The Do's and Don'ts of Decorating a Rental Apartment

While it might not be your forever home, you certainly want to make your rental feel like home. One of the ways you can achieve a cozy feeling in your new living space is to decorate. Use comfortable furniture, colorful decor and memorable photos to add a creative touch to your rental.

Depending on where you live, there are plenty of pitfalls to avoid when decorating a rental. You may be wondering what you’re allowed to do to your new living space and what can fit in your budget. Before planning your dream DIY makeover, review these do’s and don’ts for how to decorate your rental home.

Do Have a Plan.

When you first move into your home, walk through the new space and make a rental property decorating plan. Choose your color scheme, design aesthetic and purpose for each room to figure out how to make your space livable yet aesthetically pleasing. If you need rental apartment decorating ideas, explore photos from other renters online.

Start with the furniture and arrange a desired layout. Then, figure out how you can use empty wall or floor space. Work with the decor you find as you unpack your boxes, and visit local stores to pick up any additional decor items. Checking out local shops also allows you to explore your new surroundings.

Don’t Ignore Your Lease Terms.

Your landlord or building manager may have terms in their lease agreement about a renter’s right to decorate, such as painting walls or hanging pictures. If the contract doesn’t specify any limitations on what you can do to change your living space, reach out to your landlord to discuss your options. It can be best to get decorating permission in writing to make sure you get your security deposit back.

Most of the time, the building manager will ask that you change everything back to the condition it was when you first moved in. If you paint the walls a new color, you’ll have to repaint the walls when your lease ends. You may lose your security deposit if you fail to remove permanent fixtures or damage the property while renovating.

Do Change Your Window Treatments.

If you don’t like the plastic blinds the landlord included with your rental, you could ask if you can update to a different covering for your windows. Most of the time, these window treatments are attached to the wall with some screws, so you can easily remove them with a screwdriver. Remember to keep the blinds that belong to your landlord so you can hang them up again when it’s time to move out.

Like other decor items, try using more temporary window treatments, such as a curtain with a tension rod or a removable window film. The blinds, curtains, shades or decals you apply to your windows should complement the rest of your home’s design theme.

Don’t Bust Your Budget.

Be realistic about the cost of your new rental and find ways to cut back on your spending.

After you come up with a plan, consider how much you’re willing to spend. Be realistic about the cost to decorate your new rental and find ways to cut back on your spending. Instead of splurging on unnecessary items, only buy what will fit the color scheme and design aesthetic of your home. At the same time, quality should be a priority. Go with the style you want instead of settling for a cheap item.

Every apartment you move into will have its quirks. You’ll want to find furniture and storage solutions that make the most of your space. But there’s no sense dropping a ton of money on something that won’t be necessary at the end of your lease term. Making your rental feel like home can be free if you’re creative enough. Think of decorating ideas on a budget for your Pennsylvania apartment to save money and boost your confidence in your new space.

Do Buy Deeply Discounted Decorations.

When decorating a rental, consider buying used. Unleash your inner DIY maven by painting and rehabbing decor pieces you find at garage sales, online or at second-hand stores. If you have to leave them behind when you move, your wallet won’t be too upset. As you look for decorations, shop with quality and cost-effectiveness in mind. Go to local thrift stores in Harrisburg to find pre-owned accessories in good condition for your new home.

Don’t Paint the Walls.

Unless your walls are a crazy shade of burnt orange and it’s allowed in your lease, step away from the paintbrush. Even if your landlord allows you to paint, they’ll often require you to undo your work before returning your security deposit. Trust us, it’s not worth it.

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Instead, you can use the following to decorate your walls:

  • Faux wallpaper
  • Window curtains or fabric
  • Removable wall stickers
  • Mirrors

Do Use Peel and Stick Decor.

Do Use Peel and Stick Decor

There’s no denying it: White walls can be boring. Thankfully there’s a temporary alternative for decorating a space you’re renting. From peel-and-stick tiles to wall decals, you can make your rental your own with a little creativity. The best part? You can safely remove everything when you leave.

Along with peel and stick wall decals, you could use the following for hanging pictures:

  • Adhesive strips or hooks
  • Damage-free tape
  • Corkboards
  • Magnetic dry-erase boards
  • Chalkboards

Don’t Overcrowd Your Rooms.

Rental spaces are typically smaller than a full-sized house. When you have too many items on the walls, a small room will look even less spacious. Instead of unpacking all your decor items and filling every inch of wall and floor space, use minimal furniture and decorations.

If you have limited space in your new rental, you can try to find furnishings that serve more than one purpose, like a bench with storage bins underneath it. You can also style your living space with decor items that are the appropriate size for your furniture and square footage. Put a small pillow on a chair for one person, and framed pictures on a large empty wall.

Do Focus on Small Accessories.

From flameless candles to small framed pictures, sometimes you only need a subtle change in decor to make a major difference in how your home appears. Close your eyes and imagine what would make you feel cozy in your rental and shop for items that allow you to relax at the end of the day. Items like tiny lamps can provide personality for your living space and help you see at night.

