How to Decorate Your Home: Tips for Tenants

How to Decorate Your Home: Tips for Tenants

Contributed by McCaw Property Management


Decorating the home you live in can be difficult if you are renting. As a renter, you are in the unique position of being the occupant of a home but not in complete control of it. Even though you are paying rent to live in the apartment, condo, or house, the design doesn’t have your needs or preferences in mind, and you can do nothing about it.

The design objectives of landlords are different from those of tenants. Landlords don’t design their rental properties with one tenant in mind. They aim for mass appeal instead of designs for the needs of a specific type of person. That makes perfect sense from a business point of view because if you own a rental, you want it to be attractive to as many people as possible.

Therefore, as a rule, landlords do not experiment with trendy colors and pretty décor. Keeping the home’s ambiance decent and neutral is more essential to a landlord than wowing tenants with creative designs. Why do landlords do this? They know that every tenant won’t like that exciting design, and landlords want every tenant to like their rental property.

It can be problematic since most landlords will not let a tenant alter the rental’s appearance. Tenants come and go, and landlords want to be sure the next tenant will like the rental. Therefore, landlords bar renters from tampering with the design of a rental property. But is there anything you can do about this?

Other than ignoring the terms of the lease, there is a lot you can do. Violating the lease will cost you your security deposit and open you to a lawsuit by the owner. However, there are subtle ways of adjusting your landlord’s design to make the home more fitted to your style. Below we list simple ways to personalize a rental without violating the rental’s lease terms.

1. Establish Your Boundaries; Get Permission in Writing

Before you do anything at all, ask your landlord what you can and cannot do. Even though the lease agreement specifies this, there is no harm in having a conversation and telling the owner what you want to do. Make sure every permission is in writing. Landlords often don’t mind renters making minor changes to a rental because if the tenant is comfortable, they will stay longer in the home.


2. Add Color

The first step is to add some color to offset the landlord’s wall paint. There are three ways to do this. You can bring in some brightly-colored furniture and furniture accessories – cushions, rugs, and throw pillows. Also, you can paint or cover a large board with wallpaper and drape it against the wall. Or you can use removable wallpaper.

3. Improve the Lighting

Rentals often have lighting that is simple, harsh, and, basically, functional. The easiest way to change this would be to swap out the lights for better ones. A safer option is to have a stylish desk and table lamps all around the home. It is even possible to hang your lighting without interfering with the rental’s original lighting.


4. Upgrade Cabinet and Plumbing Hardware

Upgrading cabinet and plumbing hardware can completely transform the appearance of the kitchen and bathroom. Replacing the “builder grade” pulls and knobs on cabinets should not be hard. And removing them will not damage anything in the home. It would be best if you stash the landlord’s hardware in a safe place until you are ready to move out of the rental.

5. Change window treatments

That is one of the mildest changes you can make; remove the curtains and blinds and leave the windows bare. It will let more natural light into the home. But if you have privacy concerns, you can replace the rental’s curtains with simple Roman or Venetian blinds. Other options are no-hem IKEA blinds, roller blinds, and colored linen that you can attach with curtain clips.


6. Display art

As long as you don’t leave holes or other kinds of damage in the walls, you should be able to hang art inside the rental. These do not have to be expensive art but colorful items that break up the monotony and add personality to the house. Art can be as simple as affordable print art draped on the walls; the important thing is that they add color to an area.

7. Hide ugly flooring with rugs and carpets

You can layer rugs over the old faded carpets or laminate flooring in the apartment. To a certain degree, you will be able to do this in almost every area of the rental. From the hallway to the entrance area and living room, using rugs and carpets of different sizes and colors will let you hide unsightly flooring.

Finally, use a lot of removable wall decals. These are usually cheap, and you can deploy them everywhere in the rental. When you are ready to move, all you have to do is peel them off, and the home is back to its old boring self.