How to Decorate Your Rental Walls (and Still Get Your Deposit Back)

rental walls

Here’s how to decorate rental walls without forfeiting your deposit. Image: Joseph Bergin Architect PC

Rentals can be tricky. On the one hand, you want to make the space feel like home while you’re living there. On the other, you don’t want to make it so homey you kiss your security deposit goodbye. In particular, choosing to decorate rental walls can feel like walking a fine line.

That’s where we come in. In this post, we’ve gathered lots of practical suggestions to help you decorate your walls without having to deal with a single nail. Read them over and weigh how each one will mesh with your rental space and personal tastes. We’re sure you’ll find at least one option that strikes your fancy.


Display art rather than hang it. Image: Nathalie Priem Photography

Display art on surfaces

Here’s the No. 1 secret to keeping your security deposit safe and sound while still feeding an art addiction: You don’t actually have to hang art on your walls to make sure it plays a prominent role in your design. When your ability to change the décor is limited, simply displaying the art can have the same effect without inflicting any damage.

All it takes to pull this look off is a little imagination. Start by going around your apartment and looking into the various possibilities available to you. Consider existing shelving, tabletops or other surfaces that could use a makeover. These days, many minimalist looks even include larger artworks that have been propped up on the floor as a style statement.

If you’ve looked at your available spaces and aren’t quite satisfied, remember you can always bring in your own. Decorative ladders are great for displaying small décor items, as are entertainment centers and bookshelves. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative with this one.

alternative hanging

Hanging art doesn’t have to mean mounting it on the wall. Image: Kenneth Brown Design

Find alternative hanging methods

If simply displaying art is not to your taste, you may not have to forgo hanging entirely. Here, it’s all about getting creative with the way they’re hung. Take the picture above as an example. With a little planning, a variety of household items can be transformed into part of a DIY gallery.

Though this list is by no means exhaustive, here’s a quick rundown of some options:

  • Use S-hooks and decorative rope to hang pictures from your molding
  • Enlist the help of wash-tape
  • Get some of those removable wall hooks
  • Opt for some Velcro

In this case, being satisfied with the method of installation and the final look of your pieces is key. After all, some people may be all for the bohemian flair of S-hooks and decorative rope while others may not care for it at all. We recommend looking at a few design sites like Freshome before you get started to gather some design inspiration for the task.

wall decal

Temporary wall decals aren’t what they used to be. Image: Gaile Guevara

Reconsider removable wallpaper

Remember wall decals? They aren’t just for kids’ rooms anymore. Today’s wall decals — rebranded under the term removable wallpaper — are a great way to make a big design statement for relatively little effort and upfront cost. With a press-and-stick installation method, plus the ability to peel the design off and throw it away at the end of your lease, this method should be a go-to pick for any renter.

When working with removable wallpaper, the first step is to gauge the quality of your walls. Look for ones that aren’t heavily textured or have lots of loose plaster. Smoother walls reduce your chances of having air pockets under the design on installation and ending up with a bubbly look.

With the walls prepped, the possibilities are endless. Depending on the design you choose, you could opt to cover a whole room in a print, stick to one eye-catching design to create an accent wall, or highlight a particular area like an office nook or kitchen backsplash.


Consider adding greenery, one of 2018’s biggest trends. Image: Michelle Gage | Interior Designer

Add some greenery

This may be an unconventional suggestion to some since it doesn’t involve your typical forms of wall art, but in our minds, it’s about time to give greenery its fair share of attention. There’s no denying that natural elements like plants can bring a fair amount of visual interest and variety to your home, but best of all, there’s absolutely no wall-mounting required.

From a design standpoint, over the last few years, we’ve seen greenery become increasingly popular. Many modern aesthetics, especially those that advocate for simplicity like Scandinavian design or Japandi, count on plant life to give their interiors a much-needed pop of visual interest. With that in mind, if you choose to go this route, you’ll be solidly on-trend.

One caveat to this: Unlike the other suggestions in this post, adding greenery into your interiors does come with a promised commitment of ongoing care. Make sure you check out the upkeep instructions for any plants you intend to purchase so you know what you’re getting into.

rental walls

Follow our tips to keep your deposit safe. Image: Marcia Prentice Photography

Decorating a rental and, in particular, dealing with rental walls can be a challenge. On the one hand, it makes sense to want to make the space feel like your own during your tenure there, but the threat of losing a security deposit can be enough to quash that aspiration for many. With the help of the advice in this post, we hope to have your décor feeling unique to you in no time flat.

What do you think of our suggestions for bringing a little life to rental walls? Will you be using any of them to decorate your apartment? Tell us in the comments.

