Photo Gallery: Top Decorating Tips For Renters
Try these practical ideas.
If you are a serial renter, invest in modular furniture that can be easily reconfigured for a variety of room layouts and sizes. In one space, for example, an L-shaped sofa makes sense, whereas in another, a couch and a love seat is more appropriate. Here, designer Jill Greaves furnished a living room with an inviting sectional sofa, appropriately scaled for a compact apartment. Graphic pillows and a round coffee table add interest.
If touching your walls is not an option, or if it’s not in the budget to cover an entire wall with wallpaper, wrap a large piece of plywood to create a freestanding art panel instead. Here, a retro-style floral brightens up an otherwise featureless eating area in a small apartment.
Not every landlord will allow their tenants to paint, but many will, provided the walls are primed and painted a neutral colour before the next renter moves in. So, ask your landlord, pick out your favourite colour, and have fun! It’s one of the most affordable ways to transform the whole space.
Wallpapering can be a large undertaking — and something your landlord might frown on — however, stapling a patch of paper to a wall, and covering the edges with some inexpensive trim, is a sharp way to mix pattern and colour into a room.
Renters are often reluctant to mark up or punch holes in the walls, but that’s what spackle is for! If nails are simply not an option, try using an adhesive like 3M’s Command Hanging Strips. Here, white frames create a formal, cohesive look while a black console and lamp shade add contrast.
Putting up a wall decal — like this edgy image of telephone wires — is an affordable way to give a room character. Here, a narrow bench with hand-painted detailing works as a space-saving coffee table, and adds to the eclectic mix of the room.
Unless your landlord is willing to chip in for the upgrade, installing new hardwood doesn’t make sense. Instead, put down a bright area rug to unify a space, and cover any wobbly parquet, unsightly vinyl tiles or whatever carpeting already happens to be there.
With limited space, having stand alone storage units — like filing cabinets or bookcases — in a rental space is often unavoidable, even in more formal spaces like a dining or living room. But, with the simple addition of a table skirt, unsightly storage becomes an elegant addition.
Whether you have a clawfoot tub or a standup shower, hanging a new curtain will quickly and cheaply transform the feel of your en suite.
Drapes are an effective way to spruce up a rental space, but if budget is an issue — or if hanging a curtain rod isn’t an option — window films are a good alternative. They’re easy to put up, easy to take down and easy on the wallet. They’re especially smart where privacy is an issue, or for screening an unsightly view. Here, amber films recreate the look of beveled glass.
“Finding a space with hidden potential is a great way to save money, especially if you’re willing to do things yourself,” says Ty Pennington, host of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” The advice holds for both renters and home buyers. In the kitchen, adding new hardware will immediately refresh the space, he adds.
In his former apartment, style expert Michael Penney took off the upper kitchen cabinet doors, creating chic and expansive-looking open shelves with a grasscloth backing. Just be sure to put the doors back on before you leave!
If adding new cupboard space isn’t an option (as in most rentals), take advantage of free wall space by adding a pegboard in the style of Julia Child. That’s what Penney did.
Putting herbs and spices on display grants a bit of colour to a white rental kitchen. Here, clear-topped canisters, which magnetically attach to a metal backboard, are mounted alongside the stove for easy access.
Streamlined, light-wood shelves work well in the kitchen as a place to put cups and plates, or as a living room display for decorative objects. Again, be sure to check with your landlord before drilling any holes.
Planting herbs in little vintage-inspired tea tins is a great way to have year-round plant life in your apartment. It’s good for cooking, too!