For the last 4 months we’ve been living in a rental. After owning and fixing up our condo for the past 9 years, it took some getting used to! BUT I was determined to figure out ways to make this cute house 100% mine. I thought I’d share my tips on how to decorate a rental.
One of the things I STRONGLY believe is that you should love where you live now. Having a home you love is important- it is your launching pad for life. So even though you’re renting, you should take the time to create a place that reflects your family’s personality. Trust me, its worth it!
rent something with good bones
Alright, I’ll admit it- I was super picky with where we could live! The thing is that most of my job is making my house pretty, so I needed a place with good bones. But even if I wasn’t a home decor blogger, I’d still want a pretty place for my family!
our rental when we first moved in
Decorating a rental all starts with the color of the walls, the direction the windows are facing, how much light they let in, and the flooring material. Also, the kitchen and bathrooms are all part of the elements that you probably won’t be able to change. Take the time to look around and tour lots of places so you can find something that fits your aesthetic as well as possible.
just ask permission
Can I be honest? I hate asking permission for anything. So asking my landlord if I can change the light fixtures or paint our patio was scary for me. But our landlord has been amazing and has said yes to all of my requests and has loved what we’ve done! So just ask! The worst they can say is no, but they might say yes! Its worth the gamble 😉
Also, its probably a good idea to figure out before you move in what you can and can’t change and have it put on the lease. At the minimum, I make sure to get permission over text so we both have it in writing.
I love the white walls of our rental, but when I wanted to add pattern to my son’s walls, I put up temporary wallpaper. It went up like a big sticker and I’ll be able to take it down in less than 5 minutes. There are SO many companies doing removable wallpaper nowadays, I promise you can find something you love! My personal favorite is Anewall.
If the walls are painted a color you hate, paint over it! You can ask permission from your landlord, but if they say no, you can paint anyway! Just paint it back the old color before you move out. Yes, that’s a lot of time and probably $60, but isn’t that worth it to love your home?!
When we moved in, we had zero furniture and it was a little sad living in a house with nothing up that was ours. A few weeks later, when I hung the first piece of art up in my son’s room, that is when it felt like home. I tried my best to hang art with command hooks (so there’s no damage to the walls). For bigger pieces of art, I did use nails to hang them. When we move out, I’ll have to touch up the walls. But its totally worth it!
I’ll be honest, I’ve been too scared to hang a shelf. Big screw holes aren’t quite as easy to fill in, so I’ve been finding alternatives. I made myself an entry ladder so I have a place to put my keys (where I’d usually have a shelf). Here’s the link to this renter friendly DIY.
A lot of time, renting can seem like the house isn’t really yours so you get by with just ok furniture. I am giving you permission to add pieces you really love to your home! If you love it, you’ll find a place to put it in your next home. And worst case scenario, it doesn’t work where you’re at next, so you sell it and then buy something else. Repeat after me- it’s ok to buy furniture I love even though this isn’t my forever house.
Let me tell you a secret, rugs are a renter’s best friend! If you don’t love your flooring (even if it’s carpet), put a rug over it! If you need to define a space, whelp, a rug is exactly what you need! Are your neighbors loud and you need something to make it less noisy? A rug can help. Oh, so you want to add color and texture and warmth to your room- ding, ding, ding! A rug is perfect for that!
Sure, rugs can be a little expensive (at least $250 for a good size), but they are so worth it! Buy a neutral rug or a rug with a lot of color of pattern or something in the middle. Whatever you do, select a rug that works with your style and the color scheme you’re going for. It’ll make a world of difference!
In my opinion, lighting is an underrated design element. First of all, make sure you like the light bulbs in the space – you want a good brightness and color temperature (these tips might help). Think about a cheap hotel and how the bathroom lights are terrible- you don’t want to live like that for long! Its a really cheap fix to switch bulbs out for something that is more pleasing.
The next step is to make sure to add lots of lamps. What lamps do in a space to draws your eye to an area. So light where you want to see most- next to a sofa, by a chair where you do your reading, on top of a desk. This is an beautiful way to illuminate areas you love most. Plus, you can take lamps with you when you move!
Finally, if you hate the ceiling fixture, you can ask your landlord to switch them out. We did that in a few spots and love having items up that we love. The old fixtures are boxed up so we’ll see which ones the landlord prefers when we leave. As a heads up, some landlords will require you to get a certified electrician to do this so they aren’t liable for electrical issues.
With rentals, a lot of the time, there will be dated blinds that might not work. Cover those bad boys up! You can take your curtain rods and curtains with you, but I promise you’ll love having up drapes that you love! Similar to rugs, this is a great opportunity to inject your personality and color scheme while adding a noise canceling element.
The issue we had with curtains in our rental was that there weren’t any in key spaces! We felt like we were in a fish bowl at night! I gave myself a $250 budget and bought new drapes and curtain rods for most of the house off of Amazon (this post has some affordable drape ideas). I LOVE the privacy and the fact that we sleep better since they block out the light.
I once read that the formula to having a home that looks like it could be in a magazine is white walls plus rugs plus plants. Greenery- whether fresh or faux will add a softness to your home! I personally love live plants that will clean the air and literally bring our house to life. They’re a bit of a pain to move (we’ll probably have to sell ours before we head back to Utah), but its been worth having them!
The accessories that your place around your home are your number one opportunity to add color and your style/personality to your rental. Add in interesting, colorful books. Have vases full of flowers and cute clocks and figurines that you love. It’ll all add together to tell the story of you and your life. Having items that speak of your past and where you hope to end up makes for an interesting home.
Bonus points, if you have an outdoor space, utilize it so that you can really enjoy it! An outdoor patio or porch is like another living space, so you might as well make it yours too! My son loves to play in the front yard, but there was no where to sit, so I got a bench and now we love spending time out there meeting the neighbors.
The back patio at our rental was seriously scary. We are currently in the process of completely renovating it! Sure, we won’t be able to take the paint and tile with us, but we will definitely love spending time out there!
Alright guys, I just want to take a second to remind you that you should love where you’re living now. Even if you’re on a budget! Start in one room and slowly get each part how you want it. Little by little, you’ll get your rental looking like home.
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