Wellbeing

8 Tips For Decorating Your Rented Home Without Losing Your Bond

Styling a rental property comes with a bunch of barriers not faced by people who own their home. You’re often in a temporary space, dealing with a strict tenancy agreement and restricted by a tight budget.

But just because you’re living there short-term doesn’t mean your home should feel second-rate.

We hit up Amelia Barnes from Rented Space (an interior design site showcasing the most stylish of rented properties) for some tips to help create a beautiful, personalised environment in your rental property.

#1 Light it up

Using lamps as your chief source of lighting can do wonders for improving your mood and the ambience.

In the lounge room, try a simple floor lamp with a transparent shade as the main light, complemented by smaller table lamps set on coffee tables, bookshelves or mantlepieces. You can buy lamps under $100 from Kmart, Target, Beacon Lighting and Temple & Webster.

Elsewhere in your home, switch out any existing bright, white lights for warmer, yellow-toned globes that offer a more welcoming feel.

#2 Repot your plants

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that indoor plants are having a major moment. But just because you have a few neglected succulents doesn’t mean you can start using the #urbanjunglebloggers hashtag just yet.

For a truly beautiful indoor garden, take a few minutes to repot your plants, moving them out of their original plastic containers and into a permanent planter. All it takes is a pot with drainage, plus potting mix and water.

There are so many beautiful and affordable options currently on the market, from everyone’s favourite self-watering Décor pots to the classic terracotta varieties that start from just $1 at Bunnings.

Another idea is to display your plants in macramé hangers (have a look on Etsy), or hanging them from the wall with surprisingly sturdy adhesive or Velcro hooks.

#3 Get creative with art

If your tenancy agreement stipulates no hooks are to be hammered into the walls, there are some ways to get around this.

Firstly, check if this includes adhesive hooks, as these offer a cheap, reliable and generally paint-safe way to hang art. Alternatively, offer to cover the cost of having hooks professionally installed and repainting should any chipping occur.

If it’s still a no, collages hung with Blu-Tac or Washi tape can bring some much needed colour and personality to a room. Hang everything from magazine cuttings to business cards, tea towels, postcards, Polaroids and greeting cards.

Framed artworks leaning against a wall or fireplace are also an inventive way to display works.

Take a look at Society6, Third Drawer Down and Hello Polly for a budget way to bring art into your home.

#4 Show off your tableware

Beautiful tableware is worth the investment. Not only is this a practical purchase that you’ll use every day, it’s also a joy to handle and display.

If your rental contains exposed shelving, use this space to showcase your favourite handmade mugs, plates and bowls as decorative items when not in use.

There’s no end of wonderful, one-of-kind pieces made by local ceramicists, many of which are also microwave and dishwasher safe. Have a look at the work of Leah Jackson, Lavallier Emporium, Wingnut & Co for inspiration and ditch the three Ikea plates you got in first-year uni for good.

#5 Shop second hand

Any savvy renter will already know the perks of second hand shopping.

There are plenty of gems to be uncovered in the traditional hotspots, so take a look in your local op-shop, bazaar, auction house or on the side of the road, awaiting hard-rubbish collection.

Social media has facilitated numerous online groups for swapping and selling furniture at a fraction of the market price, such as the Melbourne-based favourites My Stuff = Your Stuff and Secondhand Furniture and Interiors Melbourne. The only catch is, with so many people browsing at any given time, you have to be quick to snag a coveted piece!

Many great items can also be found scrolling through the depths of Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and eBay via specific keywords searches.

#6 Shop at department stores sparingly

There’s nothing wrong with bagging a bargain, but an entire house kitted out with the latest Kmart Scandi range tends to look a little nauseating. Not only that, it’s environmentally unsustainable to constantly be purchasing trend-based items only to throw them away when they’re out of style (or broken) six months later.

Stick to stores like Ikea and Kmart for the basics and save your money for pieces you’ll truly treasure.

#7 Invest in bedding

If there’s one thing all magazine-worthy homes have it common, it’s beautiful bedding. This is an area that will set you back a few hundred dollars, but you’ll thank yourself every time you jump in into bed.

Forget the plethora of decorative cushions and just focus on the donna cover and sheets.

If the relaxed look of linen is your style, try local labels Scottie, In Bed, or, for a more colourful spread, visit Kip & Co or Urban Outfitters.

#8 Put memories on display

Ultimately what makes a home unique is the personality of its occupants.

Avoid the look of a stale apartment development suite by showcasing the pieces and people who truly mean something to you throughout your styling.

Maybe it’s the rug your mum bought you for a birthday, a stack of your favourite magazines, a set of Polaroids taken on holiday, or the wedding invitation of a good friend – whatever it is, it’s the culmination of these little details that transform a house into a home.

All photos courtesy Dan Soderstrom.


Amelia Barnes is a freelance writer based in Melbourne. She is a regular contributor to Domain and the co-founding editor of Rented Space – a website showcasing creatively-styled rental properties.