There comes a time in every renter’s life when they feel the need to updated their space. Maybe it’s when they first move in, maybe it’s after a couple years, either way, unless you have the world’s coolest landlord you probably won’t get the chance to really make your apartment your own. But don’t worry, there are a few things you can do to make your space feel more like your home, and best of all — they aren’t permanent so you won’t lose any of your deposit!
1. Update cabinets
Kitchens can be hit or miss when it comes to apartments. One of the easiest ways to add your own style is to update the hardware. This is cost-effective and won’t take much time or skill like other DIY projects. If updating the knobs doesn’t save the cabinets, just take off the doors. Open shelving is super trendy right now, and you can put the doors back on when it’s time to move on.
2. Light fixtures
Changing a light fixture can have a huge impact on a room. If you have built in hanging fans, see if it’s an option to replace the glass “shade” with something new. Adding ceiling lights can be easily done with Command Hooks, a light bulb (with attached cord so you don’t have to do any electrical work) and a shade. Command Hooks are also great for hiding the cords once you have everything in place too.
3. “Paint” the walls
If you’re renting in an older building there is a good chance that there is at least one revolting color choice that was made in the 70s and never updated. Luckily, you can cover it up with something more modern thanks to TemPaint! It’s designed to go on easy and come off when you’re ready to move on to the next apartment. Plus you can order as much as you want, which means you can redo a whole room or just add a pop of color.
4. Add tiles
There are lots of snap in tile options that can work for adding a little flare to a bathroom or kitchen backsplash. The great thing about these is that you can bring them with you when you move into a new unit, but they also look like a permanent part of the home design.
5. Fix ugly floors
Whether it’s a decade old stain, hideous tile or you live in a modern apartment with concrete everywhere, there are a couple easy ways to fix the floor issue. Option 1: cover it up. Rugs are great because they require no labor whatsoever, and they are a movable option, which is really great if you’re not planning to stay in one place long. Option 2: layer painted plywood that’s cut to fit on top of the current floor. This option is definitely more time consuming and may require some help from someone who knows how to install floors (or at least has a saw), but the result is worth it in the end.
6. Divide the room
Small studio apartments can often feel cluttered, which you definitely don’t want to feel when you’re trying to relax and go to bed. A strategically placed book shelf or half accent wall will divide the room and allow for additional storage. Pro tip: If you go with a bookcase, get a backless one so you can decorate on both sides, or add hooks to the back for additional storage/hanging space.
7. Make your own vanity
It’s really not that hard, trust us. Go get some plywood, measure and cut it to the size you want, then paint it or stain it for a finished look. Once that’s ready to go get some brackets and drill them into the wall. Attach the plywood to the backets and presto! You’re done! This solution is both cost-effective and doesn’t take up much space. Take it a step further and attach lights to a plywood mirror frame that can be attached to the wall with Command Strips. (Be sure to check with your landlord before putting holes into the wall!)
Older apartments seem to have radiators in random and inconvenient places. Take back the dead space they create by adding a floating shelf for small knickknacks and photos. You can also buy radiator covers with storage built into them. If you’re handy and creative you can make one yourself too.
9. Storage in the kitchen
If you live in a small space storage is always going to be an issue. While there are tons of options for adding storage under the stairs or building it into a headboard, two of our favorites is for the kitchen. If you have limited counter space, a rolling cart/island is an awesome way to get a little more, plus you can move it around with you from apartment to apartment. To avoid clutter we love the idea of hanging a tension rod between two cabinets. If you’re able to do this by your sink you’ll be able to really declutter the space by hanging towels and sponges there.
10. Decorate with washi tape
This might seem like a strange idea, but much like blue painter’s tape, washi tape will come off the walls without leaving marks. This can be a really fun idea in kids rooms since it comes in so many patterns and designs.
11. Peg boards
These are great because they can be used for so many different things in so many different rooms. Use them in the kitchen to hang pots and pans, or use it in the bedroom for hanging pictures and organizing small items. A really smart way to use them is to extend them vertically. This takes up less precious floor space, but still gives you a ton of storage.
12. Hide the wires
No, we don’t mean all the wires from your phone, computer and lights (although hiding those is always good). We’re talking about wire shelves. Yes, these can serve a purpose if you’re going for an industrial chic look, but they aren’t very easy to store things on. A simple piece of foam core board will do the trick. While you can get these in almost any color these days, white is the best option if you want to add a design to it. Once you’re ready to “install” simply fold the ends to match the edge of the wire shelf (typically about an inch) and place it on top.
13. Cover it up
For some reason there always seems to be a weird pipe sticking out somewhere in an apartment (usually in the bathroom). Well, now you can make it part of your decor for the room by wrapping it in rope. This can be especially chic if you choose a nautical theme for the room. (Be sure to check and make sure that this won’t be a problem if you’re doing this on a hot water pipe.)
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