Once you’ve moved into a new place, and you’ve finally finished unpacking all your big boxes, all you want to do is make it your own by putting up artwork, posters, and pictures of your family and friends. Unfortunately, if you want to get your deposit back when your lease is up, so you can’t risk damaging the walls in any way. When faced with this dilemma, people do one of two things. They either put up their pictures regardless, then frantically look up ‘how to fix damaged plaster’ online, so they can fix the problem before the landlord comes for an inspection. Alternatively, they err on the side of caution and leave their art in storage and display smaller pictures on shelves so they don’t risk any damage. Neither one is a good option. While the house does belong to the landlord, and therefore you should respect their property, you are the one who will be living in the apartment for the foreseeable future. You have every right to want to make it feel homey. To compromise, here are a few decorating suggestions so you can make your mark on your new home, without causing irreparable damage.
Wall stickers Although they are usually more popular in kids’ rooms, wall stickers are a no mess, no fuss way of adding some color and personality into any room. They come in a wide range of designs and colors, so there will be something to suit your taste, and they don’t cause any damage to the walls when you take them down.
Temporary wallpaper You don’t need to spend the better part of a year living in a off-white nightmare that plagues most apartments for rent. Liven up your walls by putting up some removeable wallpaper. As with the wall stickers, they come in various designs, they go up easily, and they are easily removed. You can opt for a classic print, or add some rustic charm with a faux brick wall. As an added bonus, you could stick some adhesive strips on your wallpaper and use that to hand up your art and larger pictures. This way, you can hang up your favorite snapshots, and the wallpaper takes on any damage caused by the strips.
Add storage wherever possible
If your apartment comes with built-in bookshelves, then consider this your display cabinet for your smaller photographs or fragile figurines. You could even try moving the shelves around to make space for some larger items.
However, chances are the only storage available in your new apartment are the cabinets in your kitchen. In which case, you must carry your storage with your wherever your go. The obvious solution is to invest in some second-hand bookcases, filing cabinets, and wardrobes, but too much bulky furniture will make your next moving day feel like extra hard work. Instead, settle for a few big pieces of storage furniture, and get creative with the rest of your storage.
Old pegboards and ladders have been successfully upcycled to hand pots, pans, and utensils in the kitchen. Several crates that have been painted and stacked on top of each other make excellent shelving units. With a bit of paint, standing ladders can be repurposed to make simple shelving units for small offices or guest bedrooms.
Renters are often forced to get creative with their organization solutions, so here are a few ideas for inspiration.
Bathroom fun Most of the time the bathroom gets overlooked, because there doesn’t seem to be much you can do with it anyway. That’s where you’d be wrong. You can avoid the mess of shampoo and shower gel bottles by organising them on multi-level corner shelves in your shower. Change your shower curtain for an instant splash of color. If you want to get really creative, you can also invest in some removeable adhesive tiles. They are quick and easy to put up, easier to keep clean, and they don’t damage the walls when you take them down. With barely any work, you will have the ultimate bathroom.
Update the curtains You can’t throw a fresh coat of paint in the rooms to add some color, so why not install some colorful curtains. As long as you keep the old ones stored somewhere safe, you can switch them out again and get your deposit back. A bold curtain can add color and texture to an otherwise boring room.
Contact paper is a blank canvas While adhesive contact paper can instantly add a lot of color to a room, you don’t have to settle for the colour you’ve bought. Use the contact paper as a blank canvas to paint the walls however you’d like. You can get really creative in a kid’s bedroom by decorating with handprints, or painting a mural of their favorite characters. If you’ve traveled a lot, you can produce a collage of your best snapshots and posters of your most memorable destinations. The best part is, you can easily bring it down without damaging the walls, and take it with you to your next apartment.
Paint the apartment in another neutral color Landlords will usually object to you painting the apartment bright red because once you leave they have to accommodate someone else’s taste and it’s too much hassle to paint all over again. However, if you suggest painting the apartment in a neutral color, they might be more open to the suggestion. After all, you’re doing them a favor for free. Get rid of the off-white nightmare and paint your rooms in magnolia, pale yellow, beige, or even white. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh coat of paint to liven up a place. If you’re the one who does the work, the place will soon feel more like your own.
Invest in lots of rugs Never underestimate the value of a thick, plush, rug. Not only can they cover up the ugly carpets, they add a lot of color, and they muffle the sounds from your noisy neighbors downstairs. Rugs also spare your neighbors from hearing you practice your dance moves. You can pick up some cheap rugs at a flea market to create a bohemian look, use bright and bold colors to contrast the white walls, or opt for a more modern look by choosing neutral and black rugs.
Bring in some potted plants It’s likely that your rented apartment didn’t come with your own outdoor space. This doesn’t mean you have to miss out on nature; bring a few potted plants into your living room to instantly liven up the space. Not only do plants look good, they can rejuvenate the space by removing the toxins from the air. You don’t really know how many people have lived here before you, so it’s nice to have something that can clean out any bad smells the previous tenants have left behind.
You can also have functional plants. Start an herb garden in the kitchen and use fresh ingredients to spice up your cooking. If you have any small plants that thrive in a humid room, place them in the bathroom so you can mask any unpleasant smells.
However, if you don’t feel confident in your gardening skills to take care of any plants, fake flowers in a lovely vase will easily have the same effect. The best part is you won’t have to throw them out once they start to wilt.
Change the light fixtures
You don’t have to stick with the harsh light bulbs, or dull shades that your landlord had installed. Installing a beautiful light fixture can make a big design statement in a single room. It’s a good idea to get your landlord’s approval first, but after that, you’re limited by your imagination and budget. Add some class to the living room by installing a small chandelier. Set the mood in the kitchen by putting in some dimmer switches. Lighting can set many different tones in a rented apartment, do shop around and see where your interests lie.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to completely remodel the fixtures, you can buy some cheap lampshades and easily change the lighting in the room.
Learn how to fix holes in the wall Despite your best efforts to get creative, sometimes you just can’t beat hanging up your favorite family picture to make an apartment feel like your home. In which case, you need to learn how to fix the holes you make with nails before you move out.
It isn’t as difficult as you fear; once you’ve removed the nails with a hammer, use a small amount of spackle to fill the hole. You don’t need to smother the hole. Leave it to dry for an hour or so, then use a paintbrush to carefully cover the area. Simple.
Now that you know how to safely hang up your pictures and art, don’t go too crazy with the hammer and nails. Moving will be easier if you don’t have to spackle and paint the entire apartment.