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One of the most exciting thing about moving in to a new apartment is the creative process of transforming it in to a real home that is suited to your personal tastes. But how do you personalize your rental without breaking the rules, upsetting your landlord and losing your security deposit — all in one swell swoop? Typical Hong Kong homes are typically more compact, giving renters even more of a headache when it comes to finding creative ways to personalize their rentals. There’s only so much you can do with limited space. At the same time, you don’t want to feel like you are stuck in a cookie-cutter home that everybody else in the city is living in.
Scrolling through Pinterest and design blogs, it’s easy to get carried away by the hype of some miraculous home makeovers. Here’s the thing with rentals, as great as they are in terms of taking away the stress of actual homeownership, the reality is that you don’t own the apartment (even during your lease term). Rentals have their virtues, there’s no denying that. When you rent an apartment, you don’t have to deal with problematic issues like maintenance and upkeep. Rentals come with significantly less hassle than if you were to own a home yourself. The problem that many people face with rentals is that they do not have free reigns to decorate, renovate and tuneup to their heart’s content. Lease contracts typically state what kind of alteration are allowed and prohibited, and most of the time, there are strict limitations to the features that you can change in a rental home. A sparsely decorated temporary living space can often feel a bit…sterile, and soulless if you will. It lacks character. It’s missing personality, your personality to be exact. How can you truly feel like you are at home if you have to make do with standardized hardware, design and aesthetics? What about those plain white apartment walls that are a common theme in nearly every rental around the globe? It is mind-numbingly B-O-R-I-N-G! We hear you. Decorating a rental home can often seem like a minefield of decisions too, You are forced to weigh out the financial risk versus the aesthetic payoff at every turn. Furthermore, how much time and money should you really be investing in to a home that you don’t even own? Which areas should you focus on and which features should you learn to just live with? There are so many questions and unknown answers that it can make your head spin.
Some landlords are extremely particular about what you’re allowed to alter, while others don’t mind too much. While it’s understandable that a rental is someone else’s investment and they have absolutely legitimate reasons for keeping it as middle-ground as possible to cater to the average prospective tenant, it can be rather depressing to come home to a bland, soulless apartment when you’re renting in Hong Kong. You also don’t want to feel like you are coming back to a hotel room or a temporary crash pad every night, do you? A rental may not be yours, but it’s still a place for you to call home during the period that you are renting it.
There are actually a lot of ways to transform your rental and give it a little upgrade without forfeiting your security deposit and leaving your landlord upset with you. Use these low-risk tactics of ours to add a little decor tuneup to your rental without hurting your security deposit or risk getting evicted by your landlord. Injecting a little personality and charm in to your rental can be done, as long as you play your cards right. Since space is not a luxury in Hong Kong, we have to get really creative in learning how to transform and redesign living spaces that are not only functional but trendy.
Read on to learn some of our best apartment-decorating ideas that come with minimal risks.
Disclaimer: The risk level of the following tune-ups are in direct correlation to how strict your landlord’s rental policies are. While some may be more lenient, others will enforce their policies to the tee. We have ranked the following decorating ideas from the lowest risk to gradually higher risk to give you an idea of the degree to which you may be able to alter your own rental.
The floor covers one of the biggest, if not generally the biggest surface in a home, floors are typically very plain. By injecting some color in to your rental home with area rugs can have a huge impact on the overall ambience. You can even layer area rugs, by combing rugs of various sizes, colors, patterns, and textures. Liken yourself to an artist, and your floor is your blank canvas. There are limitless possibilities and a great way to express your personal style.
Not only will adding rugs pieces inject life in to your home, rugs can also help protect the floors from damage — a plus plus in the rental department since it will further save you from losing your security deposit. It’s a win-win. You get to make your home feel like yours with an easy, modular statement piece and protect your landlord’s floors at the same time. The floor of rental homes suffer the most wear-and-tear because people are constantly walking on them. The surface area is very prone to damage and one of the top reasons for tenants getting their security deposit docked. Accidents can happen, and they do more often than we would like to believe. Even moving furniture in and out of the apartment, you risk scratching the floors if they are not protected. Living in Hong Kong, Asian cultures tend to have less problems with shoes leaving damages on rental floors since we make it a habit to leave our shoes outside. Some tenants are used to wearing shoes in and around the house, which will result in damaged floors as time goes on.
What kind of rug should you choose? Well, it really depends on the look you are going for. If you are new at this, we would suggest that you go with a large carpet that can cover the majority of your floor and then add smaller sized area rugs in the surrounding living spaces. You know what the great thing about this decoration tip is? It’s not permanent! You can move the rugs as much as you want, however you want at no further stress to you, your landlord, or the wellbeing of the rental home. If you decided that you want to change up the look of your home, all you have to do is roll up the old rug and replace it with the new one of your choice. Easy, simple, efficient. Rugs can be taken the dry-cleaner to be cleaned easily, so you don’t have to worry about having professionals come up to steam-clean your traditional type of carpets. There are limitless options for rugs out there, in all different colors, sizes, textures, pattern, and price point. There is literally something for everyone. If you want to jazz up your home with the snap of a finger, this is the closest decorative option available to you and what a great option it is!
Looking for a unique way to jazz up those boring plain walls? Designing a wall gallery is the perfect yet simple way to effectively bring some instant life in to a living space without causing much permanent damage. A wall gallery requires no alteration on the hardware of your rental home. Nail holes can easily be filled in and patched up before you end your lease, but another easy option is to use stick-on picture hooks that leave you with damage-free walls. Depending on the weight of your hangings, you can play around with the different options. You can display nearly anything on a wall gallery — personal photos, an art collection, base-relief wall art, magazine clippings, hang framed mirrors — there are many options for wall decor that you can find locally and online. The beauty about designing a wall gallery is that it can give almost anything visual impact instantly.
