15 Nursery Decorating Tips for Rentals
Note: While these nursery photos are gorgeous, please know that it’s NOT safe to place stuffed animals, pillows, bumpers, or any loose items inside your infant’s sleep space until Baby is a year old. —Dr. Harvey Karp
Renting a home? Planning for a baby? It can be tough to find the balance between decorating your space in a way that feels like home, while also upholding the rules set in place by a landlord. Typical restrictions like not painting walls or trim and limiting holes put in the wall tend to compete with our instincts to go big in the baby room.
But there’s no need to stress, because today’s decorating trends lend beautifully to a space designed with little to no damage to your walls and floors. Make the most of a room that’s way too neutral by adding color and fun everywhere from the rugs to the window treatments. Can’t paint walls? Paint the furniture! Want to hang a bunch of pictures? We’ve got you covered there, too.
Check out our top nursery decorating ideas that are rental-friendly and ready to make Baby’s corner of the world shine.
Nursery Wall Decals
Photo: Urban Walls
If you can’t paint or hang wallpaper, that does not mean the baby’s walls need to be boring or plain. In addition to other design details around the room, consider this removable adhesive solution that comes in a wide variety of themes, colors, and sizes to fill the nursery with whimsy, style, and endless charm.
Nursery Rug Layering
Photo: Braun Adams
If you’re in a rental, laying down your choice of wall-to-wall carpeting is out, and chances are the basic beige that tends to come with rentals doesn’t exactly stir the soul. Layering one or multiple rugs on top of the baby’s room floor creates a cushy and cozy place for them to hang out and play while makes the room aesthetically pleasing for you. Check out all our favorite nursery rug ideas here!
Adhesive Nursery Hooks
Just how strict the rules are about holes in the wall may vary, but most renters choose not to make too many if it can be avoided. Try adhesive hooks instead, which can be pulled off in a snap with no marks on the wall. Skip the boring variety and make a colorful statement with this rainbow of alternatives. You can use them for hanging towels, sweaters, or even art and lightweight mirrors strung with ribbon at the backs of the frames.
Use a Standing Rack
Lots of modern nurseries feature a variety of cute baby items hanging on wall racks or displayed on little floating shelves. If you’re avoiding drilling excess holes in a rental, a well-balanced garment rack is a beautiful alternative. It’s a good use of space and allows you to rotate a “gallery” of functional items—and some that are just plain pretty.
Create a “Closet Nursery”
Tight on space? In a smaller rental, lots of parents find success transforming a linen or master closet into a magical little nursery for Baby with a crib and smart storage. The best part? This cozy spot is womb-like and lends very well to sleep. (See more nursery hacks for small spaces!)
Try Drapes in the Nursery
Photo: Pottery Barn Kids
In a home where you aren’t supposed to make permanent choices about decor, there are lots of other ways to bring sweeping style into the nursery. One such idea is with gorgeous drapes –even if there is no actual window behind them! But on the topic of windows, we’ve got lots of trend-right window treatment ideas to enhance Baby’s room and bring in color and pattern without touching walls.
Hang Pictures With Washi Tape
Photo: Maiko Nagao
One creative solution to the conundrum of not being able to drill holes is the use of washi tape. These super simple DIY “frames” are not only wall-friendly, they are totally unique and really pretty, too. You can get washi tape at any craft store, on Amazon, or find special prints and colors from all over the world on Etsy to match the theme and aesthetic in Baby’s room. Whether you’re going minimalist and sleek or reaching for a busy, maximalist look, try the washi hack!
Add Color With Furniture
Photo: The Posh Home
Often, rented homes feature neutral walls like white or gray that can’t be altered by tenants. Do not let plain walls bum you out; crank up the color with gorgeous, unique furniture. Whether you paint it or buy it bright as is, a crib, dresser, or change table in your colors of choice will add dimension and brightness to the room and let you take the key decor elements with you if you move on into a new home later.
Removable Nursery Wallpaper
Photo: Love vs Design
Many peel-and-stick wallpapers promise an easy-off removal that will allow you to take it right down whenever necessary, with zero damage to the walls. This modern option makes it easy to paper an accent wall or the whole nursery with no stress, even in a rental. The brand shown here is fully customizable with all your favorite colors and special prints for a perfect fit. (More nursery wallpaper inspo ahead!)
DIY Floating Shelves
Photo & How-To: Within the Groove
Give existing wire shelving in the baby’s closet an upgrade with this super easy DIY. We love any do-it-yourself that’s actually do-it-yourself-able (check out some doable nursery DIY ideas here!) and this one elevates the look of standard rental shelving exponentially in just a few steps. Say “bye-bye” to boring baby closets and welcome in a chic new spot for shoes, gear, and more.
Add Lots of Texture
Photo: Maison de Pax
Still another way to dial up the drama without touching the walls or floors is with texture throughout the nursery. Think: artful tapestries, ruffled curtains or crib skirt, nubby rugs, shiny mirrors, and maybe even some 3D wallpaper of the removable variety. Whatever you do, mix things up even in a small space and trust us, you won’t be bothered by the boring old box this room used to be.
Use an Armoire in the Nursery
If you’re in a smaller rental and tight on storage space, or just don’t have a great closet in the baby’s room, you can add storage without drilling a single hole. Armoires can take the place of not only a closet, but wall shelving for books and toys; making your go-anywhere storage solution a really cute and sturdy one.
Try a Few Nursery Lamps
Photo: Pottery Barn Kids
It’s always a good idea to play around with lighting in the nursery. Especially if adding wiring and altering the ceiling or walls is not feasible, this can be done simply with a variety of lamps. Try a shelved, tabletop, and floor lamps throughout the room for an ambient (and stylish!) glow.
Buy a Nursery Plant
Photo: Leon and George
It’s about the easiest change you can make in a baby’s room to add color, intrigue, and a bit of the outside world without damaging walls or floors or overspending. A potted plant doesn’t have to be real to add character to the space, but real plants can improve air quality in the nursery. Choose nontoxic and soft—not spiky—plants for Baby’s safety, and place in a well-weighted, deep pot.
Add a Nursery Canopy
Photo: Winter Daisy
For Baby’s safety, do not hang or drape any fabric (even gauzy or light) above or near the crib or sleep space. But in another corner or along a wall set up for reading, playtime, or changing, a sweeping canopy brings whimsy and beauty into a room that cannot be painted or papered.
More Nursery Design Inspiration:
- Striking White Nursery Ideas
- Space-Saving Nursery-Guest Room Ideas
- Sophisticated Scandinavian Nursery Ideas
- Modern Boy Nursery Ideas
- Modern Girl Nursery Ideas
Have questions about a Happiest Baby product? Our consultants would be happy to help! Submit your questions here.
Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.