3 Major Tips for Decorating a Rental


Decorating your new home gives you a way to feel like the space is truly yours and represents your personality, likes, style, and interests. A stark, empty space can feel cold and unwelcoming.  When you own a space, it’s easy to dive right in and begin making all the renovations you want, but if you’re renting you can be quite limited in what you’re allowed to do or change. Since most apartments have a no painting rule (or that it must be returned to its original color), painting is out of the question for many. As are the other obvious renovation practices, like adding built-in pieces, changing the flooring, putting holes in walls, or changing materials.

With all these limitations, the amount of customization you can perform is minimized, but it’s not impossible to still make your rented space feel like a home. Here are a few ideas you can take on when decorating your rental.

Wall Hangings

Since paint is a firm no, you’ll have to look to other alternatives to bring some life to your wall. We recommend hanging as much as you can on your walls, but with a careful edit. Create similar color schemes with the art, photos, or decor you hang on your wall, or include similar motifs so that continuity is present. Since your wall is likely a neutral like white, this gives you complete freedom with the colors and textures you can incorporate as an alternative to painting your walls.

Another roadblock may lie in the fact that many rentals leave you unable to put holes in the wall, making hanging anything on them a bit difficult. There are a number of ways around this, with Décor Aid‘s interior designers’ favorite option being command strips and command hooks. When hanging photos, artwork, or framed prints, you can attach the adhesive sides to both the wall and the artwork to keep it securely on the wall, and when the time comes to remove it, the adhesive strip peels off as easily as a sticker. Command hooks can also provide an option for pieces you’d like to hang, like a macrame wall hanging or a tapestry. Many of these options, like tapestries or photos, are relatively weightless so they don’t pose an issue, but for heavier items like framed photos, make sure you choose a command strip or hook that can support the right amount of weight, as indicated on the packaging.

Lean Instead of Hang

If you want to veer away from touching the walls completely, then you’ll find a more artistic option in leaning your pieces against the walls instead. Some pieces just can’t be hung without puncturing the wall, but they can still be used in a rental space! Go for the casual, laid-back look that comes from leaning your artwork against a wall. Some choose to stand them up on a console table or credenza so that they’re positioned high enough to catch the eye, while some place them on the ground, as a piece complementary to a small desk or chair, making them more subdued.

Temporary Wallpaper

Still dedicated to changing up your walls? Find something a bit more temporary. Wallpaper has advanced since the days of painstakingly applying and scraping to remove. Now, there are an incredible amount of options for stick and peel wallpaper. The difference is now application is far easier, coming in pieces that line up seamlessly to create anything from a stripe of color to an entire accent wall. When it’s time to move on to another place, you’ll only need to get a grasp on a corner and peel off, just like a sticker, leaving no damage to the wall underneath.

There are also other options in a similar vein, like decals that can be placed to look like a wallpaper print, or that can be used as accents. Temporary wallpaper can also be added to areas that need a bit of dressing up, like inside cabinets (especially if they’re glass-front), on the inside of bookcases, or built-in areas. They’re still easily removable, but add more of a small accent than an entire wall space.