Rental decor ideas

7 deposit-friendly ways to decorate a rental

February 10, 2023

Looking for rental decor ideas? You’re among a growing tribe. With the current turbulence in the housing market, more and more of us are renting rather than buying. Soaring property prices and high mortgage rates have made it harder than ever to get on the property ladder.

But renting has plenty of advantages – as well as the flexibility to up sticks and move whenever you need or want to, you don’t have to fork out for maintenance costs, repair bills, property taxes or put down a huge deposit. Not to mention the fact it is now cheaper to rent than buy property in many parts of Britain.

Regardless of whether you buy or rent your property, you still want it to feel like home, especially if it’s a long-term let. Good Homes asks interior design experts how to make a rented space your own, without upsetting the landlord.

1. Go for luxurious lighting

Lighting is integral in any home, adding warmth and atmosphere and setting the mood. It can even change the shape and size of a room, dependent on what lighting you choose.  

‘Lighting can completely transform a space, and with so many affordable options, the possibilities are endless,’ says Jen and Mar from Interior Fox. ‘Swap outdated lighting fixtures for bold pendant lights and work strategically by placing table and floor lamps throughout the living areas.’

‘Rental lighting can be dark, stark or virtually non-existent and adding lamps, candles, and string lights can instantly transform a room without leaving any permanent marks,’ adds Houzz editor Victoria Harrison. ‘Think big, sculptural, freestanding lamps as well as gorgeous shades that can transform the entire look of a room.’

Add lighting for your home rental decor ideas

Photo: Pooky

2. Think about your appliances

Before you buy that bog-standard kettle, think about how much extra room you have for clutter and decor in your kitchen. If you’re short on space, then aesthetic appliances are what you need.

‘The kitchen is the most-used room in the house, but is often the hardest to decorate without making any permanent changes,’ says Emmie Brockman, interiors expert at Silver Mushroom. ‘Investing in good quality kitchenware is a great way to spruce up your kitchen, especially if you choose bold and brilliant colours!’

Add some smart kitchen accessories to instantly brighten your kitchen

Photo: Dunelm

3. Introduce colour

Painting fresh colour on the walls is something you can easily do yourself and will make a drastic difference to the look of your space. Most landlords are happy for you to go ahead with this. Just remember to check first. They may ask you to paint it back to white at the end of your tenancy, or they may give you money for the paint if you’re happy to paint it yourself. Don’t underestimate the power of fresh paint in a colour you love on the walls.

If painting the walls isn’t an option, ‘you can add character with removable items instead,’ says Victoria. ‘Open a tin of paint and upcycle the items you own, to bring in some personality and colour that way, be it a cabinet, table, or bookshelf.

‘Wall stickers can be added and removed with no fuss,’ she adds. ‘They come in a huge range of designs and colours, and are inexpensive. Popular in kids’ rooms, they are also great for small feature walls, such as in a hallway. Tile stickers are great for freshening up a kitchen or bathroom, and they’re 100% removable when you decide to leave. Or perhaps consider removable wallpaper, which sticks on and peels off easily.’

A gallery wall is the perfect way to bring your own style into your home

Photo: Desenio

4. Add a statement rug

Flooring is a tricky one. Replacing the flooring in a rental property will not only be expensive, but it could breach your tenancy agreement. But all is not lost – rugs are a quietly brilliant rental decor idea. Not only do they add warmth and texture to spaces with tired, hardwood flooring, they also hide gaudy carpet choices.

‘Large rugs protect carpets and floors, as well as being an easy, immediate way to freshen up the décor of a rental property,’ says Daniel Prendergast, Managing Director at The Rug Seller. ‘They are an inexpensive way of adding colour and excitement to any room.’

Victoria advises using several smaller rugs layered up to create a cosy, homely space. Alternatively, try lino – particularly in a bathroom or kitchen – as this can be laid over existing tiles and will give your room a whole new look (check with an expert before installing). Victorian Plumbing also does a great range of self-adhesive vinyl tiles for bathrooms for a cheap and easy upgrade, but the adhesive is permanent, so you’ll need the landlord’s permission for this one.   

A message from the editor:

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~ Karen Walker, Editor, Good Homes

Buy a statement rug to cover to some colour to your rental decor ideas

Photo: Wayfair

5. Buy a statement bed

A statement bed will make a world of difference to your bedroom and create a hotel-like boudoir feel and is something you can take your next home. They can add texture and tactility to your space and come in a massive range of options and are a wow factor as soon as you enter the room.

If you don’t want to buy a new bed, you could add a statement headboard in any material, from rattan to velvet. Another option is to ditch the headboard entirely and paint a headboard on the wall. Upholstered headboards can make for a fun DIY project – upcycling expert Geneva Vanderzeil has a great guide to making an upcycled upholstered bedframe. Bold bedlinen is another way to update your look and can be changed regularly.

Take a statement headboard with you to your next home

Photo: French Bedroom

6. Choose flexible furniture

‘Opt for furniture that can be moved around and reconfigured so it can more easily fit into another home,’ says Victoria. ‘For example, instead of a sofa with a chaise, which limits the possible configurations, opt for a simple sofa and an armchair – you will have the same seating space but will retain flexibility with the layout.’

A modular sofa – where you can add on or remove sections as and when needed, is another great way to make your furniture work for your space.

For those short on space, having stand-out pieces of furniture is a practical way to inject some personality into your space. Upcycling a sideboard or cabinet could be the perfect serviceable-yet-striking solution for easy rental home decorating ideas.

Upcycling can make your rental decor ideas feel like your own

Photo: Furniture and Choice

7. Fill your rental with plants

Sometimes, styling up a space can be as easy as adding the odd accessory. The power of plants and biophilic design is not to be underestimated, as these will brighten up the place keeping your mood high and property looking great, and they’re a wonderful way to bring life and colour into any room of your house. Even the bathroom.

Make a feature out of your plants by housing them in pots at different heights. Plant stands with long legs and macramé hangers are both on-trend options.

Plants can bring life and colour to your home

Photo: Dobbies

Rental property checklist

Before you move into a rented property – and certainly before you think about those rental decor ideas – it’s important to remember these golden rules to ensure you get your deposit back in full.

1. Do an inventory

Note down all the possessions the property comes with, including furniture and appliances, and the condition they are in as soon as you move in to make sure you’re not charged for something that wasn’t working, to begin with. Also, check that everything listed on the inventory is in the property, so you’re not charged for losing anything you never had. 

2. Take photos

One of the best things you can do is to take pictures of the state of furniture, windows, and flooring. It will be evidence when you do move out, and it also helps you to keep a record of things you have done to make it better going forward.

3. Get permission

Make sure you speak to your landlord before making any adjustments to your property. Most landlords will be happy for you to make small changes, but it’s worth getting confirmation before spending out to make tweaks and then paying for it by losing part of your deposit. Check the terms of your tenancy agreement before making permanent changes, and get your landlord’s permission in writing.

4. Flag any signs of damage

If you accidentally damage anything, make sure you let your landlord or letting agent know as soon as you can. Most repairs are still your landlord’s responsibility, and they will want to get them fixed as quickly as you can.


A message from the editor:

Let us help you create the home of your dreams! Get ideas & inspiration from Good Homes every month, delivered direct to your door. Visit to sign up for the weekly Good Homes newsletter.

~ Karen Walker, Editor, Good Homes