Design Dilemma: Decorating as a Renter | Home Design Find

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Design Dilemma: Decorating as a Renter

If there’s one thing that frustrates renters everywhere, it’s the limitations on decorating that landlords often impose. No nail holes in the wall. No painting. No changes at all. With so many “don’ts” you can begin to feel like you’re living in a prison — not your own home. So how can you personalize your rented home or apartment despite all the rules and restrictions?

1) Change the light fixtures. It’s a temporary change that will make a big difference. Swap an existing light fixture for the fixture of your choice.  Here’s your chance to get dramatic, funky, elegant or classic. Put the old fixture in storage until it’s time to move when you can restore the original fixture to its place. Or alternatively, if changing a fixture seems like too much work, invest in a dramatic floor lamp that can visually act as a pendant, as in the room below.

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2) Change your walls without using paint. A bold paint color is a quick way to change a room, but it isn’t the only way to add instant drama. Another overlooked option is wall hangings. These can range from silkscreened Marimekko prints, to tribal kilims. If hanging is out of the question opt for a decorative folding screen which you can artfully arrange either flat against the wall or folded near a wall. Or paint a large canvas panel or two the color or pattern that you desire and rest it against a wall for instant impact.

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3) Lean liberally. Can’t put holes in the wall? Try leaning artwork and mirrors against the wall for a fashionably casual look. You can lean from shelves and mantles, but also from the floor. Investigate as well picture hooks that are removable and that don’t damage walls. If you’re lucky enough to have a picture rail in your home, use it and hang paintings using wires from the molding.

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4) Add personality wherever you can. If you’re stuck with beige walls and you’re not allowed to hang pictures, you may despair of creating a space that doesn’t feel like everyone else’s bland beige box. But don’t forget how much personality you can inject into your space simply with colorful rugs, interesting furniture, large houseplants and sculptural pieces. For example, if you have beige wall-to-wall carpeting, don’t feel shy about investing in your own colorful area rugs — oriental rugs, cowhides, kilims, etc — to layer on top of the beige wall-to-wall for an instant change. Renting doesn’t mean you can’t have a home with personality. The photo below is of a New York rental in which the tenant is not allowed to paint or hang pictures. But her use of a nubby textured rug along with interesting furniture pieces, such as the African footstool, danish tables and Eames chair, injects a little life into an otherwise drab windowless room.

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Images:, Homes and Gardens

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