7 Easy Ways to Update Your Rented Home Without Damaging a Thing

The plant-hanging and shower-door tips are especially stunning—and easy

shower door washi tape before and after


I’m a firm believer in making your space your own. When you live somewhere, no matter whether you’re a renter or a buyer, it’s your home, and it should feel that way. But, if your landlord has given you a pretty strict contract or has made you feel like you can’t make your space feel like you, there are a ton of ways to get around that without losing your security deposit. 

After three years of living and renting in London—where restrictions for renters are a bit stricter than those in America—I've learned some tricks on how to make our apartment look and feel even more like me. Here are seven ways to personalize your rented home.

First, ask for permission.

This seems pretty simple, right? Well, many people forget to even ask their landlords if they can do anything to their space. Some landlords are really chill—as long as you change everything back when you move out.

And if you’re going to be improving their property, then they might be okay with you putting in the work. Emma Jane Palin lives in Margate, UK, and her rented home is insanely gorgeous. She’s even redone the floors. And that’s because she got permission from her landlord to do what she wanted to the place. “Over the years I realised [my ability to decorate and renovate] was actually a strength so I advertised myself as someone that could benefit [landlords]," she said. "I specifically hunted for my current house via local Facebook groups so that I knew I could decorate before moving in. We agreed that I would be able to re-do the flooring before I'd even looked around. I think communication is key when it comes to making changes and rented accommodation, and the phrase if you don't ask, you don't get is certainly appropriate for this situation!”

Use a Tension Rod to Hang Plants.

Avoid drilling holes into your wall by using a tension rod to hang plants. Over lockdown we did a lot of DIY projects at home. One of them was adding more space for more plants because that’s a priority for me at all times.

Before, during, and after photos of alcove turned into a bar and area for hanging plants
The Spruce / Taylor Fuller 

We have this little alcove/breakfast bar area in the kitchen that we turned into a bar. I decided that that was the perfect place to hang some plants, the only problem was that I had no desire to drill holes into the walls. So instead, I found a tension rod on Amazon which cost me 18 GBP (about $23). Before placing the order, I made sure to measure the space where it would go. You want the rod to be slightly bigger than the space so that it can fit tightly into place. I also checked to see how much weight it could hold. It has totally transformed the space, only took ten minutes, and I love it!

Use Washi Tape to Make Your Shower Door More Interesting.

This is by far one of the coolest hacks I’ve ever seen on Instagram. For just 20 GBP which is about $25, Nadine, from @Broadleafclose, quickly and easily transformed her shower from regular old glass to a Crittall-inspired focal point.

shower door washi tape before and after

 The Spruce / @ Broadleafclose

She painted the base and the sides black and then used washi tape to add a grid to the glass. When doing this, the most important thing to do is make sure you’re placing the tape in a straight line and if you mess up, it’s okay because the tape can easily be removed! 

Add Removable Contact Paper to Furniture to Make It More Unique.

If you are renting a furnished place, one way to make the furniture more fun or in tune with your style is to incorporate removable contact paper. Medina from Grillo Designs has done this seamlessly—you can’t tell that her desk drawers are from IKEA.

When Using Contact Paper...

  • Make sure it’s aligned properly and that you put it on slowly.
  • Use something with a firm, flat edge to remove bubbles as you place it down.
  • When it’s time to remove it, do it slowly and no adhesive will remain!

Medina also has a great Instagram page called @howIrent_ and is the author of Home Sweet Rented Home, a book in which she shares tons of awesome renter hacks with her readers. 

Utilize Vertical Storage in a Small Space.

Storage space can sometimes be an issue in a rented property. Whitney Leigh Morris from The Tiny Canal Cottage, rents a tiny home in Venice Beach, CA, with her husband and son. They use tons of really pretty hanging baskets to store her son's toys and other bits from around the house.

She also has a book called Small Space Style which features more than 200 tips on how to get the most out of your small home.

Create a Gallery Wall Using Moldings, Picture Hooks, and Invisible String.

If you really don’t want to make holes in your walls or you’re not keen on Command strips, another clever trick is to hang items from moldings near your ceiling. All you need is a molding hook and some fishing wire to create a gallery wall with absolutely no holes or fear of paint peeling when you remove an adhesive strip. This example from Zeena Shah is stunning!

It’ll cost you about $20 dollars for wire and a 50-pack of moulding hooks, which is more than enough for a cool gallery wall. 

Use Removable Faux Tiles to Cover Up.

The most dated part of a house or apartment is often the kitchen or the bathroom, and tearing out backsplashes and floor tiles is typically a no-go in a rental. One way around that is to add sticky tiles. You can find them on Etsy or hardware stores. A pack will usually cost you about $15 to $30, and you can find them in all sorts of colors and patterns. You can switch up your backsplash in your kitchen or your floor in your bathroom just by sticking new tiles on top of the existing ones.

The most important thing to do is make sure you line them up before sticking them on as you may need to trim a sheet so they all fit. And when you move out, you can just pull the tiles off the wall without leaving any residue behind.