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Damage Free Decorating Ideas For Rental Properties

couple walking into rental home

Turn Your Temporary House Into A Home

At some point, we've probably all rented a house & may even need to at some point in future .. who knows where life will take you?

But just because it's a rental doesn't mean it can't be a home.

I'm pretty fortunate in that I have a wonderful old house with a fantastic landlord & landlady.

Providing it's improving the property, I can pretty much decorate as I like.

But not every landlord or estate agent is going to be as accommodating.

But this doesn't mean you can't get creative & add your own personality to your rental.

Don't let the limitations of a rental property hold you back from creating beautiful décor. There's many damage free decorating ideas that will transform your rental house into a home.

You may be renting short term, so you don't want to be spending too much of your own dollars improving someone else's property.

But if you're a long term renter, some decorating ideas can be worth it in the long run to create a wonderful home environment.

Can You Paint A Rental Property?

My Mum used to say "if you don't ask, you don't get."

It's true, often if you approach your landlord or estate agent, they may be willing to allow you to apply a fresh coat of paint as it's improving the property.

Painting & adding some lovely colours to the walls would have to be one of the major ways to create a real difference to the look & feel of a house.

couple deciding paint colours for rental home

If you're only going to be in the property for a short while, it probably isn't worth the expense, time & labour involved.

But for long term tenants it's a wonderful option.

Usually subtle & neutral colours will be fine, as these make it easier for the owner to rent out the property at a later date.

If you're willing to do the job yourself, it needn't be overly expensive.

Good quality water-based paints are available nowadays which are low odour & super easy to clean up.

From my own experience, I found doing a room at a time is less overwhelming & the entire house isn't a mess for weeks on end.

When the landlord sees the results, this may help you get on his good side & he may be more open to other decorating suggestions you may have.

Add Some Life To Boring White Walls

Most newer rental homes, in my neck of the woods at least, seem to have white walls.

This can be a bit cold & uninviting, but the positive aspect is it's a neutral backdrop to which you can add any colour.

So if painting is out of the question, there are other means by which to add some life to those boring white walls.

Wall decals can be a great choice & removable ones are available that don't create marking or damage.


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There's also removable wallpaper & murals known as "peel & stick".

A fantastic way to create a feature wall & as they're available in many colours & designs, you can match to any existing décor.

wall mural for rental property

A similar product known as Washi Tape, is a high quality Japanese masking tape made from rice paper.

Available in many colours & designs as well as being low tack, means it's not only repositionable, but won't create damage when removed.

You can apply it to create your own designs on the walls, or use it to stick up posters, as unlike BluTack, it won't leave a residue.

decorative washi tape


The floors are another area, that if they're not that attractive they can really detract from a home's décor.

The usual culprits are dated carpet, tiles or old linoleum.


Replacing flooring can be quite an expense, & even if you're staying in the house long term, it can still hit hard on the hip pocket.

I was lucky in my house, that under the old & dated faux wood lino in the front room, were jarrah floorboards.

I couldn't rip that lino up fast enough!

You may be in a similar situation & provided the floorboards are in good enough condition, it may be something the landlord will agree to.

Perhaps a bit of sanding & staining may be required, but it needn't be a huge undertaking.

floorboards in rental home

Another easy way is to hide offensive carpet is under rugs, plus you'll own the rugs & can use them in your next rental.

Depending on the size of the room, one rug may cover the entire floor space.

floor rug for rental property

If you like the bohemian look, then multiple rugs can be used.

floor rugs for rental home

Of course, arranging the furniture in strategic ways will also help hide those areas that the rugs don't conceal.


Often bathrooms & even kitchens can have tiled floors.

If it's an old house, you may be lucky & have funky retro tiled floors.

But more often than not, they're old fashioned or just plain ugly.

Again, ask the owner or agent as you may get permission to paint over them.

Then with the use of rugs, you can create a pleasing décor.

If painting is out of the question, rubber & other water resistant floor coverings are available.

There are those click together rubber tiles, & although they may not be on the cutting edge of home décor, they'll do the job of hiding any offensive floor tiles.

rubber floor tiles

Gym floor tiles are also available through some home depot & hardware suppliers, as well as other styles of rubber flooring offering various textures.

A simple way to disguise the shower floor is to use a bamboo bath mat & you can cut them to size too.

bamboo shower mat in rental house

Dressing Up Your Windows

Replacing or having new window dressings will make a massive difference.

It's not a big job to take down old curtains or blinds, & providing you keep the hanging hardware, it's a cinch to put them back should you move.

It needn't be an expensive process either, as there's many wonderful curtains, blinds & other window dressings at budget prices.

You may even be able to use the existing curtain rods & other fittings.

Some window frames can look dated & even some aluminium frames can look unhomely when there's just a set of venetian blinds.

Curtains are a fabulous way to soften a window as well as introduce colour & texture.


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curtains at open window

Venetian blinds can get costly, especially if you're using them throughout the home.

Bamboo style blinds are relatively inexpensive & they don't need to make the place look like student digs or a hippy house!

There's some good quality ones on the market & they can come in different colours too.

Introduce Some Greenery

No home is complete without a pot plant or two.

Not only do they make a house more of a home, they also help in cleaning the air & ensuing a sense of calm.

