For many of us, the ultimate goal is to someday own our own dream house. You know the one–with the perfectly-sized kitchen, the ideal yard, and the best neighborhood all for the right price. But for whatever reason, homeownership may not be in the cards for everyone. At least not right away. In 2015, around 62% of Americans owned their own home. However, some reports, such as this recent one from Trulia, suggest that the numbers of renters are continually increasing.
There’s nothing wrong with renting; however, one of the drawbacks to not owning your own residence is there are usually restrictions on what you can and cannot do regarding updating your space. Depending on your landlord, if might even be something minor as no paint colors other than white.
If you’re a renter (maybe it’s your first time living on your own, home ownership is impossible in your city, you don’t care about settling down right away, or something else entirely), this doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice feelings of hominess.
Your landlord might not be ok with you painting your living room ceiling black, but some landlords are fine with you painting the walls different colors as long as you paint them back to the original before you move out. If your rental agreement does not allow any colors whatsoever, you might be able to manage a fresh coat of the existing color. It might seem like a waste or time (or incredibly boring), but a fresh coat of paint can do wonders to brighten up a room, even if the color isn’t any different.
Wallpaper isn’t quite dead yet. Well, maybe traditional wallpaper is, but lucky for us temporary wallpaper exists! Tempaper, for example, makes self-adhesive, temporary wallpaper made from vinyl, but you can find other temporary wallpaper brands everywhere from Target to Wayfair to your local home improvement store. These are perfect for accent walls or upgrading bathrooms, children’s bedrooms, and even closets without the mess or paint.
If you don’t want to commit to such a large-scale adhesive design, you can always go with removable vinyl wall decals to upgrade your space. From words, images, and even customizable decals, the possibilities are rather endless.
One problem with rental properties is they can easily feel dated–particularly when it comes to the fixtures. It’s never a good idea to mess with electrical work unless you’re an electrician, but improving your lighting can make a big difference–both in terms of visibility and appearance. When choosing a new light fixture, think about function, as well as style. And choose appropriate bulbs to go with it. Don’t want to go through the hassle of changing the fixtures? You can always pick up new lampshades, if that applies to your situation, or supply more of your own accent lighting to distract from the others. Ugly light switch plate? That’s an easy fix, too!
Swapping out the old shower head, toilet seat, and even faucets can also greatly improve the look of your space–just make sure to keep the old ones so you can replace them when you move out! These are usually easy to swap out but don’t hesitate to look for a friend who has done it before, or even see if your local home improvement store offers free classes or instruction.
If the carpet is an eyesore, invest in some nicer-looking rugs for over top. They can easily provide a nice focal point that detracts from the potential stains or tears of the old carpet.
If painting or wallpapering isn’t really your thing, a tapestry can accent a wall and hide any potential scuffs or nail holes in the walls. For a bedroom, hanging a tapestry at the head of the bed can serve as a nice (and lighter) replacement for a headboard.
Not being able to change the physical layout of a rental is kind of a given–but a room divider or screen can be a nice, decorative way to break up a room. Maybe your washer and dryer are out in the open? Hide them behind a divider that you can easily move off to the side come laundry day.
Storage can be an issue no matter where you are, but especially in rental apartments. If you have a pantry, see if you can use an over-the-door rack on the inside to give you some extra storage space, or even utilize smaller racks that go inside cabinet doors. These usually only require a few screws–just make sure this is ok with your landlord first (and hey, they might actually want you to leave them there for future tenants).
You should always check with your landlord before you make any changes to your rental property, especially those that involve swapping out old fixtures. Some landlords might be open to allowing you to make permanent upgrades to the home or apartment, but keep in mind that if you plan on moving, you’re out those costs.
If you need any help in this department, check out our post on organization tips here!
Sarah is a content writer and social media assistant with a BA in literature/creative writing from Wilkes University. When she’s not spending her days at work writing, reading, and drinking coffee, she’s usually at home reading, writing, and drinking coffee. She also devotes a fair amount of time to HGTV, drawing, and doting on her dog. As a creator, Sarah believes in emphasizing personality through design and DIY projects.