Emily Henderson Renter's Design

Emily Henderson’s Decorating Tips for Renters

Frustrated by the interior design limitations of your rental? As much as the space may need it, you may not be authorized to stage a top-to-toe makeover — but don’t sweat it. Target’s home style expert, Emily Henderson, has lots of easy workarounds — read on for her tips and picks.

Paint the Walls Anyway

 Usually the rule for renters is, you paint it, you return it. As in, you have to return the walls to white or some other “blank canvas” type of neutral shade when you move out.  So feel free to go nuts with whatever wall color does it for you, including dark or deep colors — just use a primer when you go to repaint them. If your landlord insists on a neutral, I’d stay away from stark white and go with something that has a little more pigment., like a warm grey.

Use Damage-Free Hooks

The only thing landlords hate more than bold paint colors is the damage that nails do to walls. Here’s your picture-hanging solution: Removable stick-on hooks. I don’t know who invented these but they’re a total life-saver!

Put up (Removable) Wallpaper

Do not be afraid to use this stuff! It’s easy to apply and it’s security deposit-proof — meaning, it really does come off.  I love using wallpaper to add drama to small spaces — including closets.

Floor it

If you have hardwood floors, this one’s a no-brainer.  Landlords always want you to cover floors to prevent scratching and to muffle sound, so get the largest rug your room will accommodate—the 8x10s and 9x12s of the world are more expensive but tie a room together like nothing else. If there’s carpeting already in the apartment, I feel your pain—you can’t rip it out but you can totally add an area rug or two on top of it. Go with a bold pattern or a contrasting color story. I love layering rugs—the more texture the better!

Switch it Up

Switch plates, cabinet knobs and light bulbs come standard with your rental and they can all be tweaked with minimal effort. Adjusting these little details lets you work in your personality (not your landlord’s…or lack thereof!). Seriously, the slightest adjustments—a softer LED lightbulb, an immaculate switch plate (instead of that junky metal one with chipping paint), cool-looking metal knobs — can take a renter’s pad from meh to marvelous.

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