How to Add Your Own Style to a Rental Property

Have you ever lived in a rental place and were never sure what you were and weren’t allowed to do in terms of decoration? We can all agree that leases can be pretty restrictive.

Kitchen hardware

So we’ve put together this piece that will teach you how to personalize your rental space without breaking the rules of your lease.

What You Can and Can’t Do to a Rental Property

Being a tenant is something that comes with both rights and obligations. So it’s important for you to have an idea of the things you are and aren’t allowed to do when you’re living in someone else’s house.

What You Can Do to a Rental Property

Do: Have visitors

You are allowed to have temporary out-of-town guests or friends that spend the night over. As long as the property doesn’t safely allow a maximum number of people. We’ve seen balconies in Malibu beach houses collapse during a party with too many guests sitting on the balcony at once. Also, keep in mind that if you’re having guests over, you don’t want to disturb the neighbors.

Do: Request repairs

It is your landlord’s responsibility to make repairs to the building’s structure and key fittings in your house. This means that if any of the following items break (due to normal wear and tear) or cease to function, you have to talk to the landlord and request repair work.

You can request repairs to items such as water, gas or boilers, HVAC systems, toilets, sinks, electrics, heating appliances, etc. You can’t ask them to change consumables, such as smoke alarm batteries and such, because these are your responsibility.

What You Can’t Do to a Rental Property

Don’t: Change the locks

Some people like to change the locks when living in a rental property because it makes them feel safer. But never meddle with the latches without first consulting with the landlord.

Replacing the locks may jeopardize the owner’s rights. For instance, imagine being on vacation and a pipe bursts while you’re away. The landlord won’t be able to enter in case of an emergency.

Your best course of action is to obtain approval for a lock change and then provide the landlord with a duplicate of the spare key.

Don’t: Cause property damage

There is a difference between the usual wear and tear that furniture is subjected to and the damage that one can cause simply by neglecting to look out furniture properly.

However, landlords may retain the deposit to repair significant damage. Things such as holes in the walls, broken windows, or doors being knocked down. Additionally, you should know that if the sum of these repairs is more than the initial security deposit, the landlord has the right to claim for additional damages.

Don’t: Bring pets without approval

Sadly, there are plenty of landlords that will not lease their property to people with pets, especially to those who own cats and dogs. That’s mostly because animals can damage the furniture and leave behind unpleasant scents (if you ever smelled cat urine, you know what I’m talking about).

If you are a pet owner, look for rental properties where you are allowed to bring your own pets. If you aren’t, trying to sneak in an animal is likely to get you in trouble. It is often considered a breach of the lease, meaning the landlord is entitled to kick you out if they decide to do so.

Don’t: Paint without approval

Let’s assume you move into a rental property and you’re not particularly happy with the color of the walls. Every landlord has different rules about painting. While some don’t care if you paint the walls green, others are very strict about how they want their property’s interior to look.

Before you paint the interior or exterior walls of the property, talk to your landlord about the colors of your choice and whether or not they agree with letting you paint.

Tips for Adding Your Own Style to a Rental Apartment or House

Tips for Adding Your Own Style to a Rental Apartment or House

Hardware upgrades

If you ever want to bring a cheap and important home improvement to your rental property, changing the hardware on your bathroom and kitchen cabinets is an incredibly simple method to depart from “builder standard” and include your own personal flair. Simply store the old ones safely and replace them when you move on.

Adding rugs

Whether you’re trying to conceal cold laminate flooring or worn-out carpet, a nice area rug will conceal a multitude of sins. Rugs provide texture and color to a room and are permanently yours. So choose rugs that you would love to be able to use in the future, regardless of whether you’ll still be on this property or rent a new one.

Choose art

It’s really important to know that before you start drilling any holes in the walls to hang your paintings, you are going to need the approval of your landlord. If you’re not allowed to hang any wall art, there are plenty of ways to embellish and bring personal flair to your new home without actually modifying the property.

  • Sticky tack
  • door hangers
  • leaning frames
  • screwless hooks
  • suing what’s already there

Painting can also be leaned against walls, you can opt for sculptures, decoration items that sit directly on the floor or on table, desk, or cabinet tops, etc.

Change bathroom curtains

Change curtains

Of course, you still have to keep the existing curtains in the property. But you can carefully take them down, store them somewhere safe, and use the ones of your choice. Much like rugs, these curtains will be yours forever (at least as long as they last).

Curtains are something you can get really creative with. So don’t be afraid to choose curtains in the color of your choice or even opt for blackout curtains if you want to be able to control the amount of daylight that seeps into your home every day.

Use wall decals

Wall decals are so popular right now and for good reason. They come in endless designs and styles. They’re made of a re-usable poly vinyl. You can apply them to any painted surface, and they peel right off without any issues. What a great way to add your own style to your rental property without the damaging effects.


Now, this one is tricky. If you feel comfortable, ask your landlord if you can paint the walls using a low odor latex paint. Most landlords will allow it as long as you paint over it to the original color when you move out.

How to Personalize Your Rental Property

1. Bring your own furniture

Bring your own furniture

While you may be limited to basic apartment materials and finishes, this does not preclude you from having wonderful furniture. Fill the room with items you adore to help personalize it. Choose a distinctive piece of furniture to serve as the focal point of each room. Wise Design shows you a great example here.

2. Add some plants

Kitchen hardware

Regardless of the natural light conditions on your rental property, you can personalize the space by adding some plants. If there’s not enough natural light, you can always opt for succulents or varieties that don’t require that much sunlight. You can go crazy with the variety of planters available, so it’s the perfect opportunity to add a touch of color and texture to the room.

