Short Term Decorating

Decorating an apartment presents real design challenges, but when you’re renting for the short-term, it’s so easy to rule out decorating and just live out of boxes.  It’s tempting, but don’t do it, you’ll be miserable and never be able to find anything.  

Pack Carefully

If you’re in a temporary living situation, hopefully you just packed the necessities and were able to put the rest in storage.  If your storage situation is the living room, and the boxes will be there for the duration, at least make them functional.

Box Decorating 101

Turn unpacked boxes into temporary furnishings – coffee tables, nightstands or side tables.  Use fabric remnants to at least cover them.  Better yet, if you have extra linens, use tablecloths, patterned sheets or throws to cover them and that could very well eliminate a few of the other boxes.

Box Hiding 101

Moving boxes can be expensive.  Reuse what you have, break them down by removing tape and storing flat in a closet or under the bed.  If you have bubble wrap or plain paper that was used, throw it all in a trash bag to reuse.


If there’s not enough closet space to store all your clothing, unpack only what you’ll be using.  If you have a wardrobe box that doesn’t break down and needs to store more clothing, cover it up and see if it’s sturdy enough to hold the television set.


Keep one box aside to hold a few accessories.  Keep the smaller items packed away, but use some framed photographs and larger accessories to bring a bit of personality to the space.  The larger the accessory the better, to ease the load of storage and have more impact and distract from the boxes!


Unpacking the dishes, flatware and glasses will make you feel a little more at home.  Just unpack half of them for shorter terms.  Unpack or bring only the essentials for the kitchen including:

  • A coffeemaker,
  • Microwave
  • Toaster
  • A few pots & pans; and
  • Utensils

Once you have a few of your items in the kitchen, it will seem more like a home than a hotel.


Again, only unpack what you need, towels, hairdryer and other essentials.  Your bath rug and one or two accessories will make it homier.

It’s tempting to skip design and decorating for shorter term rentals, certainly don’t invest money in décor unless it’s something that can be taken with you and used elsewhere.  On the other hand, you don’t need to live like a vagabond and can unpack a few essentials and accessories to make it more comfortable and attractive.