Rentals are notoriously low on style and (sometimes) high in practicality, sacrificing beauty for blandness to cater to more potential tenants. A typical rental features a lot of beiges and other neutrals, and it can be hard to put your personality into a blah space with the restrictions often imposed by landlords. No painting, no flooring changes, no nails in the walls, no window treatments, space restraints, ugly furniture (in furnished rentals)… it seems that pretty much anything you’d do to make your rental feel like home is not allowed.
Don’t resign yourself to boring walls and uninspired decor! Read on for clever ways to put your (temporary) stamp on your living quarters, no matter how long you’ll be living there. Follow these rules and you’ll never dread decorating a rental again!
Buy removable decor.
Perk up the house with decor that you love but can be removed without leaving a trace when you move out. Try wall decals or temporary wallpaper, area rugs or carpet tiles (perfect for covering for ugly, scuffed, cracked, cold no-personality floors), peel-and-stick tiles for floors, walls, and backsplashes, or even a removable dishwasher cover! (Yes, it’s a real thing.) Most don’t leave any residue, but you should check before you apply them. Plus, you can change it when you get tired of it!
Let your personality reign in your home, even if you can’t permanently (or semi-permanently) alter anything. Lamps, pillows, drapes (use tension rods), shower curtains, towels, and even pretty soaps make a difference.
If your rental is furnished, chances are the furniture is not quite your taste. Cover them up with linens, slipcovers, and tablecloths; give cabinets a facelift with new hardware (just swap it out when you leave). Equip closets with modular systems for organizing – it’ll feel custom and you can take it with you to your next house. Hate the shower? Splurge on a new shower head or hand shower and remove it when you move out.
Get rid of the lifeless, personality-free rental feel with a pet if your lease permits it. Even a lone fish in a bowl can liven the place up, and it’s pretty low-maintenance. No animals allowed (or not an animal lover)? Try houseplants – even fake ones! – for a burst of vitality.
Just because you can’t bang holes in the walls to hang your favorite framed lithograph doesn’t mean you can’t have art in your home. Try standalone pieces like sculptures or oversized art that can stand against the wall, or prop standing frames on the mantle or any horizontal surface.
Use color! The great thing about most blandly-decorated rentals is that you have a neutral backdrop and no potential color clashes. Storage bins, towels, dishes and accent pieces should be colorful to counteract too many white (or worse, dingy) walls. Hunt for things in shades that make you happy.
Be sure to incorporate pieces that mean something to you, like the blanket that Grandma crocheted for you, as decor. Display memorabilia, keepsakes, collections and art projects. Put your passion out there!
If you’re buying furniture, don’t go for junky (“why spend on a rental?”) or just plain functional; it should reflect your personality and be versatile enough to use it in your next home. Be creative and think ahead; buy pieces that can serve multiple purposes so that you’ll be able to use them elsewhere in the event of a move.
Don’t let your rental just be a place where you crash at night. Throw parties, invite neighbors, make movie night – when you treat it like home, it will feel like home.