30 Landlord-Approved Ways to Majorly Spruce up Your Rented Apartment

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Feeling stir-crazy and want to spruce up your space but can’t because you’re renting? We’ve all been there. It can be frustrating to feel like you can’t make your own mark on your home, and while it may be tempting to expand a closet and knock down a wall or two, the sad reality is that unless you own the property, your options are limited. Luckily, there are clever ways to majorly upgrade your crib without totally ticking off your landlord.

And while I can’t guarantee you’ll get your entire security deposit back, it definitely won’t be because of the following 30 tips.


Think you can’t do anything about the dated and drab kitchen in your rental property? Think again! One of the easiest ways to give kitchen drawers and cabinets a quick facelift is by swapping out the knobs and drawer pulls. This is a great way to show off your personality without having to spend a ton of money. Want a splash of color? Trade boring black knobs for bright orange or turquoise ones. Want something sleeker? Pick chrome or metallic pulls for a more sophisticated look. Just make sure to save the originals and change them back before you move.

This fun trend isn’t just for kid’s rooms anymore. Adding a chalkboard wall to your kitchen is a unique way to keep track of to-dos, reminders, and grocery lists. It’s also a great way to add personalization and chic decor to your dining or living room. Another great thing about this idea? The dark slate color of chalkboard paint looks great even with nothing written on it, so you don’t have to worry about constantly thinking up pretty doodles and phrases. Just make sure to put down a tarp to protect the floor before you start painting.

If the kitchen in your rental has horrendously ugly tile, weird, tacky wallpaper, or simply an absence of anything (aka, totally boring), stick-on tiles are a great option for creating a backsplash that won’t break the bank (or your walls). They come in long sheets that can be cut to size so installation is basically fool-proof. And while there are tons of options on the market to choose from, it’s always nice to bring a pop of brightness to your space with tiles that are different shades of the same color.

Sure, you could paint an entire room the same color, but where’s the fun in that? Accent walls are all the rage these days, and you’re going to want to choose a bold color that will create the focal point of the room. But what color is best? Think about the space itself. Does it seem dark and drab? Pick a warm tone like salmon or tangerine. Want to make an art-deco statement? Choose a deep blue and add metallic gold accents.

Here’s a tip I heard about from an interior designer friend of mine that I’ve always taken to heart: If you’re renting a small apartment, add as many plants as possible. Sure, it might sound counterproductive, but it will help to bring the outdoors in and make your space seem larger. High-quality plants can be expensive, so it’s best to start with just one or two and grow your collection over time if you’re strapped for cash. Pick low-maintenance options like a fiddle leaf fig or an asparagus fern if you don’t have much of a green thumb.

Don’t have any artistic ability? Don’t worry! Literally anyone could master this next tip. All you have to do is find a blank wall, grab a small-to-medium-sized paintbrush, some paint, and make some dots. That’s it. Cover the entire thing with polka dots for a totally new type of accent wall. I recommend mixing up the size of your dots so it looks less uniform and more natural. Plus, this will give you more forgiveness if you make any mistakes. This method of painting is so much fun that you’ll be tempted to add a polka-dot wall in every room of your rental!

If you haven’t heard of Washi tape, prepare to meet your new home decor BFF. It’s basically just crafting tape that comes in different colors and patterns, and it a great and easy way to totally (and temporarily) transform a room. For a simple and chic look, copy this bathroom upgrade idea and stick tape in a horizontal pattern from the top to the bottom of the wall above your toilet. You’ll just have to carefully peel it off before you move.

You’ve most likely seen a lot of these wall decals on Pinterest and Instagram, and for good reason: Not only are they incredibly popular right now, but they’re an awesome way to transform a bland wall into something truly spectacular. Basically just oversized stickers, wall decal installation couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is peel off the backing, stick them wherever you think they’d look the best, and smooth until no bubbles remain. They also come off easily without any sticky residue.

I once heard someone describe window treatments as “the eyelashes of a room” and haven’t stopped thinking of it since. It’s 100% accurate since a window without curtains just doesn’t have the same allure and “finished” look as one that does. It turns out, adding curtains to your windows isn’t as expensive as you might have assumed. You can find affordable options at places like Target and Amazon, and the various color and texture options allow you to customize your look to your exact style.

