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Go bold in your rental (and still get your security deposit back)

Renters have traditionally been limited in how boldly they can decorate their homes. But new products are making their decorating dreams more doable.
couple jumping on the bed
Renters can perk up boring walls with removable wallpaper in a variety of colors and styles. RubberBall Productions / Getty Images

Noelle Daumeyer and her roommates knew they needed a big, bold art piece to decorate the bland, white walls in the living room of their rented apartment, but they also worried about damaging the paint.

They solved the problem by painting their own version of Henri Matisse’s "Dance” and using hooks with removable adhesive to hang the canvas.

“We wanted to give the space more personality,” said Daumeyer, of Columbus, Ohio. “All of our friends comment on the painting. It really brightens up the room.”

Hygge & West's Storyline removable wallpaper in blue.
Hygge & West's Storyline removable wallpaper in blue.Courtesy of Hygge & West via AP

Many renters who are hoping to get back their security deposits can still pursue ambitious decorating ideas thanks to a growing number of landlord-friendly products. In addition to removable hooks, temporary decorating updates include removable wallpaper, tile decals and easy-to-install light fixtures.

“There is definitely a growing interest in designing rented spaces,” said Lee Mayer, CEO and co-founder of Havenly, an online interior design service. “People have more access than ever to inspiring homes and creative interiors, which has stimulated the desire to improve and optimize our own spaces.”

Like Daumeyer, Mayer is a proponent of art and, when necessary, adhesive hooks.

“Nothing makes a space feel more 'you’ than artwork. It’s a highly personal item in the first place — it cues to your style, your interests and your unique sensibilities,” Mayer said. “You can dramatically makeover a blank wall with a large statement canvas, create a gallery wall of your photos, or even curate an eclectic collection of pieces picked up on travels and over time.”

For the more adventurous renter, she recommends removable wallpaper. “It sounds complicated, but I promise, it’s very doable and goes a long way to completely transform and tailor a space to your tastes,” Mayer said.

The product is aimed at renters and homeowners who like changing up their décor, said Christiana Coop, co-founder of Hygge & West, which sells traditional and removable wallpaper.

“So many people want wallpaper to be a part of their design. It’s any easy way to add pattern and color to a room,” she said. “People aren’t afraid of it anymore.”

Renters also can perk up boring tile with waterproof decals in an array of colors and patterns, said Roxie Mae Lackman, creative director and founder of The decals allow people to create a dramatic backsplash in their kitchen or give a facelift to outdated bathroom tile, she said. “People like a space that reflects their personality,” she said.

These StickPretty tile decals can transform any tiled space into an artful eyeful of color and pattern.
Courtesy of StickPretty via AP

Her company also sells removable window film, which can add pattern and create wow factor, she said. It’s also a way for renters to get more privacy without installing curtain rods or blinds.

“It’s definitely an easy-on, easy-off quick fix,” she said.

Lighting that doesn’t require new wiring is another way “to immediately add ambiance to a space without risking your security deposit,” Mayer said.

Use plug-in wall sconces, like this Patti Sconce by Mitzi, to flank a bed or accent a living room scene.
Use plug-in wall sconces, like this Patti Sconce by Mitzi, to flank a bed or accent a living room scene.Janet Kwan/Wendy Lau/Mitzi via AP

Use plug-in wall sconces to flank a bed or accent a living room scene, she suggested. The lights — which must be mounted on the wall but don’t require help from an electrician — can customize a space, added Ben Marshall, creative director at Hudson Valley Lighting Group.

This Hygge & West Otomi shower curtain brings to color to the bathroom.
This Hygge & West Otomi shower curtain brings to color to the bathroom.Courtesy of Hygge & West via AP

“Renters, just like homeowners, are looking for impactful upgrades that can be easily swapped and changed as new trends emerge,” he said.

Traditional ways to upgrade a space in a “non-invasive” way include using table lamps, floor lamps and task lighting as decor elements that evoke style and visual interest. Other very temporary improvements include shower curtains, draperies, rugs and bedding.

"It’s way to bring color and pattern to your space,” Coop said.

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