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The Renter’s Decoration Guide

The Renter’s Decoration Guide

If you’re renting your home, then you won’t own it – you’ll simply be living in it with the permission of the person (or organisation) that does. In many ways, this might not make a significant amount of difference to your domestic life. But there are some respects in which it will, and these limitations come into play when you decide you’d like to modify it.

Can I Decorate my Rented Property?

The precise amount of freedom you’ll have to decorate your home will depend on the agreement signed at the very start of the tenancy. In most cases, you’ll be given free rein to make whatever changes you’d like, if you restore the home to the condition it was in when you first moved in. If you’d like to paint a magnolia room entirely black, for example, then you’ll have to undo all of your work when you come to move out. For tenants who don’t intend to stay in their home for very long, this is almost always more hassle than it’s worth, and so the decoration remains limited to easily-reversible things like curtains and furniture.

If the property becomes damaged in some way during the tenancy, the tenant may be obliged to carry out repairs. In some cases, however, the landlord might simply retain some of the deposit to cover the cost of having the property redecorated. This doesn’t, in theory, give the landlord licence to simply reclaim whatever decorating costs they might feel entitled to – the landlord is responsible for decorating to address normal wear-and-tear.

What Should I Leave?

Unless you’ve signed a very special tenancy agreement, you’ll want to leave certain things as they are. The most obvious of this is painting the walls, doors and skirting boards, but similar rules of thumb should also preclude putting up wallpaper and changing the doors themselves.

For much the same reason, you shouldn’t be tempted to pull up the carpets and add in your own replacements, or install hardwood flooring. Structural alterations like new windows and extensions are also obviously off-limits.

If any functional parts of your property should begin to break down, like doors and windows, don’t replace them yourself – your landlord is obliged under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to cover such items.

What Can I Change?

With these limitations in mind, it might seem that your scope to alter the property is rather limited. Fortunately, this isn’t quite the case, as there exist all manner of ways in which you can temporarily redecorate, with a view to reversing your alterations in a matter of a few moments just prior to moving out. Let’s examine some of these options.


Curtains are an opportunity to hang an enormous square of colour right in the middle of a room. As such, they’ll contribute enormously to the look of the room. You’ll have a myriad of options when it comes to choosing an appropriate set of curtains; you might decide to go for a set of voile curtains or roman blinds, which will allow the maximum possible amount of light into the interior while still preserving your privacy. You might, on the other hand, decide to go for something more rugged, like a set of blackout curtains that’ll shut out as much light as possible, and provide far more effective thermal and sound insulation.

Cabinet lining

Lining the inside of your kitchen cabinets will help to disguise and wear and tear – which, if it’s likely to accumulate anywhere, will do so in the kitchen. A good liner will protect your cabinets against damage you might inflict by haphazardly flinging your crockery inside during a quick washing-up session, and it’ll also ensure that your glassware and mugs don’t slip out accidentally. A sticky liner will work excellently, but one that grips will probably do even better – and you’ll be able to remove it and use it again when you decide to move out.


While you might not be able to tear up and replace the actual carpet, you can do the next best thing – place a large rug in the centre of the room. A rug is a great way to obscure a part of the floor you don’t like, and they’re easily packed up when you decide to move.


Since the walls and floor have been placed off limits, the best canvas for creating a personal space are those little splashes of colour added around your living space. The cushions on your pillow are a good example. By tweaking the colours, you’ll be able to create accents which will dramatically alter the overall look of the room.

Light Shades

We should consider that the way that a room looks is entirely dependent on the way that light interacts with it. With that in mind, our choice of light shade becomes all the more significant. A light shade isn’t just a visual accent, and an opportunity for a good-looking accessory, it’ll also influence the way that light flows around the room.

Light Bulbs

By the same token, different light bulbs will influence the way that things look. Warmer-coloured light bulbs are easier on the eye, making them a great choice for living spaces; bathrooms might benefit from colder. You can even now get coloured light bulbs, and ones which connect to your wi-fi and change colour depending on the time of day, and your instructions.


A great piece of art can really help set the room apart. It’s an opportunity to display your personal taste, and thus it’s among the best ways to really make the room yours. What’s more, when it’s time to move out you can simply lift your painting down and pack it up with the rest of your belongings.

In Conclusion

We’ve just scratched the surface of the modifications it’s possible to make to a rented property without compromising your relationship with your landlord. With a few purchases here and there, you’ll be able to ensure your rented property makes a good fit for your style!


Phoebe Skinner

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