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7 Decorating Tips to Make a Rented House a Home

Unless you’ve been saving since birth and know exactly where you want to live, buying a home may seem like a distant dream. For most of us, we’ll spend our early adulthood as serial renters in near-constant moving from one place to the next. When you’re tied to contracts and rules set by a looming landlord, it can be hard to feel like your rented house is truly your home. Unable to paint or pin the walls, stuck with furniture you didn’t choose and often having only one room to work with, it can feel impossible to make it your own, but trust us. There are plenty of little things you can do to decorate without risking your deposit. Easy and risk-free, here are our 7 top decorating tips for renters.

advice for renters

#1 Get Cosy With Cushions

Soft furnishing never hurt anyone. As the safest decorating tip, you should never underestimate the difference a couple of cushions can do for a room. With a whole world of shapes, patterns and textures, cushions are a great way to lock down a colour scheme or theme for the space. Want to go in a decadent art deco direction? There’s some velvet calling your way. Or need to add a touch of cosy comfort to your scandi minimalist styling? Opt for some patterns or multi-textures. 

As the ultimate no-commitment home accessory, cushions are a no-brainer for adding your own spin on a room while making your new place a little comfier. Whether you pack your bed full of them or use sparingly on the sofa, some carefully chosen cushions can tie a room together perfectly and seal it with a stamp that’s distinctively yours. 

Top tip: if you’re planning to layer cushions, a base is handy. Put a bigger pillow into a slightly smaller case, this will make a fuller cushion that’s less likely to fall or move. Start off with some base pillows in a block colour, then add some pattern and texture at the front. 

#2 Pick a Colour

This one might seem obvious, but it’s an easy fix especially if you’re living in a house-share or a studio where you only have one main room and a bathroom. When you’re in a house with multiple spaces, you can get away with trying out different colours and styles room to room. But when you’re renting a smaller space, a lack of cohesion can make your space feel perpetually half-done, leaving you in a constant state of considering what you need next to tie it all in together.

From your cushions, to your bedding, to your towels; having your favourite shade running through your space as a common thread is an easy decorating tip to make your home feel designed and finished. Whether you opt for a trending colour like a jewel-tone blue or pastel pink, or simply stick to your personal favourite shades or patterns, sprinkle it around your home to create a sense of order and calm even if you still feel like your rental is chaos.

#3 Know the Rules

The best advice for renters is to get along with your landlord. Though your contract may leave no stretching room, your landlord might actually be a lot more relaxed than you think. If you think a room needs a bit of decorating, a lick of paint, or want to put up some removable vinyl wallpaper to cover some marks, ask! If they say no, they say no. But if your request is reasonable and won’t do any damage, they might just grant you your wish.

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#4 Keep the Big Light Off

Remember that realistically, you don’t spend that much time at home. In your busy life, the majority of your time spent at home is during the evenings so don’t just decorate for the day time. Beautiful lighting is multifunctional. For one, everyone knows that cosy low lighting immediately makes you feel more at home and relaxed in a space. But lighting can also be a feature of a room, doubling up as decor as well as being functional. It can even be as simple as swapping out those basic lightbulbs for something a little more interesting like a filament bulb. 

Table lamps are a great way to curate a little feature corner and keep it looking cute day and night. With a lamp, a good print and some flowers, creating the centre point of a room featuring your favourite things is easily done. Use some good lighting to highlight the things you love and distract from the features you wouldn’t have chosen, and you’ll quickly start to feel like your house is your home. It’s as simple as a flick of a switch.

#5 Get Some Plant Babies

A must-have for any stylish home, house plants immediately add life to a room. The perfect pop of colour, a leafy friend can add more to a room than you might think. As well as looking nice, houseplants help reduce stress and anxiety to help you feel more at ease in your new home and improve air quality as rooms with houseplants contain up to 60% less airborne bacteria than rooms without!

Get on Instagram and search hashtags like #indoorgarden and #urbanjungle for perfect examples of how plants can level up your decorating game. With clever placement and planning, plants can be used to hide unfortunate features or fill awkward spaces. Got a mark on that wall? Hide it behind a plant stand and a leafy monstera. Got an awkward shelf that needs filling? Drape it with some hanging ivy. 

A renter’s dream; pretty pots and plant stands are another easy way to decorate with no risk, no commitment and no difficulty.

#6 Use What You Have

Best way to make a space yours? Populate it with your things. Take a look at everything you own, pretty right? You can do so much with the things in your closet and the books on your shelves, so find beauty in what you already have. Those beautiful pieces that you hardly get to wear can double up as decor simply by being kept on a clothes rack or decorating on the wall rather than being hidden away in your wardrobe. This is a great idea if your rented place is slightly lacking in storage space. Hang your favourite pieces in clear view, or double up your bags as storage baskets by keeping them on a bookshelf rather than flung into the bottom of your wardrobe. 

There’s so much you can do with the things you already own, so don’t hide it all away. Adorn your shelves with your favourite sunglasses and bags, get that beautiful coat out on display, prop up your favourite books; skip the generic prints and opt for decor that is totally yours. 

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The coziest bedroom ✨ (Image: @viktoria.dahlberg)

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#7 Stay True to Yourself

Pinterest may be great, and Instagram may be a treasure trove for decorating tips, but being happy in your home is far more important than being on-trend. Maybe mid-century styling isn’t for you or maybe scandi feels a bit too cold, that’s fine! This is your home, go with your instincts and what you want. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain and give the trends a miss. It’s your home you can decorate how you want to!

Written by Lucy Harbron



Lucy Harbron

Lucy Harbron

Writer and expert

Inspired by the most iconic women in history, my style is informed by the Monroes, Sedgwicks and Birkins. Forever torn between maximalism and minimalism, you’ll find me stomping around in heeled boots and trying to refrain from buying another pair of earrings.


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