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Damage free ways to decorate your Rental

By George Hadgelias

So, the recent property boom has pushed home ownership beyond your reach and asked that you join the ever swelling ranks of Generation Rent.

Sure, it’s not the Great Australian Dream, but long-term renting has its perks. You don’t have to worry about interest rate hikes or body corporate fees, you can move out in a heartbeat, and, contrary to conventional wisdom, you can make the place feel like home, too.

Structural changes and large-scale renovations are typically off-limits for renters, but there are plenty of changes you can make without your landlord’s approval. What’s more, most won’t cost an arm and a leg, nor take much up much of your time, either.

Here are nine damage-free ways to decorate your rental.

1. Create a feature wall with stickers or tape

As you might have guessed, painting walls is a no-go without your landlord’s approval. But that doesn’t mean the walls are completely out of bounds.

One excellent idea is to use stickers. You could get some red round stickers from your local newsagent (like the ones that shops use to show which items are sold) and create a funky polka dot feature wall, or you could use washi tape to draw an interesting design. Both should be easy to remove from the walls when you move out, so you’ll still be able to recoup your bond.

If neither of those ideas rock your boat, though, you could use removable wallpaper instead. It’s simple to put up, comes in a variety of patterns and styles, and shouldn’t leave a mark, as it doesn’t need glue.

2. Use temporary flooring

While your hands may be tied when it comes to replacing dodgy carpets and lino, you can always hide them from view.

Cover up any flooring sins with a handful of vintage rugs, or consider buying some click-together wood panelling or custom-cut rubber flooring.

3. Display photographs

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to leave your mark on a rental is to decorate it with memories. You don’t need to tell your whole life story, but just enough to offer an avenue for mental escape.

Frame photographs with friends and family, and display souvenirs from holidays. Not only will this add a bit of colour to your rental, it will help put a smile on your face when you’re having a bad day.

4. Buy some art

This one’s a no-brainer, really. Adding some art to your walls is often all it takes to transform a drab rental into a charming cubbyhole. And it needn’t break the bank.

Pick up a vintage advertising print from a local market, or buy a few quirky items from an op shop and pair them together on a tray to create a cohesive vignette.

If trawling through vintage shops and building a collection of curios doesn’t appeal to you, then perhaps you could save up for a statement piece and base the rest of your aesthetics on this instead. Doing so will allow you to inject a healthy dose of personality into your home without making it feel disorganised and cluttered.

5. Add plants

It’s sometimes difficult to feel truly at home in a rental, but bringing in a few potted plants will breathe life into the space and make it feel a little more permanent.

Try succulents in the bathroom, hard-wearing peace lilies in the shade outside, and ferns in the cool dark areas inside the house.

Go wild, because you can take your leafy friends with you wherever you go.

6. Replace old blinds and curtains

Windows often get overlooked by landlords, with daggy curtains and blinds often surviving numerous rental makeovers.

The good news is you can buy an inexpensive set from IKEA, throw them up using the existing curtain rods, and easily reverse any changes you make when you leave.

7. Set the mood with lighting

You don’t have to use the lightbulbs that came with the house, so feel free to replace them if they’re too dim or too bright.

Once you’ve upgraded your bulbs, invest in a handful of lamps, too. They double as pieces of art, cast a much softer, flattering glow than most ceiling lights, and can be attached and removed without a trace.

8. Buy a handful of mirrors

Mirrors are an absolute must when renting. They add space and light, and lend a polished, sophisticated look to your interiors.

Full length mirrors are fantastic at the end of corridors, and flatter, smaller mirrors look great when hung together on a wall.

Discount interior design stores often have little packs of decorative mirrors that have wall-safe adhesive already attached to the back. Buy one of these, and keep an eye out for a larger one to round out your home’s new look.

9. Invest in wall mounts

There are several different kinds of wall mounts on the market these days, and so it would be a shame if you didn’t make use of them.

Eliminating the need to drill holes into your landlord’s holes, they are every rental decorator’s dream, and come with hooks, clips, rungs, and even small shelves.

Lots of them are designed to bear heavy loads, too, so don’t be shy when using them for furniture and shelving. Just make sure that you respect each mount’s specific weight limit.

Check with your landlord

Even though the changes above won’t be an issue, it’s worth discussing your plans with your landlord. Doing so will not only show them that you’re a renter who cares about their temporary home, but it will also shine a light on the full spectrum of changes that they’d be comfortable with you making.

You never know, they may be willing to lend a helping hand, too.

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