One part of your rental that you’ve probably overlooked in terms of upgrades and personalization is your light and outlet switches. Why keep them a dull shade of off-white or tan when you can get crazy with them instead? Etsy has a variety of hand-painted switch covers to choose from. Or, if you’re feeling crafty, feel free to buy a basic set on Amazon and paint them yourself. I love the cool marbled look of the ones above. Because they’re such a small part of each room, they won’t overpower the decor.

Think you can’t do anything about the unfortunate tile in your bathroom? Not so! Tile “tattoos” are here to save the day. They work just like wall decals but are much smaller and designed to fit smack dab in the middle of each tile. These things are all over Etsy, and make such a difference in the look of your bathroom that I even bought some for my house (which I own) instead of spending thousands to replace the tile. These things are beyond genius.

It’s crazy what a difference a rug can make to pull an entire room together. It not only adds personality to a living room or bedroom, but it can even make it look larger and add comfort to hardwood floors. Yes, area rugs can be expensive, but if you know where to look you can find some great deals. Places like The Home Depot and Lowes usually have basic rugs for under $200, and Ikea is a great place to look for rugs that are big on style with not-so-big pricetags.

I am completely obsessed with string lights. While they used to be reserved for teenager’s bedrooms and college dorms, string lights have moved into home decor in a big way, and instantly add a warm and inviting light regardless of where you hang them. This is another tip that won’t require any type of alterations to your rental whatsoever. Want to avoid putting unnecessary holes in your walls? Simply drape a set of high-quality globe lights around a window for an effortlessly dreamy look.

Here’s a tip that most renters might be surprised by: You can switch out your showerhead even when you don’t own a property. It’s an incredibly easy upgrade to make, and you won’t even need to recruit your handiest friend to help you do it. Just unscrew the old, clogged one and replace it with an oversized rain shower option that will turn your bathroom into a relaxing spa. Just don’t forget to screw on the original one before you leave. Why let the new renters keep your fancy shower head?

If your rental feels overly cramped and you wish you had more storage space in your kitchen or bathrooms, it’s time to get organized. Throw out anything you don’t use and sort things based on categories, such as cans and dry goods in your pantry and skincare and makeup in your bathroom. You can buy bathroom cabinet and pantry shelf organizers that maximize your space and make all your essentials easily accessible. You’ll be amazed by how much stuff you’re able to store once you figure out how to do it the right way!

If the thought of making your own headboard scares you, it shouldn’t. This is one DIY project that’s totally doable for beginners and non-handy people. Plus, it’s perfect for renters, since it’s not a permanent installation. There are tons of tutorials online, but this project basically consists of the following supplies: A piece of plywood, some padding, a piece of fabric, some small craft hooks, and a staple gun. When finished, simply hang the headboard on the wall and take it off when you move.

Did your rental come with the standard white, plastic, mold-resistant shower curtain that all rentals typically come with? Not only does this add a cold, clinical feel to your bathroom, but it’s also incredibly boring. Why not replace it with something more your style? It’s easy to find quirky and colorful shower curtains at places like Wayfair, Overstock, and even Walmart. I recently bought a black-and-white one with tassel accents for under 30 bucks. It’s crazy what a huge difference even this small change can make!

I’ve stayed in some ridiculously small rentals in the past, so I know all too well how suffocating it can feel. Luckily, I discovered this tip when I was living in a 500-square-foot studio: Hang some mirrors on the walls. It’s almost magical how much larger even just one mirror can make your apartment feel. Plus, mirrors are extremely trendy right now, especially circular ones with a simple wooden frame. This style goes well with a variety of home decor types and looks great in any room.

Sick of your rental property but can’t figure out a way to change it? Head outdoors. If you have even a small outdoor space that you’re allowed to use, take full advantage of it by creating an inviting atmosphere that you’ll love spending time in. Add seating, an outdoor dining area, and plenty of lighting to make it as cozy as possible. I love how an outdoor rug makes a patio feel even more like a livable space. Ask your landlord before adding things like tiki torches or a fire pit to make sure they’re allowed.

