Updated: Sep 7, 2020
I remember my very first apartment like it was yesterday, even though it was 17 years ago. It was a cute one bedroom located in a great area in North Lauderdale, FL. I remember the excitement of having a space of my own to decorate. I wasn’t even an Interior Designer yet, but I knew exactly how I wanted it to look. I watched a lot of HGTV back then. Shows like Room by Room, Decorating Cents, Design on a Dime that really taught you how to decorate on a budget. It was fun and colorful, and one of the things that inspired my career move.
I also remember the many restrictions by the apartment management company, and I am sure those are familiar to every apartment dweller reading this post right now. You’re not allowed to paint, not allowed to put holes in the wall, not really allowed to personalize your own home in any way! Bummer!
As an Interior Designer, I believe that a home should reflect the style and lifestyle of the people who live there, whether it is an apartment or not. So how do you overcome those decorating obstacles? How do you avoid feeling like you are not quite settled and still in transition? How do you make it feel like home as it should be? I decided to write this post to offer a few tips, because apartment dwellers need design love too.
Tip #1 – Have a conversation with your landlord
It is worth talking to your landlord about your desire to paint and hang art on the walls. They may just say yes it is ok, or it is ok if you are prepared to fill the holes and repaint to the original wall color when you are moving out. Maybe they’ll say no, but it is worth a shot.
Tip #2 – Cover your walls with fabric
You heard me right, so please don’t freak out on me, but this tip leaves no damage to your walls. Even an accent wall in an interesting fabric would be a nice break from apartment beige. Choose a lightweight fabric and keep in mind that you need extra fabric to match any pattern repeats. You use starch to attach the fabric to the walls. Click here to see step by step instructions from AboutHome.com
Tip #3 – Use Velcro to hang art
Use industrial strength Velcro to hang your favorite piece of art. There will be little to no damage to the walls. One piece attaches to the back of the art and the second piece attaches to the wall. Then stick them together. You can also use Command adhesive strips to hang art.
Tip #4 – Use a wire hanging system
You can even create a gallery wall with family photographs or art by stringing a long strand of wire across the wall and attaching your art to the wires using hooks. make sure that the wire is pretty rigid so that it doesn’t sag.
Tip #5 – Use floor screens in place of art
Floor screens are not just great as room dividers, but they make great accent pieces against a wall in place of art. If your landlord insists on no holes in the wall, floor screens are a great way to add some much needed color in your apartment. Use sparingly and not do this to every single wall.
Tip #6 Layer area rugs over wall to wall carpet
I usually am not big on area rugs over carpet, but this is a great way to add a bold pop of color or texture if you are not able to paint or hang art. Make sure the area rug does not blend into the carpet too much. A bold geometric or faux zebra are great options.
Tip# 7 Use lots of pillows and throws
Pillows are a favorite way to add color, texture and depth to a room. If you can’t bring color onto the walls then adding pillows and throws will help add some interest.
Tip #8 Use Command Hooks to hang draperies
This is the biggest challenge that apartment dwellers face, but yes, you can have curtains in your apartment without leaving holes. Command Adhesive Hooks to the rescue! Keep the fabric lightweight and make sure that the curtains are not meant to open and close all the time. They are best left alone once they are hung, especially if you live with children and pets.
Tip# 9 – Decorate with plants and fresh flowers
Adding greenery and fresh flowers is a great way to add some life and even color to a boring color scheme. Use tall plants like a fiddle leaf fig against a tall wall where no art work exists.
Tip #10 – Create a wall of bookcases and even add wallpaper
Adding an entire wall of free-standing bookcases that are beautifully styled is a great way to add some visual interest and create a focal point in an apartment. It will definitely take away from the fact that walls aren’t painted. You can even take it a step further by adding peel and stick wallpaper to the inner backs of the bookshelves.
There you have my top 10 tips for decorating your apartment even with major restrictions. Apartment living does not have to mean blah white walls and no color. With just a little bit of creativity and allowing your personal style to shine through, you can still enjoy a beautiful home that reflects how you truly want to live. Happy decorating!
Wishing you Beauty and Inspiration!
Veronica Solomon Owner/Lead Designer Casa Vilora Interiors www.VeronicaSolomon.com