10 Ways to Decorate a Rented Room

Renting felt like my decorative creativity is being stifled.

I remember hating not being able to add colour or personalise my room but that’s so not true, I simply wasn’t thinking hard enough. I thought long and hard about the things that the landlord isn’t going to mind and have come up with ten great things that I could have done to decorate a rented room.

1. Add Accessories

copper accessories in a rented room

Decorative accessories at the Ideal Home Show

It may seem obvious but it’s probably the most forgotten way to decorate, especially with the minimal interior trend being quite popular lately. Adding accessories onto a TV stand, a dressing table or a desk can add that something special to the room without much effort on your part. These are things like trinkets, ornaments, vases with fake or real flowers or even a souvenir from a family holiday. One of my favourite decorative pieces are copper accessories (here’s an example within an old post – this modern bedroom with copper accessories is one of my favourites!)

2. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

mirrors brighten up rooms and add interest

Mirrors at the LivingEtc House Tours

If you’re renting in a city, particularly in London, renting a room may mean being temporarily cramped. Easily open up the space by hanging a mirror or two. I recommend putting up a mirror near or opposite a window to reflect as much natural light as possible and brighten up the space. This is easily done and can be hung either with already existent nails or why not use the ‘no nails’ hanging alternatives that help you hang things up without damaging the wall? B&Q is usually where I get mine from.

3. Choose Wall Art and Posters

Similarly to the mirrors, you can hang wall art or posters using damage-free hangings or how about blue tack? I find that art or a simple poster can really show off the interests and personality of the person living there. Bold art or a poster with a quote are usually good conversation starters as well, so they’re perfect for social butterflies. If you’re not keen on hanging these and risking damage to the wall though remember that you can leave framed art or prints unhung, simply lean then on the walls or use a stand to prop them up.

4. Cosy and Soft Home Furnishings

cushions and throws in a rented bedroom

Bedroom idea at the Ideal Home Show

Coming to think of it, my first love of interior styling started with super soft cushions and throws. I remember buying a cushion and throw set at university for my room because I simply couldn’t walk past them in Tesco’s home section. They were soft, cuddly and so comfy! The great thing about soft furnishings is that they comes in loads of colours, patterns and fabrics. I’m a massive fan of knitted cushions at the moment as it’s cold but I know that when it comes to summer I’ll take out my pastel coloured scatter cushions whilst storing the others in the loft. It’s an easy way to add a pop of colour to a white space, to update the interior without much effort and it’s ideal for decorating a rented bedroom.

5. Sweep it Under the Rug

Rugs also are a great way to style a neutral room. I’ve worked at Carpetright for two years so trust me when I say that there is a huge selection, from different sizes and materials to bold colours and trendy patterned rugs as well. In a rented bedroom, add a shaggy rug by your bed to sink your toes into as you get out of bed or try out a larger rug in the living room if you’re renting a flat. Either way it doesn’t just add comfort but interest to the place and makes it feel like home. Plus, you know that it’s an investment because you can always roll up the rug and take it with you when you decide to move!

6. A Photo Speaks a Thousand Words

My retro photos

My retro photos

A photo bunting or a collage of photos that are special to you can make any rented place feel homey. Whether you print out your Instagram photos to remind you of your fun times or family photos that bring back happy memories you’ll always find a space for them. There’s the wardrobe, desk and drawers or even the wall above your bed. I recommend using blue tack or I like hanging some string and then use cute pegs to fasten nice photos to it or pretty sticky tape. It’s chic and effective, have a look at my post on retro photos if you need inspiration 🙂

7. Sexy Storage

storage boxes or bags for a tidy place and stylish

Lovely storage idea at the LivingEtc House Tours

Storage boxes are a great way to keep the place tidy and make it look stylish. So, if you have three boxes for example, all different sizes, stack them up on top of each other on a shelf or get four large, identical storage boxes and paint two one colour and two another colour. Then, put these on your desk, firstly one of each colour and then alternating the colours stack them to make a second level. I hope this makes sense but if not just have a look at my pinterest board!

8. Let there be Light

lampshade ideas to show off personality in a rented place

Floral lampshades at the LivingEtc House Tours

A super cute decorating idea I like is fairylights on the wall or around the bed’s headboard. Anywhere you put it though in the end it makes your rental look and feel so much cosier. I don’t know what it is about them haha. Don’t just add fairylights though, think about changing your lampshades too as this will give the space that bit more of a personality. It’s affordable and can add a pop of colour easily as well.

9. A Statement you Can Take Away

If you have people around often but your rented room or flat doesn’t have enough furniture then have a think about making an investment. Floor cushions are a really fun way to keep things social or perhaps find a furniture statement piece like a patterned armchair or a loveseat that you can show off your personality with. The good thing about these is that they can be easily picked up and taken with you if you ever need to move out.

10. Get creative!

stack of books used as a stand

Books used as a radio stand at the LivingEtc House Tours

I love giving items a purpose that they weren’t originally given (have a look at my post on original tables that I saw during my LivingEtc House Tours visit here.) Anyway, think outside of the box. Try colour co-ordinating all of your clothes on a clockwrack that’s open for everyone to see, or what about creating your own temporary headboard or even decorating your wall with wall stickers that can easily be taken off later without damage. There’s plenty that you can do, you just haven’t thought of it yet 😉

I hope my ten decorating ideas for rental spaces help you create a personalised space that’s homey. Also, I’d love to know what you think and what you would recommend so please comment a decorating idea for a rented place below!

Writer / Blogger on The Fairytale Pretty Picture. Currently working in the head office of a large retail company in London, UK and living in Essex.