It's amazing how many varieties of plants are on offer & plants that are suited to different environments & growing conditions.

This means you can find some greenery for any room, be it the living room, hallway or bathroom.

potted plants for rental home

The advantage with potted plants for renters is that they're another item that can be taken with you when you move.

Potted plants are also great for outside entertaining areas, verandas & porches.

You can actually have them in the garden too.

I once saw a clever tip where you bury the plant in it's pot in the soil.

Simply pull it up when you wish to take it with you to the next place.

Certain vegetables can be cultivated in pots, so too herbs which are ideal for smaller spaces like apartments.

potted plants in outdoor area

Lighten Up

When the sun goes down, that's when you want to feel cosy & at home in your own space & nothing is quite as effective at creating mood & atmosphere than the right lighting.

We've probably all had that experience when you first move into a place & there's only a 100 watt globe in the ceiling .. ahh!

It's an easy enough job to swap out the globes for softer ones, or even those vintage style varieties.

Light shades are another item that are easy to fit or replace & they help soften the lighting too.

There's extension cords that fit into any standard light socket, meaning you're able to have pendant lights.

pendant lighting for rental property

Fantastic for high ceilings, as it helps to create a more intimate space.

Fluorescent strip lighting is a bit more of a challenge.

But there are decorative panels that cover them up, only thing is they need fixing to the ceiling.

The landlord may allow you to do this, especially if it's improving the place.

It is possible to use low tack tape or other means to hang a nice sheer material under the fluorescent strip.

Of course, you don't have to use the ceiling lights at all.

Lamps are a fabulous way to create mood lighting & a good investment, as they will travel with you to your next rental.


Good quality bedding makes such a difference to a bedroom & how you feel about your home.

Treat yourself to some stylish sheets, pillows, duvet covers & other accessories.

You can trust me on this.

I'm a bloke who eventually laid down the cash & finally bought some quality bedding.

Not only does it make the bedroom so much nicer, it lasts for years & you can simply fold it all up & carry it with you when you vacate a property.


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rental house bedroom


There's no doubt that well chosen furniture creates a wonderful home.

Good quality & stylish furniture needn't be expensive either.

There's many garage sales & second-hand stores selling beautiful & unique items.

Stylish doesn't necessarily mean the latest styles either.

Vintage furniture is extremely popular & if you're a creative crafty type, why not have a go at upcycling.

This way you can sell these items when you're vacating & may even see a profit.

If you're buying new, go for neutral colours, as this way your furniture will fit with any décor should you move.

Throws, cushions & other accessories can then be used to add colour & texture.

Wall Décor & Artwork

Although this is another way that makes a huge improvement, not only to the décor, artworks really personalize a home.

It can be tricky with rental properties, as you don't want to be banging in nails or driving screws into the walls.


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Certain prints will be light enough that you can use renter's hooks, or Command Hooks, as they can be removed without damaging the walls.

If there's brick walls, screws can be used quite safely.

Simply drive the screws into the mortar.

This way if you need to remove the screw, the mortar is easily filled & if necessary, painted over to match the existing wall colour.

But if there's no safe way to display your artworks on the walls, there's other creative ideas you can implement.

1. Go bohemian & simply lean the artwork against the wall.

This works best for larger art, then smaller prints, pot plants, a stack of books or other items can be arranged to create a wonderful display.

2. Use props to rest your prints & pictures on such as an artists easel or a funky old chair.

3. Many homes will have wall shelves & these can be used to display your prints & photos too.

4. Of course if your fortunate enough to have a fireplace, the mantle is prime real estate for art, especially large prints.


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picture above fireplace in empty rental house


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5 Extra Damage Free Ideas

1. A handy tip, which can surprisingly make quite a difference, is to swap out the handles on kitchen, bathroom & other cabinets.

The old ones can be kept & put back if you decide to move & it's possible your new ones could be used in the new place.

cabinet handles

2. Swapping out power point & light switch covers is another way to modernise or change the style of the existing ones.

Another item that can possibly be utilized again if you move house.

3. Having a new splashback in the kitchen can inject some colour & new life.

Temporary ones are available in many designs & they simply peel on & off.

kitchen splashback in rental property

4. As well as looking stylish, storage solutions are a way to keep the clutter at bay.

Rental properties can be notorious for never having enough storage space & storage solutions needn't be expensive.

Various boxes & other solutions are available at discount stores, online & even at your local garage sales.

It's always more pleasing to come home to a tidy house rather than a cluttered mess.

5. Although it's not so much a decorating idea, replacing an old shower head will brighten up the bathroom a bit.

Purchasing the water saver varieties will also cut your water bills, if that's something you pay for.

These newer shower heads also provide better water pressure, which many older properties may be lacking.

Again, another investment that you can take with you when you move.

Final Thoughts

Turning a rental property into a home isn't too difficult or expensive & it can be fun too!

Renting needn't feel temporary or hold you back from creating your own vision of what you'd like your home to look like either.

Most of the improvements are relatively quick & can be accomplished in a couple of weekends.

And all the lovely décor items are yours to keep & take with you wherever you may end up.

I hope this article was helpful for you & please share if you know anyone who may also find value in it.


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