10 Tips for Decorating a Rental Home


These days, with house prices remaining pretty high, many of us are choosing rental accommodation over owning our own house. According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 8.3 million homes being rented in England and Wales in 2011 – that’s roughly a third of the households available in those areas.

But when your home isn’t actually your own, is there really anything you can do to decorate it? Well, yes, actually. We’ve rounded up some of our favourite tips for decorating a rental home – ready to get started?


1. Add free standing storage solutions

Free standing storageImage Credit: thomas wold

Often, the storage available in rental homes leaves much to be desired, but unless you want a particularly angry landlord it’s not a good idea to start installing fitted wardrobes and kitchen cabinets, at least not without asking first.

A far simpler solution is modular storage. This type of furniture can be switched around to fit any room, no matter what the size or shape, so you can arrange it to suit your specific needs. Plus, you can easily pack it up when you move to a new place.


2. Change window dressings

Window dressingsImage Credit: homestilo

How many rental homes have you lived in where the curtains are little more than a piece of netting? Not only are decent curtains important for privacy and being able to sleep properly, but a good window dressing can lift a room enormously.

Pop the existing curtains into a cupboard so you can put them up again at the end of your tenancy, and pick out a lovely set of curtains, or a blind – or both – that suits your tastes. It’s an easy way to add a pop of colour to a room, and will make your room look infinitely more homely.


3. Fight for a decent sofa

Montana SofaMontana 3 Seater Sofa from SofaSofa

Okay, so you might not need to come to fisticuffs, but it’s often the case that sofas in rental properties are not the comfiest things in the world, and they usually don’t look great either. If you live in a furnished property, it’s worth asking the landlord if it’s possible to replace the sofa if it’s looking tired.

Alternatively, you could ask your landlord to put the sofa into storage, and purchase your own that you can use for years to come, no matter which property you’re living in. Investing in a decent sofa will help to lift any living room, and allow you to relax comfortably after a long day at work.

If you’ve got the choice, opting for unfurnished properties allows for much more flexibility with your decor, as you can choose furniture according to your personal tastes and requirements – including that all important sofa!


4. Use removable wallpaper

Removable wallpaperImage Credit: Monica Nicholson

Already big in the US, removable wallpaper is slowly making its way over here to the UK, and it’s basically every renter’s dream. Transform that feature wall into something that you actually like, or make a statement in your hallway – whatever your chosen project, removable wallpaper allows you to make changes that are easy to reverse at the end of your tenancy.

However, it’s still not available in many places in the UK just yet, so why not improvise? If your project is small – if you’re only going to hang a few sheets of wallpaper on a feature wall, for instance – then you may be able to get away with using some tack or a few temporary adhesive strips. This way, you can create a great feature without all the mess to clear up when you move out.


5. Hang art on walls

Art wallImage Credit: Personal Creations

Wall art is frankly essential, in our opinion, for making a room feel like home. Whether you’re into typography, or you’ve got some beautiful paintings that your little ones have made, a few framed pictures can really create an impact on an otherwise bare wall.

For many renters, the possibility of being charged by the landlord at the end of the tenancy is enough to put them off from adorning their walls. But thankfully, nails are no longer your only option for hanging artwork or photos on your walls.

Removable adhesive strips now work much better than in days gone by, and leave very little residue, if any. You could also simply lean frames against the wall, on a shelf or mantelpiece.

And if you’re left with no other option, we say it’s worth hammering a couple of nails in the wall to make your home feel like your own – a blob of polyfiller and a lick of paint when you move out will be enough to fix up any holes.


6. Use wall stickers

Wall stickersImage Credit: Plage Vinilos y Adhesivos

Wall stickers are huge right now. And we mean that both figuratively and literally – if you like, you can choose a mural design that covers most of your wall, depending on your tastes and the space you have available.

Wall stickers are a great option for renters because they’re temporary, inexpensive, and they can create a huge impact for very little effort. If your landlord is especially strict about hanging artwork on your walls, wall stickers can be your saviour.

They’re fantastically modern, too, so will look great in both modern flats, and period properties when contrasted with antique furniture and vintage pieces. Go for a Banksy style, a flock of birds, lettering or a grandfather clock – the choice is huge.


7. Add patterns to furniture

Patterned furnitureImage Credit: housetohome.co.uk


If you’ve got your own furniture, you can use it to great effect to add impact to your home by adding patterns or colour to it. Apply a striking wallpaper to shelves or the back of a bookcase, or get some paints in your favourite shades to create your own design.

Monica Gale from Stampin’ Up explains how to create your own stencils, which can be used on fabric or wood. “Making your own stencils is a breeze, especially if you have an e-cutter (but it’s not essential).

“You can simply scale your image to size in MDS, print it on normal copy paper, tape the paper securely to a cutting mat, lay a piece of window sheet over the top, and tape that into place. Then using a scalpel and a steady hand, you can cut away around your design.”


8. Change the handles

Change doorhandlesImage Credit: Family O'Abé

An easy, and inexpensive, way to add a pop of colour to your home is to change the door handles and drawer knobs on your furniture. Though this is a temporary fix, you can keep your new handles to use in the future in any rented properties that you may move into, so it’s a worthwhile investment.

There are plenty of fun designs to choose from, in unusual shapes like alarm clocks and hare heads, as well as more traditional options. Whatever your tastes, changing little details like this can really make you feel as if the home you’re living in is your own, and help you to make your stamp on the place. Just make sure you keep the old handles so that you can switch back when you move.


9. Choose beautiful soft furnishings

10513344_791569277531478_1327896363960672759_nRio 2 Seater Sofa from SofaSofa

Cushions, throws, bed linen, even bath towels – all can be used to add decorative flair to your living space. Go for designs that you really love, and fill your home with them! You’ll be able to use them in your next home, and because many of the items – such as bed linen and towels – are things that you’ll need anyway, they’ll be well worth the money you spend on them.

10. Create a wallpaper canvas

Wallpaper canvasImage Credit: MyWallArt

A simple way to add colour to magnolia walls is to use wallpaper art. One of our favourite aspects of this is that you can choose wallpaper that is a little pricier than what you’d normally go for, as you’ll only need a small amount of the paper, rather than the several rolls you’d need to paper a whole room.

You may even be able to use samples rather than a whole roll, so this can be a truly thrifty option! You could use a traditional frame to display the patterned wallpaper, or choose to wallpaper an artist’s canvas for a more modern look.

Lauren Grace from We Love Shiny Things shared her experience with making her own wallpaper art on her blog (and tips on what not to do). “I used Solvite wallpaper adhesive that you have to mix up yourself, divided it into four and worked out how much water I needed for the sizing.

“We mixed the correct quantities, but if I were to do this again, I would paint the canvases with a much thicker coat of paste, in order to get the actual canvas part much stiffer than we did.”



Though a rental house may not technically be your ‘own’, we are firm believers that wherever you’re living, it should feel like home. By using temporary measures, you should be able to make your own mark on your place, without having to lose out on your deposit when the tenancy is up.

Posted in DIY, Homemaking, Interior Design, Lifestyle, Sofas on 29th Jul 2015


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