Living in a mobile home rental means you have one extra thing to think about when it comes to home care. Your deposit. And thinking about your deposit before you design and decorate your home can help you in the long run. So let’s take a look at what a deposit is and how it affects your mobile home renting experience. Then, we’ll tackle some design and decorating tips that take your deposit into account.

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What is a deposit and why should you care?

When renting a mobile home, your deposit is the sum of money that you’ll give to your landlord to hold until the lease is up. If you move out at the end of your lease, the landlord may return the money—if you’ve kept the home in good condition, that is. If not, the landlord may be able to keep the funds and perhaps use them to make necessary repairs.  

Of course, it makes sense that a landlord needs to collect a deposit. After all, there’s always the chance that a renter could completely trash the home, then move out leaving the unlucky owner to pick up the pieces. In that way, a deposit functions as an incentive for the renter. The renter knows that if they maintain the home in great condition, they should be able to get their money back when they move out. 

What if you still want to decorate?

Certainly, you want your rented mobile home to look and feel like “home.” And for many people that means personalizing the place with their own design and decor. But can you still do this if you have to take special care of the home so as not to lose your deposit? 

Generally, you’ll have to find a way to reconcile the design and decor changes you need to make with the idea that too much change—or change that downgrades the home—could put your deposit in jeopardy. But the good news is that you can find a way to dress up your home’s interior (and even its exterior) without losing your money at the rental period’s end. 

And that’s what we’re here to address today—how to decorate, love your home, and not lose your deposit. Let’s get started. 

What not to do

As with many things, sometimes studying what not to do can be just as instructive as studying what to do. With your deposit, the general concepts are simple. Get permission, don’t do anything that can’t be undone, and manage takedown yourself. 

Don’t do anything that can’t be undone  

There are plenty of ways to incorporate decor that don’t involve making significant changes to your home’s walls or ceilings. We’ll dig into some of these options in a moment. But suffice it to say, one of your best bets for getting your deposit back (when considering decor) is to make only those changes that can be easily reversed. 

Multicolored painted wall

For instance, don’t paint walls and expect your landlord to simply roll with it. Don’t mount large, heavy objects on the wall (think flat-screen TV) and imagine that everyone will just be “okay” with the gaping holes in the sheetrock when you leave. Ideally, you’ll want your mobile home to look the way it looked when you moved in. Unless of course, your landlord is willing for you to make major changes. And that leads us to our next point. 

Get permission

While you generally want to adopt the idea that your home should look the same when you leave as when you arrived, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, the mobile home could look radically different—hopefully much better—and that would be a good thing. 

Here, we’re talking about changes you make with the full approval and support of your landlord. For instance, if you’re a handyman, and you move into a mobile home rental, you may find your landlord respects your abilities and even wants your help. 

Let’s say you ask for permission to create built-in shelving in your living room and the landlord approves. While you’ll be making a big change, it will be a change for the better. And it will be a change with permission—and that makes all the difference. 

If you’re a talented designer with an eye for color, offering to repaint in a more modern palette could be a great idea. Once your landlord sees you successfully tackling projects and achieving a quality outcome, he may be open to more of your ideas. And that’s a win for both of you. 

Actually, putting your skills to work could lead to a great partnership between you and the landlord. And if you build trust and rapport, you may even find that you can achieve your design goals while simultaneously increasing the value of his home. 

One expert tip here: get the permission in writing. You’d hate to come to the end of your rental period only to find there was a misunderstanding or your landlord doesn’t like the changes you made.

Manage takedown yourself

While this isn’t a complicated direction, it’s actually helpful to point out because it’s very easy to overlook. Before you move out of any rental, you’ll want to make sure that you take all your belongings with you. And we mean all

And to do that, you need to look around you and notice the decor items that have been a part of your home’s interior so long that you’ve ceased to notice them. For instance, let’s say you’ve mounted glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling of your child’s bedroom. Be sure to take them down before leaving. 

Why? Well, ironically, cheap, fun decor elements could end up costing you money if you leave them behind. For instance, you may end up getting charged or having part of your deposit kept back. And that makes sense if you consider that the landlord or his agent will have to expend time removing the decor you left. 

What’s the big deal with walls?

While it’s easy to think of the walls first when we think of home decor, they’re not the only space for crafting your look. Actually, you have plenty of other options for making your home an inviting and beautiful space. We’re not saying you can’t use the walls. Instead, we’re just offering you viable alternatives should you find yourself unwilling to take any wall risks that could affect your deposit. 

Try these ideas to bring in beauty

Now that we’ve explored some general principles for design in a rental, let’s get a little more detailed. Subject to the extra constraints that renters face, what can you do to make your home a beautiful place to be? 