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Want a Home Library? Here Are 4 Tips to Help Make Your Dream Come True

home library

You’ve always wanted a home library. Now’s the time to make it happen. Image: Trilogy Cabinets & Design

Most bookworms we know dream of having a space where they can escape from the world with a good book. Though home libraries may sound like a thing of the past, there’s no reason why you can’t create one of these areas in your own home. All it takes is a little planning to make sure this project comes out the way you’ve always envisioned.

Since these spaces are highly personal, much of your design will come down to your tastes. But there are some tips to help ensure your home library functions at its best, regardless of your aesthetic. Read on below to get one step closer to creating your dream home.


Proper shelving is key to your display. Image: JWT Associates

Focus on your display

Proper storage is the holy grail of the home library. If you’re an avid reader, you’ve likely spent a lot of time storing your books in less-than-ideal conditions. Now that you’ve committed to designing your very own library, it’s time to proudly put your books on display.

The first step is picking the best location in your home for this project. Few are lucky enough to be able to dedicate an entire room to the task. Rather, it’s much more common to find creative ways to share space with a home office or formal living space. If need be, a smaller reading nook can also be carved out from previously unused space in a master bedroom or loft area.

Once you can picture where your library will take shape, it’s time to get serious about storage. Floor-to-ceiling shelving units or built-ins are the traditional choices. However, these days, homeowners are getting more creative. Search out some design inspiration for alternatives that will work in your unique space.


Make sure there’s plenty of seating. Image: Martha O’Hara Interiors

Create the right seating arrangement

After storage, proper seating is the next most important part of a home library. There are very few hard-and-fast rules here, but whether your space will accommodate a single chair or you have square footage for a whole grouping, it should be comfortable. This is one of the few times we’ll advise you to forgo ultra-modern minimalism in favor of the larger, more plush pieces common in traditional design.

Once you have your furniture in place, designing a proper layout is the next step. Of all the seating arrangements in your home, this one in particular should feel welcoming. Try arranging each piece at a slight angle to bring a casual and comforting air to the space. When there is more than one seating element involved, you’ll want to position them so they’re angled toward each other rather than turning away.

layer lighting

Layer lighting to make reading easy. Image: Amanda Kirkpatrick Photography

Layer your lighting

While proper lighting is a key element in every room in your home, it’s especially crucial in a library. No one likes the struggle of squinting to make out words. Providing a proper lighting scheme, as well as the right type of light, is essential to the room’s ability to function the way you want.

Start by reviewing your existing lighting scheme. Ideally, it will feature at least one of each of the following:

  • Ambient: Also known as general lighting, ambient light fills the majority of the room and allows you to move around safely. It usually comes from recessed lighting, track lighting or wall-mounted fixtures.
  • Accent: Accent lighting is used to highlight a particular focal point, such as a piece of wall art. Picture lights, wall-mounted-fixtures or track lighting are common, and dimmers are often used on these features to provide mood lighting.
  • Task: As the name suggests, task lights are used to assist you in completing a particular function. This could be anything from desk lamps to pendant lights that hang over a kitchen island.

Here, your ambient and task lighting is most important. Make sure to have one of each directly above or beside each spot in your seating area. Then, provide the right light temperature. Day bulbs, ranging from 5,000K-6,500K, are the best choice for reading, so you may want to invest in a few of those.


This space should be as cozy as possible. Image: Kevin Dakan Architect

Make it cozy

The last component to any home library is coziness. While this isn’t an official principle of interior design, in our minds, it’s absolutely essential here. After all, this space is an indulgence at heart. Your final product needs to feel like somewhere you’d gladly curl up with a good book for hours on end.

In this case, utilizing textiles is an especially great option for bringing a level of comfort to the room. For example, you can ground the space with a nice, plush throw rug. Then, add a few throw pillows to each chair or sofa in your seating arrangement. Finally, consider adding a soft blanket to the mix to keep warm in cooler temperatures.

The last component is adding an element of personalization. Since your home library will likely function as an escape from the stresses of everyday life, that’s incentive to make it feel like an oasis. Whether it’s a piece of wall art or a particular décor item that will make this room feel like your own, here is official permission to invest.

home library

Take our advice and create a home library of your own. Image: LINEA, Inc

Many of us dream of one day having our very own library. However, there’s no reason why that dream can’t become a reality, even if your living situation isn’t conducive to the typical library we see in old movies. The tips in this post are aimed at helping you create a personal oasis, no matter how much square footage you have. Keep them in mind as you design your space. You deserve it.

What do you think of our home library ideas? Will you be taking steps to include one of these spaces in your own home? Tell us about it in the comments.

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Why Asymmetry Is an Important Part of Interior Design (and How to Make it Work)


It may seem counterintuitive, but asymmetry matters in interior design. Image: Denver Image Photography

Though trends are an important part of the interior design landscape, nothing can overtake the necessity of understanding the fundamentals of how design works. Which is why, today, we’re going back to basics. We’re about to take a look at why asymmetry is a crucial component of design in our homes.

