Before I moved into my first apartment, I spent hours daydreaming about the fabulous decorations that would help me achieve the independent woman lifestyle I was craving.  I poured over magazines and Ikea catalogs, making idea boards and hand-drawn design layouts with my soon-to-be-roommates.  I thought I would finally be free of the limitations of dorm room decorating guidelines and space restrictions and could do whatever I wanted to make my new apartment look perfect!

That was until I signed the lease:  No Painting. No Nails.  NO HOLES IN THE WALL WHATSOEVER.

I was shocked.

And crushed.

What about the hot pink accent wall, the custom shelves, homemade curtains and framed photos I wanted to install?  The reality of rent vs. own sunk in fast when I realized that I wouldn’t have the decorating freedom I had pictured.

I imagine I am not alone in this experience, as many renters face similar limitations in their leases preventing them from adding a personal touch of style to their living space.  But thankfully, hardware stores and creative DIY minds have come together to help renters find damage-free decorating solutions to common décor obstacles.

No nails? No problem.    

Command Hooks

Command has developed options for damage-free hanging with hooks that attached to walls via adhesive strips.  Command hooks can easily be removed when you move or decide to redecorate.  Command even makes an adhesive-backed photo ledge that can be used in a variety of ways.

Wall Decals

Vinyl decals are removable adhesive images that can be stuck to walls and removed without causing any harm to your property.  Wall decals come in a variety of designs from silhouettes,  quotes, trees and much more.   Some online companies offer customized wall decals for personal photos or phrases.

wall decalWashi Tape

Washi Tape is a “masking-tape like” adhesive tape that comes in a variety of fun colors and patterns.  Its used for sprucing up everything from notebooks, furniture, and walls.  Washi tape is inexpensive and available at most craft stores or online.  Most importantly Washi tape is damage free and is easily removable.


While installing shelves for decoration or storage might not be an option for rental properties, there are many alternative solutions for stand-alone shelving units that can add charm and utility to your home.  Thrift stores, garage sales, and even IKEA are great places to find affordable shelves or bookcases.

bookcase with greenery


Wrapping Paper

If painting is not allowed and using tape to cover an entire wall seems time-consuming, how about trying wrapping paper? While it may not be the first thing you think of when thinking of damage-free decorating options, these bigger sheets of beautifully patterned wrapping paper are perfect temporary solutions to apartment decorating.  Accent one wall or even a door to add a burst of color or excitement to a room.  Wrapping paper is more temporary than wallpaper and can easily be adhered to a wall with wall-safe tape.

Poster Putty

Poster putty lets users adhere paper products to walls without leaving any residue or holes behind making it ideal for damage-free decorating. It is perfect for hanging photographs or posters and even temporary party decorations. Poster putty can be found online and at most office supply and craft stores.

For other decorating ideas that might require a nail or screw here and there, always check with your landlord or property manager first.  Some apartment communities have iron-clad leases and will not budge but some smaller property management companies or private landlords might be willing to let you install a curtain rod or light fixture to add value to the house.  Just make sure to get permission in writing before putting any holes in the wall if it is not allowed in your lease.


Do you have any rental property decorating tips that don’t violate most lease requirements?  We’d love to hear about them in the comments.  

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