How to Personalize a Small Space Rental

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Photo by Gades Photography on Unsplash

The Challenge:

Renting rather than buying your home presents a new challenge. How do you personalize your small space while keeping within the terms of your rental agreement?

The primary challenge for living large in a small space is how to create a warm and inviting home while finding the best use for every square inch without creating clutter.

That’s quite a challenge in itself.  But it’s not impossible. It’s totally doable.

There are multiple ways to personalize a rented home.

This photo is of an apartment in New York City’s West Village.  It’s bright and open and only 500 square feet! By keeping the walls and most of the furnishings white, the apartment seems much larger. Pops of red and blue keep it from looking sterile. I love that rug!

Read on to see two takes on personalizing an apartment.


Two Identical Floor Plans – Two Unique Designs

I know you’ll enjoy the following Apartment Therapy video of two apartments in  New York City. They are both rentals. They’re in the same building three floors apart and have identical floor plans.

These two apartments are located in the Cherokee Apartments, a historic block of apartments in Gothic Revival style and built as a tuberculosis sanitarium.

The money was donated by Anne Harriman Vanderbilt and the architect, Henry Atterbury Smith, brilliantly designed the four interconnected six-story buildings to create a healthy environment for the patients.

Read about its history in this article on the Atlas Obscura website. It’s fascinating.

But I digress! Here’s the Apartment Therapy video that features these two apartments.

These two apartments are good examples of how to easily and inexpensively personalize a rental apartment.  Notice how just changing the wall color makes such a difference in the vibe of each apartment.  Also, one is pretty much a wide open space where the other has a separate bedroom.

So just imagine how you can employ these same small space ideas into your own tiny abode! Enjoy.

A Success Story on Apartment Therapy

I’ve just read a fabulous story about Emilie who transformed her small 752 Sq. Ft. apartment with contact paper and stencils and a little elbow grease.  She did a remarkable job. Check it out!

A Small Rental Updated With Contact Paper, Stencils, and More

IKEA to the rescue!

Here’s another video transformation of a small apartment. Ikea came in to help maximize this small space. The end result is quite inspiring.

This is the living/dining room, of course, but it’s the space where they spend the most time.

I love the table which can be used as a desk but expanded when you are entertaining. The wall mounted cabinets were a stroke of genius and created a perfect spot for the bicycles.

The only change I might suggest is that they swap out the sofa for a sofa bed or a daybed which could be used as a guest bed.

Did you know?

IKEA is named after the initials of founder Ingvar Kamprad, Elmtaryd, the farm on which he grew up, and Agunnaryd, the nearby village.


 Just so you know, is offering some great deals on furniture and they have dozens of sleeper sofas, for example. The sale goes through November 11th. (Affiliate)

Your thoughts?

How have you personalized a small home…rental or not. If you’ve got a great idea for personalizing a small space rental, please comment…add pictures, too, if you like!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and maybe found a couple of ideas to jazz up your own home. I’ll be sure to update this when I discover other neat tricks and tips.

Stay tuned!

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10 thoughts on “How to Personalize a Small Space Rental

  1. Shy says:

    You really show how to make the best use of your space.  It’s awesome how you can so drastically change the look of a space, into something entirely new.  Such creative use of space.  I like all of the ideas.  It looks so different after making all of those changes.

    Very inspiring, makes me want to make some changes too.  

    • CherylK says:

      Well, thanks for the kind words! I’ve downsized twice in five years so that’s my inspiration for this blog! I like to share what I’ve learned in the process.

      You might want to browse through some of the other posts on my blog for more ways to maximize you space. And if you subscribe to receive new and updated posts, you’ll also be notified when I publish my monthly newsletter. Thank you again, for visiting.

  2. Mariah says:

    The biggest problem that I had while renting apartments in college was the fact that I was not allowed to make holes in the walls. This made it really hard to put up pictures or posters or anything else on the wall. We weren’t allowed to use tape either because it might rip off the paint. I found command strips to be really helpful. They’re adhesives that can hold a lot of weight and they won’t tear the paint off the walls!

    • CherylK says:

      One of the hardest restrictions to overcome when renting is not being able to hang art, etc. on the walls.  You’re absolutely right that Command hooks are the best way to deal with this problem. I like that they come in a variety of strengths. I use Command hooks all the time in my small home. Even though I own my home, I’m forever redecorating and not having to fill nail holes is a huge plus. I love that the hooks are easily removed.

      Thanks for stopping by, Mariah. I so appreciate your comments. 

  3. Cathy Cavarzan says:

    Really useful information and got me to thinking. I am recently adjusting to a studio apartment from a one bedroom trailer,so that is a lot of downsizing for me. I like the idea of shelves throughout,giving you more space. Thank you for the inspirational ideas. Do you have any other recommendations besides ikea ?

    • CherylK says:

      Hi Cathy,

      Thanks for stopping by. I’m so glad you found something useful in this post. There are so many ways to maximize a small home. I try to find pieces that are multifunctional like the suggestions in the post Multi-purpose Storage Ideas for Small Spaces.

      Anything that can be used for more than one purpose is what I look for. I like Ikea because the prices are reasonable and so many of the pieces are perfect for small spaces. (I’m not an affiliate of Ikea so I don’t get any commissions on anything you purchase but I’m committed to finding what works best for my readers).

      Browse through some of my other posts to see if there are other ideas that might work for you. If you subscribe to my blog, you’ll be notified by email of all new and updated posts and you’ll receive my monthly newsletter. And remember, if you’re looking for something specific please don’t hesitate to ask. I’ll do my best to find answers for you.

  4. LearnToEarn Admin says:

    Bringing our attention to the fact that white tends to make the small living space look bigger, I believe the use of mirrors wisely also enhances small living areas to look much bigger than they really are!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on what one can do to keep a small place livable.

    I did not know that IKEA was an acronym, but am familiar with the store as I’ve visited it several times throughout the world.  Thank you for that tidbit of information! 🙂

    • CherylK says:

      Yes, using mirrors is also a great way to visually expand a space. In fact, you might enjoy a post I wrote on that very topic! It’s Using Mirrors in Small Spaces. There are lots of other ways to maximize a small space so if you browse through the blog, you’ll likely get more good ideas.  Wasn’t that a fun bit of trivia about the founder of IKEA? 

      In fact, if you subscribe to Small Space Decor Ideas, you get notices of new posts and my newsletter in your email. Thank you so much for stopping by. 

  5. Marion says:

    I love the ways you show how to make better use of small living areas. Thank you for sharing.


    • Cheryl Kohan says:

      Thanks, Marion! So many people are downsizing, now, and not just because they’re retiring. Lots of people are moving into urban lofts, etc. and finding out that, although it’s challenging to arrange their new spaces, it’s certainly doable!

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