Keep reading to learn more about what exactly asymmetry is, why it matters and how you can pull it off in your own interiors. We’re sure by the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll be ready to make a few adjustments of your own.


Asymmetry is a type of balance. Image: Clean Design

What is asymmetry?

Put simply, asymmetry is a type of balance that’s often used in design. Typically, when people consider balance as a concept, they stick to working with symmetry — or mirror images — in their interiors. While that’s always a viable option, it’s far from the only one to choose from.

In reality, there are three distinct forms of balance you can incorporate as part of your design. They are as follows:

  • Symmetrical/formal balance: This type of balance is created by taking the room and splitting it into two halves that mirror each other. It could, for example, include a living room that features two sofas with a coffee table between them.
  • Asymmetrical/informal balance: In this case, the room is balanced by the repetition of similar forms, lines and colors, but there is no mirroring or exact duplication. A living room done in an asymmetrical style might feature a sofa with an end table on one end and a floor lamp on the other.
  • Radial balance: Radial balance is the most infrequently used option on this list, but it involves similar objects being placed around a common center point. It’s most often seen in dining table arrangements where the same chair is used throughout.
visual interest

Put simply, asymmetry makes things a little more interesting. Image: Amit Apel Design Inc.

It adds visual interest

Now that you know what asymmetry is, it’s important to take a more in-depth look at why people use it in their designs. The most common reason is that it adds more visual interest. Where the repetition of symmetrical arrangements has a tendency to feel monotonous over time, asymmetrical looks keep us on our toes.

There’s actually a psychological basis for why this occurs. It has to do with the way our brains process information. They aim to pick up on as many patterns and repetitions as possible, so the mirroring effect of symmetrical design makes those rooms very easy to figure out. In asymmetrical spaces, the patterns are less immediately obvious, so it takes our brains a bit longer to process them and ultimately makes them more interesting.

Take the picture above as an example. While the room features a consistent color palette, the same number of chairs on either side of the coffee table, and even a symmetrical layout, it was probably the fireplace that caught your eye first — and held it. Asymmetrical elements are a good tool to use when you want to call attention to a feature of your design.

Asymmetrical design can make your interiors feel more casual. Image: Lucas Y. Hernandez

It’s more casual

Take a second to think of all the mirror images you’ve seen in interior design. More than likely, the images you’re thinking of are stately living rooms that feature double couches or a long dining table with two rows of identical chairs. This rigid duplication of symmetrical design has a tendency to present as more formal and even a little stuffy.

In contrast, asymmetrical designs aren’t constrained by the same level of perfection. The allowance for differences in their arrangement enables the space to feel a bit more casual, a bit more “lived-in.” As such, asymmetrical designs are often favored in high-traffic areas of the home, such as family rooms and eat-in kitchens.


Follow these tips to bring asymmetry to your interiors. Image: Isler Homes

How to pull it off

The last step to becoming a master of asymmetrical design is to know how to apply these concepts in your own home. While there are no hard-and-fast rules for this one, we do have a couple of suggestions to get started.

  • It can be big or small:Asymmetry doesn’t always have to make a huge statement. Sometimes even piv0ting a chair at an angle is enough.
  • Use odd numbers: Arranging groupings in odd numbers is a great way to utilize asymmetrical design.
  • Remember coordinating elements: When you’re going asymmetrical, it’s crucial to include a few common threads to help pull everything together. Repeating elements with similar colors, lines and shapes are the way to go.
  • Use your perception: Pay attention to how your asymmetrical elements make you feel. If something feels “off” about your design, you may have to make a few tweaks until everything makes sense.

Will you be giving asymmetry a chance? Image: Isler Homes

Believe it or not, asymmetry is a foundational principle of interior design. Read over this post and consider our tips carefully. We’re sure when you learn more about the why and how of this design technique, you’ll be ready to give it appropriate attention in your home.

What do you think of asymmetry? Will you be making an effort to include more of it in your interiors? Let us know in the comments below.

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Valentine’s Day and Two Additions to the UDH ❤️

Moving in, Valentine’s Day, fun gifts and more! Everything going on at the UDH since I last posted…

Whoosh. Remember how in the last post, I told you guys I was getting ready to attend a big woodworking conference?

Yeah… that was quite a whirlwind! I got the booth design built just in time and will have more on that in a future post to recap the whole thing (P.S., the Rustoleum team was amazing to work with and I am so pleased that everyone seemed to really like my booth, and I even got an attagirl from THE Ben Uyeda himself, and I’ll have an Ikea hack project to share with you from the build, and AND the story will unfold exactly how you would expect a topsy-turvy design process from yours truly to unfold, including theft of half my booth by the end of the conference, ), but there is still SO MUCH MORE going on here at the UDH that I felt the need to update you on some important personal updates first.