One of the main complaints from renters about their kitchens tends to involve the appliances. Obviously you can’t replace old, dated white or black refrigerators, dishwashers and stoves with stainless steel ones, but there is a way to give them a sleek upgrade. You can buy shiny silver decals that are designed to make any appliance look stainless steel, and it’s as easy as peeling and sticking. I’ve told countless people about this trick and am always amazed when they send me their before and after shots.

Sometimes, you move into an apartment or rental home that has awful wallpaper that you can’t remove or wall color that you’re not allowed to paint over. The solution? Find as much art as possible and cover the walls with it. This is another great way to show off your personality through your favorite pieces. If you don’t want to spend the money on art prints, head to your favorite thrift stores and antique shops, which usually have an eclectic blend of artwork to choose from.

One of my first apartments was a loft-style studio with no walls between any of the rooms. The open style didn’t provide much privacy, and I wasn’t a big fan of the lack of separation between spaces. My solution? Room dividers. If you want to separate without completely closing off a space, I suggest investing in a room divider with a sheer design. That way, you can still see into the next room while adding privacy and structure. Problem solved!

Can’t afford a rental with marble, quartz, or granite countertops? No worries. You can fake it with contact paper! You can buy it at home improvement stores by the roll and it installs in a snap; just cut to size and stick it on. If you’re wondering how contact paper will hold up in the long-run, it’s actually much more durable than you’d expect, and because it comes in such large quantities, it’s easy to replace any spots that get worn away or damaged.

Okay, I understand that this sounds a bit weird, but hear me out. When you rent a home, you’re using the same toilet that who knows how many other people have used. Gross, right? And while you can’t replace the whole toilet, you can swap out the seat. It takes about two minutes to unscrew an old seat and screw on a new one, so anyone can handle this upgrade. And toilet seats on average cost about 20 bucks, so any bank account can handle this upgrade, too.

Just because your front door leads to a hallway doesn’t mean you can’t decorate the heck out of it. I’ve spent countless hours browsing the “front door decor” section of Target.com and am always impressed by the pretty and affordable options. This is a great way to customize your decorations based on the time of year. Sure, Christmas wreaths are a no-brainer, but I love a dried lavender wreath for springtime and an autumnal one with deep orange and yellow flowers for fall. Hang them with a stick-on hook to avoid nail holes.

With so many nifty light fixtures on the market today, it can be frustrating to live in a rental property filled with basic and ugly ones. But I have some good news for you: You can change up your fixtures without sacrificing your deposit. The first step in upgrading your light fixtures is to thoroughly inspect your existing ones. Find out how they attach to the ceiling and choose new ones that can be easily unscrewed and replaced. Viola! It’s as easy as that!

Built-in shelving units are super popular among homebuyers these days since they serve a dual purpose of providing much-needed storage space while also acting as functional art. But what’s a renter to do if their apartment or home doesn’t have any? You can fake the look of built-ins without having to do any major renovation projects by installing floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. If you’re low on space but still want to add wall storage, floating shelves are trendy and don’t take up a lot of room.

Doorknobs are yet another part of your home that you probably don’t think about unless they’re especially awful. I once lived in a duplex that was nearly 100 years old and had doorknobs that were nearly falling out of the doors and getting looser every day. So what did I do? I replaced them. I found a ton of cool, vintage knobs at a used home renovation store and switched them all out so they fit perfectly. I made sure to bring them with me when I bought my house so I could install them in my new place.

Sometimes, when you move into a rental property with carpeting, it can be dingy, stained, and even a little bit smelly. And while you can’t tear it up to see if there’s any beautiful hardwood underneath, you can get it deep-cleaned. While deep-cleaning your carpeting can run you a few hundred dollars on average, the difference it makes is worth every penny. Be sure to check with your landlord before hiring anyone, though. They might even offer to cover the cost themselves!

When you’re a renter, it can be easy to feel detached from your home since it’s not a permanent living situation. The good news is that you can combat this feeling by incorporating as much personal stuff into your decor as possible. Hang a gallery wall of family photos above the couch in your living room. Frame a piece of artwork you made as a kid and hang it in your kitchen. Anything that gives you a warm, homey feeling needs to be displayed. Just because you’re renting it doesn’t mean it’s not your home!