Indoor plants on piano

Plants are temporary decor

Plants have tremendous power as items of decor. These living, breathing items add a sense of authenticity and sometimes freshness that’s hard to rival. Plus, you may even be reaping health benefits by having them in your home. So what do you have to lose?

A word of caution

Be very careful about hanging plants from the ceiling. A hook placed in your ceiling could pose problems when it comes time for removal. Not sure you can hang your plants without jeopardizing your deposit? Then simply stick with potted plants that can take up residence on floors, tables, or window sills. 

Take on decor with textiles

Textiles are a great way to create a certain design or decor scheme in your home—all without affecting your deposit. From pillows and throw blankets to bedspreads and towels, you can use textiles in various colors, textures, and designs to achieve your decor mission.  

Throw blankets

You may find yourself unable to hang items on your living room wall. That’s okay. Instead, try a patterned throw to add interest to an otherwise neutral room. 

Pillows

Throw pillows are another way to add charm and a pop of style to a room. Plus, they’re easily changeable. And if you go the slipcover route, you can even switch up the look from time to time without investing in an entire new set of pillows. 

Rugs

Even if you can’t control the type of flooring in your rental, you can exert control to some degree over what your floor looks like. Enter rugs. Rugs are a great option for personalizing your space without making a negative impact that could affect your deposit. 

Remember the regular fixtures

It’s easy to think that if you can’t repaint or hang decor on the walls, then you’re stuck. But you’re really not. After all, almost any element in a room can function as part of your overall design scheme. 

That’s why it’s a good idea to take the “regulars” into consideration. This includes lights, couches, tables, hampers, stools, TV stands, nightstands, dining sets, drapes, bed frames, and more. While these may seem like the “must-haves” in any room, that doesn’t mean you can ignore them from a design perspective. 

In fact, if your decor options are limited by your rental deposit, that’s all the more reason you should pour thought and effort into selecting these staple items. By thinking carefully about your approach to these staple items, you give yourself a chance to craft a cohesive look for your room’s foundation. Can you then add other items to amplify the style choices you’ve made? Absolutely, but you won’t have to depend solely on the additional items to give your space its signature style. 

Yes, you can have height

Let’s say you opt not to put anything on your walls. Or perhaps your rental simply doesn’t allow you to so it’s not really even a choice. For those who are concerned that this relegates their rental decor to low spaces only, it doesn’t. 

Actually, there are still options to bring height to your design. First, there are plants. Tall plants can offer decor that stretches up the height of a wall (or at least partway up). Plus, long drapes or curtains can add height while using the existing curtain hardware. And you can simply select those window treatments that augment your particular style. 

Stand lamps add height. As do hanging light fixtures. If the electrical wiring already provides for a ceiling-mounted fixture, you may be able to personalize this light source by adding new globes. Or even by putting in a new fixture entirely—with permission from your landlord, of course. Keep the old fixture with all its pieces so you can replace it when you leave. 

Other types of lighting can also add height—like fairy lights. You can drape these around windows or on top of mantels to offer coziness and elegance. 

Tabletops and shelves

Wooden shelves

Existing surfaces are also prime real estate for your decor needs. Thoughtfully selected items could have a great impact on a tabletop or other area. And one great advantage of tapping into existing shelving is that it could offer height to your design. For instance, built-in shelving that reaches to the ceiling offers you “wall space” that doesn’t require any hollow wall anchors or nails.   

Can you hang things on the walls and still get your deposit back?

This is a great question, and one answer is—that depends. If you damage the wall by hanging something on it, then you could lose the deposit if you don’t fix the damage. However, it’s quite possible that you could use straight pins or command hooks without causing visible damage to the wall. But the problem is, even some low-impact wall-hanging methods like these aren’t guaranteed. You could discover too late that your straight pin or command hook has chipped or peeled away paint unexpectedly. 

Therefore, we suggest that you simply talk this out with your landlord. Ask what will constitute damage or wear that would lead to forfeiting the deposit.  In fact, you can even specifically ask about wall hanging methods. Your landlord may okay the use of straight pins driven in at an angle with a hammer—provide you promise to fill them with putty before you leave.  

Your rental, your decor

While you may not own the rental home, there’s nothing to stop you from putting your personal stamp on it—as long as you do it in a reversible way. Your home is still your canvas, whether you own it or not. When renting, you’ll just need to put extra thought into exactly what you do and what it’s future impact might be. 

So many options

Now you know a little more about how you can tackle decorating in a rental. But exactly what kind of decor you choose, that’s still an open question. Learning more about your options could be a great start. Dig into mobile home interior design trends. Or take a look at these blue monochromatic palettes

About EZ Homes Design Team

The team behind the scenes at EZ Homes. Bringing you fresh ideas about mobile home lifestyle and design.