20 Renter-Friendly House Updates

By Kaitlyn Farley · July 16, 2023 · 6 minute read

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20 Renter-Friendly House Updates

When you’re a renter, it can feel like all the transformative DIY projects are reserved for homeowners. But just because you rent doesn’t mean you can’t spruce up your space.

That’s right: Rental-friendly upgrades exist. And the best part? Many improvements can have a major impact on your space without blowing your budget.

1. Create an Accent Wall

Spicing up your walls doesn’t have to cost a fortune, nor must it require gallons of paint. For just a few bucks a roll, you can buy washi tape and create a custom accent wall that won’t ruin the paint job. Or, if you’re able to spend a few extra dollars, you could also invest in removable wallpaper.

2. Update Light Fixtures

Light fixtures in rentals are notoriously drab and tend to provide uneven lighting. Fortunately, there is no shortage of lighting options to help you brighten up your space. A recessed lighting conversion kit, for instance, is fairly inexpensive, easy to install, and allows you to hang a pendant or other light fixture. Not sure your landlord would approve? You can always buy some decorative lamps or even string lights to help amp up the brightness and style of any room.

3. Install Radiator Shelving

In older units, rusty radiators can be a renter’s nightmare. But luckily, there are some rental upgrades — like installing radiator shelving — that can disguise even the most unattractive units. You can DIY a custom shelving unit to work around your radiator, upgrade some shelving from a local thrift store, or even order one online.

4. Buy Matching Bookshelves

Bookshelves are a simple way to upgrade the decor and add much-needed storage space. Placing tall, matching shelves on either side of a TV, couch, or even a bed could bring some serious style (and space) to a small room, plus allow you to display photos or art without putting holes in the wall.

5. Apply Contact Paper

Do you have older appliances you’d like to freshen up? For just a couple bucks, you can invest in some stainless steel contact paper to make them at least look shiny and new again! Contact paper also comes in a wide variety of colors and styles that you can use to liven up your cabinets and refresh your countertops.

6. Replace Pulls & Knobs

This is another budget-savvy, rental-friendly upgrade that can add some flair to your home. Replace your door handles, kitchen cabinet knobs, and any other pulls with something more your style. Affordable, stylish knobs can be found on sites like Etsy and Amazon, and in stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. Be sure to hang on to the original knobs so you can swap them back in before you move out.

7. Install a Bike Mount

If you own a bike but are short on storage, install a bike mount or other bike storage solution. Just make sure your landlord is okay with the installation since it may require some drilling.

8. Try Large Floor Mirrors

Sometimes more is more. Exhibit A: an oversized leaning mirror, which can serve double-duty as a luxe decoration and a functional mirror.

9. Invest in Houseplants

Want to add some life to your rental — literally? Look no further than a houseplant. If you don’t have a green thumb, explore hardy varieties, like air plants or even artificial plants.

10. Upgrade Your Showerhead

Installing a new showerhead is a quick, effective way to upgrade your bathroom. You could start reaping the rewards the very first time you turn on the faucet. Make sure to hang on to that original showerhead so you can reinstall it when you move out.

Recommended: How Much Does a Shower Remodel Cost?

11. Set up Room Dividers

Need to carve out space for a home office? Or maybe even make room for a closet? Buying or creating stylish room dividers can provide an instant rental update. And when you need a larger space, simply close the dividers.

12. Use a Pantry Organization System

Help bring order to the busiest spot in your home: the kitchen. Pantry organization systems come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and varieties, so you should be able to find one that works for your home and budget.

13. Update Your Blinds

It can be easy to forget about window coverings. But freshening up your blinds or curtains can add a new visual element to the room, frame a window, or help brighten the space.

14. Install Sticker Flooring

When you’re considering places to upgrade, don’t forget to look down. Changing up the flooring — even temporarily — can make a room feel brand-new. One option to consider if you have a tile floor is removable tile stickers, which come in a variety of styles, sizes, and price points.

15. Create a Kitchen Backsplash

You can also use removable stickers to freshen up a kitchen backsplash, which is a much easier and cheaper option than replacing the tiles. New to this type of project? There are online video tutorials you can watch that will show you how to get the job done.

Recommended: Renovation vs. Remodel: What’s the Difference?

16. Replace Light Switch Covers

Don’t sleep on the small details — sometimes, they can have a major impact. One example of this is swapping out basic light switch covers with ones that match the decor of your rental. Plus, new covers are generally affordable and easy to install.

17. Buy a New Kitchen Faucet

There’s something to be said for upgrading the items in your rental that you use every day, such as the kitchen faucet. Installing a new faucet is a fairly simple DIY project, provided you know how to shut off the water to your sink and use a wrench. If you’re unsure how to do either, though, you can enlist the help of a plumber. Just be sure to put the old faucet in storage so you can swap it back before moving.

18. Find a Stylish Toilet Seat

Let’s be honest: Most rentals come with a basic toilet seat. When yours just won’t do anymore, it may be time to upgrade to something more modern and comfy. You can find a wide variety of options online or in stores.

19. Paint the Molding and Trim

Before selecting color swatches, you may want to double-check with your landlord that painting is allowed. Many landlords welcome you painting your molding and trim, since it’s an easy, affordable way to update a rental.

20. Invest in Good Rugs

Quality rugs can run well into the thousands of dollars. But there are less-expensive options that are also durable and stylish. Besides protecting your flooring, a good rug can also visually anchor a room and help absorb sound.

No matter the price of your rug, you may want to consider purchasing renters insurance to protect it and your other valuables against losses.

The Takeaway

When you’re a renter, you may not be able to rip out walls or change out kitchen cabinets. But there are still simple, effective ways to transform your space without breaking the terms of your lease. While these sorts of jobs tend to be affordable, you can easily rack up quite the bill if you plan on tackling several home improvement projects at once.

That said, if you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get some renter-friendly updates done, see what SoFi can offer. With a SoFi Home Improvement Loan, you can borrow between $5K to $100K as an unsecured personal loan, meaning you don’t use your home as collateral and no appraisal is required. Our rates are competitive, and the whole process is easy and speedy.

Turn your home into your dream house with a SoFi Home Improvement Loan.

Photo credit: iStock/CreativaStudio

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