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Cheap Decor Swaps For Small Space Decorating

Moving into your first apartment — or even from one apartment to another — is always an exciting experience. Having your own small space and independence is one of the best feelings in the world. However, you’re not entirely free to do with your rental what you please as far as décor is concerned, anyway. Small space decorating doesn’t have to be hard or expensive!

Landlords and leases often prevent you from fully customizing your apartment. You can’t whip out a can of paint or start demolishing walls to create your ideal floor plan.

Instead, you must keep the place as-is so to avoid maintenance charges when you move out. For many renters, this means they shy away from decorating: it’s easier to keep things basic and impersonal so that move-out is a breeze.

You don’t have to fall into that habit, though. There are countless ways to decorate a rented space — or even a space you own, for that matter — that don’t require major amounts of effort or handiwork.

Here are five examples of décor swaps that’ll make small spaces even the smallest apartment feel more like you — and, therefore, more like your home.

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1. Lay Down a Rug

You can’t paint the walls of your apartment, but you want to add color and character. Consider your floor as your canvas, then, because an area rug can bring all those elements into the smallest of spaces.

There are so many rug styles to choose from, but they all serve a similar purpose: they bring rooms together, define each space’s function and brighten up your design scheme with the color your walls lack. Make your room feel more like a reflection of your style or personality.

You can find small enough area rugs to fit in galley kitchens, and large enough ones to fit beneath your sofa. Take measurements of your new space and start shopping for the carpet(s) that will make your room look and feel cozy and more colorful than the basic floors that came with your space. We made it through tip number 1 for small space decorating. See not so hard right?

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2. Hang a Kitchen Pegboard

Chances are, a small rental will not have the cabinet space you need to store everything in your kitchen. This doesn’t mean you must stack all your precious pots and pans on the countertop, though.

One of the best uses of space in your small apartment is to install a kitchen pegboard where you can hang all of your pots and pans by their handles.

This obviously will save you cabinet and countertop space, but painting your pegboard in a bright color will make it a great design element in an otherwise basic rental kitchen.

3. Choose Multifunctional Furniture

How many uses does your coffee table or side tables have? What about your bed frame? Furniture designers know many people are choosing to live in smaller spaces and therefore need to utilize every inch of space taken up by furniture.

They’ve outfitted everything from the space under your bed to the space under your ottoman with hidden storage space so that you can create a functional yet clutter-free design scheme in your small piece of property.

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4. And Add Color With Furniture

Again, your lease agreement probably prohibits you from painting the walls in your new apartment or rental home. That doesn’t mean you can’t take a paintbrush to the furniture you already have, though. A weekend is all you need to transform an old piece of wood furniture with paint.

No only will you be creating extra storage for a small room but you will be adding a nice accent or pop of color. You can brush on a bold, bright color to really make a statement with your handiwork no matter what your color palette is.

Once you’re finished, your space will have a focal point so colorful, you’ll forget you haven’t been able to paint your walls. You don’t have to do this with a big furniture piece either, it can work well with smaller pieces.

5. Light It Up

Finally, your new apartment will probably come with overhead lighting that casts a fluorescent glow. You won’t be the first person or interior designer to switch on a bright white bulb and dislike the way it makes your place look and feel.

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So, outfit your new home with floor lamps, wall lights, wall sconces, and table lamps so that you can control the color and brightness of the light in your space.

Choose bulbs and or shades that create the warm glow you seek and forego your overhead lights in favor of the ones you carefully chose to illuminate your living space. You’ll be shocked at just how different the place looks with good lighting.

This is especially true if your small or studio apartment happens to get good amounts of natural light. Accentuate your windows with unique furnishings and curtains, first, so that your eye is drawn to this design element. You can also make your ceilings appear higher by hanging the curtain rod higher over your windows.

Then, artfully tie your curtains aside to let as much light flood in during the day as possible. There’s no light quite as bright and warming as the glow cast from the sun, and your house will feel even homier with those rays flooding in.

These are just five examples of the many ways to make small space decorating less scary, and make your home feel like you own it.

Sure, it’s a small amount of square footage, and what’s there feels basic and plain. But your own personal touch can and will bring the blank canvas to life, making your rental feel a whole lot more like home. 

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If you found these small space decorating ideas helpful, please pin it to your Pinterest boards and/or share on social media.


Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.

Follow Kacey on Twitter and subscribe to her blog to keep up with her travels and inspiring posts!

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • John says:

    These are great tips. I like refreshing a room every so often with some new decor. I think part of making a house feel like a real home is to add some personal touches with things like your newest family photos or kids artwork.

  • John says:

    These are great tips. I like refreshing a room every so often with some new decor. I think part of making a house feel like a real home is to add some personal touches with things like your newest family photos or kids artwork.