Decor Tips for a Rental

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I know not everyone owns their own home. Renting definitely comes with its own benefits (that leaking toilet is not my responsibility) and its own challenges (this bathroom is ugly and I can't replace anything). I've been working with a client who is renting an apartment so I've been doing a little reminiscing on rental properties as well as revisiting some of my cardinal rules for decorating a rental. I thought I'd share a few with you today. Obviously every landlord is different so please do check with them before doing anything. You never know, they may be the cool landlord that springs for updates!


It's true what they say about paint, it really is the easiest and cheapest way to update a space. Most landlords I've known are okay with a renter painting as long as they promise to paint it back to white when they leave. You may even want to freshen up the space with a new coat of white if it looks dingy. If you're planning on staying longer then a few months then I say paint it something other than white. Nothing makes a space feel cozier and lived-in than colour on the walls. Here are a few colours that I'm loving right now:
Images via clockwise from top left: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Stripes, Stencils & Removable Wallpaper

If you're not ready to commit to a bold colour everywhere (this goes for homeowners too) try a striped or stenciled feature wall or room. Stripes always make a space feel larger and draw attention to anything you want to highlight.

There are so many great removable wallpapers right now- check out no.5, 6, 7 & 8. While it's more expensive than paint, it's a great way to bring a bit of personality into your home. Try it in an entryway, a bathroom or behind a headboard. 

If you still want to take the wallpaper plunge, why not use it on a hanging panel (like Emily Henderson did in her studio) or on a bi-fold screen (like Jenny Komeda did in her office space). 
Images  and Sources via: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 

Large Rugs & Drapes

I'm combing two of my tips in this one but don't think that this makes either one any less important. A space without either of these things is going to look cold and empty -period. I'll repeat a few things I'm sure you've heard before. Get the biggest rug you can for the space. Sisal or jute woven rugs are less expensive options and can be used as a layering piece to place a smaller more expensive rug over top if you want less neutral. You can also buy two rugs and stitch them together if you have too. Whatever you do, don't buy a tiny rug that floats under the coffee table only. All the furniture should have at least its front legs on the carpet.

I've heard rumors of landlords that won't allow you to hang drapes because of the holes. I'm not saying to be specifically defiant but it's pretty easy to get some spackle and touch up the holes from curtains and artwork. I think it's worth it to not have anyone looking in but also to add the softness that fabric brings to a room. Ikea has some very reasonably priced good quality curtains, as does Target, so no excuses people. If you live in a stunning modern glass house with a full wall of windows please disregard this but I'm pretty sure that is not most of us- so get some curtains, hang them as high as you can and make sure they touch the floor.

Light Fixtures

I know of so many rentals that have the dreaded 'boob lights'. Please get rid of these as fast as you can. Light fixtures are an investment and you can take them with you when you leave. Just put back up that stunning 'boob light' when you go. I've found some great light fixtures on Etsy lately:

Kitchen Fixes

Two things that can help elevate a ho-hum kitchen that you aren't going to invest the money in renovating are a temporary backsplash and new hardware. Emma Reddington of The Marion House Book, gave a great tutorial for painted wooden tiles held in place with magnets- so genius!

Changing up the knobs on the kitchen cabinets (or the bathroom vanity) is another way to add a bit of interest and distract from an otherwise imperfect space. Again, these are things you can always take with you when you leave. Schoolhouse Electric has some beautiful brass knobs and these agate ones from Etsy store KnuckleHeadKnobs would also look amazing. 

Multipurpose Furniture and Artwork 

You made it all the way to the end! Here are my last tips. These are some other just general living tips for you- renter or not. Buy or make your own large scale artwork. Go buy a pre-made canvas from the art supply store and some paint. Pour the paint on for a cool dribble effect or paint out a grid of shapes like the pictures below.

If you have a lot of small piece, group them together to create a gallery wall.  It will give the same effect of filling a large blank space. You don't have to hang artwork either, you can lean it against the wall on top of a console table or use a picture ledge. Just don't hang a few little pictures above your sofa.

Multipurpose furniture is another great tip for renters and homeowners. These can be benches, stools, nesting tables etc.- anything that you can easily move around the room, from room to room or take with you and re-purpose in another space. You'll be surprised how often you use it. 

Whether you're a renter or a homeowner, did you find these tips helpful? Is it worth it to you to invest in the space you're living in even if it's temporary? I can't wait to show you pictures of my renter's finished space. In the meantime, if you need help with your space send me an email and we can get started.

1 Response to Decor Tips for a Rental

October 26, 2022 at 1:26 AM

This was a lovely blog poost

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