How To Decorate Without Losing Your Security Deposit

Just because it's nothouse doesn't mean you don't want to make it a home. But apartment rentals have their own set of rules when it comes to what you can and cannot, and should or should not do.
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By Jillian Kramer, Glamour

(Photo: Pasha Antonov/WWD)

Just because it's not your house doesn't mean you don't want to make it a home. But apartment rentals have their own set of rules when it comes to what you can and cannot, and should or should not do. Stick to these five and you'll be able to create a fabulously chic, personalized space without ticking off your landlord -- or losing your security deposit.

Rule 1: Hide -- or replace -- your apartment's flaws. You don't have to live with or in what you don't like. And while you can't take a sledge hammer to that unfortunately placed dividing wall, you can cover up some of your space's least desirable details. Dated built-in mirror above your mantel? Blow up your favorite image and hang a canvas large enough to cover it. Cheap hardware on your kitchen cabinets? Attach knobs and handles purchased from your favorite home stores. Just keep the originals so you can change them back when you move!

Rule 2: Upgrade your mini-blinds. The quickest way you can make your space look luxurious isn't by adding a pricey gallery wall or conversation piece to your coffee table -- though those tactics work, too! It's by swapping standard plastic mini-blinds for faux-wood shades, bamboo roller blinds, or long curtains. Another decorating secret: You can make your apartment look larger by hanging curtains way above your windows -- almost to the ceiling -- rather than inside or just above their frames.

Rule 3: Paint, never wallpaper. Unless it says so in your lease, your landlord most likely won't mind if you change up the wall color -- with care, and with the understanding you'll restore the apartment to its original hues when you leave, of course. Lightening dark, foreboding walls or adding a splash of cool color to a single statement wall can really personalize a space. But what you don't want to do is wallpaper, no matter how gorgeous those palm leave prints may be. We trust your DIY skills, but almost no one in the history of wallpapering has ever removed sticky sheets from old walls without a visible hiccup or two.

Rule 4: Get it in writing. If you're worried any change you plan to make could disturb the peace with your landlord or management company, seek and get his blessing in writing before moving forward. People -- and especially harried landlords -- have short memories. And five years down the road, he may not recall your text asking whether you could install a window seat into your beautiful but bare bay window. With written proof you snagged his approval, you'll be sure to get back all your security deposit when you move out.

Rule 5: Don't spend a lot on things that only work in this space. Splurge on your bed frame, couch, and coffee table, because no matter where you move to next, you'll take these items with you. But if you're thinking of cutting custom shelves to fit a particular wall, consider making a less expensive IKEA Billy bookcase run instead. If it can't come with you when you move, cut costs wherever possible and save that money to decorate your forever home.

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