You Need To Know These Clever Rental Hacks

A couple of weeks ago we invited serial renter Amara Hasham onto the podcast to talk about her clever rental hacks and there were too many ideas to fit into the show notes so I thought I would create a separate post for you here because, of course rental hacks aren’t just for renters.

serial renter amara hashem @thepajaamhub has a series of ingenious rental hacks
renter amara hashem @thepajaamhub in front of her removable gold arch – read on for how she did it

Maybe, like Amara, who is married to a pilot and is always on the move, your lifestyle makes renting more practical. Maybe you are waiting to climb onto the housing ladder or maybe you own a property but you are saving up to make big changes and you want some ideas that are either reversible or won’t break the bank in the meantime. It’s about affordable ideas for making the best of what you have at the time because if the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that living in rooms that don’t suit us isn’t good for either daily inspiration or longer term mental health. So anything we can do to bring our interiors more in line with our tastes and needs is a good thing.

As Amara says: “It’s about creating that feeling of home wherever we are because even if it’s a borrowed home you don’t have to live in magnolia.” Unless you want to of course!

serial renter amara hashem @thepajaamhub has a series of ingenious rental hacks
renter amara hashem @thepajaamhub created this removable painted arch as a backdrop for her home office

Of course the first thing is to bring the landlord on board with your ideas and I appreciate that sometimes that’s just no doable. Years ago The Mad Husband and I rented a flat in west London, which the landlady cleared wanted as her city pied à terre but her husband had insisted she rent out. She would turn up unannounced to check we hadn’t hung pictures or changed anything. When we moved out we did, of course, lose our deposit, but sometimes sometimes, you have to weigh up the balance between being able to make your space work a little better for you for the period of time you are going live there versus the possible loss of a deposit.

Amara has built up a good relationship with her landlord during the 10 years she has been living in this house and says he understands that she and her family will take care of the property. And that’s another key piece of advice – start small, do it well and show the owner that you are careful and considerate in what you propose to do.

serial renter amara hashem @thepajaamhub has a series of ingenious rental hacks
renter amara hashem @thepajaamhub added this mural to her walls but made sure it was completely removeable

So onto Amara’s tips and tricks for renters:


Amara has used 12 different hacks in the house – they are all damage free and reversible.

serial renter amara hashem @thepajaamhub has a series of ingenious rental hacks
renter amara hashem @thepajaamhub has wallpapered her downstairs rental loo but the decor is completely removeable

You can buy peel and stick wallpaper but the designs are limited and you might not always find what you want. Amara has come up with a method that means you can use any wallpaper you want from any manufacturer so the choice is instantly greater.

She first covers the wall in self-adhesive clear vinyl – what we used to call sticky back plastic and put on our school exercise books. It peels off the wall. Simply apply then add your wallpaper paste and then apply the wallpaper.

Another trick Amara has used in her daughter’s room is to create a geometric wall pattern using washi tape.

Or, one that I have used myself – stick wall decals which you can find on etsy, ebay and Blik.

All of these ideas are good for children’s rooms – even if you are a home owner – as their tastes and requirements change rapidly.

Bathroom tiles

serial renter amara hashem @thepajaamhub has a series of ingenious rental hacks

This is one of the most common issues for renters and tiles are expensive and messy to replace even if you don’t rent.

Amara has used more sticky back plastic but this time in blackboard style on the tiles. “It cost about £30 and then I painted a mural on top in acrylic paint and with three children and all the vandalism and steam and baths it has stayed there for about three years now.

“I want my home to be a fusion of my personality and my beliefs and our family jokes and things that are very personal to us. I call myself a considered maximalist-  I love eclectic style and colour but I don’t want it to be just another maximalist home –  I want every piece to mean something to me, to us, as a family.

“So the word “grace” is on my gallery wall because I am always bumping into people and making silly mistakes when I text and my kids say ‘you have the grace of an elephant’ and so we made it into a print. There are a lot of personal elements in our style.”

Another idea is stick on cork tiles as well – they have the glue on already and it’s a good glue so you don’t need to add anything more. This makes a good pinboard in a bedroom or office space.

serial renter amara hashem @thepajaamhub has a series of ingenious rental hacks
renter amara hashem @thepajaamhub has a series of ingenious rental hacks

Removal Tip

 To make the glue easier to remove from either vinyl, decals or tiles simply warm it up with a hairdryer which softens it and makes it easier to remove.

How to hang pictures in a rented house

I use lightweight frames with a plastic front so they are lighter and easier to hang. You can use command strips or something from Ikea that works. That way you don’t need to drill.

Always follow the instructions and clean the wall first.

serial renter amara hashem @thepajaamhub has a series of ingenious rental hacks
renter amara hashem @thepajaamhub has created a removable gallery wall

Duvet Cover Wall Mural

That is one of my favourite hacks. The mural is a duvet from H&M which cost £24.99 and I opened the seams and put the clear vinyl on the wall and stuck the duvet on it.

1 Stick the plastic

2 Paste the plastic

3 Soak the fabric in paste.

4 Stick the fabric to the wall

“There is some fearlessness for sure. I think it might not work but I think it’s good to try. If it does it gives you confidence to try the next idea.”

serial renter amara hashem @thepajaamhub has a series of ingenious rental hacks
renter amara hashem @thepajaamhub used a duvet cover to create a mural and it’s totally removable

A New Headboard

 A big headboard is very expensive and if you aren’t allowed to wallpaper the walls then try this which looks like a fabric covered headboard but is a piece of MDF that is wallpapered so you can used wallpaper without putting it on the walls.

I used masking tape and painted my own design on it too.

Another of Amara’s ideas was to replace the headboard on a metal bed frame by buying a new upholstered headboard and fixing it in front of the metal frame with cable ties. So simple and so clever.

“Choose a small space and build from that. A small change leads to a big change”

 renter amara hashem @thepajaamhub has a series of ingenious rental hacks
renter amara hashem @thepajaamhub made a headboard the leans against the wall

Do follow Amara on Instagram @thepajaamahub to see more of her clever rental hacks and ideas.

Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Clever and creative! Love Amara’s ideas. Loads of inspiration for cost-effective ways to add distinctiveness and drama. Love the headboard and wall panels – can’t wait to try them out.

  2. Amara is hugely talented- fab combination of very resourceful and highly creative. Her home is truly beautiful! Because she pulls it off so successfully, I suspect she makes it look easier than it actually is! I imagine if I tried some of these ingenious methods, it would look like I tried and failed to cover my wall with lumpy sticky back plastic.

    1. I think that the Start Small approach is golden! Yes. If you start with a staircase with odds and angles and want a striped wallpaper you might not end up with the best result. Start small. Build your confidence. Kids start with standing using a chair or something before the stand without support before they walk and definitely before they run. We don’t judge them for that.
      And if you do go with the striped wallpaper in a staircase what is the worst that could happen? You could always redo it when you know how. Its not the end of the world. You might redo it anyway because you want a different look down the line.

  3. Amara’s ideas are great.

    But Kate, nowadays there are tenancy deposit schemes to prevent unscrupulous landlords retaining your deposit without good reason.

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