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Staging The Graceful Exodus Of Your College Rental

animalhouseHave you ever tried to take a poster off of a wall, only to discover the pushpins left dozens of teeny holes all around? In hindsight, that probably wasn’t the best way to decorate your temporary space – but you longed to make it reflect your personality, even as a short-term home during college.

Recent statistics show that more people than ever are choosing to rent homes, particularly in well-populated cities. If you are one of them, you’ve probably questioned just how much effort to put into home decor, or how much you can get away with. A rental home deserves your attention and deserves to reflect your tastes just as much as a home you own. But how can you make that happen without possibly getting fined when you finally move out? Actually, there are plenty of ways to decorate a rental and leave it just the way it was – or better – when it’s time to leave for summer break.

Color Now, Chameleon Later

So, you don’t want white walls that look like a hospital room? Frankly, we don’t blame you. But remember that blood-red walls, floral wallpaper and psychedelic stripes won’t work, either. Instead, choose neutrals and lighter shades that are easier to paint over later – or even leave on the walls if your landlord likes it! Here are some shade suggestions:

  • Light blue
  • Eggshell or beige
  • Yellow
  • Light green

Keep in mind that the more neutral you go, the more likely it is that you can leave the walls painted (If you do a good job) upon your exit.

Accents Matter

Let’s say you aren’t going to paint the walls but you crave a splash of color in your rental. Don’t let white walls slow you down – get to work adding color with furniture, pillows, throws and other home accessories. In truth, your visitor’s eyes will be drawn to whatever you intend for your focal point of the room to be – and it does not need to be a wall. Here are some ideas regarding home furniture and furnishings.

  • Solid colored sofas and chairs – Pick a color palate for the sofas, chairs ottomans or other main furniture in your home. Whether they are brightly colored or more muted, remember that colors will offset the plain walls and give you a canvas to work with.
  • Patterns for pillows – Once you have your “canvas,” you can add patterns with area rugs, decorative pillows and cozy throws.
  • Other knickknacks – In addition to the furnishings of your home, try adding character to the room with colorful houseplants, books, candles and other fun accessories. They are easy to pack up when you leave and they can make a rental house feel more like a home.

Hang Time

So, you can’t make holes in the walls. What now? There are alternatives that don’t leave your walls looking like a slab of Swiss cheese.

  • Poster Putty – This sticky stuff is a fine alternative for hanging lightweight artwork, including posters (of course), unframed photos and small canvases.
  • Mounting tape – Most brands of mounting tape work fine to hold up art, and won’t damage the walls when you peel it off.

A Graceful Exit

When the time comes for you to move from your rental property, ensure that you will receive your deposit money back in full by leaving the home the way you found it, or even better. Here are a few things to take care of before you hand the keys in.

Clean the baseboards.
Have you ever looked down at the baseboards in someone else’s house and noticed how grubby and dusty they were? Well, imagine how much more the baseboards stand out when you remove your furniture and they are in plain sight. Dust and clean the baseboards before you leave the rental, and the whole place will look cleaner.

Plaster any holes.
Oops – you’ve got a hole in the wall. Luckily, you can fix it with a tube of spackling and some sandpaper. Simply fill the hole and sand it down. A little dab or two of paint and the wall will look like new.

Repaint if necessary.
If you painted the walls, make sure to find out whether you will need to restore them to their original color before you move out. Regardless of your landlord’s feelings about it, you may need a fresh coat anyway if the walls are marked and scuffed up.

Rental properties have plenty of potential when it comes to decorating – you simply have to be creative and willing to cover your tracks at the end.

About the Author:

Today’s guest article comes from Chris Long. He is a Home Depot store associate and has been helping renters, homeowners, and other property owners in the Chicago area since 2000. Chris also contributes advice on furniture decor for Home Depot’s Home website. His interests range from providing tips on living room furniture to information on closet storage, room dividers and end tables.

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