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Lounge room made stylish with decor.
Upgrade your rental with these affordable and non-permanent fixes.

Decorating ideas to make your rental feel like home

Make your home your own, even if you’re renting a property. These top 10 tips will help you create a stylish, inspiring and personalised space.

1. Invest in some greenery

Indoor plants can add colour, texture and depth to a room, and offer a real focal point within a space. Even better, they can go with you wherever you make your home. Gary Town of Yates says there are many reasons plants can be a great choice for decorating. “They look effortlessly beautiful and they improve your mood by creating a more relaxing and inviting space,” he says.

Make sure pots are in generous drip trays to prevent potential water damage. If you’re wondering about the best position for your plants, just follow the light, says Gary. “Indoor plants like lots of filtered light. Don’t be scared to move your plants to a new spot if they aren’t thriving where they are,” he says.

2. Install D.I.Y. lighting fixtures

Table or floor lamps can be a workaround for unsightly lighting. Brilliant Lighting’s Debbie Paice says they’re a great way to add ambience. “They also give you the option and flexibility to move them to other areas or rooms,” she says.

Use D.I.Y. pendant and batten-fix lighting to turn a bare ceiling bulb into a decor feature without an electrician, or completely change the look of a room by swapping a globe from cool to warm. Decorative vintage-look globes can add an industrial or retro vibe, while smart globes give you myriad options, from colour to dimming effects. 

3. Showcase your personality with statement furniture

Don’t underestimate the power of furniture to transform a home. Invest in beautiful statement pieces that bring a smile to your face – and that are your very own. If space is at a premium, which it often is in rentals, select dual purpose furniture: a double purpose: a sofa with a fold-out bed for guests, coffee tables and ottomans with storage and entertainment consoles with drawers and cupboards.

4. Cover the floors

Interlocking vinyl planking is simple to install (and later remove) – and can quickly cover tired timber or cracked tile floors. This affordable solution comes in a great range of finishes. Interlocking foam tiles are another inexpensive and quick flooring option, especially for playrooms. Carpets can’t be ripped up and relegated to the bin in rental properties, but rugs can be easily layered over uninviting spaces. 

Bedroom with a bed, side table, chair and rug.

5. Open up the space with mirrors

‘Dark and dingy’ are words too often associated with rentals, but this can be eased with the clever use of mirrors. By enhancing light and giving the illusion of space, mirrors are transformative, affordable and removable. Go big with a statement mirror over a console or mantle, hang a gallery of mirrors as a design feature, or create a new ‘window’ by positioning a mirror to reflect a view.

6. Consider freestanding storage solutions

Many rentals don't come with sufficient built-in storage, which can be challenging. As well as selecting multifunctional furniture, look to storage solutions like freestanding wardrobes and cube units, which are simple to assemble and remove at the end of the tenancy.

Freestanding storage unit with shelves and hanging rails

7. Fill the walls with art

Hanging art makes a space feel more personal. However, you need to be careful not to damage walls with nail and screw holes. For lighter items (like posters and smaller frames), 3M Command strips (Velcro-like strips) or adhesive picture hangers work well. Leaning artworks on mantels, bookshelves and even the floor creates a delightfully bohemian look; secure to the wall with an adhesive hanger for safety. If you are lucky enough to have picture rail moulding, you can hang multiple pieces with picture rail hooks and wire (no nails required).

Armchair and side table against wall with framed artwork.

8. Switch up the kitchen hardware (just remember to hang onto the originals)

Kitchen hardware can be easily replaced, transforming a space with minimal cost and effort, says Monique Parker of Kaboodle Kitchen. The colours and materials used will make a big impact – matte black gives a modern feel, while brushed brass can create a sense of luxury. “If you want the space to have a vintage vibe, handles sourced from second-hand or antique stores will help to add personality and charm,” she says.

Always run it past the landlord first and consider the dimensions of your existing handles to ensure you’re replacing them with ones of the same size. “You don’t want to be drilling additional holes into the kitchen doors,” Monique adds.

Kitchen with checkerboard tiles and portable benchtop.

9. Add luxury with lovely linens

Accessories can go a long way towards lifting the appearance of your home. Swap mismatched quilt covers and ragged towels for beautiful bedlinen and plush cotton towels to bolster the look of a bedroom or bathroom. Throws, cushions and carefully created vignettes can all help elevate an interior.

10. Small but mighty changes to try…

Tiny tweaks can make a big impact. Swap out the mouldy shower curtain for a fresh one. Replace the toilet seat. Brighten up an unsightly laminate bench with marble film. Purchase a moveable kitchen island to add workspace, and a sturdy shelving unit for extra space for crockery and pantry supplies.

Keep in mind…

  • Always ask your landlord or rental provider before making changes to a rental property. Most minor changes are allowed if they can be easily reversed and are not damaging or unsafe. Visit tenancy.govt.nz for more information.
  • For safety, standing storage should be anchored to a wall. If you are allowed to attach furniture to walls, choose fixings suitable for your walls (seek professional advice if unsure about the type of hardware). Before drilling, use a stud finder to check for wiring or pipework, and turn off the power before working. If unsure, call a professional. 
  • Check fixings regularly to make sure they are secure. 
  • Take care when selecting indoor plants as some can be poisonous to children and pets. 

Looking for more tips like these?


Check out our essential guide to updating your rental without losing your bond.

Some products are not available at all stores, but may be ordered


Photo Credit: Anna Robinson, Sue Stubbs, Cath Muscat and James Moffatt

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.