Having a beautiful home with personality isn’t just for home owners. I’ve often been asked by readers how to make a rental home feel more homely and personal.
I’ve lived in rented apartments in the past and know this can feel tricky. Aside from needing permission to do things, there is also the budget problem. Nobody really wants to spend money on a home that isn’t theirs. I know I certainly didn’t want to but yet I wanted my rented places to feel like they were my home and a reflection of me.
The good news is that there are things you can do to make a rental feel like home. And a lot of these things don’t have to cost much. Some things will instantly transform while others will need a bit of effort but they’ll all add personality and make your rental feel like it’s your home.
9 tips to make a rental feel like home
Paint is sometimes underestimated and not suggested for renters. Giving your walls a fresh lick of paint can make a huge difference to your space for very little budget. Chances are you can paint the whole house/apartment over a weekend and it will instantly look fresher. Of course you will have to get permission from your landlord but if you stick to neutral tones, many landlords will be grateful as you’re doing them a favour. Alternatively, it’s becoming more common to allow renters to paint as long as they paint it back to the original colour.
2. Removable wallpaper
If paint isn’t allowed or you want to make a bigger statement to reflect your style and personality, have a go with removable wallpaper. When I was renting years ago, there was no such thing. But now there is so much choice for every style. Removable wallpaper isn’t as cheap as paint but it is worth considering if you’re going to be in your rental for a few years. And think beyond your living room and bedroom – does the bathroom need some love or are parts of the kitchen in need of some tlc? But remember, do your research and go for a high quality removable wallpaper so that it doesn’t do any damage.
If you want to be super cautious, you can get some large plywood panels (or similar) and wallpaper those instead. And when you move, you can even take these with you.
3. Lighting matters
Lighting is so important whether you’re renting or not. If you are renting, lighting always makes a good investment because you can take it with you. And for some reason lighting is so often neglected in rentals – its usually so bland and basic that just swapping the lights out can have a big impact. Choose layered lighting for the best impact – a combo of floor, ceiling, wall and/or table lights can work well. Also, don’t be afraid to make a statement with your lighting as it can create a feature and distract from other elements of the room that you may not like.
One additional aspect of lighting often overlooked are candles – they add instant warmth and cosiness, especially in the colder, darker months. It’s best to first check with your landlord if candles are allowed in your rental as some may not allow it. Chances are most landlords will have landlord insurance for things like this but it’s still better to check.
4. Add texture
This is another decor tip that’s important in any home whether owned or rented because texture brings a room together and adds visual interest. In a rental it can be even more important because a simple throw will not only add texture but also cover up a sofa or chair you don’t like. Beautiful linen tablecloths can also be used to cover tables and other flat surfaces.
But texture isn’t just for hiding stuff. Use cushions in different fabrics – faux fur, linen, wool – not just to to add visual interest and also some pops of colour if that’s your thing. I also love seagrass baskets that add texture and help keep things tidy. Adding texture to your rooms is a quick and easy fix thats big on instant results and you can switch it up every season to change the look.
5. Cover ugly flooring
Ugly flooring and tired looking carpets can be a real eyesore in rentals but all is not lost. For areas like living rooms and bedrooms, the answer is to get a large rug or even a few in different sizes and try layering them. There are loads of ideas out there in how to do this and it can be a great distraction from the ugly floor. If there’s a carpet in a horrible colour, you could get a large rug that covers as much of the carpet as possible.
More often than not, the ugly, worn out floors are in bathrooms and kitchens and can even look so tired that they look dirty. Peel and stick tiles could be the answer. Once again, it’s important to do your research to make sure you get something that is properly removable. I only suggest this solution when the floor is so bad that you can’t live with it because unless it’s done right, it can look cheap. But when done right, like in the before and after photo above, it can transform.
6. Display your art
A lot of renters are reluctant to hang up art as it can damage the walls. In fact a lot of rental contracts specifically say that you can’t put any nails/screws etc on the wall. But art is something that really personalises a space and can go a long way to making a rental feel more like home. Command strips are one option for hanging art; another solution is to lean art on the floor and on top of furniture – like on free standing cabinets, benches or shelving units and even kitchen countertops. It looks effortlessly stylish and there is no chance of damaging the walls.
7. Plants are your friend
I was going to add this tip as an add on to the texture tip but this is so important that it deserves to be a separate point. Apart from helping any space feel bright and lively, house plants are good for your health too, as we all know. From a decor point of view they bring so much to any space. If you aren’t green thumbed go for the lowest maintenance plants like succulents or a rubber plant (they are seriously hard to kill!). And remember plants aren’t just for living spaces but they’re great in bathrooms and kitchens too. Do check your rental contract though as some landlords don’t want you placing plants directly on to the floor or carpet for fear of damage. There are obvious ways around this (plant stands, window sills, table tops etc) so check what’s allowed first.
8. Dress the windows
This is another quick fix – changing out the curtains or window dressings can have a big impact. And the best part is that you can take these with you when you move. For a budget friendly option, I love bamboo shades – they add warmth and texture and don’t cost a lot.
9. If in doubt, ask
This isn’t a specific decorating tip to make a rental feel like home but it’s definitely worth mentioning. As renters we often assume the answer will be no so we don’t even ask the question. Whatever it is you want to do, asking doesn’t hurt. Some landlords may even be willing to pay for certain upgrades while others may be happy for you to do things that improve or enhance the property in some way. The only way to find out is to ask.
Which of these tips will you try first?
In partnership with CIA Landlord Insurance. All ideas, tips and opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support my blog and keep me sharing fun ideas with you.