36 Comments

  • March 10, 2016

    Dean of Little Stepsd

    Hi Alina! 🙂 Love your retro photos. We’re moving house soon and will keep coming back to your blog for some inspiration. Love your style 🙂 xxx

    • March 11, 2016

      Alina

      How exciting! Best of luck, I know it’s stressful but it’s well worth it – do show us your pics too once you’ve moved in 🙂

  • March 10, 2016

    Kara

    Some great ideas here, just be careful of hanging things on walls as you may get charged for repairs

    • March 11, 2016

      Alina

      I completely agree, that’s why i suggested those non-harmful picture hanging stickers from B&Q – tried and tested and love those x

  • March 10, 2016

    Joanna

    Great post we rent and do some of these already. We recently got permission to put up picture hooks so we could add more prints and photos up.

    • March 11, 2016

      Alina

      That’s great news and super to hear that you’re already personalising your space 🙂

  • March 10, 2016

    Emma White

    oh wow some amazing and rather beautiful ideas love them all and makes me want to revamp

    • March 11, 2016

      Alina

      Thanks Emma. I’m currently redecorating the bedroom myself! Very tiring though…

  • March 10, 2016

    Grant R

    As someone who has rented a few times in the recent past, these are some choice ideas! I particularly like those colourful lampshades 🙂

    • March 11, 2016

      Alina

      Thanks Grant, nothing better than adding a bit of colour in a noticable way!

  • I love this post, I think key with a blank canvas is always to add a little bit of personality to a room! I really like the book stand as well very unique idea. x

    • March 11, 2016

      Alina

      Really glad you enjoy quirky items like the book stand, one of my personal faves ;). That’s true, renting can be like starting a new painting!

  • March 11, 2016

    Ana De- Jesus

    I love those rose gold fixtures they are gorgeous and its true everyone is really into minimalism these days. That light is so cool too.

    • March 11, 2016

      Alina

      I’m not sure I can live in minimalism for too long – I enjoy the clutter once in a while 😉

  • March 11, 2016

    Jenni

    These are all great ideas, I love the tip of adding mirrors to open up space x

    • March 11, 2016

      Alina

      Thanks Jenni – i find it really works so let me know if you try it out for yourself x

  • March 11, 2016

    Rachel

    Some great ideas Alina, I want a ladder shelf, I see them everywhere and am obsessed with them, not sure where one would fit… I also want a Terrarium x

    • March 11, 2016

      Alina

      Whoop! Let’s look for them together 🙂

  • March 12, 2016

    Hannah Budding Smiles

    Photos are a must for me, no matter where I’m living! I love the radio on the books xx

    • March 12, 2016

      Alina

      I completely agree, it makes it so homey and welcoming – plus it brings back great memories each time you look at them 🙂 Thanks Hannah.

  • March 12, 2016

    Little Pickle's Mom

    As a renter, I LOVED this post. We’ve just moved into a two bed rented house and luckily, our landlord is fairly relaxed if we choose to decorate – but we’ve also done a lot of what you mentioned. I’m a big fan of a neutral coloured room with LOTS of colourful accessories – we have a bright colourful rug, a large painting and millions of brightly coloured cushions currently brightening up our lounge. And nothing makes a house feel more homely than some gorgeous flowers too!

    • March 16, 2016

      Alina

      That’s really nice of your landlord – some can be really strict! A neutral room with an array of colourful and patterned accessories is such a fun way to do things, plus makes it so much easier to transport if you move to another place or to change if you get bored!

      PS: completely agree about those flowers 😉

  • March 18, 2016

    Louise Smith

    This is a great post. Our old landlord was pretty cool and said we could decorate any way we wanted but we chose to stick with neutral since it wasn’t our place. We now have our own property and are saving to do it up 🙂

    Louise x

  • June 13, 2016

    Dean of Little Steps

    Love your ideas! Especially loved the little gorgeous tea-cup on display 🙂 x

    • June 13, 2016

      Alina

      Thanks Dean 🙂

  • June 13, 2016

    Cathy Glynn

    Some really lovely ideas and I like the choices you made, great colours and designs x

    • June 13, 2016

      Alina

      Thanks for the comment Cathy!

  • June 13, 2016

    laura dove

    Fab tips!! We own our home but had we rented I think we would do lots of things like this, none cosmetic decorations that really change the look of a room. Great post, I’m sure it will inspire many!

  • June 13, 2016

    Hannah

    Wow you have a great eye for design – it looks lovely. I’m a landlady and I think there are some great ideas here for tenants who can’t paint any walls but can still make the place feel like home.

  • June 13, 2016

    Anosa

    I am renting currently and always thought I am limited to what I can do to my apartment but these ideas have opened my eyes

  • June 13, 2016

    Charlotte

    This is your rented home??? It’s amazing! Looks insane! I need to take these tips now now now. This is one of the main things I hate about renting I can’t do as I was but actually this shows you can. Thanks

    The Blonde B

  • June 14, 2016

    Ana De- Jesus

    I think photos really make a room personal but its the finishing touches like a good mirror that really makes a room stand out!

  • June 14, 2016

    Fashion and Style Police

    Being creative with an indoor space can change the entire look. Lovely tips here.

  • June 14, 2016

    Rachel

    Ooh now there are some amazing tips, I love the idea of funky mirrors x

  • June 14, 2016

    Kara Guppy

    I hated living in rented accommodation for this very reason – thankfully there are some fab accessories out there now to jazz up your rooms

  • June 15, 2016

    Michelle Murray

    I absolutely love all the accessories you have used. Off to check out your retro photos post too x