Home Decor always starts with some basic design rules that we need to follow in order to achieve the best results. I think most people would agree with me about the backdrop (or background) elements for home design.
- Paint Color(s)
- Window Treatments
These four elements set the base, or backdrop for your decor needs. Before we get into choosing color schemes, textures, patterns, etc… we must address these four elements of design, and this is where the renter is at a disadvantage to a home owner.
Most landlords already supply two or three of these elements. Paint color(s), Flooring, and often it is the landlord that chooses your Window Coverings. Let us first address paint. Most landlords supply the paint color and they take a dim view of renters using any paint color other than that which they have supplied. Most landlords paint their rentals in off-white colors. This may not be your favorite color and many renters would certainly like to choose their own paint colors, but most renters would also like to get their security deposit back when they move out, so most often you are stuck with the choice that has already been made for you. This does not have to be a horrible thing, as off-white will usually work with most any home decor. Some landlords will let you paint in other colors as long as you re-paint it back to off-white before you move out. Perhaps they will allow you to paint one accent wall which can help greatly. Check with your landlord before you decide to change the paint. If they say no, it is not the end of the world. You simply have to pick your design colors from other sources than the paint.
Most landlords also supply the Window Treatments. Most rentals that I see have been supplied with shades or blinds that are neutral colors. Here also, most landlords do not want you to remove or replace what they have supplied. Although, most landlords will not mind if you use curtains or draperies to add to the existing window treatments, so here is an area worth asking about. Always check with your landlord before you start attaching window coverings to their property. Some landlords will not allow you to nail or screw anything into the walls. Most that I know do not mind, as long as you fill the holes in when the window treatments are removed. Now you can use texture, pattern and color for your windows to compliment your home decor style.
The next consideration will be your furnishings. Most renters already have their furniture, or at least some furniture. Many time the furniture you have may be hand-me-downs. If you do not have your furniture yet and you are on a budget, consider shopping at thrift stores or yard sales. You can usually find some great bargains and if the furniture is not the right color or does not have the right texture, you can always use paint or stain to change the color, and slip-covers can be found for sofas, chairs, etc.. and this will still allow you a good amount of latitude for your home decor.
That leaves us with the Flooring. This is often the most aggravating part, because the flooring is almost always supplied by the landlord, and most landlords don’t care how it will tie in with your home decor needs. No matter how ugly the color is, or how old and worn the flooring is, you are pretty much stuck with it. I have had many clients who have tried to get their landlord to change the flooring, and almost always, they will not even consider it. Even when the tenant offers to pay for part of the cost. This can be frustrating, but changing the flooring is not your only solution, so don’t give up just yet. This is where area rugs can be a wonderful option. Area Rugs come in all shapes, sizes, and colors and although I usually suggest that a person find their rug first before choosing other decor items, you can easily work the other way around and choose a style and color that matches your decor. Use an area rug to cover that old dirty carpet or add warmth and color over any type of hard-surface flooring. It is best to invest a little bit more for a good quality rug (many wool fiber rugs can be found for the same price or slightly more than the cheap ones you find at the chain-stores). The great thing about a good quality rug is that you can take it with you when you move, and a wool fiber rug can last a lifetime with proper care. Also, most patterns will never go out of style, if you choose a more classic or traditional pattern.
Just because you don’t own the home you are living in does not mean you have to give up on style and decor. There are a world of possibilities, even for those who rent or lease, to make your apartment a real home. Check out our web site for an area rug to cover an ugly worn out floor, or just to add the right colors to balance your design needs.