Tips From a Professional: Interior Designer Michael Herold on How to Personalize a Rental

Posted On Wed, October 7, 2015 By

Posted On Wed, October 7, 2015 By In apartment living 101, Design, Features, Interiors, NYC Guides

Our series Apartment Living 101 is aimed at helping New Yorkers navigate the challenges of creating a happy home in the big city. This week we get tips from interior designer Michael Herold for making a rental feel like a personalized, permanent home. Michael’s work has appeared in Elle Décor, the New York Times, and Vogue, to name a few publications, and just this past spring he designed a room at the prestigious 2015 Kips Bay Decorator Show House.

As a designer, I pride myself on my ability to bring a bold, modern approach to classic design, but working in the tri-state area (my office is based in Lambertville, NJ), I’ve encountered many rental properties where I don’t have the option to make some of the permanent changes I normally would. Since this issue is more common in New York City than perhaps anywhere else, I’ve put together here some personal tips on how to dress up a rental.

michael herold design

Antique & Vintage
Rentals often lack character. Antiques and vintage pieces are a great way to add instant style to a space, and they make a home feel like it’s been lived in for a very long time. Sculptural furnishings can be purposeful and add visual interest at the same time. See a great selection at 1stdibs, and check out my personal collection here.

tufty time sofa, B&B Italia, modular furniture, sectional
Tufty-Time sofa via B&B Italia

Modular Seating
Modular sofas offer flexible seating arrangements which can easily be rearranged to accommodate a larger group of guests. Many have pieces that can serve double duty as ottomans, and with a tray on top, you’ve got yourself another table. The Tufty-Time sofa by B&B Italia is a great option.

Michael Herold, interior design, how to personalize a rental

Graphic Area Rugs
Don’t limit art to the walls. Graphic area rugs are a great way to visually excite a space. Layer them over existing carpet or unsightly flooring. There are plenty of nice options at Stark Carpet.

michael herold design

Create Interesting Vignettes
Accessories grouped in interesting vignettes can instantly personalize a space. Collect pieces in your travels and let your collections evolve over time. It’s also fun to change out the groupings for the different seasons or as you rearrange the apartment.

michael herold design

Wall Sconces
Mood lighting is essential to every space. Plug-in wall sconces are a great way to defuse light, but they don’t require professional installation. Cover unsightly wires inside a cord cover painted the same color as the wall. The Architect’s Swing Arm from Circa Lighting is one of my favorites; they have a huge selection of wall lights.

michael herold design

Removable Wall Murals
A custom-printed wall mural can instantly add drama to a space without the permanence of wallpaper or paint. For a more finished look, add a substantial frame molding. In the room above, the mural looks like a framed piece of art. Get them at Murals Your Way.

Michael Herold, interior design, how to personalize a rental

Multifunctional Furniture
When limited on space, multifunctional furniture is a great solution. In the space above, a partners’ desk not only provides great work space but can easily host dinner for two. Other options are futon-like couches that double as beds or benches with storage below.

michael herold design

Fresh Botanicals
Fresh plants and botanicals instantly add life to a space. A large fig tree, fresh cut tropical leaves, or a simple potted orchid are all great options when access to a patio or outdoor garden space is limited or nonexistent.


About Michael Herold

Michael is an accomplished interior designer whose work is published in many top shelter publications including House Beautiful, Elle Décor, Traditional Home, The New York Times, NY Cottage & Gardens and Hamptons Cottage & Gardens. His interiors have also been featured by NBC LXTV and Vogue. Regarded as one of America’s top interior designers, Michael Herold has designed residences for a range of notable clients including CNN and Wall Street executives as well as supermodel Joan Smalls. Michael was also named as one of the top young designers by House Beautiful.

Michael Herold has always been proud to support many charitable organizations through his work as an interior designer and recently designed a room at the prestigious 2015 Kips Bay Decorator Show House.


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