of the cheapest ways to add a little extra interest to a window.

What’s your favorite way to add character to an apartment? Share your tips in the comments below!