Renting your home instead of owning comes with many benefits. There are no mortgage payments to keep up with, and you’re not tied to any one place for a long time. However, there are also many drawbacks. Many of these stem from being unable to change the house or flat as you see fit. You need permission from your landlord to do even seemingly simple things, like painting the walls. Major structural changes are out of the question. And often your landlord won’t let you change anything at all, even if you offer to pay for it or put it back the way it was before you leave.

Carpets and floors can be a huge problem to get around in a rental home. You can move into a new home and think, “This would be perfect if it weren’t for the carpets.” Carpets can be inexplicably horrible when you move in, from disgusting browns to bright colours. You just can’t figure out why someone would even install them and how the landlord came to the conclusion that they were a good idea. But when your landlord refuses to change them, or even to let you do yourself, how are you meant to decorate around a shocking floor?

Rugs, Rugs, Rugs

Rugs can be a godsend when you’re trying to cover up a nasty carpet, scuffed linoleum or scratched wooden floor. You don’t need to cover the entire floor either; sometimes a well-placed rug can bring everything together. A rug will draw the eye away from the carpet and make people focus on the much nice patterns and colours of the rug. Of course, you can use a collection of rugs too. Mismatched modern rugs layered over each other can give a room a lot of character. Plus, it enables you to cover up a good chunk of the carpet without making any permanent changes.


Image courtesy of Flickr

Using one large rug can be enough to fix the eyesore of the carpet, but you need to take the carpet into consideration. It would be great just to pick something with a colour and pattern that you like, but if the carpet is still showing you need to work around it. More neutral colours are easier to work with, but if your carpet is brighter or more colourful you need to make sure it doesn’t clash. Tone done a blue carpet with soft greys and take away some of the blinding colour of a red carpet with some more neutral browns.

Temporary Floors

So your landlord doesn’t want you to make any permanent changes? That’s perfectly fine – you can put down a temporary floor. You might still need to get your landlord’s permission, but you can put them in and take them away without leaving any damage or lasting effects. Many of these temporary floors come in tiles or small sections, which you simply slot or clip together.

Most of these temporary floors are wooden, which is great if you prefer wooden floors over carpets. They won’t necessarily work on a carpet with a thicker pile, but are great if the pile is thin enough to stably fit one of them. You can even get ones that work for bathrooms or kitchens that are waterproof. You can buy waterproof wooden tiles to use either in a bathroom or outside to create a deck. If you have nasty linoleum or vinyl flooring in the kitchen or bathroom, you can cover it with a DIY vinyl tiling. You can also use cork to cover up old vinyl. If your problem is bare wooden floors, you can buy carpet tiles to cover them. They provide a more solid solution to rugs but aren’t as permanent as actually installing wall-to-wall carpets.

Rug carpet

David Goehring

Go with It

Sometimes all you can do with an ugly carpet is just to go with it. Instead of trying to cover it up or pretend it isn’t there, decorate your whole room with the carpet as your starting point. This may be quite difficult to do but, if you are creative enough, you should be able to think of some ideas for incorporating the colours into a better overall aesthetic. This is a particularly good strategy if your problem with the carpet is that it’s just plain boring. Creams, browns and beiges can be brightened up by adding in some other colours. Use brighter accents incorporated with shades that are similar to the carpet’s colour to try to make it all come together.

You can try to distract people’s eyes from the carpet by using big and bold designs in other areas, from the walls to the furniture. If the other aspects of the room are more interesting to look at, no one will be looking at the carpets. Try to put all the lighting higher up, so instead of lamps lighting up the floor they put the focus on the walls and ceiling.

Pay to Have the Carpets Replaced

Some landlords will happily let you replace the carpets if you offer to pay. They’ll effectively get a new set of carpets for free, which you’ll leave behind for the new tenants when you go. You’re making their property more attractive to future tenants and all for nothing. If you can’t afford to pay for them, perhaps you can make a case to the landlord to have them replaced at a cost to them. This will work better if you have a good relationship with your landlord and either are or intend to be a long-term tenant. Remind them that new carpets will make the house more attractive and perhaps even raise its rental and sale venue.

If you’re determined to have more control over the design in your rental property, you need to be creative. Having a good relationship with your landlord can never hurt, and you should always try asking them about any changes before doing anything else. You won’t know what they’ll say until you ask. But if trying to make your rental property your own is getting to be too much, perhaps it’s time to think about buying.