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Decorating in a rental space can feel limiting if you don’t know what’s allowed. The good news is that there are many ways to spruce up your rental with landlord-approved decorating hacks that won’t damage the walls or make you lose your security deposit.
We reached out to interior designers, landlords and home improvement experts to share tips and ideas to decorate your space without upsetting your landlord.
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1. Use Stick and Peel Wallpaper
“If you are looking for a budget-friendly way to update your rental property without risking your deposit, try peel and stick wallpaper. Peel and stick wallpaper is a great solution for renters as it is effortless to remove,” says founder of EverWallpaper Lily Willi.
“Peel and stick wallpaper is a great solution if you want to update your rental property but don’t want to risk any damage to the walls. You can make things even easier for yourself by adding a splash of color,” added Willi.
2. Get Creative With Window Treatments
“Replace those flimsy plastic blinds with roller shades or woven shades. Add decorative drapery panels for a layered look. Replace the shades altogether and do blackout drapery panels with a french return rod in the bedrooms for optimal sleeping conditions. These are low-lift accents that give an elevated feel to your space,” says interior designer Ellie Redders.
PRO TIP: “Don’t forget to hang your drapery panels high above your windows to make your ceilings feel taller,” adds Redders.
3. Remove Your Kitchen Cabinet Doors
Remove the cabinet doors from your kitchen or bathroom to create an open shelving look. “If you’re someone who loves the open concept of cabinetry, this is something that doesn’t damage your rental space but matches the aesthetic you’re going for and creates an entirely new look. It’s also a great solution for anyone who feels like their rental kitchen is tiny,” says home improvement expert Stephany Smith.
“Taking off the cabinet doors expands the space because you can see right to the wall; it brightens and opens the space up. You can also do this in a smaller way by just removing one or two cabinet doors to create a display area to show dishes, plates or decor pieces that you like,” adds Smith.
4. Wall-Friendly Art Decor
The last thing your landlord wants when receiving your apartment back is holes in their walls. “I recommend using sticky hooks for art, so you don’t ruin any walls,” says interior designer Shaolin Low. “Leaning art instead of hanging and using vinyl decals instead of traditional wall art pieces is also a great idea.”
5. Add More Area Rugs
“One easy way to add some personality to your rental is to use area rugs. Rugs can help define different spaces within a room and add a pop of color or pattern. They can also be easily swapped out when it’s time to move,” says Paige Anderson from Nitido Design.
6. Change the Cabinet Pulls and Knobs
“Upgrading your cabinet hardware is a small project that makes a big difference,” says interior designer Margie Kaercher. “The key to swapping them out is ensuring that the new pulls or knobs you select are the same size as the previous hardware and will fit in the same holes. Try [mixing] and matching styles and finishes for a custom look, and don’t forget to keep the old hardware to put back on at move-out.”
7. Swap Bathroom Hardware
Making your rented space feel updated and more like you can be done in a myriad of creative, landlord-approved ways. “Swap out bathroom hardware. Upgrading your bathroom fixtures can give these often-neglected rooms a more luxurious look and feel,” says Erin Banta.
“Take pictures when you move in, and remember to keep the original light or faucet in a safe place so that you can switch everything back when you move out,” she adds.
8. Expand Your Kitchen With a Portable Island
“Expand your use of storage space and functionality in your home by adding an item like a portable kitchen island, for instance. This provides a lot of flexibility in terms of dining and food prep. Be sure to opt for a piece that has either neutral finishes or a color scheme that you love for it to work for your future home when you move out,” says interior designer Ahmad AbouZanat.
9. Upgrade Lighting Fixtures
“Store the standard fixtures with the rental in a safe place and swap them out for statement-making pieces. Lighting has the power to instantly elevate a room in a way few other elements can,” says interior designer Nicole Michael.
10. Add Battery Operated Puck Lights
Adding custom lighting to a rental home isn’t even an option for most people. It often requires permission from a landlord (which is hard to come by) and hiring an electrician.
“Puck lights are a huge trend on social media that allow you to hang wall sconces virtually anywhere in your home without the added expense of hiring an electrician,” shares decorating expert Michelle Hansen. “Battery-operated puck lights truly allow you the ability to create a home that feels custom and not just builder-grade.”
11. Get Creative With DIY Lighting
“If looking to camouflage unsightly light fixtures, try using existing lighting as a base for a sculptural lighting cover,” shares interior designer Sarah Barnard. “Paper can be twisted and draped around an existing light to upgrade it into a temporary decorative chandelier with a glowing effect perfect for parties or events.”
12. Add Plants Everywhere
“One of my renters has dozens of houseplants that have made the home her own,” says Tomas Satas, real estate investor. “I once had a renter put up an arched trellis with potted plants crawling over them so that they were easy to move when the time came.”
Create A Relaxed Vibe With Plants
Planters can be a great addition to your interior or exterior decors. Explore options on Home Depot.
13. Hang Art to Decorate Walls
“If you’re not allowed to paint or make any permanent changes to your rental unit, get creative with wall art. Hang up large pieces of fabric or tapestries to add color and pattern, or use washi tape to create interesting designs,” suggests interior designer David Mason.
14. Make a Room Appear Larger With Mirrors
“Lean your mirror on the wall instead of hanging it up. If you have a large mirror, you don’t have to have it elevated and hung on the wall. Push it up against it and have it leaning on the floor or a dresser,” Stephany Smith recommends. “If you have some framed artworks, lean them against the wall instead of nailing them. It’ll look nice on the top of console tables, dressers, and even the floor.”
15. Use Temporary Furniture
“Furniture can be one of the most expensive items in a home, so save yourself some money by using temporary furniture. Look for pieces that can be easily moved and stored, like folding chairs or ottomans. You can also use floor cushions or bean bag chairs for extra seating,” recommends David Mason.
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