By Melissa Rayworth Associated Press
It’s yours, but it isn’t. A rented apartment or house can be a wonderful place to live, and a challenging place to decorate.
The restrictions are many: Landlords often want their white walls to stay white. Many won’t let you do even the most minor construction. Some even ask renters not to nail anything to the walls.
Complicating things further, many rental properties have small rooms and no-frills, builder-grade light fixtures, and doors and cabinets with little personality.
How can you inject some of your personality into a rented space without enraging your landlord?
The first step is to go all in.
“So often people think of their rental as not theirs, and therefore go through life not creating a beautiful home or nest,” said designer Kyle Schuneman, author of “The First Apartment Book: Cool Design for Small Spaces.”
“Life is too short to not create a sanctuary that represents your unique vision.”
Home decorating blogger Wanda Hoffs gives the same advice to her readers at recreateanddecorate.com. As an Army wife, Hoffs has lived in many rental properties around the country and has learned to decorate each one as if it were truly hers.
Here are five ideas from Hoffs and Schuneman that can help you embrace your rented space.
“Usually rentals are small, and I am a firm believer in function before form,” Schuneman said. “Sometimes it’s a puzzle piece to get those ‘must haves’ into your space — the desk, the bed, the couch.”
Hoffs suggests spending wisely on new items. Rather than buying an expensive new piece that fits your rental perfectly, “use thrift store furniture and paint it yourself,” she said.
Little or no paint
“Wallpaper used to be only for the homeowner crowd,” Schuneman said, “but now with companies like Tempaper, you can put up temporary wallpaper that peels on and peels back off when you’re ready to move.”
Hoffs suggests using wall decals, which now come in a many styles and sizes, or even duct tape.
“It comes in many great colors and patterns,” she said, “and can be used on a wall in many different patterns, such as the trending chevron pattern, stripes or even to create a border around a wall grouping.”
Infuse with color
“Bring in the color through fabrics and textures around the room. If you leave your walls white, hang a bold curtain on the windows and a coordinating couch that really pops.” Schuneman suggested.
Lush plants are another option, Hoff said. When it’s time to move, they’re easy to take with you.
“Your floors are a blank slate for design,” Schuneman said. “Treat it as your fifth wall and find a beautiful rug to ground the whole space.”
Schuneman is a fan of FLOR carpet tiles, which can be arranged to make what appears to be a rug of any size.
Although you can’t change the cabinets, Hoffs suggests swapping out the hardware on doors and drawers at a very small cost.
“You can always change these back to the original ones,” she said.
The same goes for light fixtures. Just be sure to store the landlord’s fixtures carefully and reinstall them properly before moving out.