Decorating a Rental Property on a Budget in 2020

Decorating a Rental Property on a Budget in 2020

Rented properties are as much your home as any other property, so it’s important to make them feel cosy and make your mark. Here’s how to decorate a rented house or apartment on a budget.

1. Laying Out Ground Rules With Your Landlord

As renting is often temporary, it’s essential to agree some basic rules with your landlord. If they’re planning to get new tenants anytime in the future, they may object to changes like:

  • Using bold paint colours and wallpaper as opposed to neutral colours
  • Drilling holes in walls for frames, or sticking up posters with blu-tack
  • Big structural work like knocking through walls or replacing flooring

Before you make any noticeable changes, contact your landlord to ensure they’re happy with your plans. They may even offer to help you decorate the property, if they already had this in mind. Luckily, if you can’t get them to agree to much, there are plenty of other ways to transform an apartment.

It’s also important to read through your contract, as this will probably set out rules for decorating the property. Make sure changes are agreed in writing – you don’t want to risk losing your deposit.

2. Painting and Decorating a Rental Property

When decorating a rental house on a budget, painting is one of your biggest considerations. If your landlord gives you the go ahead to paint the walls, consider how long you’re planning on living there. If you’re only staying for a year or so, you may want to avoid expensive ‘luxury’ paint brands.

What Paint Colour is Best?

Interior design for rental apartments often focuses on creating space. Painting walls a light shade, whether its pure white, pale grey or classic magnolia, makes rooms feel larger and is easy to cover.

Some rental documents will include the exact paint colours, so you can just refresh what’s there.

If you’re looking for something bolder, you can still express your style on a budget. Many value paint brands are up to date with current paint colour trends, so you can try edgier colours like smoky blue, pale pink or burnt orange. Just make sure your landlord approves, as trends can change fast.

Get inspiration for spring colour trends in 2020

Tips for Painting Walls in a Rental Property

Remember to cover surfaces before you start, and follow these tips for a smooth paint job:

  • Pick up tester pots to try out first – it’ll save you money if you change your mind
  • Clean any dirt and scuffs from previous residents using diluted soapy water
  • Prepare wall surfaces by filling in holes, rubbing down with sandpaper, and sealing
  • Use masking tape to get crisp edges and protect skirting boards and fixtures
  • Avoid bold colours peeking through by using a primer – you may need two coats

Once you’re happy, keep a note of the colour and brand of paint you used. If your landlord or future tenants want to refresh all or one bit of a room, they won’t have to start again from scratch.

3. Furniture, Furniture, Furniture

If you’re decorating a rented house or apartment, you’ll have either a ‘Furnished’ or ‘Unfurnished’ property. If it’s the former and you hate the existing furniture, it’s easy to bring it into the 2020s:

  • Cover up an old or tired-looking sofa with soft furnishings like throws or cushions
  • Choose materials with patterns and colours that complement your decor style
  • Ugly wardrobes and cupboards? Hide behind blinds or fabric, or ask to paint them
  • Personalise doors and drawers with painted ceramic knobs for instant chic

If you’re crafty and you have the time, ask your landlord how they feel about ‘upcycling’ furniture. Things like knobs and lighting fixtures can also be replaced easily if you leave for pastures new.

Unfurnished Properties

Unfurnished properties offer more freedom to express yourself – not to mention a cheaper monthly rate – but can rack up a bigger upfront cost during your first month. Write down a wishlist by yourself or with housemates, and shop around online and on the highstreet to find the best bargains.

Browse House of Oak’s oak furniture sale

You can also save money decorating a rented house by buying second hand furniture. From Gumtree and Freecycle, to charity and vintage shops, you can cut costs and add character.

4. Hiding Ugly Flooring in a Rental Property

If you’re decorating a rental house on a budget, replacing the floors is probably not an option. Luckily, peeling laminate, broken floor tiles and stained carpets can all be hidden with a rug.

Bring on The Rugs

Many rugs can be picked up fairly cheaply, and there are styles and patterns to match any colour scheme. Here are a few tips for finding the perfect piece to hide ugly or outdated flooring:

  • Hide problem spots such as carpet stains or laminate scuffs with a feature rug
  • If the whole floor is bad, layer multiple rugs and cover the rest with furniture
  • Feeling crafty? Create your own rug from square carpet samples or remnants
  • Carpet tiles – which fit together like a jigsaw – offer a whole floor solution

Get Your Landlord Involved

If you’re desperate to change the flooring of your rental house or property (or it’s a downright health hazard), ask your landlord if they’d consider replacing it, or collaborating with you on a project.

5. Interior Design Tips for Rental Apartments

Finally, here are a few ways to make a rental property or apartment feel more like a home.

Open Your Space With Lighting

Smart lighting can brighten up any room, alongside adding instant character. From rustic driftwood standing lamps, to kitsch fairy lights, how you decide to light a room says a lot about you. If you have a glaring overhead bulb, an uplighter shade can help soften a space that needs more subtlety.

Candles add a cosy glow, but be careful not to singe surfaces and always use them safely. Like door and cabinet knobs, many light fixtures can be easily swapped and then replaced if you move.

Storage Spaces & Shelving

There are hundreds of storage solutions for smaller spaces, from adding an oak blanket box at the end of your bed, to hanging over-door shoe racks. Remember to use the space under your bed too – if you’re swamped with clothes, vacuum storage bags offer a space-saving and cheap solution.

Adding shelves is also an obvious choice, but it’s likely you’ll need to get permission from your landlord. Drilling holes in walls isn’t easy to hide if you want to move somewhere else.

Here’s how to make a small bedroom (or any room) look bigger

Reflect Light with Mirrors

The oldest interior design tip for rental apartments is still one of the best. A well placed mirror can trick you into thinking a room is larger than it is. Mirrors can also reflect light into dark corners.

If there are already mirrors in your rental property, ask if your landlord minds you moving them.

Still looking for living room decoration ideas?

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