September is one of the most popular months to move, but busy renters may not feel as if they have the energy or time for DIY projects in a new home. I’ve pulled together five products that are easy ways to put a personal stamp on a new space. Whether you are moving now or simply refreshing the same ol’ place, these quick fixes may give you the look you’re after without leaving a permanent mark on your rental.
1. Cutting Edge Stencils: This company's “Geometric/Allover” stencils are a great way to update an old or cheap bookcase. Take out the shelves of that Billy unit from Ikea, paint the back using Cutting Edge's herringbone stencil and you will have a cool pop of color without having to touch the walls. Prices vary; herringbone is $39.95.
2. MirrorMate: Apartments usually have few architectural details, and bathrooms come with a bare-bones plate of a mirror. With MirrorMate, though, you can make a cheap piece look custom. These peel-and-stick frames come in a variety of styles, made to dimensions you provide online. I also love the idea of using these frames around temporary wallpaper. Prices vary by frame style and size of order, from about $5 to $17 per linear foot.
3. Stikwood: It's better than wallpaper because these real wood planks lend instant texture, and the peel-and-stick installation makes it a cinch to create a headboard wall or to wrap an existing piece of furniture to give it a new life. Stikwood describes the application as semi-permanent, though, so you should check with the landlord before applying to walls. $8 to $12.50 a square foot.
4. Emma Jeffs Window Film: If you have a window looking onto a dingy alley or a neighbor's apartment, this line of film for glass is a great solution. I love plaid, so the Anni design, part of the collection's geometric patterns, is a match made in heaven. Installing window films can be tricky; just remember to use the side of a credit card to smooth away the bubbles. You'll end up with a modern privacy screen that still keeps the apartment nice and bright. A 40-by-50-inch roll, regularly $86, is on sale for $77.40.
5. Fracture: I always encourage clients to personalize their space, and what better way than with photos. What sets Fracture apart: The company prints your images right onto the glass, so they look modern and clean, for an interesting update on the classic gallery wall. Upload your photo, and the company sends a ready-to-hang glass print. Prices range from $15 (4.8 inches by 6.4 inches) to $125 (21.6 inches by 28.8 inches); custom sizes are possible.
Kyle Schuneman is a Los Angeles-based interior designer who, in addition to his decorating work for residential clients and show houses, has styled catalogs for stores such as Target and CB2. Past installments of "The Apt. Life," including Schuneman's DIY projects and step-by-step videos, are at latimes.com/aptlife. Send your questions for Kyle to firstname.lastname@example.org.