Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Interior Inspiration: 5 Budget-Friendly Tips For Decorating A Rental

Recently, sweet Isabel of The Sunny Side of This asked me this question on Twitter:

"Girl, I need a how-to on how to decorate! We live in a rented apartment and we resist investing - any tips?"

I'm so glad you asked, Isabel! It's actually something I've been worrying about a little everytime I write an interiors post on this blog. I don't want to alienate anyone who's living in a rented flat or house. In fact, I often get comments like, "I'd love to do this, but ..." or "I can't wait to have my own place so I can do this, but ..."

To be honest? I never, ever decorated any of our past rentals. I didn't even unpack some of the boxes in our previous rented flat! I've always loved beautiful interior design and decor. Always. But John and I were unlucky: our landlords sold at the end of every lease, and we always ended up getting kicked out after a year. So I just didn't bother.

But if you're in a long-term rental or something that will last for more than a year (we never were), then you should make that space your own (without sacrificing your deposit at the end of your lease!). And here are some handy tips on how to do it on a budget:

Removeable Wallpaper

Yes, this is a thing. It peels straight off (I tried samples on my own walls, which you might want to do first since every wall is different!) without leaving any damage to the paint. It's perfect for a statement wall, or even to line a bookshelf that the landlord left behind. And there are so many beautiful options out there, especially on Etsy. My favorite patterns are by Wallflora: think beautiful, watercolor ferns in lush greens for a bedroom or subdued, blue-hued florals for a kitchen wall.

Print-able Wall Art

Not ready to invest in your own Hockney yet (I mean, who is? Oh right, that guy who sped into the Affordable Art Fair in a Lamborghini - I kid you not)? There's always printable wall art, like this cacti photography from Taiprints, also available from Etsy. It's currently priced at £9.36 and you'll get the download instantly when you pay. Then you've just got to print and frame it, which will be considerably cheaper than buying original art or even a framed print.

And on that note ...

Budget frames

I wrote a post on this a little while ago and, although it's pretty UK-specific, there are other similar options you might be able to explore in your home country. In the US, I know exactly where to go, but it took me a little longer to find these options in the UK.

And on that note ...

3M Command Strips and Hooks

These are your friends. I used these babies to stick EVERYTHING to our walls in our previous rentals (including a heavy, framed poster-sized print). We used them in three different flats and they didn't take any paint off (again, every wall is different, so please test before you commit!).

And if you really can't hang anything on the walls? Prop them up on tables or countertops. Stick stuff on the floor, like so:


I know. Right now, you're like "Whaaaat?" But trust me on this: a stool or two is fantastic to have in your rented place because - guess what - it's multi-functional.

Not only is it a great prop (put a stack of magazines on it and a little vase or object on top and - voila - you've just styled a lovely little corner), but it's also excellent for:

  • dumping your clothes on in the bathroom when you're hopping in the shower (also doubles up as an iPad stand when you're in the bath - don't forget about that);
  • using as a lift when you can't quite reach that box of Lucky Charms in the kitchen;
  • using as a bedside table/nightstand (I know, mindblown, right?)
I could go on and own. So buy a couple stools. They're cheap and if you don't like them in one place, YOU CAN, YOU KNOW, LIKE, PICK IT UP AND MOVE IT.

So, those are just five, simple ideas that will make the world of difference to your rented flat/apartment. I hope that was helpful, Isabel! And if you ever have any questions about styling or decorating, feel free to email me at the address in the "Contact" tab above and I'll gladly answer it here!



  1. Even your stapler is uber chic. How do you do it!?

    1. Haha! I spend too much time browsing Instagram and envying everyone else's material possessions ... :P

  2. This post is great for both renters and home owners ... thanks for sharing a few fab tips!

    1. Thank you, Ruth! I'm so glad you found it useful.

  3. No, I definitely cannot host you yet, you put me to shame haha. We move every two-three years and live in government housing with one and the same furniture provided anywhere we go so I never even bothered. But you inspire me so much that I started looking at interior decoration inspirations the other day. Loved your advice in the interview about starting small cause the thought of redecorating the entire house IS SO OVERWHELMING and costly! I really want to start with my workspace which is currently non-existant and even pinned quite a lot for some ideas. By the way, any tips on that front and also, what does your workspace look like? I'd LOVE to have a peak (judging from a stapler it is fabulous). :)

    1. Oh my goodness, I think you give me too much credit, Nano!! My workspace is currently my couch, where I am sitting with the laptop on top of my husband's legs as we watch Grand Budapest Hotel on Netflix ... it's not glamorous at all! Eventually, I'd love to makeover the study but it's a bit ramshackle at the moment.

  4. I've always loved the idea of temporary wallpaper but our landlord would freak out and I'm not sure it would work well on our walls anyway - they're textured wallpaper that's been painted over.

    My real issue? Ugly carpet that's stained beyond saving (but not actually dirty) everywhere. Even cheap rugs are expensive. :(

    I have found one of the best things you can do as a renter is get rid of everything you can that you don't like - furniture and clutter wise and then have less that you do love. It changes the space a lot.

    That and changing the curtains!

    1. Ah, we had that textured wallpaper in our last flat too.

      Ugly carpet is definitely a problem. Layering rugs is really "trendy" at the moment and I love the look, but I agree that they can be really expensive. H&M has some great rugs for bedrooms, etc. and Maison du Monde also has some affordable options!

      We avoided buying too much as renters too - that's great advice, Sorcha, thanks! And YES - the first thing we did when we moved into this house was rip ALL the curtains off their rails. Shudder.

  5. Ooh, I like the idea of removeable wallpaper! I may have assembled an Ikea bookcase with the back board the wrong way round the other month...this would be the perfect solution to fill the inside panels and cover up my mistake! Gorgeous prints from Wallflora too - nice find!

    Sophie :-)

    1. Bahahaha - at least you've assembled something from IKEA, I tried to put a lampshade together last year and even THAT ended in disaster! But yes - I'd definitely recommend removeable wallpaper for that! I love the ones from Wallflora but there are tons out there too. I'd love to see it if you end up doing it!

  6. Where do you buy cheap small wooden stools from? I've been searching everywhere but I have had no luck! Thanks, George

    1. Hi George! Thanks for stopping by to read this post. The stool in the photo with all the tulips on it is from The Futon Company. That is my favorite place for leaning shelves, stools, and beautifully designed storage units. They always have sales on and I'm sure the stools we bought couldn't have been more than £20-30 at the time, which is why we ended up buying two. The antique ones (like the tiny one we bought from France) are a little harder to find. You might want to try Zara Home - I've seen them there and they're also often on sale for around £40. I hope that helps!


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