Living in a rental can feel like limbo. You know it’s unlikely you’ll be there forever, but you still want it to feel like home sweet home. We all deserve a sanctuary to return to at the end of the day — regardless of whether it’s yours for 12 months or 12 years. Yet nailing a picture hook or painting a feature wall may end up costing you more than you bargained for if done without your landlord’s permission. Fear not! We’ve got some landlord-approved ways to make your rental a retreat without losing your bond.
If your lease stipulates you cannot hammer any nails or picture hooks into the wall, consider the adhesive type instead, which usually don’t peel off the paint. Heavier art, like framed prints and mirrors can be leaned against the wall, put on the mantelpiece or in an easel. This careful layering of prints can create a curated look. Big canvas prints are a great option and easy to move around.
Never underestimate the power of soft furnishings to completely change the mood of a room. Cushions are an easy way to add your colour preferences and style (and up the cush factor!). Sheer curtains offer instant sophistication; if there are no curtain rods, use a tension rod — no screws required. (Carefully pack away the original curtains in a vacuum-sealed bag so you can rehang them before you move out.)
The way you light a space has an amazing impact on mood. Overhead lights can often feel too bright and impersonal. Use a floor lamp with a soft shade and several table lamps to create the look and ambience you want and set the tone for every occasion. You could even splash out on a few smart bulbs to control the dimness and colour with your smartphone.
Hide ugly, cold or dated flooring with a rug or even a layering of rugs for a relaxed, bohemian look. Use a free digital mood board first to see what works together and what doesn’t in terms of colour and texture. Rugs can also be a great way to keep the landlord’s carpet protected and safe from accidental spills. Best of all, when you move out, your rugs come with you.
Plants are a wonderful way to add life to your rental. They also help oxygenate and detoxify the air, creating a soothing atmosphere and cleansing any lingering energy from the tenants who were there before you. Put them in pots, hang them in baskets and grow herbs on the windowsill. Or get some faux plants for the ambience without the upkeep.
Rental properties are often stingy on storage. Yet filling the walls with a bunch of holes for hooks to hang jackets and bags isn’t an option. Over-the-door hooks are great solution to add instant hooks without damaging the walls. Clothing ladders also work wonders and they’re super stylish.
Display your tableware, framed prints, ornaments and collectables in open shelving to add colour and put your personality on display. Combine books, plants, precious items and a few quirky pieces from secondhand shops for an interesting and eclectic look.
You may have grand designs of adding a beautiful Parisian feature wall or a lick of purple paint to personalise your space. But landlords generally prefer to maintain neutral walls. Bypass the bargaining by getting some self-adhesive wallpaper instead. Very much on-trend, it’s easy to apply and can be removed (and even relocated) without damaging the paint underneath.
We spend a third of our lives in in bed. There’s nothing wrong with splashing out on quality sheets, pillows and doona covers. Not only should your bedding be soft, warm and inviting, you can also really make a statement with your fabric selection. Do you prefer the crisp, white hotel aesthetic or the relaxed chic of natural linen? There’s no wrong answer.
The best way to make your rental feel like a retreat (and get your bond back) is to keep it well maintained. Take care with fixtures and finishes and use felt stickers on the underside of your furniture legs to prevent accidental scrapes on the floor. Always have someone help you lift heavy items instead of dragging them, which could damage the floor, your furniture and your back!