Living in a rental is the reality for many people at some point in their lives — it's a great option if you can't yet afford to buy a home or like the flexibility renting allows. However, renting can sometimes feel impersonal, as you usually don't have the freedom to renovate. There are some renter-friendly upgrades you can do, though, to make your rental feel a little more like home.
There are plenty of rental property upgrades you can make throughout your home to create the perfect space for you.
While a full kitchen reno likely isn't going to happen, you can still make quite a few changes in your kitchen that are renter-friendly. An easy place to start is with the hardware on your cabinets. The pulls on your cabinets are easily replaceable, often requiring nothing more than a screwdriver, and shiny new hardware can make a huge difference. Just be sure to keep the original handles and put them back before moving out.
Another change you can make is the flooring. If you're tired of looking at the dingy linoleum in your rental, explore some peel-and-stick flooring options. They don't require any glue or grouting, so when the time comes to move, it's fairly easy to pull them back up. Additionally, you don't have to do any preparation to the original floor besides giving it a good clean before laying the peel-and-stick tiles down.
Similarly, you can purchase peel-and-stick backsplash tiles to bring life to that space, too. Even options like subway tiles, which are always on trend, are available in this removable form. Simply clean your walls, stick the tiles on and remove them before you move out.
Living room and bedroom upgrades
One way to make a big change to your living room or bedroom is removable wallpaper. No glue is required — just peel and stick. It's an easy and renter-friendly way to add an accent wall, change the wall color or create a theme.
You may also want to consider changing out the lighting fixtures. They can usually be easily replaced without requiring electrical work; it's oftentimes just a matter of a few screws. Just be sure to keep the original fixtures somewhere safe so you can put them back before you move out.
If you're up for it, you may also want to consider painting. A fresh coat of paint can breathe new life into a room, and often times reversing it is as simple as repainting it white before you move out. You may want to run this one past your landlord first, but it's a high-reward project for a pretty affordable price.
Much like the kitchen cabinets, you may want to start your rental friendly upgrade by switching out the pulls on any cabinets you have in your bathroom. Be sure to keep these as well to replace them before moving out.
If you have a peeling laminate countertop in your bathroom, you may want to try contact paper. It's a simple way to provide a major visual upgrade. Placing contact paper is as simple as peeling it and sticking it down, and modern-day contact paper is usually easily removable. Pro tip: If you're having trouble removing contact paper, use a hair dryer to warm up the glue and it should peel right off!
You may also find replacing your toilet seat to be a quick and easy way to make your bathroom feel brand new. Toilet seats come in a surprising number of colors and designs and at a range of price points. Plus, it doesn't take a plumber to switch out the seats. Just hang on to the old seat and put it back before moving out.
Replacing your shower head is another way to upgrade your rental's bathroom. Not only will it look sleeker, but you'll likely also get a better shower. Like your lighting options, a more energy efficient shower head may also lower your water bill. Remember to keep the old shower head and replace it before moving out.
Many renter-friendly décor upgrades will take your rental to the next level. A simple place to start is with switch plates. Replace the stained, white plastic ones with brass, gold or any other color to help make your light switches look a little more upscale. Just keep those old ones and replace them before moving out.
Switching out doorknobs is another quick décor change you can make. Whether the ones currently in your rental are mismatched or just outdated, picking out new ones can bring new life to your home. It's also another change you can do yourself and is easily reversable for when you move out.
For those dim corners in your home, try experimenting with LED strips. For instance, if you find the overhead light in the kitchen doesn't quite light up the countertops, stick a row of LED lights under the cabinet for an easy way to brighten up the space.
Some other simple décor ideas to upgrade your rental include:
- Plants (live or fake!)
- Photo galleries
- Floating shelves
- Colorful throw pillows
- New curtains/blinds
Benefits of home improvements
There are a few reasons why you may want to implement some of these changes. For starters, adding some renter-friendly décor and making rental-friendly upgrades allows you to personalize the space. If you work from home, you may want to find ways to make the space you have more work-friendly by adding an office area.
Alternatively, these upgrades may simply be a way to create a more comfortable home environment. Because many rentals are designed to be a blank slate, you may want to add different types of lighting, hardware, backsplashes or other design choices to make it match your style. Just because you don't own doesn't mean you don't deserve to feel at home there!
Another plus? You can often make upgrades that can help save you money. Some rental property upgrades, such as sealing windows, changing the shower head and replacing lightbulbs and lighting fixtures, can help make your rental more energy efficient and, ultimately, may help lower your utility bills over time.
You no longer have to feel trapped by sterile white walls and outdated flooring in your rental. Just pick the renter-friendly upgrades that are right for you, and your place will feel like home in no time.