If the living room is the room where you do the max amount of living (whether to you that means a party of 10 or binge watching Netflix for 10 hours), it's important to make this room feel like a reflection of you. Even if you live in a rental, there are plenty of ways to personalize this space, without spending more than a month's worth of rent, and without sacrificing your security deposit.
1. Upgrade your coffee table
Not only is building your own coffee table potentially cheaper than buying one, but it also allows you to create a piece that's the exact right height and length for your couch. If this is your first foray into woodworking, start out with an easy project, like the minimalist table above, which I SPY DIY crafted out of hairpin legs and a wooden slab. For more inspiration, check out these 6 smart DIY coffee tables that combine style and storage.
2. Build your own walls
If your living room happens to share space with your kitchen or bedroom, divvy up the areas using a DIY wall divider. The OHOH Blog assembled the folding geometric screen above out of plywood, but you can also separate the space using a tension rod and long curtain panels.
3. Try temporary wallpaper
One of the miracle adhesive materials praised by renters everywhere, removal wallpaper lets you add color and pattern to the walls without kissing goodbye to your security deposit. Etsy has many vendors devoted to temporary wallpaper and removable wall murals, including Betapet, the maker of the green chevron motif above. If you prefer a solid color to a pattern, check out Tempaper's paintable (and removable!) wallpaper.
4. DIY some large-scale art
If you don't want to splurge on wallpapering the entire room, go for some big art pieces. Frame large panels of wallpaper, as Anthropologie did above, following the tutorial on Hunted Interior. If there's a specific color you're coveting but your landlord won't give you the green light on painting, try painting large canvases with sample pots of the hue.
5. Create a custom rug
Although you typically can't change the flooring in your rental space, you can DIY a large rug that will dramatically transform the look of the room. To make the vibrant, room-changing rug above, The House That Lars Built cut out shapes from FLOR carpet tiles and then pieced together this giant carpet puzzle. One bonus of using this design in a rental is that if you live with children (or accident-prone adults), the rug will help protect the floor below.
6. Switch up the lighting
Replacing your rental's unattractive overhead fixture with a new chandelier can literally make you see the entire room in a new light. If your rental living room already has a hard-wired pendant lamp, you can easily swap in a fresh fixture (just be sure to replace the original before you move out). First, choose an eye-catching option, then let our tutorial for installing a new fixture be your guide. A Beautiful Mess found the sculptural chandelier above at Lucent Lightshop, but you'll find options for every style in our chandelier shopping guide.
7. Carve out space for storage
If your rental is tiny, creating your own furniture lets you sneak in extra storage spots. In the 200-square-foot Berkley bungalow above, featured on Domino, an IKEA bookshelf turned on its side and topped with a cushion plays the role of a couch. The built-in storage cubbies can still be used to stash books and other belongings.
Can't get enough rental upgrade ideas? Get inspired by these 7 ways to improve a rental bathroom.