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Holiday decorating in an apartment

If you’re a renter like me, you might know the challenge of space when it comes to decorating for the holidays (or any decorating, for that matter). You also might live in a rental complex that has strict decorating policies – especially when it comes to the holidays.

If you’re short on space or maybe have strict rental guidelines of what you can and cannot use for holiday décor, we’ve got you covered for 10 ways to deck out your rental for the holidays without losing your safety deposit.

Go Faux

Some rental complexes have strict policies against using real Christmas trees, wreaths and greenery in your rental, and oftentimes for good reason, since Christmas lights, combined with dry or dead Christmas trees, are known to cause 40% of fires during the holidays.

If your rental complex isn’t budging on the live-tree rule, Erin Fausel, Lifestyle Blogger at American Freight Furniture and  Mattress, suggested going faux this holiday season.

“Consider purchasing a small artificial tree to use in your rental,” said Fausel. “Not only will this save you money if you use it year after year, but trees typically are heavily discounted right after the holidays.”

Going faux doesn’t necessarily have to be in the form of a traditional, artificial tree. If you’re looking to make a statement, skip the chain store and hit the craft store to make an alternative Christmas tree.

Swap Out Everyday Pieces

If space is your biggest barrier when decking out your rental for the holiday season, don’t overthink it when it comes to adding new decorations. Instead, pick a few textile pieces, like a throw pillow or blanket, an area rug or accent decoration, and swap them for something more seasonally appropriate.

Subtle switches sometimes make a bigger statement than over-decorating a space, so instead of focusing on bringing in as much holiday décor as possible, focus on the smaller pieces of your home.

Not only will this save you money, compared to purchasing larger-scale holiday décor, it will also repurpose the space your current decorations are already occupying, preventing your home from becoming too cramped from décor overload.

Look for other small but effective areas in your rental where you can make a cost and space-effective swaps, like hand towels in your bathroom or kitchen and welcome mats and rugs on your doorstep or entryway.

Less is More

Following the idea of swapping out everyday pieces, focusing on minimal holiday décor is key when you’re decking out your rental, especially if space is lacking. Debra Carpenter, from Nathan Oulman Realty, suggested using only a few statement pieces.

“Keep most of your decorations in storage and pull out a few statement pieces that make an impact without overwhelming your space,” said Carpenter.

If you’re finding that you don’t have the room for a full-sized Christmas tree, go mini. A miniature tree can occupy a smaller space in your home. You can also go modern by using tree branches in your holiday décor – an homage to the Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

Half-wreaths are also growing in popularity, a credit to the minimalism trend. Instead of a lush wreath, you can add style to your space with a metallic hoop donned with minimal evergreen and other festive foliage.

Use the Scents of the Seasons

A smell can fill a room in your rental in ways that holiday décor cannot, so if you’re looking for ways to make your rental ready for the holiday season, try incorporating the scents of the holidays into your home.

Scents like cinnamon, citrus, pine and peppermint are staples of the holiday season. Just smelling them can make you think of cozy winter nights.

You can purchase holiday-scented candles or essential oils, or you can try your hand at making your own holiday potpourri out of items you may already have in your refrigerator or cupboard. If you’re really up for a challenge, try making holiday “pot-pourri” – that is, breaking out a  saucepan and simmering the scents of the season over a stovetop flame.

Smells can have a huge impact on mood, so filling your rental with the scents of the season can bring an extra level of happy to your holidays.

Get Creative with Your Table

Whether you’re hosting holiday guests or having an intimate dinner for two, your dining room table is often an underutilized space for holiday decorations. Up the dressings of your dinner by dressing up your table and chairs.

A holiday-themed runner or placemats can draw attention to the table. You can also purchase matching cloth napkins and napkin rings to tie in the colors and patterns. Additionally, a sprig of rosemary placed on a plate can emulate the look of a Christmas tree branch.

Don’t stop at the table: Adding subtle accents to your dining room chairs, like hanging mini wreaths on the back of the chairs or purchasing holiday-themed cushions, can accentuate the look of the table.

Other elements that can really make a statement include holiday-themed centerpieces, like miniature Christmas trees and holiday place card holders.

Use Nontraditional Color Pallets

While reds and greens are traditional colors of the holiday season, they might overwhelm a smaller-scale home if overused.

