Decorating a rental can feel like a tedious task. On the one hand, you want to be able to create a space that feels like your own, no matter how long you intend to live there. On the other, you don’t want to get so into personalizing the space that you put your security deposit at risk.

With that in mind, we’ve laid out some temporary decorating ideas to help you along the way. Use these to achieve a homey look that can be taken down as soon as your lease is up.

Use area rugs to bring visual interest to the space. Image: Breadmaker/ Shutterstock

Invest in area rugs

Area rugs are great for livening up any living space, but they’re especially useful when it comes to rental situations. Put simply, they pack a big punch of visual interest but are just as easy to roll up and put away the moment your lease is done.

As far as how to pick out a good rug, in this case, aesthetics come first. If your rental is fairly basic when it comes to decor – we’re talking white walls and neutral flooring – you’re going to want to pick a rug that easily draws the eye.

Your next consideration is size. Unfortunately, rugs come in only a few standard sizes that you’ll need to work around. To help, here are some guidelines for you to keep in mind:

  • If you’re choosing a full room rug, remember to leave room for a border of flooring around all sides. 18 inches is considered the standard border measurement.
  • If your rug will be grounding a seating areameasure the length and width of the seating area in its current layout and buy the next size up.
  • If the rug is meant to highlight a piece of furniture like a dining table, make sure it’s big enough to extend beyond the piece with room on all sides. For a dining table, 24 inches is standard. However, it should be less if you’re working with a smaller piece, like a coffee table.
  • When in doubt, bigger is better. You can always hide excess rug under a piece of furniture, but a too-small rug will stick out like a sore thumb.

Temporary products like removable wallpaper can make a huge difference. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Reconsider removable products

While you may be tempted to write off wall decals and the like as products for children, we’re here to urge you to reconsider. These days, removable wallpaper and similar applications are sleeker than ever before and they come in a range of modern patterns and hues.

With removable products, your biggest concern is the quality of the walls themselves. You want to look for smooth walls, without texture or pockmarks. Smoother walls will reduce your chances of getting air pockets under the product during installation and ending up with a bubbly look.

Layer lighting to complete the look of the space. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Add your own lighting

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: having the proper lighting in place can totally change a room. Oftentimes, in rental scenarios, you start out with the bare minimum, like harsh overhead lighting that’s flattering to no one. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t round out the space and soften it up by adding lighting of your own.

Remember, dealing with lighting is all about creating layers. There are three different types of lighting that you can use to your advantage:

  • Ambient: Also known as general lighting, ambient light fills the majority of the room and allows you to move around safely. It usually comes from recessed lighting, track lighting or wall-mounted fixtures.
  • Accent: Accent lighting is used to highlight a particular focal point, such as a piece of wall art. Picture lights, wall-mounted-fixtures or track lighting are common, and dimmers are often used on these features to provide mood lighting.
  • Task: As the name suggests, task lights are used to assist you in completing a particular function. This could be anything from desk lamps to pendant lights that hang over a kitchen island.

Mounting ambient lighting to the walls may not be possible in a rental. However, a variety of task lights like floor and table lamps will certainly do the job.

et stylized surfaces round out your design. Image: Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Stylize your surfaces

Lastly, keep in mind that decor does not need to be hung on the walls in order to play a role in your home. Stylized surfaces like coffee tables, dining tables and shelving units go a long way towards making your rental feel like it allows your personality to shine through.

Effectively stylizing surfaces is all about creating groupings of accessories. They can match, like the place settings on the dining table in the picture above, or they can simply coordinate, like the items on the shelves.

When selecting items to go in your grouping, you want to ensure that they’re different enough to create visual interest while still having a common thread to tie them together.