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DIY Decorating Tricks When You Can't Paint Your Rental

Temporary digs? We've got you. Here are some DIY tricks to personalize a rental

Personalize your rental with these non-permanent DIY ideas

When it comes to life in a rental home, it's all about getting that security deposit back. But how can you give your home splashes of your own personality without damaging the walls, ripping out the carpets, or applying a fresh coat of paint to the walls or the kitchen cabinets?

With a little DIY magic and some careful measurements, you can add temporary decorations to any space that will make your rental pop.

Make A (Back)Splash In The Kitchen

Who said a kitchen backsplash had to be made of metro tiles? You can create a DIY equivalent with fabric, decals, or even some types of waterproof washi tape. Simply measure the area around your kitchen sink, cut your chosen material to fit, and secure with sticky putty, Command strips, or other rental-friendly adhesives. You can also use temporary storage products or shelving to help earn more cabinet space in a a small kitchen... all of it removable, of course!

Spruce Up The Fridge

Your fridge deserves a makeover, too! Whether it's your favorite magnets, a clip-on calendar, or a full top-to-bottom upholstery project, you can take your fridge from drab plastic to "fab fashion" in a couple of hours. For bonus points, use the same material you used on your DIY backsplash to cover your fridge front.

Top the Countertops

There are many faux-marble or laminate countertop covers on the market that imitate elegant granite, stone, or butcher block styles at a fraction of the cost. These products are designed to roll out over your counter, stick in place with a peel-off adhesive, and can be cut to fit odd corners and sides. When you're ready to move out, just peel the cover away and scrub clean, leaving your countertops fresher than the day you moved in.

It's All in the Decals

Wall decals aren't just for dorm rooms. These stick-on decorations are designed with renters, subletters, and dormers in mind. You'll find a decal for just about any design theme online — from Bohemian patterns to kid-friendly animals to your favorite religious or literary quote. Simply peel and press, following the manufacturer's instructions for placement. When you're ready to move, carefully peel the decals away (go slow to preserve the paint), and store on wax paper or a piece of tough plastic to use in your next rental.

Light It Up

String lights, floor lamps, table lamps, and night lights all offer unique, warm ways to showcase your personality without losing your security deposit. Battery-operated or plug-in, high-wattage or gentle glow—the options are endless! (I'm a big fan of pineapples, so I have not one, not two, but THREE different battery-operated pineapple string lights hanging in my rental's living room.)

Storage = Floorage

When you're a renter, storage tends to be the bane of your existence. Bookshelves can't be screwed into the walls, you're not allowed to get rid of the giant radiator blocking off half your wall space, and that "walk-in closet" is starting to feel more like a crawl space. Free up your floor space with multi-functional storage solutions, like coffee tables with hidden storage shelves, or elegant fabric ottomans that double as footrests and storage bins. Pro tip: You can make these yourself using lidded utility buckets and an upholstery cover!

Family-Friendly Accent Pieces

Renting with kids? Get them in on the decor with fun, family-focused DIY projects. When I was a tot living in a rental apartment, my parents took us outdoors to paint plates, craft pottery, and press our handprints in decorative cement stepping stones. Inside, our parents displayed our creations in place of wall art or table centerpieces. (At the ripe old age of 23, I still own two wooden footrests we painted blue and covered with drawings when I was 6!)

Bedtime Buys

Investing in your bedroom decor is a great way to showcase your personality, especially in a rental where you can't paint. Tapestries, bedding, and wall art can all bring pops of color and vibrant patterns into an otherwise blah rental. Add some string lights and a unique conversation piece (armadillo-shaped table lamp, anyone?) and you've got yourself a gorgeous bedroom set that will be just as beautiful in every apartment you rent.

Something Green

If you have an outdoor space, potted plants or a small garden can be an amazing way to spruce up your space without putting down permanent roots. Many small plants can be easily transported to your next rental. If you don't have a balcony or patio, you can add a splash of green with a kitchen herb garden or a removable window box full of flowers. If live flora and fauna are a no-go with your landlord, consider fake plants—all of the beauty of real flowers without the fuss of gardening!

When it comes to renting, many first-time renters worry that their new landlord will be too strict for them to decorate at all. However, it's easy to DIY your way around your landlord's rules. So long as you keep track of your additions and have a game plan in place to restore your rental to its original condition, you can showcase your personality and turn your rental into a true home.

Resources—Brit+Co, HGTV, The DIY Playbook