Making Your Rental Yours Without Breaking the Rules


Home renovations programmes are always a source for inspiration, giving you ideas of what your dream home could be. Needless to say, if you are a renter, your ability to renovate your home is limited.

Although you might not be able to make drastic changes to your rental, there are ways you can personalise your home to make it feel like your own.

Update window treatments

If you have outdated plastic blinds, or curtains that just aren’t reflective of you, go out and find something that suits you. Remember, don’t throw out those old blinds as you will need to reinstall them when the time comes to leave. And of course, make sure you don’t make any new holes in the wall when installing your new blinds.

Window shutters might be something your heart is set on, so it might be worth approaching your property manager and asking whether the landlord would be prepared to go halves with you to install the shutters. In this instance, you get to enjoy them while you are there, and they get to keep them when you leave. This is a great win/win situation.

Introduce plants

New pot plants and flower give an instant lift to any space – so add them to your kitchen and living room to brighten these communal spaces and boost the mood of you, your family and your guests. While it may seem cliché to say plants bring life to a room, there is a lot of truth to it. Plus, they have the added bonus of helping to clean the air and remove toxins. Cleaning the air and revitalising your rental with indoor plants and flowers is a nice feeling, especially if loads of other people have lived there before you.

Think beyond the living room when adding plants to your home. Find a place for a plant in your bathroom too. Many plants, like cactuses, love the climate of a warm room and thrive in bathroom spaces. If you have little outdoor space, indoor plants help bring a bit of nature inside. You also introduce new textures and colours to your home interior and that can add intrigue to a blank or unusable space like a room corner.

Decorate walls

While you may not be able to change the wallpaper or the colour of the paint on the walls, have you considered peel and stick vinyl stickers? Decals are super popular and can be found at many home improvement stores and online. The range of colours and designs are vast and they are relatively inexpensive. They can be easily added and removed and are a great way to add details to your wall without damaging the paint underneath.

Another trick is to use removable wallpaper to create a feature wall. Made out of self-adhesive wall sticker fabric, it looks and feels like traditional wallpaper but you can easily DIY it as it requires no glue, no water, and no tradesperson. Then when it is time to move, the removable wallpaper will peel off without leaving any residue or damaging the surface – making it a landlord-friendly option.


Storage space can be hard to come across, so furniture that can double up as a space to help declutter and reduce any mess is an added bonus.

Some of these storage solutions could include:

  • A television cabinet with added storage for electronics, accessories, DVDs and knick-knacks
  • A coffee table with a lid and storage inside to place items that you don’t use a lot
  • A free-standing bookshelf to help balance decoration with storage
  • Portable clothes racks or freestanding wardrobes to place your clothes or to even double as pantry storage
  • Under-bed storage boxes to store personal items discreetly
  • Use suitcases as storage for clothes or other items
  • An old trunk or chest to double as both a storage unit and coffee table

Liven up the walls with artwork

Removable, self-adhesive hooks to hang your favourite photos or artwork is a great way to get around putting holes in the walls, and it keeps your landlord happy. However, make sure you check the weight they can hold, as it does vary.

If you can’t hang anything on the walls, consider decorating from the floor up. A large mirror works well leaning against the wall, as do large canvas prints. Another unique way to display artwork and add intrigue to your rental space is by using an old ladder adorned with colourful scarves, bags and rugs – looks great and provides another handy storage solution!

Personalise the flooring

If your rental’s flooring is not to your tastes and your landlord isn’t keen to replace it, a good way to improve the look is to add a large neutral rug to cover the space and then add some colour and texture with layered rugs on top. A runner in a hallway can change the whole feel of an entryway and is relatively inexpensive. Some other temporary floor options for renters include:

  • Peel and stick carpet tiles
  • Vinyl sheets/rolls (these come in wood-look, stone-look, ceramic-look and decorative sheets so you can have a cost-effective, renter-friendly floor solution in no time at all!)
  • Waterproof vinyl planks. These can be laid over carpet regardless of the pile height. Simply snap and lock together.
  • Laminate planks
  • Foam tiles. These are a great solution for highly-trafficked wooden floors and can also be laid over the carpet or hard surface floors to add extra padding in a workout room/home gym or yoga studio
  • Composite decking. You might have an outdoor patio space that has seen better days. This temporary outdoor flooring option is great for refreshing an outdoor space whether it’s a patio, deck or balcony

Add a vignette

A what?! I hear you say. A vignette is a grouping of objects. It is usually made up of homewares such as a vase or bowl, some flowers and other natural elements, mementos and arts & crafts. They help to add personality to a space and bring it to life. So find your favourite things that you have collected over the years and group them together to create a little display. These work well in the living room, on a dining table, in a bathroom and in your bedroom.

Some tips for creating a vignette:

  • Create a theme. If you live in a beachy area, for example, create a little beachy display on your shelf or mantlepiece with objects such as sea shells, bottles filled with sand and beachy-themed figurines.
  • Build your vignette around a light source such as on a windowsill or beneath a lamp. Otherwise, you won’t be able to see your display clearly.
  • Use colour and different heights for a temporary art display. For example, a bright orange vase grouped with a stack of old books and a potted plant.
  • Place your vignette in a display tray and use it as a table centrepiece.

Upgrade the light fixtures

Rentals often come with some very regular lighting! And while it is probably not practical to change all the light fittings, spending some time and money upgrading those light fixtures in high-traffic rooms can make a big difference. If you have bare bulbs or ugly pendants, an easy way to refresh these is to replace the shades. Don’t throw anything away, as upon leaving, you might be asked to “make good” and restore the property back to the same condition as when you moved in.

Table lamps positioned in a hall or on a side table can create a homely feel and add some character and personality to your space. Large floor lamps can also make a statement while adding sufficient lighting to a dark space. You might even opt for a bold lampshade that ties into the colour of artwork in the room. In bedrooms or outdoor patio areas, hanging string lights or fairy lights is another effective lighting solution that beautifies a room on a budget.

A word or warning

Before you go crazy with home improvements, remember that a standard tenancy agreement usually prevents any renovations, alterations or additions to the premises without the landlord's written consent. If you are wanting to do something drastic like paint a wall or change the flooring, make sure to contact your property manager to find out what your options are here before you do anything.

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