7 totally genius ways to cover ugly carpet in a rental

These cheap and cheerful ways to disguise rental carpet could make all the difference to how your home feels

A pink couch in a living room with an accent wall and a pink fluffy rug.
(Image credit: Getty)

You’ve finally found the perfect rental property. It’s the right size, the ideal price, and positioned in the perfect location. The only downside? The carpets are ugly. Trust me, I feel you on this. I once found my dream rental that was as ideal as they come — apart from the unsightly bright orange, red, and yellow carpet that looked like it came straight out of the seventies in every single room. 

Whether you’re moving into an apartment that has carpet that just doesn’t meet your style aspirations or is just plain tired, you might be wondering what you can do to cover it up. Which, FYI, is totally possible. It just takes a little creativity, that’s all.

If you’re looking for some quick and easy solutions for covering bad carpets in a rental property, you’re in luck. To make the process easier, we’ve rounded up all the best ways to upgrade your carpet in a rental (without upsetting the landlord or losing your security deposit) according to the experts.

How to hide ugly carpet in a rental

For covering ugly carpet in a rental, there are plenty of simple solutions that you can utilize. You might not be able to remove and replace the carpet but there are easy ways that you can hide it from sight. 

A circular shaped jute rug next to an armchair.

(Image credit: Amazon)

Investing in one of the best area rugs will add style and cozy function to all floors but if you want to cover the carpet completely, go big! Shop rugs like the above at Overstock for a bargain that will make a huge difference.

"If you really like an apartment but it's covered in outdated carpet, you may find yourself considering dropping the rental altogether but I discourage this as there are many ways to cover up the carpet"' says  Andre Kazimierski, CEO, Improovy

"My favorite way is with additional rugs. Depending on the color and thickness of your carpet, you may be able to complement the space nicely with a few different rugs, one large in the living space and one more in the hallway."

2. Layer carpet runners

A jute carpet runner with an armchair and storage trolley.

(Image credit: Amazon)

Although area rugs are unlikely to cover all of the different types of carpets in your rental property, large runner carpets can cover most of the high-traffic areas. Home Depot has a great selection, with a variety of colors and textures.

"Consider runner options that complement your existing flooring if the old carpet is visible around the perimeter of your rooms or hallways," says Robert Johnson, founder, Sawinery

"If the carpet is neutral, you can go bold, but if the carpet is bright or patterned, you may want to choose something more subtle."

3. Position your furniture strategically

A crushed velvet green couch in a living room with a dark green wall.

(Image credit: Getty)

Additionally, if you wish to cover up the carpet without opting for rugs or runners, large furniture might be the best option. 

"From big couches to multiple tables and lamps, there are ways to distract the eye from the carpet down below," shares Kazimierski.

4. Lean into eye-catching decor

A neon pink sign that reads 'love yourself'' is attached to a wall above a sofa.

(Image credit: Amazon)

You don’t need to physically cover the carpet in order to lessen the hold it has on a space or room. 

According to Kazimierski, eye-catching decor such as bold artwork and plants are also a great distraction in a home.

5. Opt for temporary flooring

A living room with a large area rug, sofa and houseplants.

(Image credit: Canva)

Another option is to install temporary flooring over the carpet like peel-and-stick floor tiles that you can find on Amazon

"There are a variety of options available for temporary flooring, including vinyl tiles, foam mats, and even cardboard," explains Ismail Kuden, co-founder, Kuden Rugs.

"Be sure to choose a flooring material that is easy to clean and that will not damage the underlying carpet."

6. Consider some carpet care

A pink textured carpet being cleaned with a vacuum cleaner.

(Image credit: Getty)

Bad rental carpet sees a lot over the years — but a little carpet care could actually help to breathe new life into it. Most carpets will naturally lose volume over the years and a carpet rake (like this carpet rake from Amazon) can help restore it by fluffing up the fibers and removing stuck-on dander and dust. Alternatively, using a handheld carpet cleaner (like this Bissell cleaner from Amazon) can quickly refresh old carpets. Oh, and don't forget to give it a good vacuum too. 

7. Swap the color scheme

A crushed velvet pink sofa in a pale pink living room surrounded by large houseplants.

(Image credit: Canva)

Sometimes all you need is a fresh coat of paint to see a space in a whole new light. By focusing on a bold new splash of paint on the walls you’ll draw the eyes up and away from the carpet. Intentionally matching the paint and carpet colors can also help to create a more cohesive feel in your space — even if you don’t absolutely love the look or feel of the carpet.


How can you cover up carpet without removing it?

There are a few ways you can cover up your carpet without having to remove it. 

"You can use a rug, which will add some color and pattern to the room, or you could install flooring over the top of the existing carpet," says Kate Diaz, founder, Swanky Den. If you go this route, make sure to choose a type of flooring compatible with your existing flooring and durable enough to stand up to traffic.

Another option is to install a carpet pad over the top of the existing carpet."This will add some insulation and padding, making your floor more comfortable to walk on," explains Diaz. 

"Whichever method you choose, make sure to take into account the color and style of your room so that you can find a solution that will be both functional and aesthetically pleasing."

Can you temporarily cover carpet?

Yes, there are a few different techniques that make temporarily covering carpets feasible. Here’s what Diaz recommends for best results when temporarily covering carpet in an apartment rental:

  • Vinyl sheeting 
  • Wool carpet pad 
  • Wall to wall resilient carpet pad
  • Rug or carpet runner

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.

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