Customise Your Apartment Without Pissing Off Your Landlord

One of the main disadvantages of renting an apartment is the number of restrictions put upon you. Many landlords don't want you to paint or change much of anything, even if you promise to return it to its former glory when you move out. That doesn't mean there aren't plenty of ways to make the place your own. If you want to customise your apartment without pissing off your landlord, here are a few great ways to do it.Photo by Samuel M. Livingston

Use Your Photos Creatively

The easiest thing to do to make a wall more interesting is put up some framed photos, but you can have more fun with it and put them up in different ways. The most cost-effective method is to make a photo collage where you just adhere the photos to the wall with wall-safe adhesive or tape (because you don't want the adhesive or tape to rip off the paint on the wall). Obviously this can get boring pretty fast, so figure out how you want to use the photos. One great way is to use a bunch of 4x6 or 5x7 photos to make a grid on the wall. You can organise rows by people. Another option that looks particularly good is to sort photos by their colour, so each row represents a different hue. Regardless of how you decide to do it, having some sort of organisation method can make a big difference.

If you don't want your photos flying solo on the wall, you can find other ways to display them. I like to use cork bulletin boards and pin the photos to the wall. Alternatively, you could make your own cork board picture frames. Clipboards are another fun alternative. Another thing I like to do is put up a faux clothes line and hang 8.5x11 prints from it. There are plenty of ways to organise your photos creatively so you don't have to resort to picture frames on every wall.

You don't have to stick with photos, either. You can create interesting arrangements of text and print those out for display on your wall. You can also hang other items. If you're ever thinking of throwing something out and are in need of a decoration, consider it as a possibility. Obviously this isn't going to work in a lot of cases, but old graphic t-shirts and product boxes (think '80s board games) can make for some interesting, unique decorations that let you keep your nostalgia near by.

Get Some Vinyl Wall Stickers

If you can't wallpaper your wall or paint it, vinyl wall stickers are a great alternative. They're almost always residue-free when you remove them, and they're thin so they almost look like they're painted on to the wall. Personally, I find them much easier to apply than wallpaper and there are plenty of great designs. Even t-shirt shop Threadless has teamed up with wall sticker creator Blik to make some unique designs. There are quite a few places to purchase vinyl wall stickers, but WallStickerShop.com has a big selection and they were very helpful when I needed a special shipping option.

Lean on Leaning and Standing Shelves

Your landlord may not like you drilling into the walls to hang shelves, so just get some leaning or standing shelves instead. For example, Crate & Barrel sells this leaning bookshelf which is very nice and not terribly expensive. If you want to go cheaper, IKEA has plenty of options.

Make or Purchase Custom Items

If you really want to make your apartment unique, either make some custom items yourself or find someone else to do it for you. For example, the acrylic raindrops pictured here were ordered via Etsy Alchemy, Etsy's marketplace for getting custom stuff. Well, it was the place to go for custom stuff until Etsy decided to shut it down. They're bringing it back someday, after they upgrade it (and I'm not sure why shutting down what is, in my opinion, the best part of Etsy is necessary for an upgrade), but that doesn't help you right now. So what do you do if you want a custom item? If you want to go through Etsy, there are a couple of options. First, you can find a seller who makes things similar to what you want and contact them with a custom request. Often times they'll agree and create a listing specifically for you that you can buy like any other item on Etsy. There is also a Custom Order Corner forum on Etsy that's taking the place of Alchemy during the upgrade. If you'd like to avoid Etsy, posting on Craigslist is one way to find people.

Wallpaper Your Door

Wallpapers can often leave an unwanted residue (although, is there really any other kind of residue?) and aren't a great option for apartment walls, but if you're putting wallpaper on a door you can get by with covering only a small area and adhering it with the same wall-safe tape or adhesive previously mentioned. This is a nice way to make your door a little more interesting if you find that it looks kind of boring.

