How to decorate a rental property

When you don’t own your home, it can be tricky to know how far to go with decorating. But living in a rental property doesn’t mean you can’t flex your interior design muscles!

Your first port of call when it comes to decorating a rental property is to see what your contract allows. Speak to your agent or directly to your landlord – you might be surprised to find that you can paint and change more than you think.

Whether you’re under strict guidelines or you’ve got more free rein, we take a look at 17 simple ways that you can put your stamp on your rental home.

Temporary rental decor ideas

If you’re not planning to stay in your place for very long, or your contract doesn’t allow for grand decor changes, there are some simple tweaks you can make to give the place a little facelift.

1. Create atmosphere with lighting

Lighting makes the world of difference in a home – and rental properties are no exception! Create the right atmosphere in each room with lighting techniques; think floor and table lamps, candlelight in your living and bedroom, and task lighting in your office and dining rooms. You could also update existing light fixtures with beautiful lampshades.


Parquet large TV cabinet | @newcountryhome

2. Add beauty and functionality with furniture

If your rental home comes unfurnished, you have so much scope to make the place your own. If you don’t feel like you can alter much else about the space, make a statement with carefully curated pieces. Why not add an eye-catching drinks cabinet or sofa?

Storage can often be an issue, especially in smaller rental places, so make sure you have some quality storage pieces as part of your toolkit, such as sideboards, console tables and bookshelves.

If you’re not planning on staying in a place for long, focus on multifunctional furniture. If a corner sofa is the look you’re going for, choose a modular model, as you’ll be able to adapt it to any future home.


Morgan modular corner sofa | @sceneathome

3. Go wild with houseplants

An easy way to spruce up your rental interiors is to let nature take over. Green plants bring vibrancy and personality to an otherwise blank canvas. Create visual interest by combining hanging planters and pots in different forms and colours.

Why not create a herb garden in your kitchen? Not only will it look great, but it’ll make your kitchen smell amazing, and your food taste great too!


Brooklyn coffee table | @kas_interiors

4. Hide flooring with rugs

The most challenging element of rental decor is often the flooring. Whether it just doesn’t match your colour scheme, or your landlord picked a drab carpet, fear not! Rugs are your new best friend. Source an oversized area rug to hide most of the floor space, or simply layer smaller rugs and runners to add texture and warmth to a wooden or tiled area.

Parquet dining set | @no33_ourfirsthome

5. Hang artwork without nails

If you’re not allowed to put nails in the wall, but still want to give your rooms some character, find other ‘hanging’ solutions. There are loads of self-adhesive strips and hooks on the market that won’t mark your walls and are strong enough to take most artwork and mirrors.

If this isn’t an option for you, why not embrace the trend of leaning your pieces against the wall? Whether a smaller piece on top of a sideboard or chest of drawers, or a bigger piece on the floor, this can be a super-stylish way of displaying your favourite pieces.


Parquet double wardrobe | @709_design

6. Update your tiles with stickers

If your bathroom or kitchen tiles leave much to be desired, put your own stamp on them. You can find temporary tile stickers that you can cut and stick to cover the original tiles. Trust us, it will completely transform the space!


Pete LarsenUnsplash

7. Bring life to the walls with removable wallpaper

If you’re not allowed to alter the walls in any way, but are tired of the boring rental standard of magnolia walls, get creative. Use removable wallpaper to create a statement wall, or do all four!


Parquet chest of drawers | @aliceincolour

8. Fill it with accessories

One way to make a rental property your own, is to fill it with your stuff! Let your imagination run wild with accessories. From cushions and throws to woven baskets and candles – whatever you love, will add personality to your space!

These details are really what makes a house a home, and can transform the look of a place, no matter the furniture that might already be there, or the flooring in place.


Jensen sofa | @hollypmcgowan

9. Invest in curtains

Don’t let the soft furnishings stop at cushions and throws. While they’re more of an investment, using your own curtains is a great way to improve a rental property and bring some of your taste to the decor scheme.

Rental properties often supply blinds, which can bring a cold atmosphere to the room. Add texture and softness with thick curtains. They’ll be great for keeping you warm in the winter too!


Parquet bedside table | @thelightshesees

10. Make the most of mirrors

Whether your rental property is on the smaller side, you’re lacking light, or you simply need to add intrigue to a room, a mirror is always the answer. From wall mirrors to floor and table mirrors, add some of these accessories to different rooms of your home.


Payton mirror | @fallowsheath

11. Make an impact with an upholstered bed

A great way to distract from bad bedroom decor choices, or to add interest to an otherwise plain wall, is with a statement headboard. Whilst created in the 17th century, upholstered beds are an extremely popular current trend in the interior design world. Opt for a modern take on traditional styling with an elegant velvet headboard with button detailing. Pick a bold colour like blue or pink for even more of a wow factor.


Regency upholstered bed | @eclectichunkydoryhome

Rental-friendly home upgrades

If you’re looking to get a bit more interior design crazy, and your contract allows for bigger alterations, here are a few slightly more involved elements that you might want to consider. These are all still temporary though – so don’t worry about risking your deposit!

12. Update the walls with panelling

Panelling is all the rage right now, but did you know that it’s actually super easy, and unlikely to damage your walls? This makes it a great option for renters. You can remove it at the end of your rental period, and even take it with you to your new property!

If you’re a dab hand with DIY, why not try it yourself? If not, or you’re unsure about its effect on the existing walls, speak to an expert.


Jensen sofa | @biancawildinghome

13. Give the walls a fresh lick of paint

The simplest way to give your home a completely new feel is with a fresh coat of paint. You can easily transform the look of your space with your favourite colours or go for a neutral look.

Some contracts may state that you have to change it back at the end of your stay. If this is the case, and you don’t want to go through the effort of painting all rooms twice, consider painting one wall or use shapes. Arches are a great way to frame your favourite pieces of furniture or to help create separation in an open-plan space.


Parquet double bed | @houseofjackandboo

14. Add open shelves

Nothing adds character to a room of the home like open shelving. Hang some in your living room to house books, plants and your favourite trinkets, or display your favourite crockery in your dining room.

Canterbury sideboard | @jessicacarmichaeljones

15. Hang a gallery wall

Add interest to an otherwise neutral wall with a gallery of artwork. Make sure to plan it out though! Don’t be fooled. While it may look spontaneous and simple, a gallery wall takes a lot of pre-planning.


Parquet chest of drawers | @houseofjackandboo

16. Paint existing furniture

If your landlord has supplied the furniture, it’s likely that you’ll have quite mismatched pieces. Why not offer to paint them? Match to any painted furniture that you bring, or paint in complementary tones to other natural wood pieces. This is also a great way to tie in the landlord’s furniture to your carefully selected pieces if you’re moving into a part-furnished place.


Shay large dresserShay small sideboard | @ourlittlehome2017

17. Fix some hanging pegs

An ode to country chic, hanging pegs are very fashionable in interior design. Use them to hang your coats and bags by the door, or jump on the trend bandwagon, hanging accessories from them. These are a great way to add something fun and interesting to your hallway, or spare wall in your kitchen or dining space.


St Ives large dresser | @that.makes.six

You should now be ready to give your rental space the love it deserves. Make sure to check any planned home improvements with your landlord or agent first – you never know, they might love your changes, and want to keep them that way at the end. And, if you need some new accessories or furniture to spruce the place up, shop now!

We’d love to see how you’ve styled your rental property, so make sure to tag #OakFurnitureland on Instagram.