5 Tips to Personalize Your Rental (No Paint Required!)

My boyfriend and I were out walking our puppy today and I noticed one of our building neighbours had painted stripes on her walls. (The windows were open. I couldn’t help looking!) It made me wonder how many other units had been personalized too… I’d love to see what others have done with an apartment identical to ours! My boyfriend pointed out that many probably hadn’t changed at all, but I’m sure there are others out there like me who want more than plain white walls and drab old carpet.

We have the luxury of being able to paint our walls (well… Luxury might be a strong word. We still have to paint it back when we move, so I’ll go with lucky). However, this clearly isn’t the case with a number of places. What can you do to personalize your home when you can’t pick up a paintbrush?

1. For one, you can switch up your hardware:


Aren’t these awesome? And they are DIYed! They look like true Malachite knobs, but in actuality, they’re plain old white ceramic ones coloured over with a teal sharpie. For a full tutorial, check out her blog.



If a piece of furniture can change this much, imagine how much of a difference it could make on your cabinets. Just be sure to match the size of the new knob to your existing ones, and switch them back when you move!

2. Switch out door handles.

I often see people replacing cabinet hardware, but why not doors too? Ours are especially dull… Old basic gold and a silver with paint splattered on the sides after years of repainting our apartment. You could always switch out your current ones for a pretty new pair, or better yet, add in some character with a glass knob like this.


I’ve been crushing on this vintage style for quite a while now… Check some out at an antique store in your neighbourhood, or better yet, a warehouse that sells salvaged vintage pieces. Jack’s New and Used in Vancouver is a great option for any local readers out there!

3. Washi tape walls.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Washi tape walls? How simple and effective!

You wouldn’t have to stop at diagonal stripes. Chevron, squares, diamonds… There really are so many possibilities. For more pattern inspiration, feel free to check out my Favourite Patterns Board on Pinterest!

4. Multiple light sources and dimmers.

One thing I often find in a rental are the cheapest possible choices, and lighting is no exception. I’ve had living rooms that don’t even have an overhead lamp.

I’m picky with light. I can’t stand a room lit with harsh overhead lights, bleaching out the colours in the space. Imagine how much of a statement a gorgeous lamp could make in a rental, and how much better the room would look well lit?


However, I’m clearly not about to go off changing the hanging lamps I have in my place any time soon. Maybe one day…

That being said, I often read designers mentioning how important multiple sources of light are, especially when used with a dimmer switch. Even adding a few great accent lamps on your side tables and beside furniture can make space feel so much cosier and warm. What’s more, you can even buy cheap dimmer cords to add in some lovely mood lighting to your existing lamps! Check this option out from Ikea for $10.


5. Plywood wall.

If your walls can’t be painted or wallpapered, why not add a wall in that can be?


I mean seriously. How sweet is that accent wall? She made it with a piece of plywood. I love it. The project adds so much more character and depth to an otherwise white backdrop.

Hope these ideas have inspired you to make some changes in your home! If you’re going to be living there, why not make it feel more like you, and less like a plain old place you’re staying in?


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