When looking for a place to rent, you’ll often have to choose between a great location and a great-looking apartment. If you’re particularly lucky, you’ll get the best of both worlds, but living in an ideal area usually means having to compromise on interior aesthetics. Most rentals have at least a few quirks, like the absence of a dishwasher or a bathroom filled with 1980s tiling. Nonetheless, these things are relatively small compared to having a hideous wall-to-wall carpet, which can be one of the most challenging decor dilemmas to overcome as a renter.
Builder-grade carpet, while not ideal, is typically neutral enough to blend into most color schemes, especially when there’s plenty of furniture and artwork arranged around it. Unfortunately, some tenants are dealt wall-to-wall carpeting in shades of blood red, seafoam green, or something equally bright and tacky — all of which are reminiscent of something you might find in an old church recreation room. When you’re stuck with some seriously ugly carpet, you’ll either have to learn how to hide it or how to embrace it.
Clean It Thoroughly
First things first: you’ll need to get your carpet looking absolutely spotless. Ask your landlord if they’d be willing to get your carpets professionally cleaned. If they seem hesitant or don’t want to spend the extra money, you can always hire a carpet cleaner yourself for a relatively low cost. Even though you can’t change its color or texture, your carpet should be looking at least a little better once it’s been given a good scrubbing.
Check to See What’s Underneath
If you’re living in a unit that’s particularly old (i.e. built pre-1950s), it could be that your unsightly carpet is sitting on some original hardwood flooring. To check, you’ll want to pull up a corner of the carpet in a conspicuous spot like a closet or hallway. If you do find some hardwood flooring underneath it, ask your landlord if they would be interested in splitting the cost of refinishing with you. You’ll have a better chance of convincing them if you’re willing to recoup some of the cost or do some of the work yourself. Sometimes, hidden hardwood floors are in such poor condition that they cannot be restored. In these situations, you should consult a professional to see if fixing them is a realistic option and, if it is, how much those repairs would run you.
Feeling ambitious and want to fake some hardwood floors? Consider installing some temporary laminate boards and removing them when you move out! Naturally, this option will require a little more of your time and money in the long run.
Cover It Up
Of course, the most obvious way to hide an ugly carpet is to actually hide it. Depending on how much space the carpet covers, you could consider buying some large area rugs to throw over it. Don’t be afraid to lay a few different colors and textures down, as they can give your floor a pleasing eclectic look. If you do decide to use area rugs, just be sure to rotate them every few weeks or so to avoid damaging the carpet underneath them.
Draw Eyes Away from the Floor
One of the best ways to make an ugly carpet disappear is to draw people’s eyes away from the floor by hanging a bunch of artwork and curtains up in your apartment. Create a gallery wall (or walls) and equip every window with its own floor-length curtain or drape. Believe it or not, people hardly look at the floor once art and furniture have been added to a room.
Embrace the Floors
When you don’t feel like spending money on area rugs or hardwood floor restorations, the best thing to do is to embrace your ugly carpet in all of its outdated glory. You might even consider leaning into the design to make it look more purposeful. Incorporate jewel tone pillows and hang lanterns up to give your space a colorful Moroccan vibe. Alternatively, pick up a bar cart, record player, and some mid-century modern furniture for a 60s feel. Add a splash of color to your walls will some temporary wallpaper. If you pick a pattern that complements your carpet, your place will have a wonderfully whimsical look to it.
If you embrace the carpet you’ve been dealt, no one will think you’re trying to cover it up. Have fun with the design, and think of it as a challenge to overcome rather than a burden to bear. You’d be surprised at the unique and interesting looks you can come up with when you don’t have the same cookie-cutter carpet as everyone else.