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6 Easy Ways to Zhuzh Up Your Rental, According to an Interior Decorator

The floral wallpaper is peel-and-stick.

Living in a rental doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to the sad walk-up you moved into. Recently, we told you about seven easy under-$20 ways to upgrade your space, and now, we’re turning our attention to easy décor improvements. Fiona Byrne, an editor turned interior decorator who recently zhuzhed up spaces for Montauk’s Surf Lodge, tells us her eight favorite ways to kick up an apartment.

Kitchens in rentals can be so ugly — some have ugly countertops, some ugly backsplashes. Counteract it with peel-and-stick panels that you simply cut to fit your space. They can go over walls or even over existing tile. The Subway Tile is very realistic, and easy to clean, too.

When peel-and-stick wallpapers first hit the market around ten years ago, the styles were limited, to say the least. In addition, they often peeled in the corners, and were generally kind of crappy. Now though, there is a ton of temporary-wallpaper brands, my favorite being Walls Need Love. Not only do they have a massive selection of fun patterns (in addition to the lotuses above, you could try artful waves, abstract watercolor dots, or ever-popular banana leaves), it’s beyond easy to install and uninstall. The texture feels like regular wallpaper, and it’s impressively tear-proof. I’ve used it in a bunch of places, including my own bathroom and inside the closets at the Surf Lodge. The best part? It comes down as easily as it goes up.

If you can’t stand the idea of cheap poly rugs, but you want something to cover the wood floor, a good option is to choose sisal or jute. They are generally of equal quality, no matter where you buy them. There’s plenty on Amazon, so you can Prime to your heart’s content.

This contact paper is super thick and glossy. I used it on a glass cart from Ikea, and once it’s stuck down, it takes some strength to peel it off. I’ve seen people use it to create faux granite countertops in their kitchen, and as long as you get the edges right, it really is quite convincing.

This was one of the first things I did in my home. The kitchen cabinetry leaves a lot to be desired, but I was able to modernize the look somewhat by adding black knobs. It’s a dramatic difference at a really affordable price.

Even if you have nothing more than a bed and a nightstand in your bedroom, you can make it a home by hanging great wall art. There are so many places to buy great-quality prints, but my favorites are Exhibition A and Poster Child Prints, both of which have awesome limited editions from up-and-coming artists and typographers. And an even more affordable source is Society 6, which is essentially an online megastore of prints by both professional and amateur artists.

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6 Ways to Zhuzh a Rental, According to an Interior Decorator