When putting together a wall gallery, your options are open-ended. Anywhere with a wall surface area can serve as your blank canvas to work on. It doesn’t matter if you live in a typical Hong Kong apartment that leans towards the smaller size or a spacious house, a gallery wall works as a great design element for whatever type of space you live in. Whether it’s a big, small, or somewhere in between living space, creating a gallery with your favorite photographs and art pieces can instantly elevate the style of any space. Don’t rush the process though, because it’s not a project you can really knock out in a day. It takes time, preparation, and patience to find the right wall(s), the right art pieces, and the right composition to make everything come together. With the right combination of the above, your very own gallery will ultimately bring your rental home to life and resonate with your own personal style.
Want to go one step further to banish those dreadful bare walls and personalize it to your liking? Look no further than removable wallpaper and removable wall decals. The thought of applying wallpaper to smooth and cleans walls used to be a huge undertaking. After all, the wallpaper of the dated kind was quite permanent. Now, we have the option of buying removable wallpaper on the market, and they are the perfect accessory for a rental. The wallpaper of yesteryear were not only permanent but the available choices were usually rather hideous. Now, there’s temporary wallpaper that offer self-adhesive paper in fun and modern patterns. Installation of temporary wallpaper does not take a hefty amount of time to put up and you can play around with accenting different walls to begin with if you aren’t ready to go full on splashed on.
Have you heard of wall decals? Wall decals are basically removable adhesive stickers that you can purchase to upgrade the decor in your home rental. Thankfully, each year more and more products emerge that are removable and won’t jeopardize your security deposit when you move out. So now, you can fix up your space temporarily and not sacrifice on style. There are thousands upon thousands of choices when it comes to wall decals. You can find an assortment of creative designs on the market. These temporary wall adhesives offer a form of decoration that is completely changeable without any hassle. These decals can be taken down without leaving any marks on the wall, saving you from losing any portion of your security deposit.
Lighting can make a massive difference the overall ambience and mood of your home. Lighting is vital to every interior space, regardless of how big or small it is. How many times have you walked in to a rental only to find a sad fluorescent overhead fixture dangling above you, barely illuminating the living space? Most homes come with the bare basics of light fixtures that cast harsh, unattractive light, making everything look unappealing. Most rentals come with fixtures, but usually not the ones you would like to live with. Lighting can instantly upgrade your home. By incorporating more lighting at various eye-levels, wether in the form of table lamps, floor lamps, or hanging lights, can make a rental feel more like a home.
Most people don’t end up changing the light fixtures because it’s categorized into the “too-much-hassle” department, but a slight upgrade is not worth that much time, money and effort. There are so many easy options now available on the market, from - App-controlled color-changing lightbulbs to easy-to-install dimmers — there is bound to be one that’s fit for your personal taste and budget.
Most rentals either come with hideous plastic vertical blinds or no blinds at all. You can easily swap these out for much more luxurious looking curtains. Curtains are easy to install and will instantly elevate your home rental from “Meh” to “Wow”. The wonderful thing about window treatments is that they are not permanent and easy to install. Again, there are just limitless options on the market for window treatments and you can play with the different textures, fabrics, patterns, colors, and opacity to fit your decor style.
Swapping out the handles and knobs of doors and cabinets for more stylist options can be a very simple task. If you live in an apartment complex that is operated by a property management team, as is typical of Hong Kong, the task is even easier. Most of these high-end apartment complexes employ a team of technicians who can help you replace, install, and fix up hardware. It’s really just a matter of unscrewing the old knobs off and screwing the new ones back on, which literally takes minutes. The only thing you should keep in mind when doing this is to keep track of the original hardware for your landlord when it comes time to returning the rental back. As long as you keep everything in place and can be returned to its original state, you should not be at risk for losing your security deposit.
Bathrooms are one of the most utilized rooms in any home. After all, you have to use it every day so why not make it as luxurious and customized as you can? Hate that old plastic shower-head that came with the rental? Well, you aren’t stuck with it so swap it out for a little upgrade. You can instantly upgrade your bathroom by adding a more high-end shower fixture. Maybe a rainfall shower-head, a filter for harsh Hong Kong water, or a shower-head with higher water pressure? All of these options can add instant luxury to an otherwise dull bathroom. It doesn’t take much effort to do a little switcheroo as well, since these fixtures are so easy to install.
The age-old home rental questions! Is it really OK to paint the walls? The answer is yes, it most often is OK and some landlords will even encourage you to do so as long as you get approval first. Some landlords will even give you the option of choosing from their own pre-approved color chart and offer to paint the walls for you. The reason why this decorative tip is int he medium/high risk category is due to the fact that not all landlords and property management policies operate the same. Ideally, you should always check with your landlord and property management first before you splash out the walls, who will usually sign off as long as your chosen color palette isn’t too out there.
The reason why painting the walls of a rental home has garnered such a bad reputation is due to the fact the many renters have been known to paint prior to getting permission. So, if you’re hesitant about changing up the color of your walls, ask for approval first. Most landlords will be completely fine with it, as long as you adhere to their policies. While some may want to keep the same wall color upon move-out, others will require that you return the wall to its original state. The most important thing is to ask first before you execute.
There’s no quicker way to personalize a space than to customize your colors. It’s a quirky and interesting way to bring life in to a rental space.
What other creative ways have you used to decorate and personalize your rental home without risking your security deposit and upsetting your landlord? We would love to hear your tips and tricks!
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