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Ways to Personalize a Rental

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

rentalContributed by Info Guru Lindsay Shugerman

Rentals have a way of feeling, well, not like home. Beige or white walls. And underfoot? It’s usually boring carpet, vinyl or neutral tile floors. It’s not your property, so you don’t want to spend too much on fixing it up.

And yet it is, at least for now, your home and it should feel like a home. After all, if you’re like over half of the population, you might be renting for five years or longer. That’s a lot of time to deal with bland walls and ugly floors!

Thank goodness there are lots of inexpensive ways to decorate and personalize a rented house or apartment! Here are ten ideas for making your temporary space feel like home sweet home.

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10. Write on the walls

Wall quote decals

Don’t panic! I’m not suggesting you take a Sharpie to the walls of your rental! Thank goodness there’s a simple way to add favorite quotes or custom messages to your walls in a landlord-friendly way! Easy-to-apply, easy-to-remove vinyl wall decals allow you to turn boring white walls into something that reflects you and your values.

9. A splash of tile…that comes off the wall!

blue and white kitchen

One of the most boring rooms in most rentals is the kitchen. Cheap cabinets, neutral countertops and colorless backsplashes add up to ho-hum. But you can add a pop of color by creating removable tile backsplashes… just a couple of easily-patched screw holes, some basic power tools, and of course, the tile of your choice — and you’ll be able to add a color and texture to the whole room.

8. Install a glueless laminate floor

laminate flooring installation

For some reason, landlords love vinyl floors. And the uglier the better. But renters? Not so much. Old vinyl floors are almost impossible to get clean. In living rooms and bedrooms, you can always use throw rugs or area rugs to hide the worst offenders. But in kitchens, what’s a renter to do?

If you’re planning on staying in a rental for awhile, a floating laminate wood floor might be the perfect solution. No gluing, and the floor can go right over top of the ugly vinyl. Just lay down a protective cushioning layer, snap the floor together and (if you choose), add quarter round trim. When it’s time to move, just pull it up and expose all that “lovely” vinyl.

7. Add art

tapestry catalogue

Hanging art on the walls is one of the quickest and easiest ways to personalize a rented house or apartment, but many renters just skip over this easy decor idea. Why? Some are afraid of losing their deposit because of nail holes. Others feel that hanging art just isn’t worth it in a temporary home.

And that’s sad. Because there are so many ways around the nail hole issue: Home Depot and other home improvement stores sell spackle just made for nail holes plus 3M makes removable hanging supplies. Many cities’ rental laws protect renters from damage charges for nail holes, calling it a reasonable wear-and-tear issue. And even a temporary house or apartment should feel like home! So take the plunge…go ahead and hang something you love.

6. Hang curtains…on the walls

curtains on wall

When you aren’t allowed to paint, but just can’t stand the paint colors or wallpaper in your rental, add the color and texture you want by hanging floor-to-ceiling curtains over the walls. Do just one wall as accent, or encase a whole room in warmth and beauty. Another tip…Electrical conduit is a cheap and lightweight alternative to expensive curtain rods.

5. A prettier light above

country tin light fixture

The light fixtures that come with most rentals are dull at best. At worst, they could be years (decades?) out of date, splattered with paint or just plain filthy. The good news is you can find inexpensive, attractive light fixtures to replace almost any ceiling or wall lighting. An electrician can swap out the fixtures for about $75. Save the old and ugly lighting someplace safe, so you can reverse the process when it’s time to move out.

4. Handle it differently

cabinet hardware

You probably can’t replace the kitchen or bathroom cabinets. But for a dollar or two per door or drawer, you can give your space a whole new look by swapping out the handles and knobs. Take one of the old handles with you to the store to match the size. And do save the old ones and the fasteners so you can return everything to the boring original look when you move out.

3. From boring bathroom to spa

teak floor mats

Turn an everyday bathroom into a virtual spa (and cover up that gross shower floor) by adding a ready-made or custom teak mat. No attachment needed, so it won’t damage fixtures or floors. And yes, they are made to go into the shower!

2. Wherever you would rather be

forest wall mural

If your rental has a less than inspiring view…or no view at all, bring the outdoors you love in by hanging a vinyl wall mural. There are murals available for every taste, from scenic woodlands to the heart of the big city. Easy to hang, and almost as easy to remove, these impressive images are a wonderful choice for kids’ rooms, home offices or bedroom walls. (Tip…for easier removal, attach the mural to thin wood or particle board. Then just use a few screws to attach it to the wall. At move out, take it down and patch the little holes.)

1. Create a theme with fabric

bolts of fabric

Sometimes personalizing a rental is as simple as choosing a palate of fabric for windows, pillows and bedding. Head to your local fabric store or browse online fabric catalogs. Find one pattern that really speaks to you, and then build on that. Coordinate other fabrics and home accessories to that inspiration material to turn a faceless rental into a beautiful and cohesive design statement.

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When home is a rental, you deserve a space that feels welcoming. Put your own stamp on the space and enjoy the place you live, even if it’s just for now.

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