That’s probably the nicest thing that can be said about a lot of rental housing.
Apartments, dorm rooms and other rented spaces often share the same bland decor — beige walls, utilitarian cabinets and flooring that’s uninspired or just plain ugly. Yet rental contracts or residence hall rules may prohibit permanent changes such as painting or putting holes in plaster or drywall.
That doesn’t mean you have to live in a boring box, though.
We’ve gathered some damage-free decorating ideas to perk up the place where you live. They might not turn your digs into your dream home, but they’ll make your rental a more pleasant place.
THINK LIKE A HOMEOWNER
Renters can be reluctant to invest much money or effort into decorating temporary quarters, but David Bromstad thinks that’s a mistake. If you don’t personalize and beautify your space, “it’s always going to feel like it’s not your home,” said Bromstad, an artist and interior designer who rose to fame as the winner of HGTV’s first Design Star competition and is now a familiar face on the network.
Think beyond posters and invest in some homelike decorative elements, such as wall sculptures, sconces or framed artwork. Beautiful bedding and window treatments add panache, and some luxurious towels and a handsome shower curtain can do wonders to distract attention from ugly tile or tired bathroom fixtures.
Consider changing unattractive lighting fixtures and cabinet hardware, he suggested. Save the old ones so you can re-install them and take yours with you when you leave.
HANG THINGS SAFELY
Thank goodness for adhesive technology. Now you can stick all kinds of things to a wall without risking damage to the wall surface — or to your head from falling objects.
3M has an extensive line of hooks, picture hangers and other hanging hardware using its Command adhesive. They can support a surprising amount of weight — up to 16 pounds, depending on the product — but they’re removable without damage or residue, provided you follow the instructions.
You can even get hooks in decorative metallics that add beauty as well as function. Support both ends of a curtain rod or dowel with metallic hooks, and you can hang curtains without putting a single hole in the wall.
Just because your walls are boring doesn’t mean your room has to be.
“You don’t need color on the walls to have color in your space,” Bromstad said. He prefers to bring color into a room with changeable elements such as accent pillows, art and accessories. In fact, he said that in his most recent decorating projects, he’s painted the walls in light neutrals and brought in color with other features.
Don’t be afraid to paint furniture, he said. An old chest painted lime green or fuchsia suddenly becomes a statement piece that enlivens an entire room.
Stretched canvas prints are an inexpensive way to add color and character to plain walls, said Gillian Andrew, an interior designer with Garth Andrew Co. in Bath Township, Ohio. Often they’re available in groups of three or four prints, which take up a large space. They’re lightweight, because they have no frames or glass, so they can be hung easily with damage-free hangers.