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How To Decorate An Apartment With An Inflexible Landlord

For the first two years of our marriage, my spouse and I lived in rather shabby apartments–one right after the other. As you probably have already learned, most landlords do not allow any kind of renovation or interior redesign. Some do not even allow you to put ANY holes in the walls. Yikes!

So how exactly do you go about implementing a classy design scheme without painting, re-carpeting, or even changing up handles and knobs? Well, it doesn’t have to be as tricky as it sounds.

The first step is to find out precisely what you are and are not allowed to do. These rules should be spelled out directly in your copy of the lease (if you signed one), but if not, try to arrange a meeting with your landlord or landlady and get more information.

Sometimes they will make exceptions if what you plan to do will be for the long-term betterment of the apartment, but avoid going against what they tell you, as this can cause complications for you when you prepare to move out.

Next, you will want to bring in plenty of light. Many apartments have few windows, but try to keep blinds open during the day and make sure you have energy-efficient bright bulbs in your lamps, overhead lighting, and ceiling fan fixtures.

This will create the effect of having more space than is actually there. Hanging mirrors behind lamps can also create a more dramatic effect if you only have limited funds to spend on decor and need to maximize the lamplight you already have.

Strings of LED lights can definitely be used to your advantage. You can hang them above the vanity in the bathroom, on the shelves of your bookcase, and even in the entryway if you have one. These are inexpensive to buy and inexpensive to power, so it’s a win-win for you!
Choose wall-hangings that are stylish and can be hung up without nails. French tapestries are a wonderful way to do this. They can also be used to block off an area to use as a private space if you live in a studio apartment. Plus, they are elegant and striking–and who doesn’t want to give that impression?

Hanging up quilts or wall decals can have the same effect and create a very “country home,” feel, so if that is the style you’re going for, you shouldn’t hesitate. These can sometimes be hung up with push-pins or even adhesive tack so you won’t do any damage to your walls.

Decorating a small apartment can truly be a challenge. But it is certainly not impossible. Hopefully, with some of this advice, you can turn your tiny apartment into home sweet home in no time.

FrenchTapestries.Com, LLC ( has been importing tapestries, wall decor, and art objects from France and Europe. Art Gib is a freelance writer.