The minute you sign your lease, it’s an exciting few months ahead. Your rental home is a blank canvas, and you can’t wait to personalise it, from ceiling to floor. But, it soon becomes apparent that bringing your curated mood boards to life will require a bit of working around. Any décor item that might rip the paint off the walls, or entails drilling, like wall posters and floating shelves, are instantly out of the question. The good news is, they don’t have to be.
Renter-friendly tips and tricks are great solutions to decking out your space, just the way you want to. Think adhesive caddies, removable command strips, scratch-proof furniture pads, contact paper for a kitchen makeover and more. One thing’s for sure – don’t postpone your dream home, say experts.
“You’re still living in that space for an X period of time, so you don’t want to stick to something that doesn’t fit your vision. Besides, the renter has to repaint the home before the lease ends, anyway. Don’t shy away from designing your own apartment,” said Yusuf Matawala, owner and designer of the Dubai-based on-demand designing platform, DecorBayt.com.
Find some clever products below to help you get started. We sought expert recommendations from the founder of an interior design studio in Dubai, Nayab Interiors, to bring you the best of hacks. Make sure to shop with Amazon Prime to get free delivery on some of these items.
1. Best Contact Paper: DC-Fix Self Adhesive Peel-And-Stick Waterproof Contact Paper
Contact papers are adhesive vinyl wraps that go over most surfaces around the house, mimicking wood and metal textures. “If you don’t like the look of your desk or want to upgrade the kitchen cabinetry and countertop, look no further. Wraps allow you to personalise the interior based on your style and preferences,” said Nayab Arsalan, who has experience with both residential and commercial projects around the UAE. This roll of 26.5-inch by 78.7-inch peel-and-stick contact paper carries an oak wood design. Made of premium materials in Germany, the vinyl can be applied to shelves, cabinets and countertops. “The best part is that contact papers can be easily removed when the time comes to move,” added Arsalan.
2. Best Damage-Free Adhesive: Command Picture Hanging Strips
Drill holes into walls no more. Command Strips by 3M are a nifty tool for putting up posters, picture frames and even LED lights, on the walls. It’s a double-sided adhesive that doesn’t leave sticky residue behind, as long as the instructions are followed to a tee. Special strips are also available for hanging hooks. In this pack, there are 32 strips of various sizes, capable of holding different weights: eight of small, 16 of medium and eight of large. With four large strips, you can hang up to 16 pounds (7.25kg) in weight.
3. Best Puck Lights: STAR-SPANGLED Mini Night Touch Light (LED)
These small LED lights are a do-it-yourself dream. If the stairway, closet or the space under the sink could do with some lighting, invest in a handful of wireless puck lights. They’re battery-operated, compact and surprisingly bright at 50 lumens. Arsalan has puck lights installed into the wall sconces on either side of her bed: “They come with an adhesive end, so you just need to stick it to any wall sconce or lamp to get gorgeous lighting anywhere, without having to worry about electrical wiring or sockets”. This set of four by Star Spangled gives off a warm white light, and turns on and off by with a push to the centre. Make sure to replace the adhesive on the back with a damage-free strip of your own, since reviewers say the hold is quite strong.
4. Best Cabinet Lights: MERTTURM Rechargeable Under-Cabinet Lights
Brighten up your kitchen countertop with rechargeable under-cabinet lights. These offer slightly more than the puck lights, with motion sensors, different colour temperatures and levels of brightness, and a magnetic surface. The cabinet light turns on once it detects movement and turns off on its own after 20 seconds. Reviewers say the fixtures charge quickly within 20 minutes via USB and last up to a month of use. Even if your cabinets can't hold magnets, the set of two comes with an adhesive metal strip for easy installation. Most report using the light strips in the bathroom and under the staircase, besides the kitchen.
5. Best Furniture Pads: X-PROTECTOR Premium Felt Furniture Pads, 181 Pieces
It’s equally important to be mindful of your flooring. Some metal legs, especially when black in colour, can leave streaks across expensive tiling. This is where furniture pads come in. X-Protectors’ furniture coasters create a strong shield between the floor and desks, chairs and tables. Its ultra-large pack contains all sizes you can think of in this 181-piece pack, where you’ll find a match for all your items. Reviewers with pets say cleaning the house has gotten much easier, since chairs can be slid in and out with no qualms. Others have also used them to pad the bottom of their floor speakers.
6. Best Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper: NuWallpaper Grey and White Brick, Multicolour
Here’s an easy and affordable option to add some accents to your walls, says Arsalan. “All you have to do is just measure, peel and stick a removable wallpaper to any wall or flat surface. It can be easily removed or repositioned, taking the stress out of home design and decor,” she added. Reviewers who bought the NuWallpaper report back zero wall damage when repositioning the vinyl. There are four brick patterns to choose from, coming in grey, red and off-white, besides our pick of white and grey. Check out more budget-friendly decor hacks here.
7. Best Peel-and-Stick Backsplash: Art3d Marble Tiles, 10 Tiles
It’s not just vinyl wallpaper that can spruce up your home. Try backsplash tiles to give your kitchen and bathroom walls a quick remodel. Art3d offers 10 glossy tile sheets in a pack, each measuring 12 by 12 inches. Reviewers say they’ve been able to peel them off and reposition easily. There’s no grout, glue or special tools required, as long as you have your measurements right. While these are waterproof, do note that the brand advises against installing them in the shower. When it’s time to pack up and move, use a hairdryer to warm up the adhesive to peel the sheets off.
8. Best Painter’s Tape: Frogtape Pro Painter's Tape, 6 Rolls
By the end of the day, repainting the walls is always an option. “The easiest way to transform the look and feel of a room is by painting the walls. This tape is DIY-friendly and can be used to make an accent wall for a pop of colour,” said Arsalan. Frogtape removes cleanly from most surfaces for up to 14 days. Its surface is treated with Paint Block Technology to prevent paint from bleeding past the edges. This pack comes with six rolls of blue masking tape.
9. Best Adhesive Shower Caddy: Roseyat Shower Caddy, 2-Pack, Black
The Roseyat shower caddy has quite the fan following on social media. It is a two-pack floating basket in matte black that sticks to your bathroom tiles with adhesives. Four removable hooks on the caddy let you hang towels, razors, washcloths and sponges. Each basket holds up to 20 pounds (9.07kgs) in bath and beauty toiletries; plus, its premium grade steel is anti-rust, so it can withstand frequent water splashes. Several five-star reviews recommend the sleek addition to your shower, but note the adhesive can be difficult to peel off.
10. Best Grout Pen: Grout Pen, 5mm, Grey
If the grout between the tiles has been bothering you lately, it’s probably because the colour has gone off. A grout pen is always handy to have around, especially when the formula contains cleaning agents to repel mildew and dark stains. This pen by Rainbow Chalk Marker is ideal for tubs, backsplash, windows and tiles in the kitchen and the bathroom. You could even opt for a different colour for a fun DIY project.
11. Best for Pet Parents: Panther Armour Furniture Protectors, 12-Pack
If your cat’s been ignoring the scratching post in favour of the rental couch, here’s a furniture guard for protection. Variations of this vinyl sheet have made it to TikTok, with clips of fur babies unable to get their claws through to the upholstery. There are 12 adhesive sheets in this Panther Armor pack with 96 pins for securing the shield. Many reviewers say the vinyl looks inconspicuous and keeps the cats away.
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