Rental-Friendly Decorating Tips: A Tenant's Guide

Face it, we’ve all been there when that command strip promises us that it won’t peel the paint off the wall… and then it does. Tenants—we get how frustrating it can be to try and make a space your own while trying not to cause any damage in the meantime. We’re here to give you some rental-friendly decorating tips that maybe you know and some that you don’t. Here’s our tenant’s guide to rental-friendly decorating:


Artwork, portraits, mirrors, string lights, and more—these are the things homeowners use to decorate and enlarge their spaces that renters want to do, too! Here are the things you can utilize or just to decorate your space using those four walls:

  • Temporary wallpapers.
    There are so many temporary wallpapers out there that are sticker-based and easy to peel off. Try decorating your space with a focal wallpaper or adding a backsplash to your kitchen.
  • Sticky tack.
    If you need to put something up, opting for sticky tack instead is sometimes the way to go. Just make sure to use discretion based on the weight of the item being placed on the wall. It can’t hold everything, but for small things like photos, it does the job.
  • Curtains
    Shades, curtains, and drapes—these are the ways you can add a pop of colour or texture to any room with windows. A design rule of thumb is to ensure your drapes and curtains touch the floor. Want to add some extra pizzazz? Swap out the curtain rod for one that has knobs on the end. The best part of getting your own drapes and curtain rods is that they’re easy to pack up and take with you anywhere you move. 
Curtain shades that fully touch the ground
  • Room dividers and shades
    Naturally, construction and home renovations are not tenant DIY-friendly. If you want to divide a space, especially for those living in studios, and you want to add an element of separation, go for the room divider. Room dividers shouldn’t obstruct any pathways and should be at least six feet tall.


Now that we’ve covered what’s on top, let’s go to the base—your flooring. Maybe you want to rip up the old carpet that’s from the 90s, or maybe the hardwood gets really chilly in the winter? We hear you loud and clear. We have two strong recommendations for rental-friendly décor tips.

  • Rugs & doormats.
    No, no, no, we’re not just talking about the ol’ welcome mat. We’re talking patchwork, wool, polyester—or, if you want to get fancy with it, cotton. Different materials require different care. When you select a rug for your rental unit, the aim should be to change the atmosphere of the room it’s in. If you’re putting a rug in your living room, make sure the rug goes underneath the front legs of all furniture items it’s under.
Decorative rug that goes beneath chair legs
  • Freestanding plant stands.
    Lifting your plants off the ground adds dimension to your space, while also protecting the floor from dirt and potential water damage if you’ve got a heavy hand when watering.


Ah, yes. The fun part. Renting a place doesn’t mean you have to compromise on making it feel like a permanent home. You might often hear of all the things you CAN’T do, so let’s go through the ones you CAN.

  • Lighting fixtures.
    No one said anything about changing lampshades or swapping out lighting fixtures—as long as you hang on to the original ones that came with the space. There’s something about lighting fixtures and when you see certain ones, they can immediately date a room. So, go ahead! Browse those Home Depot aisles, take off those boring bowl lights, and opt for a chandelier, drum shade, or flush mount.

    While we’re on the subject, let’s talk lightbulbs. Just because your place came with white, cold lights doesn’t mean you can’t change them to warm tones or smart, multi-colour lights. LED lights last a lot longer than standard light bulbs and are energy-efficient, so if you decide to invest in a bunch of new lightbulbs, choose some LEDs.

Changing a lightbulb to an LED bulb
  • Colours, colours, and more colours.
    Use those white walls to your advantage by getting colourful furniture pieces. Accent chairs, barstools, and throw pillows can be fun tools for this. Another thing you can try is getting fake or real flowers to display in open spaces that add the necessary colour. If you have a balcony or patio space, why not get some planters that rest in pots on the ground or hang over the edge for some flowers there, too?
Decorative colourful throw pillows
  • Mirrors.
    Not enough windows? Already added 10 lights? Try getting more mirrors. Mirrors not only brighten a space but enlarge it, too. Put them in places where you feel that there should be or could be a window, or where there’s wall space evenly around all sides of the mirror. Experiment with shapes, borders, and heights.
  • Touch of elegance.
    Cabinet knobs, curtain poles, cupboard handles, and door handles are all things that can be easily swapped. Whether you’re looking for a touch of gold or even a matte finish, these elements can play that part for you.
Replaced curtain rod


“Install a closet,” the fancy home décor article said. Well, Martha, that’s not always an option when you’re renting a 500-square-foot apartment and you’ve run out of room to put your personal property. Sure, the hand-made pottery vase that your great aunt gave you looks great in the kitchen, but what if you need that space for essential things… like, you know, ketchup? At the end of the day, storage is important because it eliminates clutter, keeps your items organized, and makes household objects easy to find when everything has its own proper place. So, let us guide you with some rental-friendly storage solutions:

  1. Multifunctional furniture.
    Using a futon instead of a loveseat.
    It’s spare bed for when the parents come to visit, or it can double as a bed for yourself if you live in a studio.

    Recliners instead of chairs. 
    Chairs that have pull-out leg rests or that recline can make your living room more versatile and save on space.

    Coffee tables and ottomans with storage compartments inside them. 
    These are the hidden life hacks in those clutter-free homes. Out of sight, out of mind—it works!

    So, your condo lacks counter space? Let us introduce you to portable counter islands. 
    Don’t wait for your dream home to come around before you get an island. So many islands or carts have wheels that lock, and some even have built-in cutting boards. This will free up space on your kitchen counters and give you more storage for basic household kitchen items.

    Kitchen bar cart

  2. Organizers
  • There are so many nooks and crannies that could be organized more efficiently. Under the kitchen sink, shelving bins, custom closet organizers—all these tools exist to help people maximize their space.
  • Tiered storage: If you can find multi-level storage solutions, choose it every time. You add dimension and don’t compromise on your floor or cabinet space. If it can stack and look neat, stack it.
  • Be tidy: This one comes at a low cost of free! Simply put, if an item isn’t serving a purpose or making you happy by keeping it, then don’t. 
Tidying clothes

And that’s a wrap on our Tenant’s Guide to Rental-Friendly Decorating! Risking your damage deposit on something as simple as a little decoration just isn’t worth it, but sometimes it happens. Sandbox’s Tenant Insurance is the shield for those “oops” moments and even those “oops” moments that might be caused by your neighbours. With Tenant Insurance coverage in Saskatchewan, Alberta, or Manitoba, you can decorate fearlessly, knowing you’ve got a policy in your back pocket… just leave the paint out of it. Convinced? Find a Sandbox insurance broker near you to get started. Happy decorating!