Decorating Your Apartment Without Compromising Your Security Deposit

A bright red chair and lighting fixture add splashes of color to a space without damaging their apartment's walls or floors.

Like it or not, a security deposit is often a fundamental part of renting. After all, none of us particularly relishes the thought of handing over a chunk of change that we might not see for the foreseeable future.

When it comes to personalizing an apartment, it can sometimes be difficult to figure out how to decorate without compromising that security deposit. This especially applies if you aren’t completely sure how long you’ll be living in a rental. If you really want to minimize risk to your security deposit while making your new place feel like home, you’ll find these tips handy:


Because it’s a matter of personal taste, art is often the thing really adds character to a living space, which is probably why most people have some kind of artwork adorning their interiors.

Unfortunately, many canvas paintings require more than just a thumb tack to hang, and your landlord isn’t likely to appreciate nails being hammered into the walls anytime soon. For that reason, you’ll find that your best bet is to look for lightweight prints that can easily be matted and/or placed in plastic or acrylic picture frames. Unless you’ve gotten explicit permission from your landlord to put them up using tacks or nails, you’ll also need removable adhesive strips to mount those frames.

Another great way to liven up your walls is by using decorative decals. These range endlessly in style and theme, are usually very affordable, and will definitely help express your unique interests (they can even be custom-ordered). Plus, they can take up as little or as much space as you prefer.

Do you have a favorite photograph that you’re hoping to turn into a full-size wall mural? You can make it happen, since there are now plenty of online companies willing to print out your custom decals and ship them directly to you. The best part is that they can peel right off when it’s time to move, without any sticky residue left behind.

Other artworks like sculptures and pots can also make for great statements when arranged on a tabletop or in a corner.


Most apartments already have flooring in place, but how many of them are equipped with floors you’ll actually like? Play around with area rugs in each room to achieve the desired effect. Just remember to always check the size of a rug before buying! You should also measure the room before shopping to get a better idea of how much square footage you’re trying to cover.

Other things to bear in mind are the shape of the rug (square, oval, round) and, of course, it’s color scheme/pattern. After all, it’s important to check whether or not a rug will mesh with other elements in its intended room, and what good is a rug if it’s practically hidden by a table or sofa?


Luckily for all the green thumbs out there, potted houseplants are ideal for decorating without causing any damage or making a mess. Succulents are becoming a very popular choice among those who favor a vibrant pop of color, but regular cacti can be just as pretty and are usually even easier to care for. To protect against water damage from plants in need of regular watering, make sure to put your pots on ceramic or porcelain plates. That way the runoff will land on them instead of the unit’s nice new wooden floors.

Another trend that will appeal to garden and nature lovers is the mini zen garden. These are becoming nearly ubiquitous in homes and offices, featuring components that can be arranged and rearranged at any time to suit your mood. The beauty of zen gardens lies in the fact that they don’t need any watering, which means they can sit on any surface without leaving a mess behind. You can either purchase one or create your own with materials found at your local arts and crafts store. All you need is a small box, some sand, stones of your choice, and whatever other objects you’d like work in. Your apartment will immediately start feeling like a harmonious haven when you’re done.

Light Fixtures

A lot of apartments have their own overhead lighting fixtures, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to just live with them if you don’t like them. You can always add to the default lighting by buying and installing your own fixtures.

A living room that doesn’t get a lot of natural light can be brightened with a well-positioned floor lamp, or even from multiple small sources of light arranged to your liking. String lights hung over entryways can also add a special glow to a home when switched on in the evenings. Flickering candles can be used to create an relaxing atmosphere at nighttime, but make sure they’re not too close to the walls as they can leave behind sooty stains. Finally, you’ll want to put your candles in candle holders to keep wax from dripping onto anything important.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to add that personal touch to your decor in a way that won’t cause you to lose your security deposit or incur a landlord’s wrath. When it’s time to pack up and move, you can rest assured knowing that you’ll leave your place just as nice as it was when you moved in.

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