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7 Secrets on How to Decorate a Small Rental Space


Use these 7 easy decorating tips for opening up a small space with decor and furniture in your temporary home to make it feel airy and stylish.

Hi there friend!  If this is your first time here, welcome.  You can find out all about Up to Date Interiors’ decorating philosophy and style HERE.   After renting for the last few years we are thrilled to have the opportunity to buy again.  Our last rental was a 1300 square feet house in Japan and other rentals have been similar.  I think it’s safe to say,  I have some experience with small blue prints and specifically small rental spaces so I wanted to share my favorite and best tips for opening up a small floor plan with decor!

7 Ways to Open up Your Small Rental with Decor!

When you first move into an apartment, the small square footage can feel overwhelming.  Will all your belongings fit?  Is it going to feel cluttered and too small?   It doesn’t have to!   Try these easy decorating ideas to open up your small space with thoughtfully placed furniture and decorating accessories.

Remove the vertical blinds and/or hang curtains properly.   If you are able to remove vertical blinds, store them in a closet or under a bed safely so they can be reinstalled when your lease is up.  Use an extended curtain rod holder to hang curtains over vertical blinds.   Make sure to hang the rod a few inches from the ceiling and use curtains long enough to reach the floor.   This will instantly improve your space by drawing the eye up!

Global Eclectic Girl’s Room Makeover

Use a large area rug to define a space.  A beautiful rug can transform your room.  Not only are they great for covering linoleum, vinyl floors, and other unsightly floors they can also hide stained carpet.  Make sure it’s large enough that your furniture feet (at least the front) can sit on it.  If your rental is carpeted, don’t be afraid to layer a rug on top!   It will add interest and style.

rug to open up a rental

Repurpose old or thrifted furniture to fit in your new rental.  A quick coat of paint or new hardware can do wonders for a furniture facelift.  Try using your bedside tables in the living room, or a dining chair in the sitting room. You may find that you love the new arrangement.   If all of your furniture is dark, try painting a few of them in a light gray or white.

use a desk as a bedside table
His and Hers: How to style two different bedside tables.

When looking for new furniture, find pieces with exposed legs and clean lines.   Shop for open shelf bookcases, eterges, and acrylic or glass coffee tables.   Avoid skirted and oversized sofas and sets of furniture.    Move furniture away from walls to create cozy seating arrangements.

inspired by Miles Redd with global eclectic style rug
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Add in small accent pieces of furniture.   Most people are surprised at how much furniture can go into a small space and still make it feel open!  Garden stools, small side tables, bar carts, and poufs are great for extra seating or a place for drinks to be set on.

Spring Bar Cart Styling
Chic and Simple Spring Home with Easy Decorating Secrets

Use proper lighting and a few extra decorating tips to keep the space open and light.   Place table top and floor lamps around seating and beds.  Avoid placing any furniture in front a window to keep as much natural light as possible.  Hang or display a mirror or two to reflect light.  Make sure you are using good light bulbs!

Piano Art Leaning On Music Rack
How to Display Art and Photos without Putting Holes In the Walls

Add in personality with accessories to keep the eye moving around the room.  Layer textiles in each room with throw pillows and blankets on seating and beds.   Hang prints, family pictures, and other wall art with white matting and frames, metallic frames, or thin darker frames to keep the wall from getting too heavy.   Place books, plants, and decor items on your surfaces in small groupings (3-5).


You will seriously be surprised with how much can fit in a small space and make it seem bigger when it’s thoughtfully placed and styled.  With these tips and tricks in your bag, your apartment will feel larger and stylish in no time!

To see room layouts and more small spaces, check out our Okinawa home tour and Iwakuni home tour plus rental decorating ideas.

Do you live in a small space?  Have you tried any of these tips?  Leave me a comment and let’s chat!


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  1. I love your idea to pull furniture away from the walls to help the seating arrangements feel more cozy. I’ll be helping my sister look for a three-bedroom townhome to rent in the city for herself and her two kids. Thanks for teaching me these tips to keep in mind when we’re arranging furniture in the rental space!

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