Setting up your home to reflect your creativity, lifestyle and personality can be challenging when you are renting. And as someone who has been renting for more than 11 years now, I know the pain.
Most landlords won't allow you to put holes in the walls of an apartment, some might also forbid blue tack.
So does this mean that, as a renter, you just have to wait to give your art proper wall space or you can't buy that painting you've seen online?
Not at all!
I got creative over the renting years - that by the way are still not over while I'm writing this blog post! - and I want to share few ideas with you on how to display your favourite artworks in your rented home!
1. Remove existing artworks and replace them with your stuff!
Easy and might sound obvious but this is the first thing I do as I walk in to a new space. It makes the space feel a bit more mine, since the very beginning.
Put in a corner mirrors you don't need, artworks you don't like, stuff that doesn't resonate with you, or it's simply generic art that has no meaning to you.
Get rid of all of that, and place them in a safe space until you move out. Bye bye.
Now... Once that's done, use existing nails to display your artworks and let them shine.
If you are going to hang heavy artworks, make sure the nails in the wall are strong enough to support the weight. Should go without saying, but don't hang a big canvas on a tiny nail/pin!!
Even if there are rules to hang your art on walls, renting life - I think - excuses you from following them! And even if the artworks end up being a bit too high up on the wall, it's ok. The art police won't come into your home with a measuring tape!
I had up on my walls these 2 prints for 4 years and they were not aligned (the one on the right higher), they were 5cm/2in off.
Did it bother me? Yes, but I knew it was a temporary solution and I love the prints so much that it was ok.
If a nail is too high up, use fishnet (great because it's almost transparent) or a bit of cotton thread to lower the artwork down. Or, alternatively, you can place a chair, a stool, or a plant underneath the artwork so it looks purposeful, work around obstacles and existing nails like a pro :)
This was a wall in our bedroom, where I took advantage of existing nails and the position of the thermostat to create a "purposeful" composition.
2. Use picture-hanging strips
Picture-hanging strips are a lifesaver for renters. They come in lots of different sizes so they can accommodate different weights.
Make sure to buy ones that match the size and weight of your art. If you live in a historic building you might want to check if your walls are suitable as well.
Once you stick the strips on, it's a good idea to press the artwork to the wall for a few seconds.
Picture-hanging strips won't work in humid environments or on tiles. You can look up velcro strips instead for a more secure grip.
3. Lean art against the wall
Wether you have a book shelf or other kind of furniture, you can lean your art against the wall, in this way you won't need any nails.
From floating shelves to the fridge... If the artwork isn't in the way, and it's safe to be displayed there... then it's ok.
To make sure the wall doesn't get any marks and you leave the walls as pristine as you found them, I suggest adding Silicone Bumps behind your artwork, or felt (the kind you'd put under chairs).
Stick 1 bump per top corner - only the top is needed, as the bottom won't touch the wall, so the canvas is equally balanced and and you won't get any marks on the wall if you accidentally bump into the artwork.
Shelves, fireplace mantels, chests of drawers and tops of kitchen cabinets* are great places for leaning artwork to add interest without having to put a hole in the wall.
If you're using your bookcase for books, art and decor, you can use the rule of thirds: one-third books, one-third art, one-third decor. Try leaning art in a zigzag pattern in your bookcase, style the open shelves with books and decor items. Or don't! Whatever feels right for your room.
*Kitchens - like bathrooms - can be tricky if there's not much ventilation.
4. Layer it up!
If you have a lot of art to display or love a layered look, try layering the artworks on an entryway table, a console or cabinets.
This is a displaying style that fits a modern interior and it's great to avoid nails and holes in the wall.
If you go for the layered look, make sure frame corners don't lean on canvas as the artwork might get damaged, while you shouldn't have any issue with framed paper and prints.
Layering can look great on a picture ledge. If you don't have one in your rented space, it could be a great compromise as you won't have to make hundreds of holes in your wall.
Just a few screws and you should be set.
Ikea has some great picture ledges worth exploring.
I personally suggest a white picture ledge, so you can let your layered composition shine.
5. Art on Paper/Prints
Now, art on paper and prints... you can easily put them up on a wall with blue tack - check on your contract, as some home owners do not allow blue tack on walls - or washi tape.
However, while these are fast and cheap ways to have art on your walls, they are also not the best to keep your art on paper/print safe and protected.
Art on paper and prints - when not framed - are more perishable and colours might get altered by sunlight.
So if you decide to go frameless make sure the artwork is placed in a safe spot, far away from light and water splashes. And for original art, you might want to keep it in the transparent sleeve the artist sent it in - if they did so - as those sleeves are archival and should protect the artwork for quite some time.
You might also want to ask the artist to varnish the artwork, for extra protection.
So that you are aware, I don't but some artists might charge you a small fee for varnishing.
6. Get creative with hanging materials
Clips, paper clips and carabiner can become your friends. You can use them on existing nails or on cabinets, doors, anything that will allow you to display your art really.
Sometimes a cloth hanger will to do too!
I know the picture below isn't art, but when I had just moved to Dublin - settling in the new room and life - I didn't have much money to spend on furniture and decor, so this is how my necklaces and sunglasses were displayed! :)
At the end of the day, embrace the temporariness of the situation and make the most of the space and walls you have!
Happy renting :)