6 ways to decorate your rented home (without losing your deposit)

Discover easy and affordable ways to decorate your rented home and update your space in time for autumn

decorate your rented home: grey bedroom with white bedding
(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

Looking for tips on how to decorate your rented home? Or want your rented house to feel more like a home? With lots of experience renting, ourselves, we know just how challenging it can be to put your stamp on a rented space. Particularly when you’re at the mercy of a landlords (often slightly questionable) taste in interiors.

But, we think everyone has the right to create a space that suits their taste and lifestyle, whether renter or homeowner, so we’ve pulled together our top tips for designing a rented home to make the process less daunting. Our ideas are easy, affordable and can be completed during a weekend, which is perfect for those looking to breathe new life into a tired looking space as the seasons change.

When you’re done browsing out ideas for a rental home, head over to our renting hub page for more ideas and inspiration. You may find some of the following articles handy reads, too:

1. Change up your soft furnishings

Adding texture and colour to your space is one of the easiest ways to establish an interior scheme when decorating your rented home. And soft furnishings are one of the most effective – and affordable – ways of achieving this. 

Opt for something relatively neutral – we love this Anthropologie Doreen Cheetah Velvet Cushion – if you’re looking to create a boho inspired scheme. Or, take the opportunity to inject colour and vibrance to your scheme. Mustard is particularly popular for autumn and this John Lewis & Partners Rib Knit Cushion is one of our favourite finds.

And remember, soft furnishings can mean anything from throws and cushions to rugs and curtains, depending on your preference. Find more inspiration for your scheme in the following design guides:

Many renters assume that the coveted gallery wall is off limits to them - we can all imagine the wrath of a landlord who discovers you’ve hammered countless nails into the wall, but that simply doesn’t have to be the case. Command Strips make it easier than ever to hang artwork in your home and can be removed with ease when your tenancy comes to and end.

Need some inspiration for getting your gallery wall started? We love this gorgeous Pomegranate Unframed Print & Mount, by Ana Zaja Petrak, which is available at John Lewis & Partners. Apparently pomegranates are thought to symbolise immortality of the soul, which is certainly something we can get on board with.

Decorating a rented home: pomegranate print

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

3. Make mismatching furniture feel a little more cohesive

If you’ve opted for a furnished flat, chances are you’ve inherited some gorgeous mismatching furniture. But, making things look a little more cohesive might be easier than you imagined.

With your landlords approval, we’d recommend picking up some furniture paint – most likely in white – to update your mismatching pieces and make them (at least) the same shade.

You’ll find tips on how to paint furniture in our specialist guide. Plus, you’ll find plenty of inspiration for a weekend project with our Ikea hacks. Because, let’s face it, your rental furniture is most likely from Ikea...

4. Use lighting to create atmosphere in your home

A few fairy lights can go a long way, particularly in a rented property, effectively distorting that (slightly off white) colour scheme that's infamous amongst renters, while also creating a calming atmosphere in your home.

After all, nothing says cosier autumn evening quite like a night in on the sofa and good lighting is (most definitely) the key to success. We spotted these little home at John Lewis Flower Line Lights, which would look perfect wrapped around a bed frame.

5. Think about using scent to make your house feel like a home

Much like lighting, incorporating scent into your home can be one of the easiest ways to create the atmosphere you desire. And while adding a few candles, or a reed diffuser, isn’t technically decorating, we thought it was too effective, a tip to miss out.

Jo Malone's Pomegranate Noir is a classic scent for autumn. But if it's not for you, browse our pick of the best reed diffusers.

6. Never underestimate the power of a mirror

Despite being one of the best known interiors tricks out there, many people still underestimate the power of mirrors to make a small space (hello, tiny London flat) feel larger and lighter.

Round mirrors – like this John Lewis & Partners Ronda Round Hanging Mirror– are a popular option at the moment, adding a bit of industrial edge to a space while also ensuring it benefits from space enhancing qualities. 

decorating a rented home: brass mirrors above bed

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

This is part of our urban living series, supported by John Lewis & Partners

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Emily Shaw

Emily first (temporarily) joined the Real Homes team while interning on her summer break from university. After graduating, she worked on several publications before joining Real Homes as Staff Writer full time in mid-2018. She left the brand in 2020 to pursue another career, but still loves a second-hand bargain and sourcing unique finds to make her rented flat reflect her personality.