Home Renovations and Interior Design

Should You Be Decorating And Renovating When You Rent?

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Decorating a living space can make an area of your home a more inviting place to enjoy when you rent for your family and guests.

We’ve all heard the saying, “The rich get richer” and that may be true especially when we give money away when we simply don’t have to.

We may not be literally handing cash in hand but the landlord where you rent will be all smiles when decorating costs are not coming out of his/her pocket.

Sure your landlord could potentially deduct renovations for the rental from his/her taxes but why bother if the renter is paying for them out of their own pocket?

We all decorate our houses from time to time especially when seasons change or just a change of decor inspires us that we’ve seen on social media, media or print.

Rental Decorating For Return On Investment

Decorating and renovating doesn’t have to consist of expensive handmade screen printed wallpaper or exotic hardwood flooring.

Taking a space and decorating it can be as simple as painting and that is probably the best return on investment there is.

Painting will brighten any room in the home instantly and give it that brand new feeling back.

I’ve talked before about decorating your home and which renovations tend to be better than others along with which ones we’ve done to our abode.

There is however some decorating tips that I would give out that involves no decorating what so ever and it includes painting or lack of it.

Decorating A Rental When You Rent

Although painting gives you that instant pop for the cheapest possible price it is possible to get zero return on investment.


By decorating someone else’s house.

Decorating and/or renovating a rented house is throwing money down the drain. It may look great after you’ve finished but who is ultimately going to enjoy your care and attention?

The landlord and they will love you for your efforts and thank you for the extra cash they can earn once you move out.

I used to live next door to a couple of roughly the same age in the UK when I owned my first home.

The difference between the two homes was I owned mine through a mortgage and they rented theirs.

My mortgage was roughly half of what they paid in rent in those days which was bad news for them.

They also got the first home bug and decided to decorate from top to bottom at their expense.

I’ll admit it looked better than mine, but I wasn’t the one losing out.

For everything they paid out and the hard work they put in, the ultimate winner was the landlord.

When the couple left the house it was instantly rented out again for a higher rent, probably because it was beautifully decorated inside.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be indoor decorating either, outside the home can easily use up the same amount of money or more.

Landscaping A Rental Property

I used to know someone back in the UK that lived in a rental property and decided to re-grade the back garden and build a retaining wall believing that they would stay there for a number of years.

They also re-painted, installed new light fittings among other things.

In the end, life happened and things changed and they moved out a lot sooner than they had anticipated.

If you must have a garden full of flowers and bushes where you rent doesn’t go to a garden centre and spend your money.


It’s not like you are going to dig them up and take them when you leave.

Reality is most renters leave at some point or move to another location for various reasons.

Decorating For Free or Cheap On A Budget

Think smart and find free plants and easy ways to save money on gardening by using everyday tips that most people don’t think of.

The cost of materials and the labour were all lost to the landlord who reaped the benefits of the improved garden, or should I say the new tenants.

Pots or hanging baskets would have been a better way to add that certain something to a rental property.

The difference is, they have the added advantage that they can be taken with you when you leave.

Now I know that long-term renters may disagree with me as living for years in a completely bland white wall box of a house can be very dull and uninteresting.

It doesn’t have to be that way if you are creative and a smart decorator with a frugal mindset.

I’ve seen some rentals in my time where the whole house could do with a coat of paint just to hide all the dirt, scrapes and damage that earlier renters have inflicted.

Some people may live in a rent-to-own home and have the opportunity to buy out the property at some point at the end of a rental agreement.

This may make a little more sense if you insist on decorating although some rent-to-own schemes have a little left to be desired.

There was a TV series broadcast on Home and Garden Television (HGTV) that was called “For Rent” where a couple or small family would look at rental options and then the presenter and the production team would redecorate or renovate.

They would ask the landlord for permission in which most were obliging mainly because they were getting a bargain out of the deal.

The one thing that got me thinking was these people were often looking for a rental property on a certain budget because money was tight.

Why would you go and blow more money on decorating or renovating the property at your expense if you’ve got a tight budget?

We know people who have renovated kitchens, bathrooms, added on a deck or finished a basement with their own money just so they could enjoy the space in their rental.

Not a smart investment if you ask me, but that’s just my opinion.

Of course the landlord approved it and made sure permits were in place where needed but likely went home laughing about how much money he saved because they spent theirs.

Decorating Smart Without Extra Costs

There are still ways you can decorate your rental without having to lose out.

Just because it’s not your own doesn’t mean you can’t make it a space you are comfortable in.

Wall hangings and/or paintings can add colour and a focal point to a room.

I’d suggest checking with your landlord before putting holes in the walls.

Rugs can cover over bad carpeted areas.

Curtains tend to be easier to move from one house to another rather than blinds as they tend to be custom fit.

Don’t rush out to buy brand new when you can try to find free decor online or shop garage sales for cheap items.

If you insist on changing out light fittings, make sure you keep the original so you can re-install it when you leave the property.

Why leave your new light fixture for someone else to enjoy and reap the rewards of your hard-earned money?

Sometimes the shiny brand new effect can get the best of us and start to pull you off your path and away from your goals.

Renting To Save Money To Buy A House

We have rented short-term before to save money because bills were included in the rental and this helped us get to where we wanted to go.

In all the time we spent there we didn’t once get the urge to decorate let alone renovate, although it needed it.

Yes, it would have been much nicer to live in a better-looking rental but a tight budget is what we set ourselves.

That was our choice because we knew we weren’t going to stay long-term nor would we spend the money even if we were.

It did, however, get a very thorough cleaning before and during our stay and the day we left.

The end result of doing without enabled us to put down a larger down-payment on our house purchase.

Saving on not decorating a rental apartment helped us by transferring the savings on to decorate and renovate our new house.

Even if you have the mindset that you will never own your own home you need to stop thinking that way or you never will.

Put goals into place and start saving for your down-payment today even if it takes you years of renting before you can get into a house.

If you insist on renovating or decorating a home/apartment you rent accept the fact that your money is as good as gone, no return on investment.

Our house has been decorated to a certain extent and is currently under planning for the next phase.

The end result will be money in our pockets and not the landlords’ bank account.

Discussion questions:

  • Have you renovated somewhere you’ve rented?
  • Why did you make that decision and how much did you spend?
  • What are some other ways you can decorate where you rent for less?

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