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Authentic Renter’s Guide to Designing Your Abode

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Not everyone can afford to buy their own home, so the least they can do for now is rent a unit. The growing rental market is steadily increasing, especially among young professionals. Employees need a place to stay that is accessible from the workplace, and they also like to be free from common homeowner worries like taxes and registration. This makes home and condo renting hot in the real estate market. A rented condo or home doesn’t quite deliver the same kind of permanence that having one that you really own, but it doesn’t mean you can’t decorate your home according to the style and comfort you seek.

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Photo from Jeff Wilcox via Flickr, Creative Commons

Unleashing your decorating diva in a rented unit is just fine but, of course, it comes with a set of limitations common to rented spaces. With a few compromises with your landlord, you can achieve the look that you want for your unit. Here are some design tips for renters on how to make your home a safe and comfortable haven.

Go ahead and splurge on quality furniture

Furniture is among the list of essential things for first-time renters, but a lot of people hold off on buying the furniture they really like, thinking that their rented abode is just a temporary home. Actually, buying quality furniture is a practical solution. Good furniture equals durability, and if you do move into a new home sometime in the future, you don’t need to buy lots of new pieces, because the furniture you have is still in good condition. So go ahead and buy that antique you’ve been eyeing in the shop.

Consider buying modular furniture

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Save space by using modular furniture.

Photo from Michael Coghlan via Flickr, Creative Commons

Since rented condos or home usually have limited floor space, you need to improvise in order to maximize the space that you have. Modular furniture can become multi-functional pieces that you can use for two or more purposes; a sofa can turn into loveseats, for instance. When you move into a new home, you can still use this furniture to fit that space you have.

Forget the wallpaper

Most landlords do not allow tenants to put wallpapers on walls, but even if yours does allow it, it’s best to forget about the idea. Investing in wallpapers can be expensive and it’s more suitable for permanent homes. If you really want to have patterns on your walls, better go for wall tattoos and wall decals, which you can easily remove when the need arises.

Go for paint instead

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Paint can transform the look of your home.

Photo from Denise Krebs via Flickr, Creative Commons

A simple coat of paint can add the needed punch in your living space, but you need to get your landlord’s okay first. Some landlords do not allow a tenant to paint the walls, or they agree to specific colors only. Talk with your landlord before splurging on the paint color of your choice.

Explore your flooring options

Thick carpeting is certainly nice, but it’s expensive, so this upgrade is better off applied to your permanent dwelling. There are lots of less pricey options to make your floors look pretty. If you can’t stand the look of cheap linoleum, you can opt for vinyl floor covers, carpet tiles, and colorful rugs. You can buy these from your local home improvement store, and installation costs are more affordable.

Be creative with lighting

Most rental homes come with generic lighting fixtures. If your landlord doesn’t object to improvements in lighting, you can go crazy with these. You can install an elegant antique fixture or go for a modern and dramatic-looking one. This can immensely improve the look of a room. Another great idea is to put dimmers on your lights. Dim light can add more drama to a room and can save on electricity. Remember to keep the original fixtures and store them properly since your landlord may want them back.

Decorate your walls

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Simple artwork can brighten up your walls.

Photo from Debbie R via Flickr, Creative Commons

Again, this is something subject to your landlord’s approval, because he may not agree to nailing stuff on the walls. You may want to work out a compromise and tell him you will shoulder the cost of refilling the holes when you move out. An eclectic piece of artwork is more than enough to make a statement when you have to make do with plain walls.

Use freestanding storage

Lack of storage is a common problem in home renting since renters have to make do with limited built-in cabinets in a rented unit. You may be tempted to call a carpenter to install built-in cabinets, but this is not a good idea in rented homes. It’s a costly project, and you can’t take those built-ins when you move out of the house. It’s better to invest in movable wardrobes, cabinets, and drawers that you can freely move around your home. Choose pieces that will complement the color scheme of your new rented home.

Dress up your windows

If you have limited choices when it comes to putting color on your walls, then you can resolve your need for color and pattern in your window dressing. Buy the most gorgeous prints for your curtains and make them stand out from the walls. Order blinds in eye-popping colors and make your windows the center of attention. You can easily take your curtains and blinds if you decide to move out.

Get smart with decorative pieces

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Use your personal collection as decoration.

Photo from Jeremy Goldstein via Flickr, Creative Commons

Aside from beautiful curtains and blinds, making use of eye-catching pieces is a great way to compensate for limited decorative options. Make good use of vases, jars, figurines, and other movable pieces. Put a big aquarium in the living room. Display your enviable book and toy collections. These are sure to become conversation starters with your guests.

While you’re constantly thinking of ways to make your rented home look and feel like real home, it’s best to maintain a great relationship with your landlord. He may become more lenient to your decorating plans once you have established trust. Keep in mind that the landlord wants to secure steady income from his property, so he may compromise to keep his tenant happy. Make sure to keep your end of the bargain so you can maintain a harmonious relationship.

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Christopher Britton
More about Christopher Britton

Christopher Britton is an Interior Architect by day and a Freelance Writer by night. He writes about home improvement, home security, green & simple living, and even interior design, giving readers up-to-date information and advice on the latest trends.

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