HGTV's Christina El Moussa shares some tips for decorating a rental—without breaking the bank or your rental agreement.
Whether you’re planning on renting your home for just a little while or for several years, you definitely want to make it feel like home. Of course, because it’s a rental, you have some restrictions that you wouldn’t have if you owned your house, so you might feel like you have your hands tied.
Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do to make your rental house a real home and to make it feel like it really is your space—without breaking your rental agreement. How? Here are just a few of the best, most budget-friendly decorating tips for any rental home.
Read Your Lease Carefully
First, before you do anything, read your lease. Some landlords and property management companies plan to repaint their homes every time they change tenants, so they don’t care if you paint your interior walls. Others allow some painting but have specific color requirements, and still others don’t allow any painting at all.
You might also find some other restrictions as well, including any neighborhood or Homeowners' Association rules about lawn care and landscaping. Find out what you’re allowed to do and what’s prohibited before you waste money on a project that could get you fined or evicted. And, if you have any questions at all, talk to your landlord and ask for written permission before you commit to anything.
Explore Removable Décor
Even if you’re not allowed to paint, there are some pretty ingenious products out there to allow you to create really unique spaces without breaking your lease agreement. For example, you can buy removable fabric wallpaper. That way, when it’s time to move out or when you feel the urge to redecorate, you can easily take your wallpaper down or replace it.
Command hooks are also great options for hanging pictures and light fabric curtains. These have a sticky backing to keep them in place and to avoid the need to punch holes in your walls. They can also be removed whenever you want.
Dress Your Windows
Most rentals have really dull and boring blinds for their windows. These create privacy, but they don’t do much else. Adding window dressings and colorful curtains can make all the difference in a room. Plus, they’re reusable. If you move to a home with similarly sized windows, you can easily use the same décor to make your new house start to feel like home immediately.
Change Your Light Fixtures
Another place where rentals really fall short is with the lighting. Their light fixtures are usually chosen so that they won’t clash with different styles of décor, which means that they’re usually really boring and don’t go with anything at all. Take down those fixtures and store them in a box until you move out. Then hang your own fixtures, and you’ll see an instant improvement in your home. And, just like your window dressings, you can take them with you when you move out.
Give Your Kitchen a Modern, Open Look
Finally, most rental house kitchens don’t have the most attractive cabinets, so what can you do if you can’t paint or replace them? Just take the doors off of all of the cabinets and place vintage fabric or attractive patterned paper in them for an open look that’s really unique and fun.
Get creative. You can’t make permanent changes to the space, but you can definitely make it your own while you’re there. Place pictures around the house on tables and shelves. Give yourself more storage space and cover blank walls by adding bookcases and filling them with decorative items, books, and anything else you need to find a place for. The more creative you get, the more fun you’ll have making your home your own for as long as you intend to stay.
Christina El Moussa, along with her husband and business partner Tarek El Moussa, is an experienced real estate investor and reality TV star. Since starting Success Path Education, a program providing real estate investment training, the couple has helped students all over the country successfully find and flip houses. Please visit www.SuccessPathEducation.com for more details.