How to Decorate a Small Rental House


Decorating a rental house is not easy, because the landlord may not let you paint, put up wallpaper or make any other big changes to the home. Before you get started, it is a good idea to check with your landlord or rental agreement to make sure you are staying within the boundaries set forth by the owner. Alternately, your landlord may love your ideas and let you have a free hand with the paintbrush. Below are some decorating ideas that do not involve paint or other major changes.

Things You'll Need

  • Mirrors Photos or other artwork Shelves or shelving units Curtain rods and drapes or fabric Other decorative accessories of your choice
  • Decorate with mirrors. Mirrors are a great way to open up small spaces. They add depth and light to a room, and they are fairly inexpensive. Try to avoid mirrors with heavy frames---as this would necessitate a lot of holes in the walls---instead stick with light, frameless mirrors if you can. Place mirrors above a sofa, fireplace, dresser and opposite windows so that they will reflect the outdoors.

  • Add curtains. Frequently, rental houses do not have window dressings other than blinds. If your landlord will not let you install a large curtain rod, then use a small "cup hook" to hold a swag of fabric. Screw the cuphook into each top corner of the window and drape the fabric from one to the other. You may also want to screw one into the middle top of the window. You can purchase lightweight curtain panels at any fabric store. The holes can be easily filled when you move out.

  • Cover the walls. Instead of paint, try using a divider screen, only instead of dividing up the room, place it unfolded against the wall instead. Alternately, hang a large tapestry on the wall, or even a pretty swatch of fabric from a simple rod, which is a much more inexpensive option.

  • Switch out fixtures. It is easy to switch out outlet covers, lampshades, and even overhead lights, plus they can be removed and taken with you when you leave. Replace canned lights in the kitchen with pendant ones, or hang a pretty chandelier in the dining room in place of the landlord's chandelier. Just make sure you store the landlord's in a safe place!

  • Add shelves. If your landlord does not like the idea of a lot of holes in his walls, consider a shelving unit instead of individual shelves hung on a wall. A shelving unit or bookshelf is a great way to display your own personal items, and doing so will make your rental house feel like a real home. For small rooms, use tall, skinny bookshelves that draw the eye upward.

Tips & Warnings

  • Plants are a great way to add cheerfulness and warmth to a home.
  • Be sure to secure the landlord's permission before making any major decorating decisions.

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