How To Decorate An Apartment When It's Only A Short-Term Rental

A sublet can feel like a home.

How To Decorate An Apartment When It's Only A Short-Term Rental
Photographed by Erin Kunkel.

There's nothing worse than the process of moving. It can be stressful and pretty expensive to move all your furniture and decor — especially if you're heading cross-country. However, if you are only planning to move to a city for a short period of time for travel or a contract job, the situation gets even more interesting. While you want your temporary pad to feel like a home, you also don't want to endure the costs of shipping tons of items back and forth.

While you might feel overwhelmed, there's no reason to be! You can easily style an apartment with just a few items. All you have to do is evaluate what is essential and get strategic with your purchases. Of course, there are a few hacks to make the process less of a headache. Want seven tips to make your short-term move a little easier? Read ahead and get packing.

Unload Your Heavy Items

If you’re going to be heading back to your hometown after a temporary sublet, consider moving items into storage or even lending them to friends and family. Huge furniture items can be expensive to ship and might not be able to fit in your new pad. If you’re not planning on moving back, you might just want to sell most of your furniture. Unless its a treasured piece you invested in, weigh out the costs of buying a replacement.

How To Decorate An Apartment When It's Only A Short-Term Rental
Photographed by Ashley Batz.

Pack Light

Consider taking the Marie Kondo approach to packing. Unless a decor item really sparks joy, you might rethink whether or not it can endure a move. You really should only pack essentials and a few treasured pieces of art that will make your new pad feel like a home. Once you arrive, you can add some new items, but be thoughtful with the extra cost that might be added if you plan to move again soon.

Think Modular

If you’re at the time of your life where you know you might be moving often, consider investing in flat-pack and modular furniture designs. Pieces by companies like Floyd, Burrow, Hem, and even IKEA are great because you can take them apart for any easy moving experience and put them back together again.

How To Decorate An Apartment When It's Only A Short-Term Rental
Courtesy of Floyd.

Find A Furnished Spot

Moving major furniture items doesn’t even have to be an issue. If you’re living somewhere for a few months or less, you can often find sublets that are fully furnished. These homes might not have the exact same taste as your own, so be sure to bring along your favorite pieces of art and textiles to give your new pad a personal touch.

Search Craigslist

Don’t want to spend too much money on your temporary furniture? You can find lots of free and discounted furniture on sites like Craigslist, Letgo, and even Facebook groups. Keep your eyes peeled and you can often score some pretty great pieces for way below retail price. Then you can use the same methods to make the money back before you leave.

How To Decorate An Apartment When It's Only A Short-Term Rental
Courtesy of Feather.

Rent Your Furniture

Did you know that along with renting your apartment month to month, you could do it with the furniture inside too? One new startup Feather let’s you pay monthly fees to get high-quality furniture and decor designs for a fraction of the price. You can either get a few items you need or whole curated packages to make decorating simple. Plus, if you’re not into a certain look, you can swap it out with new pieces for free the next month. With free delivery and assembly, you might want to do this full time.

Go Green

Plants are definitely one of our favorite decorative accessories. Not only can they bring life into a new home, but they also can serve as the gift that keeps on giving. Once you arrive in your temporary pad, find a few not-so-expensive greens to style your space. Before you go, give them as presents to friends you meet in town. Not only is it eco-friendly, but it will be a nice gesture to keep ties with people who made you feel welcome during your short visit.

As Lonny's Editor, you can find me writing about interior tips, scouting out the coolest new spots, and rallying behind amazing female entrepreneurs. You can reach me at or on Instagram @shelbywax.
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