Decorating A Rental Like an Interior Designer

Especially in today’s hot real estate market, it can be disheartening to be stuck in a rental with no ability to spruce up the place. Though your landlord will likely not allow you to make any major updates, decorating a rental can be fun, inexpensive, and temporary.

Before you do anything, ask permission and get a written agreement between you and the landlord. With your agreements spelled out in ink, the landlord won’t forget it and you can rest assured these updates will not be taken out of your deposit. Plus, you never know—the landlord could help you pay for some of these updates.

Here are 6 tips for decorating a rental in a landlord-friendly way:

1. Be thrifty

Your home is neither a youth hostel nor a five-star hotel. If you’re on a budget, or temporarily placed, domesticate your rental by mixing quality with frugality. Combine newer, lavish items with secondhand furniture. Show off your creative flair with unique pre-owned accessories. Scour garage sales and flea markets for one-of-a-kind finds to adorn your IKEA bookshelves and countertops.

2. Accessorize

Accents like lighting, curtains, rugs, plants and shiny new hardware can spruce up even the most nondescript room and fill it with your personality. It’s easy to trade out a mass-produced lamp from a big-box department store for one that twinkles a bit more brightly or to remove or cover up metal blinds with tantalizing textiles. Best of all, these are things that can be removed and taken with you when you go. Make sure to keep the original rental fixtures so you can easily swap them back before you leave.

3. Don’t use wallpaper

The trend is hot right now, but wallpaper can be a maddening mess to remove—something neither you nor your landlord will want to handle. However, there are alternatives that make a bold, imaginative statement. Look for decals, paint stencils, or new peel-away wallpaper that waxes on and off just like a sticker.

4. Don’t paint natural wood

This should be a no-brainer. Crown moldings and baseboards normally require a glossy finish, and repainting them back to white—or worse, to wood—is no easy task either. In your own home, it’s okay to paint your woodworks in varying colors — but in a rental? Unless you have a very lenient landlord, leave them be. Instead, embrace the white or natural wood with complementary colors.

5. Consult the color wheel

Whether you go for one accent wall or the entire shebang, nothing will say you more than being surrounded by your favorite hue. Get crazy with paint, and not just on the walls. Transform the patina of picture frames, furniture and salvaged finds to add pops of color.

6. Accentuate the positive

Create storage and maximize space with a wall shelf. Line shoes, books, hats and fashion accessories across DIY shelves to get those hard-to-reach and pretty necessities out of tangled piles and into view. Look for unused corners of your home normally reserved for dust bunnies, and give them new life. Create a liquor cart or corner table to showcase those coveted items that you snagged at discount. Decorate your home like you decorate yourself: Accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.

Once you’ve enjoyed your space to the fullest and you’re ready for a fresh start, make sure you return your rental to the way you found it, unless you agreed in writing to do otherwise.

If you’re in need of more specific design tips, contact us! We can give you a few more personalized tips or take care of an entire project for you.