There they are, those lush interiors and cool home improvement projects we’re drooling over on Instagram and Pinterest. If you think it’s out of reach for you because you’re currently living in a rental, think again. This mere detail shouldn’t stop you from living in a house you love! There are so many ways to decorate a rental apartment without wasting money. It’s – understandably – a block for most of us who fear any improvement we’ve made will have to be left behind when we move out, which feels a lot like flushing money down the drain.
Most importantly for the sake of diplomatic relations with your landlady, you CAN decorate without leaving a trace. Whether it’s temporary decoration or knowing how to patch things up before you move out, there’s plenty of tips and tricks that can make your life easier without getting on your landlord’s bad side. Read on to find out how to decorate a rental home and finally unleash your inner interior designer!
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Spruce up your walls
PEEL AND STICK WALLPAPER
Peel and stick wallpaper can bring radical change to your interior. This temporary wall covering can decorate your rental apartment and be removed without leaving a trace when you leave. It’s not exactly advisable to cover entire rooms or large expanses of wall as this can rack up the bill pretty quickly. Instead, use it to redecorate small rooms like the bathroom or to redo your kitchen backsplash.
WASHI TAPE AND VYNIL DECAL
This is the ultimate affordable temporary decor trick! Create patterns by sticking washi tape or colorful masking tape to the wall. Whether you go for rainbow stripes or bold geometrical shapes, it’s an easy way to create an accent wall in the bedroom or to define space in an open-plan living room. Pro tip: get yourself a good level tool to make sure your pattern stays straight!
Knowing how to decorate a rental with white walls is a different ball game than if you’ve been blessed with beige walls… This is a dead giveaway that the owner hasn’t repainted the property since 1994 so the walls might not be in a pristine condition either. It’s always worth a shot asking the landlord if they would be open to freshening up the paint. If they’re not, they should be OK with you doing it. A fresh paint job is something to consider if you plan to stay for a while. There’s an initial investment of buying the paint, brushes, and rollers (white paint is very affordable though) but you will get a 100% return on investment in about 5 minutes of living in a clean and bright room, remembering the beige wall era without any hint of nostalgia…
If you’re repainting the walls, you might as well create a bold accent wall. Owners are usually not fans of those but since you’re repainting, you can keep the material to cover up the accent wall when you leave!
Decorating the walls is a great way to balance your decor. Bare walls can make your interior look flat because all the focal points created by your furniture will be close to the floor. Adding picture frames and art will bring the eye up to liven up the room. Personalize your home with a gallery wall full of beloved memories and art prints that resonate with you or curate a display of baskets you brought back from vacation.
Install new fixtures
SWAP THE LIGHTING
So you’ve been blessed with boring flush light fixtures, what now? Get on that ladder and remove it! Just make sure you keep every part you take off so that you can put it back in its place when you move out. Do keep all the small tidbits like screws and bolts in an envelope and tape them to the light fixture before you hide it away in the cupboard. All that’s left for you to do is find the perfect light fixture to decorate your rental apartment, whether it’s a cool DIY lampshade or a store-bought wonder.
INVEST IN NEW HARDWARE
You would be surprised by the impact beautiful hardware can have on your decor. A gorgeous faucet can change the look and feel of your kitchen. Don’t feel like living in a rental home should stop you from shopping for new hardware! Whether it’s the drawer pulls, curtain rods, or showerheads, consider it an investment for your future house. Install that copper kitchen faucet you love in your rental and take it with you when you move out.
Improve your floor situation
PEEL AND STICK FLOORING
It seems as though 99% of rental apartments are fitted with plain white bathroom tiles. They’re not only incredibly boring but impossible to keep clean for more than 5 minutes. Peel and stick flooring can be your remedy if you suffer from a visual allergy to your drab bathroom floor. The principle is the same as peel-and-stick wallpaper, you simply lay a thin decorative sheet of plastic over your floor. Because of its thinness, it’s not recommended for high-traffic areas. Use it in your bathroom or in any room where you’ll only come in a few times a day.
AREA RUGS AND OUTDOOR RUGS
As great as peel-and-stick flooring is, it’s not going to help you if your rental is kitted out with wall-to-wall carpeting. The easiest solution is to get an area rug. If your carpet is truly horrendous (think giant 70s flowers), try to go as large as you can afford to cover up the floor. Using smaller area rugs – like this natural jute rug – is also a great way to define spaces in a room, which is useful if you live in a small studio. Don’t forget about outdoor rugs, they’re a budget-friendly way to liven up your porch or terrace!
Decorate with purpose
REMOVE THE “UNREMOVABLE”
Houses can have unwanted features and we often feel like we simply have to learn to live with them. But most of the time, you can actually remove those features. That’s usually the first thing I do when I move to a new place: remove anything I don’t truly like or that serves no purpose. Old-fashioned blinds? Unscrew them and frame your windows with drapes in a fabric you love. Too many doors? Unhinge them and hide them under the bed. This will help create a more spacious home in small rentals. Since this doesn’t cost you anything, it’s the most affordable high-impact way to decorate your rental apartment! Be a fearless remover and, if needed, look up tutorials to help you.
Choosing bold curtains can be a great way to compliment your interior but it also helps to hide ugly blinds if you can’t or don’t want to remove them. Light drapes will bring a whimsical boho glow to your room. While they won’t help much to filter light, they’ll at least block unwanted looks from the outside!
We can all agree that there is not a single rental home in this universe with enough storage space! They typically feature close to no wardrobe space, so you have to get creative. Add some valuable space with foldable furniture, like this DIY corner clothes rack, or get a storage bed to bring you a huge amount of space to store items you don’t need to access on a daily basis. For storage that adds visual appeal to your interior, invest in a few woven baskets!
DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE HOLES
It can be restrictive to feel like you can’t make any changes to your walls. It’s actually very easy to seamlessly patch a drywall hole and filling a nail hole will take you no more than a few minutes. Check out this great drywall patching tutorial from Toolbox Divas. Knowing how to patch any type of holes can bring you the confidence to make holes in your walls and finally hang your favorite wall decor!
A house is not a home without a million plants in it. Does this slightly excessive quote resonate with you? Without turning your home into a semi-jungle as I have (we will soon have to carve a path with a machete), do bring some greenery into your decor. Plants have a soothing effect on your interior and watching them thrive through your care brings a wonderful sense of achievement. Get fake plants if you have to – just pick highly realistic ones – because in this case: faux is better than none.