9 Decor Essentials for Your Apartment or Dorm - QC Design School

Not every client looking for interior decorating advice lives in a permanent space. You might have some clients who plan to live in their home for the next 20 years and they’ll be interested in long term decor and renovation projects. Occasionally, however, you might have clients who want decor advice for spaces that they won’t live in for very long.

Thinking of short-term decor solutions is a unique challenge. Clients aren’t often willing to pay high prices for decor in a place they’ll only be in temporarily. They also won’t be keen on designs that are permanent, since many temporary living situations require you to reverse the changes you’ve made. Even so, decorating is an important part of settling into any home, no matter how short a time.

small apartment interior decorating job

Who might be interested in getting your help with temporary decor solutions?

  • Military families on short postings
  • College students in one-year dorms
  • Short term renters who aren’t sure how long they’ll live in a neighborhood
  • People on temporary work contracts in a new city
  • Students on exchange for school

Here are 9 easy and affordable techniques for temporary spaces!

1. Easy DIY projects

DIY projects are something you can do with your clients, for them, or just suggest to them so they can enjoy the projects themselves. Suggesting DIY furniture and decor is a way to get your clients more heavily involved in the design process. They can be extra fun if the clients know they’re only living there temporarily because they might be more willing to take decorative risks with colors and patterns, making DIY projects the perfect accents. Suggest projects like painted mason jar candles, storage made of plastic baskets covered in patterned fabric, up-scaled thrift frames holding your clients’ own art, vintage garage sale furniture that you’ve refinished with a fresh coat of paint. All of these things are easy, affordable, and can be as bright or fun as your clients want to make them.

succulents and house plants to purify air in a temporary home

2. Wall decals

Color is a central part of good decor and, in permanent spaces, the walls are a great canvas for it. Clients in temporary spaces, however, don’t always have time to paint or wallpaper the whole place before they have to change it back again to move. Instead, try brightening the place up with wall decals. These stickers are actually designed to stick well temporarily, but also to peel off easily without wrecking the paint. Decals are available in countless images, colors, and silhouettes, and you can also have them custom-made for affordable prices.

3. Picture collages

Help your clients choose unique picture frames from thrift stores or garage sales and create a large picture collage across the main wall. Choose personal shots of family and friends, pictures of things your clients love doing, or portraits of different places they’ve been. You might even encourage your clients to paint or decorate the frames so they fit in with a particular color scheme.

wall photo collage

4. Unique lighting

Incorporating lighting into the decor scheme doesn’t have to be complicated. Since the space is temporary, avoid fancy fixtures that require rerouting wires and altering switch positions. Simple lighting solutions, like twinkling string lights in sheer curtains behind the bed for a romantic glow, can set the mood well. Uniquely shaped standing lights or table lamps that cast a colored shadow are also great but simple decor. Best of all, they’re simple to set up and take down.

5. House plants

House plants are probably one of the easiest ways to bring some life into a temporary space. They’re affordable and the colors, sizes, and types vary widely. No matter your clients’ tastes, you’ll find a plant that suits what they’re looking for. Some couture designers might look for complicated arrangements or rare, fancy plants, but clients with a temporary space need an easier solution than that. Find a pretty plant they like, choose a sunny spot for it, and put it down. If you really want to spruce it up, find a lovely decorative vase that the pot will fit inside. Done!

houseplants as decor for interior decorating home

6. Throw pillows

Decorative pillows are perhaps one of the simplest but most effective ways to give temporary spaces character. They literally come in every color, shape, size, and texture, and if you can’t find the one you’re looking for, you can probably make it. Throughout your clients’ short time in the space, they can change their pillow display and actually use the pillows.

7. Bold rugs

Like throw pillows, rugs are an easy and cost-effective way to transform temporary spaces. As long as you’ve thought about where the rug looks best with the furniture and floorplan, rugs are simple. Base this decision on color, material, or pattern. Once again, the temporariness of the space might encourage your clients to take a risk and choose something creative and different. Rugs come in an endless variety. Besides choosing where to put it, your biggest challenge will be finding one your clients like at an appropriate enough price for the temporary space.

bold rugs in apartment to add color for interior decorating jobs

8. Mirrors

Hanging a mirror is an easy way to give your clients’ space the illusion of more light and more space. Mirrors are affordable and easy to hang, and finding unique styles is fairly easy. Use them to help establish the atmosphere your clients are hoping to enjoy in their short time there. For a warm, classic-looking space, choose a vintage mirror with a dark wooden frame. If they want the space to be bright and edgy, choose a modern, angular mirror.

9. Curtains

Curtains fall into the same category as rugs, mirrors, and throw pillows: easy but effective. You have endless options for colors, materials, textures, and styles. Get opaque curtains for warmer spaces with really big windows that your clients might need privacy from, or light sheer curtains that move in the breeze and keep the room feeling bright and fresh.

teal turquoise colored curtains to decorate a space

Easy but impressive!

The best temporary décor solutions are ones that catch the eye and give the space character without costing a lot of money or taking long to set up. When your clients only have a short period to enjoy their home, you want to waste as little time as possible settling them in. Give your clients great quick home decor options without skimping on quality or originality.

Can you think of other ways to personalize a temporary space? Tell us about it in the comments!

Décor shouldn’t just be limited to a home’s interior. Check out these 6 DIY outdoor decor projects for every home!

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