10 decorating dos and don’ts for renters
Micheal Lambie, Toronto-based designer/decorator and landlord shares his expertise for making rented spaces look amazing.
First things first – know your limitations. “Some landlords don’t even want you to paint,” explains Micheal. “Others might be OK with you installing a new backsplash so long as you pay for it and they approve it.” So speak with your landlord before you get started and ask about everything from painting to flooring and even nailing into walls.
When you’re ready to plan your decor, remember Micheal’s golden rule: Focus on things that are easily seen first and then work your way down. “When people walk into your home, they look at walls, paintings, and things that are at eye-level first,” he says. So focus on walls and curtains before tackling flooring.
And then follow these renters’ do’s and don’ts for decorating, according to Micheal:
Do: Be selective with your furniture. Invest in large items like your couch and opt for standard-size pieces you love rather than cheap ones. It’s often difficult to make the cheap stuff look good in any other space.
Do: Buy light fixtures you love. “There are so many inexpensive ones that can dramatically change your space,” says Micheal. Keep and store the old ones. Take the ones you like with you when you move out.
Do: Treat curtains, cushions and throw blankets as one. Uniting this trio makes everything come together nicely.
Do: An accent wall but not necessarily in a different colour. Choose a tone that’s one or two shades lighter or darker to really create a mood in your space.
Do: Try removable wallpaper. “It’s a great way to add lines, patterns and prints like trees,” says Micheal, who cautions that temporary wallpaper can be too pricy for a temporary living space. And before buying, ask: How permanent is it?
Do: Decorate with things you can easily take with you when you leave, like shelving. Bonus: Shelf space offers a great way to get decorative elements on the wall, at eye-level.
Don’t: Forget the windows! Curtains are also at eye-level so attack ’em early and watch your space come together nicely.
Don’t: Make decor changes that feel permanent. Avoid painted wall treatments for texture. “Stripes and polka dots are almost impossible to get off the wall without excessive sanding,” Micheal warns.
Don’t: Be afraid to repurpose items for budget-friendly decorating. For a recent project, Micheal secured crates to the wall and used it for shelving that holds framed photos and a musician’s guitar.
Don’t: Forget your accent pieces. “Your decorating doesn’t stop once you’ve painted the walls and hung curtains,” says Micheal. Add personalized details such as vases, candles, picture frames, favourite books or framed prints from a favourite artist. “It makes you feel good to be around personalized things.”
And one final do: Make it your own. “Your home is where you are supposed to be able to unwind and feel comfortable,” says Micheal. Personalize your space so it’s somewhere you want to hang out when your decorating work is done.