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10 of the Best Renter-Friendly Home Transformations We’ve Ever Seen

published Oct 4, 2021
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Before: yellow-painted iron bed frame against white walls
Credit: Erin Johnson

Renters can sometimes feel like they’re stuck with what they have — after all, they’re likely not staying in their place permanently, and they’re not always working with the most flexible of landlords. But just because a space might not be your forever home doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do to make it feel like home for now.

Whether a move is in your future or you hope to stay put for years, there are lots of ways to put a personalized stamp on a rental. These 10 amazing renter-friendly home transformations are proof. From a floral-decal powder room to a home office in an entryway, these projects will inspire you to make your surroundings better reflect your interests. Use them as a jumping off point to reimagine your own space, remembering that while a home may be temporary, it doesn’t need to be boring.

1. A Lofted Home Office With Pink Pops

When Kim White, an interior design enthusiast, met Adam and saw his 715-square-foot Harlem apartment, she saw why he needed her help. The apartment had a loft in its sole bedroom and a pull-out dining table that couldn’t be touched, so White incorporated those particularities into a pink-studded palette. The loft became a needed home office, and the dining room filled out with two chairs and welcoming candles. Given that every space has a warm and natural ambiance, the quirks only enhance the home’s overall appeal.

2. A Small Powder Room Gets a Punch of Flower Power

Powder rooms are often neglected as a source of style, especially if they’re set inside a rental. But Camille Normandin of Toronto saw an opportunity in her powder room’s cramped quarters and white walls, and decided to upgrade the space with a bevy of renter-friendly details. Wall decals of bold florals adorn the bright blue-painted walls, and a shiny new faucet shaped like a swan matches a geometric mirror overhead. Three globe lights and a new towel rack complete the space, making it all impossible to neglect from now on.

3. A Home Office That Emerged From an Entryway

Casey Sykes and Abigail Sherrod Sykes live in a historic apartment in midtown Atlanta, and their landlord hadn’t done much to upgrade the place in a decade. They took their time adding personal touches to every room of their 500-square-foot home, but the project that transformed an entryway into a tucked-away office is their proudest DIY to date. They painted the enclave in Behr’s Black Evergreen, added bottom kitchen cabinets to hold up a desk, and installed floor-to-ceiling shelves for art and storage. The results make for a show-stopping feature as soon as anyone walks through the door.

4. A Fireplace Surround Gets a Luxe Upgrade for Less

Caroline Turner, a Chicago-based interior designer, had a common problem: an outdated fireplace surround. It was beige and bland, yet it managed to steal the most attention in her living room. Instead of ripping it out and spending heaps of cash, Turner simply covered it with a few dollars worth of peel-and-stick marble contact paper. When paired with a new white mantel that her landlord signed off on, the fireplace now fits in with the rest of her stylish decor.

5. A Brooklyn Bedroom Gets Transported by Southwestern Shades

The standard white walls of a rental bedroom can have its downsides, particularly when they’ve been stared at for a year in quarantine. Erin Johnson missed traveling, and used a past trip to Sante Fe, New Mexico as inspiration for infusing her bedroom with the bold colors of the Southwest. Sample pots of Sherwin Williams paint covered her walls, and one was given even more color and pattern with vintage curtains used as wallpaper. Bright accents complete the rest of the room, including a sorbet-hued air conditioning shade, creating a holiday atmosphere right at home.

6. A Discarded Cabinet Becomes More Storage in a Small Bedroom

When Sabrina Saucier noticed a dark brown cabinet lingering in her New York City hallway for a week, she stuck a note on it asking if it was up for grabs. A neighbor said it was, so Saucier went to work restoring it for her bedroom. She painted it a shade of Benjamin Moore’s Old Blue Jeans to complement the other colors in her bedroom, and added new hardware to the front. The finished piece provided much-needed storage in her bedroom, while adding a touch of old-meets-new design.

Credit: Meaghan Shanley
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7. A Stark NYC Studio Gets a Calming Refresh Using Peel-And Stick Wallpaper

After a year of living in her Upper West Side studio, Meaghan Shanley felt that its one-size-fits-all appearance didn’t have the inviting feeling she craved whenever she came home. She decided to cover one wall with a eucalyptus peel-and-stick wallpaper pattern for color and texture, and then painted another with Behr’s Midnight in the Tropics for a matching yet moody contrast. More saturated layers in the pillows and rugs complete the room, and finally gave Shanley the warmth she was after.

Credit: Peter Brzozowski
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8. A ‘70s San Francisco Bathroom Is Transformed With a Modern Dose of Color

When Peter Brzozowski and his boyfriend moved into this San Francisco apartment, its bathroom was typical of a rental built in the 1970s. It had white walls, brown vinyl tile, and no wow factor. They aimed to give it the type of exclamation-point style needed at the beginning and end of the day, so the couple painted the walls a rich teal shade that set the tone for the rest of the project. A bold pattern on peel-and-stick tiles were added to the floors, which is offset by a playful peach illustration on the shower curtain. Now the room has lots of personality, and looks like it’s part of this current era.

9. A Rental Kitchen Becomes Irresistibly Cute Thanks to Citrus Decals

This rental kitchen already had a lot going for it. Its wide footprint allowed for just enough storage, and the cabinetry was already painted in an agreeable shade of blue. But Autumn Hachey of Make Moves managed to give this kitchen even more charm by using tangerine decals behind a slanted wall used for open shelving. Paired with new gold hardware, a handful of faux plants, and a striped rug, this upgrade is as sweet as citrus.

10. A Plain White Bathroom Gets a Boho-Infused Makeover

YouTuber Alexandra Gater knows her way around renter-friendly renovations—she’s made a career of it. But when it came to upgrading her own Toronto bathroom, she didn’t automatically go for her usual first step of paint. The white walls were fine, but the details needed to go from industrial to boho. By adding in a pink Moroccan rug, installing new black light fixtures and a mirror to match the floor, and switching out the storage cabinet’s hardware for woven pulls, Gater gave this bathroom her signature boho look. Oh, and of course, there are plenty of plants, too.

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