If you do use green, use it in its natural state, like the evergreen of a Christmas tree, branch or wreath. Earth tones like green and brown are striking in a natural and rustic way. Highlight this dynamic color duo with other soft tones like the gold from twinkle lights and ornaments.

Other nontraditional holiday colors, like light blue, still call to the season but without overpowering your space. Pair your blues with a polished silver for a classy, snow-frosted effect in your kitchen or bathroom hardware or tabletop dishware.

Swap your reds for soft blush pinks or metallic rose golds for a chic, dewy look to your holiday décor. Pair those with a light, powder-gray for a subtler application in accent pieces like throw pillows, blankets and plush rugs.

Reach New Heights

Where space is lacking in width, go vertical with your holiday décor. Draping lights around high areas, like around mirrors or a fireplace mantel, is a creative way to light up your home without damaging your walls and other surfaces.

Even places you don’t traditionally decorate for the holidays – like your kitchen and bathroom – can use a little love. Dress up your cabinets and drawers with miniature wreaths hanging off drawer knobs or tied to cabinet handles.

Depending on the rules of your rental complex, you might not be permitted to make holes in your walls or ceilings. If you wish to hang lights, greenery or even mistletoe for a holiday kiss, Carpenter suggested using Command™ strips instead of tape or nails.

“If you want to hang garland, mistletoe and stockings, use Command hooks with a special adhesive that won’t mar or damage your rental,” suggested Carpenter.

Utilizing the high areas of your home not only frees up valuable floor space, but also draws attention to the spaces in your home that might not get attention otherwise.

Decorate Your Front Door

Don’t forget about your front door and porch!

Since the outdoors is more open and spacious compared to the inside of your rental, feel free to be expressive and bold in the colors and patterns you use to decorate. Even a simple door wreath or festive welcome mat can make a statement against the otherwise drab, white and gray outdoor conditions.

Bold color is also a subtle way to add rental-appropriate outdoor décor. If you’re unable to add outdoor Christmas lights to your rental, ask if you can swap your porch light’s bulb with a festive red, green or blue bulb.

Make Your Fireplace Festive

If you’re planning to roast chestnuts over an open fire, give your mantel a makeover worthy of the holiday season. Drape holiday greenery on the top to tie in with your other evergreen décor.

Tapers are also a good look on top of a mantel. A striking gold is not only on-theme with the colors of the season but will stand out by the deep green. Go traditional and use Command hooks to hang your stockings by the fire with care.

Extend the warmth of the fire to your home by placing a plush rug as an accent in front of the fireplace. Tie in the metallic from the gold tapers with a modern gold firewood holder, adding beauty and function to the room.

When in Doubt, Talk to Your Landlord

Most of the time, rental complexes will list appropriate holiday decorations in your rental agreement. My apartment complex even sends an email reminder to all the residents, reminding us of what holiday décor we can and cannot use.

However, if you’re unsure of what you can use to deck out your rental this holiday season, the best thing to do is to reach out to your rental complex or landlord.

“Be informed about what you can and cannot do,” advised Fausel. “Learn what limitations you might have for decorations and consult your leasing office if you have any questions.”

Get the Look! 

10 Décor Tips for Decking Out Your Rental for the Holidays - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

  1. Modern Christmas Hoop Wreath – $89
  2. Cotton Cushion Cover – $5
  3. Fuzzy Faux Fur Throw Blanket– $128
  4. Flocked Christmas Tree Figurine with Wood Base – $20
  5. Roland Pine Incense Gift Set – $25
  6. Printed Table Runner – $13
  7. Wooden Cutting Board – $25
  8. Shabby Chic Mistletoe – $25
  9. Green Ombre Bottlebrush Tree – $6 – $11
  10. “Happy Holidays” Doormat – $30
  11. Gold Taper Candle Holders (Set of 3) – $29
  12. Mailbox Letters to Santa – $40
  13. California Eucalyptus Garland – $32
  14. Fireplace Log Holder – $50
  15. Gray Faux Fur and Skein Christmas Stocking – $13

Decorating your rental for the holidays doesn’t have to be impossible. By following our tips and tricks, you’ll not only have a space you can be proud of, you’ll also get your safety deposit back when it’s time to buy a home.

“Take comfort in the fact that when you’re ready to move into a home of your own, you can pull out all the stops and make your home a winter wonderland – or you might find that you enjoy the simplicity of minimal decorating,” said Carpenter.

Do you have any tips for our renting readers on how they can decorate this holiday season? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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