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How To Spruce Up A Rental Property

Erica Gellerman5-Minute Read
February 12, 2020

There are so many decor blogs and shows dedicated to sprucing up a home that you buy to really make it yours. But what if you don’t own your own home? Are you supposed to not love your space?

If you rent, it might not occur to you to spend the time and money making your living space feel right. But if you’re interested in decorating a rental home, there are a lot of things you can do. Spending a little money can make a big impact. Here are 11 ideas to help you decorate your rental property:

Paint The Walls

Painting a room (or even just a wall) can have a huge impact on the look of your rental. While not every landlord will be accommodating, many will let you paint a room, especially if you agree to paint it back to the original color when you move out.

If painting isn’t an option, using a removable wallpaper can get the job done, without needing landlord approval. Pick a fun, eye-catching design to help draw attention away from other things you may not love about the room. Need inspiration? The home office in this rental was completely transformed with some blue and white temporary wallpaper.

Pick Window Treatments

Tired of the standard white blinds that often come in rentals (and don’t really work all that well)? Take them down and store them someplace safe and buy your own window treatments. A small amount of money can go a long way when buying budget-friendly curtain rods, curtains, or bamboo shades. Plus, adding in window treatments will make your room look finished.

Hang Art

Blank walls will keep your rental feeling like a rental. To spruce it up, hang art and framed photos! Check with your landlord about putting holes in the wall. They may be open to it and let you leave the hooks in the wall for the next tenant or they may want you to patch the holes before you leave.

And if you have a landlord who wants to keep the walls hole- and hook-free, you can try using picture framing strips or adhesive hooks. Test them first, to be sure they don’t take off your paint.

Bring In Rugs

Does your rental have floors that aren’t exactly what you’d hope for? Bring in some rugs. They’ll disguise what you don’t love and bring together spaces to make them feel cozy. This beautifully decorated rental home features rugs in nearly every space – over both carpet and tile – to cover floors that aren’t quite the renter’s style.

And the best part is the rugs can come with you to your next home and protect your rental carpet from any spills, helping you get that deposit back.

Update Your Outdoor Space

If you are lucky enough to have a rental that comes with outdoor space, make the most of it. Get outdoor furniture, hang some lights, and, if you’re allowed, plant some flowers. Add an outdoor fire pit that you can move and take with you to your next spot. Outdoor rugs can bring the space together and cover any ground that doesn’t look great.

For outdoor inspiration, this rental had a complete backyard update to turn it into an inviting space that can actually be used.

Replace Your Shower Head

This may seem like a waste of money, but you’ll appreciate that you made the switch every time you shower. A new shower head is an inexpensive update to make and you put back the old one and take this new one with you when you leave. Buy a rain showerhead or a double shower head and embrace a little spa-like luxury in your rental home.

Invest In Lighting

Some landlords will allow you to change out the overhead lighting, which can change your room, but it can also be expensive and time-consuming. If you’re not wanting to make quite as big of a change with your lighting, you can still make easy updates.

First, switch out your existing lightbulbs. Did you know that lightbulbs come in a range of colors – warmer colors are better for creating a relaxed, inviting environment and cooler colors help with concentration. Get the right lightbulbs for the room. If you want your living room to be a cozy retreat in the evenings, find some warm lights and see the difference it makes.

If your rental doesn’t have enough lighting, give yourself a budget to get enough lamps to brighten your space.

Pick Some Plants

Plants are an easy way to breathe some life into any home, including a rental. Not only are they a fairly inexpensive way to decorate, but they are easy to take with you and can work in pretty much any space.

And, as a bonus, they can help cover anything that doesn’t look great. Maybe the corner in one of your rooms is a little dingy or there are cords that you need to disguise. A well-positioned plant can help you do that.

Buy Furniture You Actually Like

It can be tempting to put off buying nice furniture until you own a home. But there’s a case to be made for buying stuff that you actually like. Don’t put off getting yourself a comfortable couch that you love or a dining room table that completes the room just because you’re renting. If you buy quality pieces that will last a while in a style that fits you, a lot can be repurposed in your next home – be it another rental or a home you buy. And if it doesn’t work with your next place, you can always sell it.

Drawer Pulls And Knobs

If your rental kitchen and bathroom aren’t quite as fresh as you like, one small change that can have a big impact is to update the drawer and cabinet pulls and knobs. Keep the old pulls and knobs safely stored in a bag, to be reinstalled before you move out. Upgrading this hardware can get expensive quickly, especially if you have a lot to buy. If you’re not planning on staying in your rental for long, weigh the cost with the impact they’ll make on the space. In an ideal world, you’ll be able to use them in your next home, but the sizing and spacing might be different in your next place so getting use beyond your current place isn’t guaranteed.

Line Your Cabinets

If you’ve ever lived in a rental that has a kitchen or bathroom that’s on the older side, you know that the drawers and cabinets can feel a little grimy. Putting your cooking equipment, plates, or even bathroom supplies in these cabinets can feel a little gross.

Before you unpack, grab some wallpaper, contact paper, or fabric in a pattern that you love and start measuring. Not only will you love looking at the lining each time you open a cabinet or drawer, but you’ll also have a cleaner surface to work with.

You should love where you live – rental or not. Take a little extra time and money to spruce up your rental and you’ll create a home environment that you can enjoy for months or years to come.

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    Erica Gellerman

    Erica Gellerman is a CPA, MBA, personal finance writer, and founder of The Worth Project. Her work has been featured on Forbes, Money, Business Insider, The Everygirl, The Everymom and more.