Psst. Affiliate links used in a few spots below.

Moving in!

I won’t keep you waiting in suspense for the whole post. The big announcement? K and his pup Stella are officially moving into the UDH.

As of next month, the UDH will have a total of 4 — if you’re counting Charlie and Stella — which of course, I do. I thought I would feel a bunch of butterflies by announcing it or jumping with excitement or something… but honestly? They have both been around the house so much that it just feels very natural and normal and mellow to make their living here the real deal.

K and I have been dating for some time now and we’ve (naturally) discussed many times over what our plans are with live in general and each other, and it just started to make more sense for us to live together going forward. I’m sure that comes as no surprise to most of you, since he and I have been working on projects together and you’ve seen me mention other changes to some of my design plans (such as wanting to rebuild the closet, designing a Murphy bed for the guest bedroom so it can fit a separate office space, etc.).

The added benefit of us saving that extra dough of separate rents is that we can save up for the vintage camper renovation that much faster. She’s got a name now, and I’ll cover a bunch of details in a future post.

New bed plans

Over this past weekend, K took some time to move his essentials (other than the garage stuff… THAT will be an organizational feat to combine our tool collections, ha!). I now have a king-sized mattress sitting in my living room as I write this, because K and I are building a new bed design together (it’s going to be sooooo cool — I can’t wait to finish it and share!). With the way both of the pups like to take over every square inch of the bed (how does one tiny dog take up so much room???), I decided this was the best solution to giving me a better night’s sleep.

As you can imagine, that chaos is a little uncomfortable (and messy!) for all involved, especially while my attention has been elsewhere on this WorkbenchCon project, but we managed to get through the worst of it so far and have just a little more to go before everything is out of our walking paths.

Stella and Charlie have had their ups and downs (they have both been aggressive with each other with food, so we’ve had to redouble some training and they’ve both improved). But they seem to have come to the conclusion that they are both in love with K and I and at least reluctantly love each other, so we’re all pretty happy with this situation. They both really like that they are no longer alone if we ever have to leave them at home.

Valentine’s Day

But, speaking of K and home and all of that, I wanted to also share what we did for Valentine’s Day (sappy posting alert!). We did the usual nice-dinner-and-gift-exchange thing, starting with a rooftop date at one of my favorite spots in Atlanta (would you guys want to see a list of great date places if you ever visit the city? I have been taking pics from our dates and am planning to compile them into a top ten this summer).

I like to watercolor as a stress thing when I can’t sleep, so I made him a homemade card with some personalized art a few nights prior:

outside and inside of watercolor card
(the cookie is an inside joke)

You might also be tickled to see what I got him:

It’s the LEGO Saturn V Rocket! You should’ve SEEN the big eyes and grin K gave me when he opened this up and started organizing all of the pieces (I’m living with a super-nerd). We’ve since spent any nights I have off (rare with this week’s WorkbenchCon stuff, but we’re getting back to it tonight) putting it together. This is just part one, so we have lots more left to assemble!

Putting it together has reawakened the LEGO nerd (in my case, puzzles… the more I think about it, Ron Swanson and I have a lot more in common than just an interest in building) in both of us.

I’ve since found out that there are other huge LEGO kits we might want to put together (like this and this… and this and this). Also, there’s a place in Denmark called the LEGO House (not the Ed Sheeran song). I’ve been known to take a crazy trip or two, so it’s not entirely unlike me to decide to go across the world to see something like a house filled with toys.

K got me flowers and a few gifts, but I think my favorite this month has to be the duckling he had cut out for me at his office out of a scrap piece of Corian. As much as I’d like to have my own CNC machine here at home, I doubt I could find the room for it until the shed is built in the back yard! (And as for those succulent buds you see on the right, that’s a tutorial coming up that I’ve been working on for you this winter… propagating them is crazy easy, so an upcoming video and step-by-step photo guide is on its way).

So, there you have it: lots of little updates, but it’s back to the bed builds this week. Did you have any Valentine’s Day plans? I have covered them in years past, single or not, so if you’d like to see some of those posts, here’s one (and another). And what do you think of the big news? (Hopefully you’re happy for me, but you already know from reading me I’m damn well going to do what I want anyway, ha!). I hope you’re all having a wonderful week!

P.S. If you guys saw the first pic and thought there was something different about my hair, that’s also true but it felt weird to do a dedicated post about it. Here are a few more photos of it down. I absolutely love the change and need a lot of advice on how to best maintain it, so I’m all ears if you know a lot about color care!

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Pupdate: Valentine’s Day and Two Additions to the UDH ❤️