11 Cheap Decor Ideas That Will Make Your Rental Feel Luxuriously Cozy

  • area rug rental decor

    area rug rental decor  (irina88w)

  • Bedroom wall draping

    Bedroom wall draping

  • Create a warm glow with an assortment of candles.

    Create a warm glow with an assortment of candles.  (PeopleImages)

The only thing worse than the hopelessly thin, sterile walls that come with a new rental is the long list of "don'ts" you get from your landlord, essentially forbidding you to make changes of any sort.

How, exactly, are you supposed to make a space your own without forgoing your security deposit? Well, you gotta work around the restrictions.

You might not be able to paint the walls, change the boring kitchen cabinets, or replace the dated bathroom tile. But there are a few other tricks you can employ that will turn a rental into a warm home, regardless of how long you're staying. Check out these clever decor ideas.

1. Removable wallpaper

Peel-and-stick wallpaper, which is easy to remove, is every renter's dream. There are tons of companies making versions of this, so you're sure to find one that fits your style. Transform all of your walls, create a statement wall, or disguise beat-up cabinets, all in a day's work. Plus, at $30 to $60 a roll, it's completely affordable!

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2. Stick-on tile

We love stick-on tile because it's multipurpose, easy to use, and full of personality. Create a faux headboard, change up your kitchen backsplash, retile your bathroom, and more -- the possibilities are endless. Plus, you can mix and match the designs to create your own unique look. Then, when it's time to move out, simply take them down and no one will ever be the wiser.

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3. Gallery wall

Nothing will make you feel more at home than being surrounded by the people, places, and things you love.

Pick a prominent spot in your space and create a gallery wall with photos of family, shots of favorite places, or memories from your travels -- anything that puts a smile on your face. The secret to getting it right is balance: Pick an anchor piece and place it in the middle, then work around it.

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4. Fabric drapings or painted plywood

No, we aren't just talking about those fluttery bohemian weavings (although we love those, too!). Swath a wall in a piece of fabric you love, or paint a sheet of plywood in the color you wish you could paint your walls, then mount it from floor to ceiling and you'll barely tell the difference. This may create a little extra cleaning work -- it tends to collect dust -- but it's totally worth it.

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5. Area rugs

There are two things that instantly warm up a home: an area rug and curtains (more on that later). A bold area rug will completely reinvent those old, cold bare floors. Plus, it can help you create natural boundaries to set apart "rooms" if you're in a studio or smaller apartment.

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6. New hardware

Knobs or handles on cabinets, drawers, doors (or really anything) can easily be switched out. Replace the standard ones with an elegant bronze pull, a charming painted one, or a quaint crystal knob. Don't be afraid to have fun with it -- just be sure to keep the original ones so you can switch them back when you move.

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7. Statement pieces

We're not telling you to ditch the Ikea stuff entirely -- not everything has to be your forever furniture. But if you want to up your decor game, try investing in at least one piece you love -- a cool side table, a patterned chair, a great light -- something that represents your personality. You'll feel a lot more at home, and that will radiate through your rental.

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8. Good lighting

Do not -- I repeat -- do not live with only fluorescent lighting overhead. Simply put: It's unflattering for you and your home. Opt for incandescent bulbs to cast a soft, warm light. Find some beautiful lamps and place them abundantly throughout your home. Your eyes -- and your visitors -- will thank you.

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9. Quality linens

Nothing will bring you back to college faster than using cheap sheets, blankets, and towels in your apartment. Think of linens as an investment: Get sheets with a high thread count, a comforter you love, and ultra-soft and big bath towels. Besides, you'll use this stuff every day -- so why not make it feel like your own private boutique hotel?

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10. Curtains

Curtains are like paint -- they'll completely change the look of your space. Although any curtain will immediately give your rental a finished look, decide what you want them to do for you. Are you using them to block your neighbor's view? Are they adding color, texture, or print to the space? Both? Select a fabric that works best for your needs, and then choose the look you want.

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11. Candles

Many rentals don't have fireplaces, but that warmth can still be re-created with candles. If you have the room, create a faux fireplace -- buy different-sized (but same-colored) candles and arrange them near a wall in your apartment.

So, yes, you can make a rental feel like it's truly yours -- it just takes a little creativity and some strategic decorating.

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Video: Which Chair Brings This Room Together Best?