Decorating a Rental Apartment: The Essential Guide

Rental decoration differs from ownership decoration. A property owner stands between you & your decorating ideas. Let this detour discovers your creative inspiration.

So, you rented a new apartment? Congrats! Now that you settled in, it’s time to think about the ways to make this space truly yours. Decorating a rental apartment is not a simple job, but with our ultimate guide, you will be able to create a living space that works for both you and your landlord.

Homeowners have maximum freedom in decoration. Residents in rental apartments and homes must ask permission from the landlord/property owner first. This is due to the resident living on their property in exchange for payment.

Prior to decorating, it’s vital for residents to examine the lease carefully. Failure to abide by the rules results in the landlord terminating the lease or enforcing additional payment for damage. After careful review, decorate away using their specifications as an outline.

First Things First

decorating a rental apartment

A landlord’s rules ensure the resident doesn’t go overboard in decorating. The home belongs to the landlord first. Therefore, residents must be respectful of the space and maintain the home/apartment’s style and preference. The decorating rules in the lease vary by personal owner; in general, the landlord may specify:

1. Painting rules – painting is against the rules in most contracts. However, some landlords may agree to an accent wall.
2. Wall art rules – most allow between 1-3 holes in the wall; some will allow nails while others allow thumbtacks. Others don’t want holes in their walls.
3. Wall decoration rules – most don’t allow wallpaper, stencil drawings, or other decorations on the wall.

It’s possible the landlord could add additional regulations for lighting fixtures, bathroom fixtures, and kitchen hardware. Regardless, if the landlord doesn’t specify decorating rules, ask. Get permission for all decorative ideas before making the dream a reality.

The worst thing renters do is decorating without asking the property owner first. Another bad idea is the landlord rejecting a decorating idea and the renter continues with the idea anyway. Both are disrespectful.

A Word to the Wise

While decorating a rental apartment, understand that sudden or timed circumstances can occur. Refusal to renew the lease when the contract expires or natural disasters (flood, fires, etc.) are circumstances that force renters to relocate. Decorate knowing that all decorations and furniture additions are removable. These items will make the next rental property feel homey and livable. It also ensures the home returns to its previous state so the next renter can enjoy the space.

It becomes problematic when decorations install on the walls, drawers, and cabinets. Because the walls and cabinets belong to the landlord, any items attached to it become the landlord’s property.

And now to the fun part: the best ways to bring out your individual taste and bring your creative ideas to life!

Thrifty is Nifty

decorating a rental apartment

Frugal is the word in rental decoration. Renters on a tight budget should purchase new furniture items from secondhand stores, flea markets, consignment shops, and garage sales. Ensure the items purchased are shelves, dressers, tables, and wood chairs. When purchasing upholstery furniture like sofas, loveseats, and mattresses, remove bedbugs and fleas by cleaning it first and airing it out.

Add Storage

decorating a rental apartment

Some rental properties don’t contain sufficient storage space. Work with what’s given and bring stand-alone storage space in the home. A suggestion is to purchase multi-purpose storage; it is great for small spaces. An ottoman with interior storage space and a headboard with dressers are fantastic examples. Storage organizing solutions are equally effective. New storage from IKEA or Walmart is inexpensive if you’re willing to assemble it personally. Frugal renters can find assembled storage space for a reasonable price.


decorating a rental apartment

Accessories are a renter’s advantage in a landlord’s playground. Accessories change the space significantly, take attention away from flaws, and provide creative control over the space. Rugs hide unsightly imperfections while adding personality and charm to the home. Plants provide life into a dull environment. Vases, lamps, statement pieces, wall art, and culture/retro pieces say a lot without saying anything.

Light It Up

decorating a rental apartment

Natural light brings warmth and welcome feeling faster than indoor lighting. Let the sunshine in by opening blinds and/or curtains to allow window light to brighten up the home. Nonetheless, indoor lighting such as floor lamps and table lamps will do when windows show ungodly scenery. Both natural and indoor light brighten up dark spaces.

Use Fabric

decorating a rental apartment

Fabrics can turn an outdated space into an updated one. It can also cover up horrible colors and designs. Since fabric comes in various colors and designs, finding the right fabric for the home or apartment’s colors is simple. Examples of fabrics include throw pillows, window coverings, and wall hangings. A cushion on hard chairs makes it welcoming seating for guests. Slipcovers cover up terrible-looking sofas, loveseats, and chairs from secondhand stores.

Rental residents want to enjoy the home; decorating the home channels comfort and invitation to residents. After all, what’s wrong with adding a personal touch? This is a permanent residence for a certain timeframe. Landlords have rules to keep their property maintained. Decorate to show personality while respecting the landlord’s property.

Are the landlord’s rules cramping your style? Don’t be discouraged. Express any frustrations in the comments below. If the rental experience is great, mention it in the comments too. Who knows? Your comment may help someone else in a similar situation. While you’re on the page, share this information with others on social media and blog pages.


About the author

Tonya Jones Reynolds

A professional writer with years of experience, I like adding my personal spin on various topics. I worked in various marketplaces like Textbroker and Blogmutt.

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