I’ve written a lot about where you should spend money in order to get the best value in your home. But usually when I write these articles I’m talking to the homeowner/investor. There’s obviously a flip side to this – the renter. As a renter you may not be able to do any serious renovations, but there are still plenty of ways you can put your own spin on a rental home and add value to your living space. So here are some of my decorating tips for renters.
Before you make any changes check with your landlord. Some may be hesitant to allow you to make upgrades, but in many cases if you agree to change things back to the way they were before you move out they’re ok with it. And if you’re making upgrades they like, so much the better.
Paint & Wallpaper
Paint is the most obvious choice decorating choice for renters. It’s easy and it makes a huge impact on any room. You can paint a solid color, do a feature wall, some sort of interesting design – whatever. It’s without a doubt the easiest way of personalizing a rental unit. Some landlords may even let you paint kitchen cabinets if you feel like taking on a bigger project.
Wallpaper is a little different because it can be harder to remove when you leave. But now most companies offer peel and stick versions, which come right off without making a mess. If you really want to up your decorating ante wallpaper can be a great choice.
Faucets & Fixtures
Replacing fixtures that you use everyday can be a useful investment and a way to personalize your space. Kitchen and bath faucets can be found at big box stores for pretty good prices, and they can go a long way in making your space feel a bit more luxurious. Same goes for shower heads.
Light fixtures have a big utilitarian and decorative effect on a space. If you’re not happy with the existing light fixtures when you move in switch them out for something that suits your tastes. And I highly recommend adding dimmer switches so that you have even more control.
Kitchen hardware is another easy switch. Dated hardware can date a whole kitchen, so the money invested in hardware can translate into the appearance of an expensive update. When it comes to cost, there’s a big range. You can go really cheap, but that defeats the purpose of the update, so splurge on something nice. Budget about $3 per drawer for pieces that are clean and modern. For a typical one-bedroom apartment this will run you about $50 and shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to install. But don’t throw out the old hardware – you’ll want to switch it back when you leave and take your new pulls with you (unless your landlord agrees to pay for them).
Similar to cabinet pulls, replacing doorknobs, switch plates, and other types of hardware can have a big impact. In most rentals they’re all pretty standard so if you have specific tastes and want to replace them go for it. It’s surprising what a difference it can make. Again, hang onto the originals so you can put them back when you move out.
Putting down an area rug is the simplest way to cover ugly floors without the trouble and expense of replacing them. Despite being a high-demand feature, good-looking hardwood floors are few and far between in rentals. Flooring takes so much wear and tear that landlords are hesitant to spend a lot of money replacing or repairing floors, so rugs are the answer to covering up any previous tenant’s damage. They’re also great for covering ugly carpet that doesn’t suit your style.
Photo courtesy of SKIT Inc.