3. Go for a personalized headboard

Go for a personalized headboard

Numerous renters go bare-bones in their rooms, skipping armoires and headboards due to the difficulty of moving large pieces. Choose a lightweight headboard and decorate it because you can always take it with you when you leave, and you won’t modify the property if you decorate it. You can add string lights, decorative plastic plants, or other elements that you’re comfortable with hanging over your head while you’re sleeping.

4. Choose temporary kitchen and bathroom storage

Kitchen hardware

Utilizing the storage space provided by your apartment, such as a bathroom vanity, to its best potential is a smart small-apartment space-saving strategy. Bill Fry Construction shows that, by optimizing what you currently have, you avoid the need for additional storage containers that contribute to a room’s feeling of crampedness.

In a bathroom vanity, pull-out or stackable storage maximizes vertical space and organizes bathroom essentials. Utilize behind-the-door storage to optimize the capacity of bathroom cabinets.

5. Floor and tabletop lamps

Kitchen hardware

A well-designed lighting scheme may totally transform a room, and it does not have to originate from a hardwired ceiling fixture. Consider investing in lights for your floors, desk, end tables, nightstands, and side tables.

Floor lamps can be used to illuminate gloomy corners, while plug-in sconces can be hung in corridors or above sofas. Plug-in undercabinet lighting breathes new life into your kitchen work areas and simplifies culinary tasks.

6. Use under-the-bed storage

Use under-the-bed storage

One of the most common problems with people living in rentals is that they don’t have all the storage space they’d like. If you want a de-cluttered apartment, consider taking advantage of every bit of storage space, including that one under the bed. And if you can’t conceal the boxes, you can opt for some really cool models that you really wouldn’t mind being seen.

7. Make a leaning photo board

Kitchen hardware

This has to be one of the best ideas out there because it is so personal and unique. Since you’re not allowed to drill any holes in the wall to hang stuff, you can purchase (or make) a large memo board to showcase all your family photos.

8. Throw pillows are life-savers

Throw pillows are life-savers

There is no easier way to add color and texture to the room than by turning to a couple of throw pillows. You can choose to purchase the fill and the covers separately, which automatically gives you more product options because there are so many covers out there to choose from.

9. Use peel-and-stick tiles

Use peel-and-stick tiles

It’s a real nuisance not being able to decorate your rental place with anything that violates the rental agreements, but it’s important to know that there are non-permanent alternatives to some things, and tile is one of them. For instance, you can opt for peel-and-stick tiles that allow you to revamp a bathroom or a kitchen wall with something that you can take down when it’s time to leave. A company called Mineral Tiles shows you how in this gorgeous pic!

10. Opt for large mirrors

Opt for large mirrors

Studio McGee shows you how to cleverly use mirrors in a rental. Mirrors are an easy method to change the look of your home’s wall design, reflect a lot of light, and, if you do everything right, show off your individuality as well. Look in charity stores, on Craigslist, or at garage sales for truly enormous mirrors that you can frame yourself to add patterns and colors to the room.

11. Fiddle with the windows

Kitchen hardware

One of the major issues with renting an apartment is that the majority of available real estate is modest in size and the dwelling units lack adequate light. A solution would be to emphasize the window space and make the most of it.

To visually expand the area, you can lift the curtain rod so that it stays really close to the ceiling and let the drapes fall freely from a greater height. Indeed, you can browse for extra-long silky curtains that hang just a few inches above the floor. This type of décor will instill a sense of grandeur in your flat, regardless of its size.

12. Move the furniture

Kitchen hardware

If there are any pieces of furniture that you can move without damaging them (or the floor you slide them across), this is an option worth considering for further space personalization. 

Consider your apartment’s living area devoid of furniture to assist you in visualizing the space without regard for the current arrangement of furniture. Determine whether the room is large enough so that you can divide it into multiple zones of interest. Then use your imagination to begin arranging furniture.

You can use some furniture pieces to set one area apart from another. For instance, you can create a dining corner that’s separate from the rest of the room using a console or a couch.

13. Change the hardware

Kitchen hardware

You can easily unscrew the hardware on your cabinet doors and drawers in both the kitchen and bathroom. Temporarily replace them with something more your style to give the space an uplift. Just remember to change them back before you move out.


How can I decorate my rental property?

As long as you don’t bring any permanent modifications to the structure of the house, you are allowed to decorate your rental property in any way you like. You can add decor pieces, change the curtains, the light fixtures, and even the cabinet hardware, as long as you keep the original ones and put them back together before you leave. When the lease is over, the property needs to look like it did when you originally bought it.

How do you add a personality to a rental property?

The easiest way to add personality to your rental property is to add decorative pieces that match your taste and are yours to take when you leave. That could be anything from area rugs to decorative lamps.

Can you customize a rented house?

Only to a certain degree. You can bring your personal items and purchase some others that would decorate the space, but you are not allowed to paint the walls, change the locks, or make permanent changes to the property.

Can tenants decorate rented property?

If the decoration process involves placing items which can be moved or don’t require making property changes to install, then yes, they can.

The Verdict

When you’re looking to personalize a rental home and you’re starting to feel annoyed about all the things you can’t do, try to look for (legal) ways around them.

There are plenty of temporary home improvements that won’t violate the lease agreements and that can add a lot of personality to your home.

If you want to know more about how you can personalize your home and make it fit your style, be sure to check out our guide to using trends without losing your own style!