7 Landlord-Friendly Ideas for Decorating a Rental

Feel at home and keep your security deposit.

That oddly placed wall you want to knock down? It unfortunately has to stay. But we get it. Most rental homes aren’t perfect—and sometimes, adding simple, personal touches can seem against the rules.

Until now. With these landlord-friendly ideas for decorating a rental, you can spiff things up to make it feel like your home in no time:

1. Cover drab flooring with area rugs

Who says you can’t put carpet over carpet? Not us. Especially if your rental home’s current flooring (vinyl and tile included) needs a little help from its more vibrant cousin: the area rug.

But before you set out to find the rug of your dreams, remember this one rule: Neutral rugs for colorful flooring, and colorful rugs for neutral flooring. Easy, right?

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2. Widen your space with a large mirror

We have good news: That teensy-weensy bedroom won’t feel so teensy with the help of a decorative wall mirror. So when you’re decorating a rental, consider placing one on the longest wall of the room—and don’t forget to center it with other large pieces of furniture. This will help to give the illusion that the room is much bigger than it really is.

Pro tip: Go big. Smaller mirrors won’t be as effective at making the room feel bigger.

3. Breathe new life into the walls

Working with wall colors that don’t necessarily match, well, anything you own? It might be as easy as asking your landlord for permission to repaint. If they allow it, we recommend having fun with it—like an accent wall in the living room or bedroom or fun blackboard paint in the kitchen or office.

Can’t paint the walls? There are options for that, too. Between tile decal stickers and patterned tapestries, you can still give your walls a much-needed facelift without leaving a mark.

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4. Spruce up your cabinets’ knobs

If your kitchen or bathroom is looking a little dull, use one of the more commonly overlooked ideas for decorating a rental: cabinet knobs. All it takes is simply unscrewing the home’s current knobs and replacing them with something more your style. Consider mixing and matching for an eclectic look or adding a bright color or pattern to a neutral room.

If your cabinets are a bolder color, balance it out with a neutral white, black or gray. Just remember to keep the old knobs somewhere safe so you can reinstall them when you move out.

5. Light up the space with pendant fixtures

Sure, changing an existing lighting fixture in a rental home might be too much of a commitment for an annual lease—but pendant light shades that only require a simple hook are perfect for the job. These are usually made of lightweight paper or plastic and come in intricate shapes and sizes that will put a sleek, modern touch on your living quarters.

Pair with a plug-in pendant light and, voila—lighting so beautiful it’s as if it were made to be there.

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6. Frame windows with curtains and blinds

If your rental home already comes with curtain rods, you’re in luck. If not, one of the safest ideas for decorating a rental is to ask your landlord if you can install your own fixtures. You may even have a better time receiving a “yes” if you offer to leave them behind after your lease runs out. And don’t forget the blinds either. Tons of adhesive options are available that you can safely install and remove without any damage to the windowsill.

Need inspiration for curtains? Consider this: Most rental properties have neutral walls, which is an open invitation to add a little vibrancy and warmth to your rooms. Or if you’re working with odd colors, choose a neutral color to balance it out.

7. Work with what the space provides

In a perfect world, all rental home bathrooms would be painted white with modern fixtures—but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Counterpoint? It can be a blessing in disguise.

For example, if you’re stuck with a vintage bathroom, take advantage of the tiled walls, clawfoot bathtub and patterned flooring. Because all you may have to do to spruce it up is add a bright yet soothing color to make it the perfect relaxation haven, straight out of Pinterest. Or simply find a bathroom set (toothbrush holder, soap dispenser, hand towels and rug) that complements the look and style of the room—plus, it makes decorating a rental a breeze.

Illustrations: Scott Lewis

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