We get it - not everyone’s lucky enough to be a homeowner just yet. Rental places come in all shapes and sizes, with most of them being set up for functionality rather than aesthetics (we’re looking at you, magnolia walls). Thankfully these days it’s easy enough to add character to your rented home and upgrade even the most dull of landlord decor decisions.
There’s no worrying about your deposit here, as we’ve rounded up some of our best renter-approved decor ideas. Our expertly curated list is jam-packed full of clever, 100% reversible upgrades that you can take with you to your next place, so there’s no budget wasted. Get ready to make bolder decor decisions that turn your rental from just accommodation, into somewhere that really feels like home.
1. Lighting ideas
Lighting can really make or break how your rented place feels. For an instant upgrade, consider swapping out dull bulbs or harsh fluorescent lights with energy-efficient LEDs in a warm tone. The warmer your lights, the more cosy and inviting your space will seem. Consider swapping out both your ceiling bulbs and those in your floor and table lamps to match, so you get a cohesive look throughout your entire place.
A lot of rentals come with singular, dull ceiling lights, so it’s important to add more functional lighting in hard-to-see places. Try using removable adhesive strips to stick on battery-operated or USB-charge lights inside cabinets, cupboards and wardrobes.
2. Kitchens and bathrooms
Image - Pinterest
We’ve lived in our fair share of uninspiring rentals with dull beige kitchens, or questionable tile choices. Thankfully there’s a lot you can do to change up your rental kitchen or bathroom without losing your deposit. In kitchens, replacing the cabinet knobs is a super easy option - just be sure to save and switch back to the originals when it’s time to move out. If ugly tiles are the enemy, consider using peel-and-stick vinyl to dramatically change your kitchen backsplash, flooring or walls. There’s no need for any renovating here - simply lift off the vinyl on move-out day.
In the bathroom, similar changes can be made to help elevate what’s already there or cover up the bits that you wish weren’t. Swapping out your shower head for a rainfall-style design is simple, and will make a big difference to your bathroom experience. In all rentals, it’s a good idea to swap out your toilet seat - both for hygiene and aesthetics.
3. Window treatments
Image - @claphamhome
Whatever view you have from your rental home, changing up the window dressings is guaranteed to make an impact. This doesn’t have to be a complicated affair and definitely doesn’t have to involve any drilling. Consider installing a tension rod to hang new curtains from where there isn’t an existing pole.
If your rental comes with curtain poles, this opens up all sorts of options for you to put your own up. Choose fabrics that match your decor, and consider sheer curtains for windows where you want a little more privacy - these are especially good for flat buildings or rentals that look out onto the street. If you need a little more darkness to sleep and your rental blinds aren’t cutting it, you can also use a tension rod to put up blackout roller blinds, ideal for undisturbed lie-ins.
4. Soft furnishings and fabrics
Hands up if you’ve ever had a rental carpet that’s seen better days. Other than getting it professionally cleaned, there are plenty of things you can do to make your place feel more homely. In combined kitchen/living room spaces, investing in a large area rug not only covers up your landlord’s choice of questionable carpet style but also helps to create more solid ‘zones’ - a common interior design trick. This will help to separate out your home visually, especially if it’s a smaller rented place.
Layering is useful when decorating a rented place. If you need more colour and vibrancy, use throws and cushions to style up existing sofas, armchairs and beds. This is a really easy way to add personality to your place.
Image - @michellemdriscoll
Just because your landlord’s laid out the house in a certain way, doesn’t mean you have to stick with that. Review the space you have and consider if rearranging the furniture or using rooms for different purposes (ie a downstairs bedroom and an upstairs living room) makes more sense.
In studio apartments or small rented flats, using a decorative screen helps to create distinct areas and separate out your living space. If you need to be flexible with your furniture, opt for lightweight and modular options that can be easily reconfigured and taken with you when you move out.