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Decorating a Rental

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Many times I am asked if you can decorate a rented home or apartment. The answer is yes. Most renters think decorating is beyond their reach and opt for plain and boring environments. Be aware that you can virtually customize your place whether you are in a long-term rental or in a temporary or seasonal rental. Of course, there will be controlling parameters, primarily the will of your landlord and your creativity.

The first task at hand is to speak with your landlord to find out whether or not they permit or will consider your desire to make the space feel like your own. If you have a lease agreement for more than one year, they are more likely to heed your request to paint the walls or allow other minor renovations. Make sure to put in writing whatever is agreed upon, including who carries the financial responsibility for the renovation, whether the unit can stay modified at the end of the lease, and whether it needs to be reverted back to its original condition.

Refocus your desire to renovate by investing in items that you can take with you. You might as well take this situation as an opportunity to buy some quality pieces of furniture or antiques. Your space will look richer, and you will be set for your next place or for when you have a place that you own. The same applies to bathroom and drapery hardware. These can add a good look, and you can take them with you.

If painting the walls is not an option, hanging art is a great way to make the space feel personalized.

An over-scaled work of art always guarantees impact. Likewise, a grouping of smaller works of art of varying sizes can be arranged to be very personal and quirky. The same can be accomplished with a collection of different mirrors or a collection of similarly framed items.

Fabric and tacks or adhesive banding such as double-sided tape or Velcro can help you transform the walls with the look of a high-end custom upholstered wall. This is easy and has almost zero permanent impact on the structure of your home.

Self-adhesive decals and borders and reusable wallpaper are now available, even in a plastic-mirror finish, which can help transform plain, boring walls. This is an easy way to customize your space.

Adding pillows, drapes, tablecloths and rugs is a great way to add color and personality to your space. If your walls are white or traditional rental "off-white," almost any bold color will pop. The trick is to cluster groupings of color throughout the room. Try to stick to one or two accent colors. This way your items and accessories can be regrouped and reused in your next home.

Area rugs can be helpful when you are dealing with less than desirable flooring. In this instance, the larger the rug the better. Also, a layering of several rugs can give you a very popular bohemian look.

Take pride in your home, no matter the length of your rental agreement. Every day counts in the story of your life.

Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Fla. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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