Your landlord or building manager may have provided some decorative elements in your rental. If you’d prefer to design your home according to your taste, ask your landlord if you can make some changes. Make sure you save any of their items to reinstall when it’s time to move.

Don’t Forget About Storage.

While decorating your home with creative flair is significant, you also need to consider your need for storage⁠ — especially when living with a roommate. If you have a small rental with limited closet space, you need a different place to keep your items. Besides utilizing closets, cabinets and vanity drawers, be creative with the available space on your walls, floors and corners.

Having the appropriate storage in your rental allows you to tidy up and keep a comfortable, happy apartment. You could use bookshelves to display your decorations as well as your books. Floating shelves or shadow boxes are also decorative, and they help hide the clutter you may have in your rental space. Put coat hooks over the doors and shoe racks in the closet to maintain your clutter.

Do Take Advantage of Natural Light.

Natural light can boost your mood and provide more attractive lighting than you could get from lamps. It can also make a small room look more spacious. Using sunlight instead of light fixtures may help you save money on your energy bill. Make sure you have enough natural light coming into your rental. If you want to decorate with window treatments and still take advantage of the natural light, hang up sheer curtains or leave your thick curtains open when it’s sunny outside.

Don’t Make Major Renovations.

Get written permission from your landlord before you make major changes to your apartment.

After watching home improvement shows or finding rental apartment decorating ideas online, you may want to take on some major renovations. If you ever want to change the structure of your rental or update the appliances or flooring, get written permission from your landlord or building manager. Even if you are allowed to make major renovations, you’ll have to pay for them, and you might have to change them back when you move out.

Since the rental may not be your permanent home, you shouldn’t renovate a living space you’ll have to fix in a few years. To decorate a rented house, focus on making small, manageable changes. You can add an area rug if you don’t like the floors, or use adhesive strips to hang up pictures instead of drilling holes into the walls.

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Do Boost Your Creativity and Do It Yourself.

In addition to going to the store to buy furniture and wall art you love, tap into your artistic skills and put your mark on your rental home decor. Taking on a DIY decorating project can help boost your decorating confidence and give you a sense of ownership of your new living space.

While you might not have permission to paint the walls or hang up wallpaper, you could paint your furniture and make decorative elements out of recycled materials. Consider whether your preferred design aesthetic is modern, contemporary or traditional, and try to create something that will enhance your home’s theme. When you’re decorating with creativity in mind, the possibilities are endless.

Don’t Install Permanent Fixtures.

At the end of your lease your rental won’t belong to you anymore, so don’t make any permanent changes to your temporary home. There’s no point in taking several months to renovate your kitchen when you’ll be moving out in a year. Even if you feel like you need a kitchen island or an elaborate chandelier, instead of putting up fixtures, try to find short-term solutions. Decorate your home with items you can take with you so you don’t have to rip up the floors or fill holes in the walls or ceilings.

Do Add Some Greenery.

One way to make your rental space feel like home is to add low-maintenance indoor plants. Flowers, succulents and other greenery are eco-friendly decorations that can boost your mood and improve the indoor air quality. You may not have much yard space in your rental, so adding greenery to the inside of your living area can help satisfy your desire to be around nature.

House plants are usually easy to maintain. You can water them every couple of days and put them wherever you want them to go. Besides choosing the type of indoor plant you want, you can also design a decorative container to store your plants and show off your personality.

Don’t Buy Second-Hand Furniture.

While buying tables and benches from a thrift store or garage sale is acceptable, be careful when getting upholstered items, like couches, mattresses or chairs. These items could have bed bugs, which could infest your living space and even spread throughout your community.

If you find a second-hand sofa that would go perfectly in your home, see if you could find a similar design online or at your local furniture store. Since bed bugs spread quickly, it’s not worth the effort to have your second-hand furniture professionally cleaned or to leave it outside until it’s seemingly bug-free.

Do Have Fun.

Decorating your rental should be an exciting experience to set the stage for the rest of your leasing term. You have plenty of time to decorate your living space, so can relax instead of trying to tackle it all at once. Even though finding the perfect decor items can be stressful at times, try to enjoy the process as much as possible.

Use this opportunity to show off your creativity, or ask your friends or roommates to decorate with you. Organizing your space with a roommate can help you bond and learn to make decisions together. While your rental should be practical, it should also be cozy and inviting. Let your imagination run wild as you start a DIY project, clear up your clutter with decorative storage bins or bring your favorite colors and textures into your home.

Join a Community in Central Pennsylvania With Triple Crown Corporation

If you’re still looking for a home to call your own, joining a rental community can give you a sense of belonging. With rental housing communities throughout Central Pennsylvania, the team at Triple Crown Corporation will help you find the perfect place to call home. Our apartments and townhomes feature inviting neighbors and social amenities to accommodate your lifestyle and help you make friends. 

For more information about leasing or decorating a rental apartment, fill out a contact form or call 717-657-5729.

Join a community in central Pennsylvania with Triple Crown Corporation

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