When you’re into design, renting can be such a bummer. It’s tough to put a price on being happy with your surroundings, but you definitely don’t want to sink too much money into a creating an inspiring space that you will eventually leave. All that aside, there are still plenty of things you can do to zhoosh up your home without spending a small fortune or knocking down any walls. These 10 ideas will have you on your way to being house proud in no time. So out with the “boob lights” (unless they look like the one in the above image) and bare walls, and in with pops of color and pattern on virtually every surface possible.
Level of Difficulty: Beginner (& Nervous)
Jazz up your walls.
A lot of landlords won’t let you paint or make nail holes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add personality. Hanging artwork with adhesive strips is one option, but temporary wallpaper really turns things up. Try papering a full room with patterned repositionable panels. Or, if you’re looking for even less of a commitment, place removable solid tiles on an accent wall in a grid like configuration similar to what a Havenly designer did in this Chicago master bedroom.
Replace your kitchen hardware.
This is not a new idea, but one we will not tired of recommending. Do yourself a favor and throw whatever’s currently on the cabinet doors and drawers into a plastic baggie for safe keeping and replace them with something that makes a statement. Handles and knobs are like the jewelry in a home. Your eyes go right to them, so they’re worth spending a little more on. Our picks for finishes right now: matte black or brass, the latter of which is featured in this gorgeous rental kitchen reno by design blogger Orlando Soria.
Level of Difficulty: Willing To Take Risks (But Still a Little Nervous)
Upgrade your shades.
Plastic blinds are seriously the worst. So swap yours out for inexpensive bamboo blinds. Shelby Girard, head of design at Havenly, says they’ll add visual interest and a touch of boho flair to your windows. If you have a little more to spend, pair them with drapes.
Macgyver a radiator fix.
Whether it’s a funky paint job or a full on cover and shelf situation, give the radiator some design attention—like this bright pink painted one here from Lonny—so it’s more conversation piece and less eyesore.
Fancy up a plain bathroom mirror.
If you have a medicine cabinet, then you’re one of the lucky ones. But for the rest of us renters with plain plate-glass mirrors, MirrorMate makes adhesive-backed decorative frames that dress stock models from IKEA, The Home Depot and Lowe’s as well as custom sizes. Trimming yours out will make a big difference.
Change up your faucets and fixtures.
Getting a faucet with a sprayer, especially if you don’t have a dishwasher, is a total game changer and can be had for under $100. Same is true for a showerhead swap to something that has more pressure options or specialty settings.
Level of Difficulty: DIYer For Life (You’ve Got This!)
Change out light fixtures.
Builder grade flush mount lighting is depressing on so many levels. Why settle when something better is just a trip to the home center away? Consider an oversize drum pendant or a vintage inspired barn light in a dining room or kitchen, similar to what Homepolish designer Megan Hopp installed over model Alana Zimmer’s dinner table. Keep the old lighting safe so you can replace it when moving out.
Ceiling medallions are your friends.
Rentals typically have zero to offer when it comes to architectural interest. So if you’re going to replace a light fixture, you might as well add a ceiling medallion to the mix, like the one in this beautiful bedroom by Amie Corley. You don’t have to go crazy ornate or worry about special adhesives. If you install overhead lighting flush to the ceiling carefully, it should do the heavy lifting to keep a lightweight plastic medallion in place. Skip anything plaster.
Put some dimmable LEDs in a light fixture or two, and add a dimmer switch to your lamp or outlet. You’ll have instant ambiance for dinner parties and the like when the lights aren’t always on full blast.
Show your switchplates and outlets some love.
It seems weird to give so much attention to walls and then neglect the switchplates and outlets, right? Well, for what seemed like forever, replacements were either super pricey or seriously hokey, but the adorne collection by Legrand, seen here installed in a bathroom by blogger Happily Curated Chaos has changed all that by offering high-end looking, sleek options at more affordable prices. Some of the outlets even have USB ports in them, so you can charge your gadgets by an entrance or in the kitchen or bathroom.