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Whether you’ve just moved into your first place or have been renting an apartment for years, today’s home decorating guide shares tips and tricks on how to make an apartment look stylish and sophisticated.

The challenge with renting an apartment is that most landlords limit the types of changes (like kitchen cabinet renovations or making interior overhauls) that you can do. Fortunately, there are ways to update and decorate your apartment that won’t break any rules, but will make a major impact on the overall look and function of your space.

How To Make an Apartment Look Stylish & Sophisticated

From easy lighting updates to functional and chic storage ideas, learn the secrets to adding an element of sophistication and glamour to your apartment, turning an outdated rental apartment into a modern home you can be proud of.

Home Decorating Guide - How To Make an Apartment Look Stylish

Kitchen Lighting

When it comes to the heart of the home – the kitchen, most apartments have dreary ceiling lighting (like hideous fluorescent tubing) installed. While you might not be able to change the overhead lighting, to add instant function (making it easier to cook and clean) and added ambiance, a simple fix (that costs less than $5) is to install battery-operated, stick-on LED lights underneath the cabinets. Not only does this provide more task lighting, it also creates a softer, more visually-pleasing lighting in your kitchen, as it casts a luminous glow on your kitchen tools and accessories.

Home Decorating Guide - How To Make an Apartment Look Stylish


If your dream home resembles Rachel Zoe or Kris Jenner’s stylish contemporary house, then an easy way to add modern glamour to your apartment is to buy luxurious-looking furniture and inspiring artwork.

While an authentic leather Barcelona Chair will set you back about $5000, a replica version costs less than $500. Add a sumptuous over-sized faux fur pillow, and voila! You have a dreamy sitting area that beckons you to read a book or catch up on your favorite magazine.

When it comes to artwork, an over-sized vintage travel art poster (affixed to the wall with low-cost bulldog clips and sticky-back hooks) makes a bold statement without costing a fortune, or putting a hole into the wall (which is a rule in many apartment complexes). 

Home Decorating Guide - How To Make an Apartment Look Stylish

Bathroom Lighting

While it might require the cost of an electrician, changing the vanity lighting in your apartment bathroom is one of the best investments you could ever make. Since many apartments come with outdated, depressing looking lighting, replacing the existing vanity lighting with a sleek, chrome-finished contemporary light fixture not only adds instant panache to your bathroom, it also provides improved lighting (making it easier to apply makeup with precision).

Just make sure to store the original light fixture, so that you can switch it back before you move out.

Home Decorating Guide - How To Make an Apartment Look Stylish

Bathroom Accessories

While you can’t easily change the vanity or pre-installed mirror in your apartment bathroom, a simple way to class-up the style of your space is to add a set of glamorous bathroom accessories, like hammered nickel bathroom accessories.

In addition to stylish bathroom accessories, a way to distract your eye from the outdated faucet or bathroom vanity is to add timeless framed artwork (like a classic cityscape photo) on to the walls. If your apartment doesn’t allow you to hang artwork, then strong double-sided tape can do the trick.

Home Decorating Guide - How To Make an Apartment Look Stylish

Bedroom Nightstand

Since a bedroom nightstand not only serves as a functional piece (storing away your belongings, and giving you a shelf to place books and other must-haves on), it also provides you with an opportunity to bring stylish elements (like chic coffee table books, a mood-enhancing table lamp, and artwork) into your boudoir. 

The key to styling a nightstand is to layer inspiring pieces that visually look good together. As shown above, a black and white color theme that incorporates eye-catching patterns (like bold stripes and a dramatic abstract print) makes a striking statement, in contrast with the high-gloss, white lacquered nightstand.

Home Decorating Guide - How To Make an Apartment Look Stylish


One of the simplest ways to add style and beauty to your apartment is to bring tasteful fresh flowers (like dramatic lilies and romantic roses) into your home. For less than $20 at a local farmers market, a gorgeous bouquet of fresh flowers can add an air of chic sophistication and a sense of grandeur to your apartment.

Home Decorating Guide - How To Make an Apartment Look Stylish


Last, but certainly not least, is an entertaining space. Even in a small apartment, you can entertain in style. To store your wine bottles and give you a place to display wine glasses, a serving tray, and other entertaining-related accessories (which makes it easier to serve guests when they come over), a portable wood kitchen cart with a luxe granite-top not only provides a convenient storage solution, it also ups the style of your kitchen. Plus, since it comes on rollers, you can move it around your apartment when guests visit.

For more interior decorating tips and expert ideas from celebrity interior designers, visit the Home Decorating section on Inspirations & Celebrations.

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