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Bare Walls? Decorate Your Rental With These 6 Landlord-Approved Hacks

If you’re renting your space rather than owning it, the lack of control over what you can and can’t do when it comes to decorating can occasionally prove frustrating.

No major renovations, no serious permanent changes… For the average renter, it’s a difficult predicament. The answer is to seek out landlord-approved decorating hacks that will change the look and feel of your space without breaking your legal responsibilities as a tenant. In short, you need to look for non-permanent or minor renovations.

One of the best areas to make these sorts of small changes is on the walls. There are plenty of ways you can update bare walls that come with a stamp of approval from even the trickiest landlord. Here are a few of our favourites.


Bothered by excesses of blank space, courtesy of your bare walls? It’s time to invest in some bookshelves. This is the definition of a non-permanent change: all you’re doing is adding a piece of furniture that, when you leave your rental, you can take with you.

If you have a big expanse of bare walls and it’s within your budget, why not buy a few matching bookshelves that you can place side by side along the wall. Fill the bookshelves with all your beloved titles, magazines and knick-knacks, and you’ll see an instant change in how your room feels. If you’re wanting to keep things light and airy, why not try a ladder bookshelf. This backless style means that the bare wall behind is exposed, ensuring that even though you’re adding a piece (or a few pieces) of furniture to a room, it will never feel overwrought or excessive because the wall behind will shine through.


Sticker decals, which can be placed on the wall and removed easily, without damaging the paint, used to conjure up images of daggy childhood bedrooms and preschools. But in recent years they’ve had a bit of a resurgence, courtesy of small producers on websites like Etsy – where else? – making the kinds of sticker decals we’ve always dreamt of. Ever wanted to make a terrazzo feature wall? You can, with a sticker decal from Etsy that applies easily to a wall and can just as simply be removed when you’re ready to leave.

Photo walls

Similar to decals, photos that are stuck to the wall using low-adhesive, non-abrasive tape like the Japanese masking tape Washi Tape, or blue tack, make for a fantastic, minimal impact wall decoration. Gather together all your favourite photos or print them out, if you need to, and then either tack them directly to the wall or to a board, which can be hung onto a picture rail or a hook. Every time you look at your photo wall, you’ll be reminded of some of your fondest memories. Saves you from gazing emptily at a blank space, doesn’t it?


Again, if you have picture rails of existing hooks, it’s time to get your beloved art pieces onto the wall. The best thing about art is that it is easily changed, meaning that if you want to swap out a painting for a different one, or if you’re ready for a seachange, you can do so with just a minute’s worth of re-hanging.

If you don’t have picture rails or hooks, never fear. According to rental guidelines, minor changes such as hooks for hanging paintings are usually acceptable, as long as you get permission from your landlord first. Reach out and tell them that you’re hoping to hang some artwork and need to get some hooks installed. The chances are that they’ll say yes, because when you leave the next tenant is sure to want to decorate that blank wall space, too.

Coat hooks

Similarly to the art question, hanging some coat hooks is possible as long as you get permission first. If you’re planning on purchasing the coat hooks yourself and having them installed by a professional in a reasonable location – say, on a wall near the front door – there’s a very good chance that your landlord will say yes. Just remember to always ask for permission. It is their property, after all.

A very big plant

Whenever we’re stuck for decorating tips, we always end up thinking about house plants. All roads really do lead to house plants, as far as we’re concerned. If you have a bare wall that you’re looking to decorate, why not invest in a towering number that will really draw the eye and take up space?

Some fiddle leaf figs can grow to enormous heights, their leaves curling out to cover blank wall space. Or what about a big olive tree, with its sage green leaves and its simple, easy to care for nature? Whatever large plant you choose, it will bring light and energy into your living space and liven up even the blankest of bare walls.

Enjoyed this? Here's how to update your rental bathroom.

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