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RISMEDIA, March 13, 2010—(MCT)—The new American dream: Renting, until the dust settles. More Americans are renting homes and giving up on home ownership—at least for now. Job loss and foreclosures are forcing some folks out of their family homes and into apartments and rental homes.

As a renter, you may feel that your options are limited when it comes to decorating. But, if you spend time with your new landlord, you may be able to work out some cosmetic changes in the home before move-in. In fact, there are many painting products, hardware items and wall decor pieces that can change a look without destroying the place. Many landlords will be happy you’re taking care of the home.

6 ways to spruce up your rental

1. Start with updates. For example, if carpeting or flooring needs to be replaced, see if the landlord would be willing to update it. It could be a win-win situation for the both of you: new flooring for you and it increases the home’s value for the homeowner. Consider making a deal with your landlord: he buys the materials, you do the labor.

2. Painting. Always get permission from your landlord before you paint. If he or she approves, consider magnetic primer by Rust-Oleum. This specialty magnetic latex primer has a dark gray base coat that allows you to create a surface that attracts magnets. It can be applied to wood, metal, masonry, drywall and plaster. It’s a fun way to hang photos, prints, posters and more without damaging the wall.

3. Area rugs. Rugs are a good way to cover up old flooring. It’s an easy fix and you can take it with you when you move.

4. Fixtures, cabinet hardware and switchplates. These items are simple changes you can make for an updated look. If there is a ceiling fan in the kitchen or dining room, consider new light kits with charming glass votives. Replacing knobs and pulls on kitchen cabinetry is a simple task and an inexpensive way to upgrade the look. Changing switchplates, especially in the bedrooms, is an easy fix to bring in a style of your own.

5. Florals. Creating an artistic floral arrangement can liven up any room in your rental home. Paper flowers are long-lasting, and they won’t wilt or die.

6. Wall decals, stickers, fabric and letters. You can customize any room in your rental home with removable wall art decals. Decal stickers give a hand-painted look to your walls, windows, glass or mirrors. Plus it’s a short-term fix. Fabric is another option for home decorating. You could create a wall collage using swatches of fabric hung with push pins. Self adhesive and magnetic letters are becoming a popular trend in wall decor. Most are so lightweight they can be hung with push pins. Others can be hung with self-adhesive magnetic strips.

(c) 2010, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.