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Decorating a rented home

Just because you have to live in a rental home does not mean that it has to look like a rental home!   We explore a couple of ideas on how to make your rental more homely without getting into trouble or blowing your budget.

We called in the help of an expert to tell you what you can do to solve your décor troubles. Jacques de Villiers is a designer at Dezigner Italian Kitchens and has been in the interior business for nearly ten years. He agreed to answer a few questions about revamping rental homes – without upsetting the landlord:

Q: What are the basic things that every person should keep in mind when decorating a rental home and why?

There will always be characteristics of the interior of your rental home that you might have to compromise on. But you have picked this house for a reason so there will be features you are happy with. Evaluate what you have to work with. The trick is to highlight these and work on the rest. Think of quick inexpensive fixes.

Renters should always check with the landlord and read the lease agreement before starting any renovation project. Your landlord may encourage you to do upgrades on the house, because he knows you are more likely to stay past the typical one-year lease if you have invested in upgrading the house. He also knows some projects will make the house more valuable for the next renter. Paint is a renter’s best friend. Discuss this with your landlord first. Then set aside one weekend and colour the house in your favourite shades.

Q: Please give our readers a few tips on how they can make their rental home feel like home, without getting into trouble with the landlord?

If you are renting your house it might not be as big as you would’ve wanted it to be. In order to help with this, choose a scatter cushion or painting and pull colours from it to use in the whole house. This will make your rooms flow into each other, which will make your house appear larger. Mirrors can help to create this effect too.

Use your time while renting to invest in favourite pieces of furniture. Not only will you have a selection of items to call your own when you eventually settled down, the furniture, in the meantime, will help you personalize somebody else’s property.

Q: Please give us a few basic tips on how to glam up the bedroom, bathroom, living area, guest room and kitchen of a rental home?

Bedroom: Choose a warm colour paint for the wall if your landlord has agreed. Decide on a colour scheme, whether complimentary or harmonious and use all the removable furnishings to match this. A striking bedside lamp will instantly give the room a designer look. It has to be used as the centre piece of the room, and the rest of the furnishings should be kept relatively plain and simple.

Bathroom: Buy a new bath mat, towels and replace the shower curtain if it looks old. Establish a colour scheme with these items and then buy candles and soaps in matching or complementary colours to decorate the bathroom shelves.

Living area: Always have photos of friends and family all around. Dig out old photos and keepsakes and display it to create a more personal atmosphere. This will not only make you feel more at home, but will also make your home more inviting to visitors.





A large rug will personalize a living area, and also cover up ugly stained carpets. Bare shelves will always make a place feel like temporary accommodation, so fill them up with books, vases or photo frames.

Guest room: Decorating your guest room is more or less the same as decorating the main bedroom. Try using warm colours. Use accessories to bring warmth into the room. Using a white or neutral colour duvet is a good idea, then you can change the accessories when you are tired of a specific look.

Kitchen: A vase of flowers will give the room a fresh and cared for look. Purchase new knobs for the kitchen cupboards. Use the existing holes, and that way you can remove and replace them with the old ones when you move.

Q: How do you fix walls etc when you move – if you had to drill?

Always ask the landlord for any left over paint from the previous time that the house was painted. This can be used to do touch ups and to paint over holes after using crack filler.

Q: What do you do if you want curtains, but the rental has blinds?

To install curtain rail is very easy, and is available at almost any hardware store. Remove the blinds from the desired window, drill the holes (if it doesn’t match up with the existing holes of the blind bracket) for the curtain rail and attach rails to the brackets. Be sure to keep the blind in a safe place, so that you can return them to the original place when you are planning to move.

Q: Do you have any additional tips for renters when decorating rental homes?

If you are doing any painting, protect the floor and furniture from drips. If the light fixtures are ugly or out dated, replace them with new ones (with permission). Even if you buy plain lights, they might look better than a really ornate or ugly light fixture. Just make sure you keep the old ones that were there so that you can reattach them when you move.

Use temporary fixtures such as folding screens to break up large, open plan living spaces.

Add colour to a room with fabrics. Colour can be added with curtains, pillows, bedding and throws. Accessories, add personality with decorative pieces. Tell people about yourself with your décor. Add candles and plants. Each room can benefit from at east one of each. The plant adds a living element to a room, and candles add visual warmth.

When decorating your rental space, think about things that you can take with you when you move. In the end, with the cooperation of your landlord, anyone who rents can have a beautifully decorated home.”