10 Easy Ways to Decorate & Personalize Your Home {Even if it’s a Rental!}

Our posts contain affiliate links.  If you make a purchase after clicking on these links, we will earn a small commission, which helps to keep our content free.  You don't pay a cent more than you would otherwise, since that would be tacky! Read our full privacy and disclosure policy here.



One of our top posts ever (of our over 900 posts!) is the post that Christy wrote here for spousebuzz.com {part of military.com} discussing ways to make a plain vanilla rental home or military housing feel more like a home.


Tips for decorating a rental or military housing | 11 Magnolia Lane
We thought we’d circle back to this topic again today since we’ve done even more projects that are not only easy and affordable, but also would work well in a rental home. Since not everyone owns their home, or has the desire to spend all their free time DIY’ing, these are all simple and non-permanent ways to add your own spin to your home. Many of these small projects can also provide practical solutions to common rental home troubled ‘areas’.

{This post contains affiliate links, your price does not change should you purchase a product recommended via our link but helps us continue to provide our content for free. You can read our full disclosure here.}

Temporary Wall Paper

I am a little ahead of myself because we have a project coming up that we’re doing with this company here–Tempaper Designs, but they make just that– Temporary Wallpaper! They have really fun patterns so you can easily create an accent wall to really jazz up an all white (or beige) space. They have children’s patterns now too so you can create a special space for a child using their paper. You just stick it up and can peel it down when you need to move or are ready for a change.



Contact Paper

Contact paper patterns have come a long way these last few years and can be used in all sorts of small projects. We particularly like the patterns made by MacBeth {you can find their paper in tons of gorgeous patterns on Amazon HERE} and have used them in projects like my former pantry {see the whole post HERE} below:


full view pantry after

Christy used it to cover up the doors on some bathroom cabinets that weren’t the most beautiful {as can unfortunately be the case in a rental} and they look so much better now, don’t they? She also added new hardware to the cabinets, another inexpensive way to make a boring or dated cabinet much prettier.


Bathroom cabinets wrapping paper

Create a Gallery Wall

An art display is a great way to add interest to a boring wall and display special mementos and photos. Christy added this boy-friendly gallery wall in her son’s room using Command Tiles, which was not only easy but the tiles keep you from having to make holes in the wall, you can see how she did it HERE.


Teen boy gallery wall | 11 Magnolia Lane

{desk source here}


Use Curtains in Unexpected Ways


Isn’t this hallway pretty? Curtains used in unexpected places add interest to an otherwise less-than-exciting space, this is a great rental-friendly trick.  You can see more of this beautiful home here, and believe it or not, it’s military housing!



Andrea's house 120

Spa-like bathroom in aqua and grey | 11 Magnolia Lane

If you have a lackluster bath, you can also hang curtains on either side of a tub. This will also detract from not-so-attractive tile,  you can see more on this room and how Christy did it HERE.


Create “Faux” Built-ins

DIY Faux "Built In" Shelves--IKEA Hack

This started as a plain white wall but with some inexpensive Billy bookcases from IKEA and some trim, it now has display shelving that mimics built-ins. Not only do the shelves frame the TV but they provide pretty display space for personal items. Since they can easily be deconstructed they can be moved as needed. You can see the whole tutorial on how to build these HERE and HERE.


Use vinyl patterns to decorate walls


Pink, white, and gold girl's room | 11 Magnolia Lane

Sometimes you just don’t want to paint a room, as was the case with my daughter’s room in our new house. I couldn’t wait to decorate it but didn’t want to spend the time painting it with a houseful of other projects I needed to tackle. I added these inexpensive gold vinyl polka dots {these are available via our ETSY store HERE} to the wall in a random pattern with some tissue pom poms and the whole room suddenly had much more personality, you can see more HERE and HERE.



Use Rooms for Different Purposes



This room above was actually the formal living room in our last rental home, I re-purposed it into my home office using IKEA bookcases, a former kitchen table and a skirted countertop {you can see more HERE}. The apple green color isn’t one I would have picked for a forever home, but the white furniture and neutral accents really toned the bright color down.


Add inexpensive furniture where you need it



This kitchen cart came from World Market and fit perfectly in Christy’s small kitchen, which didn’t have an island in it to begin with.  This industrial cart not only added extra serving and counter space but added more storage too–always a good thing in a kitchen!

hutch1 after


If you need more kitchen storage but your kitchen space is completely full, a repurposed piece of furniture near your eating area can hold dishes and serving pieces, even cookbooks. This hutch was a $30 Craigs List find, a few coats of paint made all the difference {see more HERE}, we tucked it next to our kitchen table and it held all sorts of useful things right at arms reach.

Find ways to add color to otherwise white walls


art board1


This large canvas covered in fabric covers the majority of a plain white wall in my daughter’s room, it gives her a place to hang her art without holes or tape on the wall {see how I made it HERE}.


DIY Vinyl Chalkboard Calendar | 11 Magnolia Lane

You can also create a command center on an empty wall by adding vinyl chalkboard tiles {available HERE} and some clips to hang art underneath. This gives you a space to organize your family and to display treasured art work, keeping everything in one place.


Trim a Bathroom Mirror

Easy DIY for Renters: Trim a Giant Mirror | 11 Magnolia Lane


This project can make a big difference in an outdated bathroom. Using just one nail and some glue, Christy trimmed out her huge builder-grade mirror. You can see how she did it HERE.


I hope these are helpful! There are so few people that actually are living in their “forever” home, sometimes it is hard to invest time and money into a project knowing you might move again shortly. Even if you rent a small improvement can make your home feel more like your own. We’d love to hear your suggestions for other ideas in the comments.

{Also, we are giving away $500 CASH on our facebook page–just click here to find the entry link. who wouldn’t want to win that?}


AB New Headshot Small Blog

icon-facebook-1icon-instagram-1icon-mail-1icon-pinterest-1icon-twitter-1NEW Google+

{affiliate links in this post are included for your convenience, see our disclosure policy here}


  1. Thanks a million for sharing these ideas! I’m in an apt and there are not a lot of decor ideas shared for smaller spaces/rentals. Christy does an amazing job with military housing/rentals!


Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

© 2017-2019 All Rights Reserved