Use Your Clutter

We talk a lot about hiding your cables, but sometimes that's either not possible or just not the best option. As you can see in the photo, cables can be used to make some interesting wall designs. If you're running cables all over the place — and especially if they're running against a wall anyway — you don't have to hide them in the wall or underneath a cable rider. If you're a little creative with their placement, you can actually make them look interesting. I have cables running up the wall to my projector and they serve as the body of the tree on my wall (pictured in the vinyl stickers section).

Got any great ideas for customising your apartment without pissing off your landlord? Let's hear 'em in the comments.


Comments

    You should clarify what country you're talking about. In many countries, you can alter rental apartments in many ways as long as you return the apartment back to the original state it was in when you rented before you vacate. This allows painting of walls, and in some cases changing the entire kitchen benches to be custom.

      I'm assuming they are talking about Australia, as I am on the .com.au site....

    I can't do most of these as my rental agreement specifically states we are not allowed to stick ANYTHING on the walls (including "3M command" hooks), so that gets rid of bookshelves, vinyl stickers, wallpaper, hanging stuff you buy from Etsy.

    How about some real advice please?

      Here's some 'real' advise,

      Move out.

        Exactly.
        But, there'll always be knobs on the internet. Maybe M&D will let him move-back, so we don't read any more of his obnoxious comments.

          I really don't think his comments are the obnoxious ones here, guys.

          Yeah what the hell guys? You are being tools, not the original commenter.

            None of the places I have rented have banned 3M hooks. I think he's being a tool for asking for 'real advice' just because his rental agreement is shit doesn't make the tips any less valid.

      Hi, most places will allow you to put 3M command hooks or temporary attachments as long as you are able to remove them and return the place back to it's "original state". Some may insist that you pay if any service is required to remove things or to repair any damage they might cause.

      However, if you have a particularly tricky or picky agreement and land lord, you can get a sheet of wood from the hardware shop (paint it whatever color you want, decorate it how ever you want) and prop it against the wall with a piece of furniture pushed up against it to hold it securely in place and stick what ever you want to it. You can then take it with you when you move out. Just make sure to measure the space AND THE DOORS, to make sure you can get it in and out of the place. If you are not hanging or sticking anything particularly heavy you can use foam board or card board even. Just leaned up against the wall not stuck there in any way.

      You can also use the flat surfaces of your own shelves or furniture to adhere hooks and stickers to. You can even get free standing room dividers.

      You can also lean a ladder or clothes rack against the wall and hang things on that. So you don't have to put anything directly on the wall, IF that is what your lease agreement says.

      Also from Daiso, there are these curtain rods that you wedge against the walls and you can hang things off those too.

      But lease agreements can vary a fair bit, check your own one ask your landlord, make sure you get stuff in writing.

      A funny story is, a friend of mine had a similar agreement about not sticking any "temporary" things anywhere... BUT... there was nothing about nailing stuff permanently to the walls so a week later her walls had tons of nails sticking out of them and the land lord couldn't do anything about it, because it wasn't in the agreement. Eventually he agreed to temporary fixtures if she paid to have all the nails removed and the holes filled and plastered over.

    This sort of thing really depends on the Landlord. If the Landlord says no then you cannot do anything. Just remember that it never hurts to ask the Landlord if you are allowed (my advise is to ask first either way).

    How would they even know you put command hooks on the walls? If they are applied and removed properly, you wouldn't even know they'd been used.

      Something to do with quarterly apartment inspections from the real estate agent. When I rented I wasn't even allowed to use blu tack.

      At work we have a hired demountable building and have drilled so many holes into it you wouldn't know what was holding it up.

      Landlords or their reps do a property inspection every 6 to 12 weeks. It gets old pretty fast removing the temporary fixtures and putting them up again.

      My alternative?

      Freestanding dividers. Connect two pieces of MDF with hinges or brackets. Put them in the corner and decorate those.

      Alternately, get the landlords permission to add hooks. You will usually be asked to remove them and patch the walls when leaving. Most landlords repaint between tennants so they don't mind as long as it's patched up.

    Vinyl wall decals are great especially the ones that are repositional where they peel and stick. So you can take them with you when you move.

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