There are lots of ways to re-decorate, even when you have a limited budget. But what if, in addition to budget issues, you also have a really strict landlord? How do you add some luxury to your rental when your landlord blanches at the idea of your painting or hanging curtains instead of using the vertical blinds he provided?
Here are some tips to help create a luxurious living space even when your rental agreement is trying to work against you.
Choose the Right Furniture
Even if you’re forced to live with white washed walls and generic beige wall-to-wall carpeting, you can make your apartment feel luxurious with some beautiful furniture pieces. There’s no reason to break the bank here. Thrift shops, second hand shops and even Craigslist are great resources for beautiful furniture on a budget–especially when you know how to reupholster and repair used pieces.
The keys to real luxury when you’re shopping for furniture are comfort and clean lines. A super squashy couch is fine, but try to find one that has some definition–lines in darker colors or different materials along the arms and across the front, real feet (luxury furniture rarely sits directly on the floor), edged cushions, etc. You should have a solid headboard for your bed. To save space, look for furniture that has built in storage.
Thumbtacks are the antithesis of luxury. It’s fine to have posters, but make sure that they are in matted frames and that those frames are made from solid materials and not plastic from the clearance bin at IKEA (though if you know how to properly paint those frames to look more solid and decorative, go for it!) For that matter: anything you put up on a wall should be in some sort of frame. While you’re at it, adding art lights for paintings above your prints, photos and framed posters adds a beautiful and subtle touch of luxury as well (plus, you can use those lights for mood and accent lighting).
Don’t limit your decorating to the walls. Decorative pieces like pottery or other types of sculpture can add a lovely luxurious touch to your home. The key to decorating well is to make sure that everything fits into a single color and theme scheme. Don’t mix a southwestern desert motif with Victorian stylings.
Don’t clutter up your floors with furniture, toys or other space eaters. The more floor space you have, the bigger and more beautiful your space will feel. Obviously you will want to make sure that those floors are kept as close to spotless as possible. This might be tricky, depending on your rental agreement. Some landlords don’t want you to clean your own carpets, for example. Make sure that however you’re cleaning and polishing your floors that you aren’t violating your lease.
A note about wall-to-wall carpeting: if it’s clean, in good shape and in a neutral tone, great! Leave it! Sure it’s not as high end looking or feeling as real wood flooring but the even tone and feel is easy to work with. If it is older, uneven or a terrible color, don’t be afraid to put area rugs down over it. It’s not as good as putting in your own floors but it also won’t make your landlord mad or wreck your chances of getting your deposit back.
This is almost entirely up to your personal preference. The reason we’re bringing it up is to remind you that lamps almost always work better to create flattering and beautiful lighting effects than whatever overhead lighting your apartment might already have. Simple lamps from target or other home stores can easily be painted or decorated to match whatever your current decorating scheme might be. And remember: soft light is more flattering than white light.
Remember: creating luxury is just as much about what you put in the space as it is about the bones of the space itself. These tips are landlord and budget friendly. Have fun!