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20 Renter Friendly House Updates

By Kaitlyn Farley · December 20, 2021 · 7 minute read

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20 Renter Friendly House Updates

As a renter, it’s easy to feel left out when scrolling through social media and seeing all the cool DIY home updates friends and strangers alike are posting. You may have good reasons to rent a home instead of buying, like living in a more affordable place in order to pay off debts, or saving up for a larger dream home. 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? Most of these updates are pretty easy on the wallet. So whether you’re just looking to add a pop of color or are ready for a major overhaul, we’ve got some rental friendly renovations that can make your house feel more like a home.

1. Create an Accent Wall

Making your walls more interesting doesn’t have to cost a fortune! For just a few bucks a roll, you can buy washi tape and create a unique, custom accent wall without ruining the paint. If you’re willing to spend a few extra dollars, you could also invest in removable wallpaper .

2. Update Light Fixtures

Light fixtures in rentals are notoriously drab. Unless you’re one of the lucky few, they tend to be cheap, ugly, and, worst of all, bad at providing decent lighting! The good news is that you can pick up a recessed lighting conversion kit for pretty cheap. 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, ugly and rusty radiators can be a renter’s nightmare. But luckily, there are some rental upgrades out there that can disguise even the most hideous radiators! One great idea is to embrace your radiator and install radiator shelving . You can DIY a custom shelving unit to work around your radiator, upgrade some shelving from a local thrift store, or just order one online.

4. Buy Matching Bookshelves

Bookshelves are a great way to solve a few different renter upgrade issues, namely space and decor. 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Do you have some old, outdated appliances? For just a couple bucks, you can invest in some stainless steel contact paper to make those appliances 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. Tons of stylish knobs can be found on Etsy and Amazon, and in stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. Just 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 rely on a bicycle as your main mode of transportation but you’re short on storage, there’s a good chance you may have to store that bike in your apartment or rental home. Instead of letting that bike waste valuable square footage, you could find a bike mount or other bike storage solution to embrace your bike and save your space. Just make sure your landlord is okay with the installation since it may require some drilling.

8. Try Large Floor Mirrors

While large floor mirrors may cost you more both in terms of space and dollars, a luxurious looking, large, leaning mirror can serve double-duty as a decoration you don’t have to hang and, well, as a functional mirror!

9. Invest in Houseplants

Depending on your taste in plants, houseplants can also wrack up a sizable bill. In fact, you can even buy insurance for plants ! Still, a quick search online can reveal a plethora of inexpensive plants that are hard to kill if you’re looking to add some life (literally!) to your rental.

10. Upgrade Your Showerhead

Installing a luxurious and sleek showerhead is one of the easiest ways to upgrade your rental, and it pays off immediately. You can find fancy showerheads with multiple massage settings or that simulate rain from places like Home Depot , on any budget. Again, though, be sure to hang on to that original showerhead to reinstall before you move!

11. Set up Room Dividers

Need to make a home office? Or maybe even a playroom? Buying or creating stylish room dividers can provide an instant rental update. The best part? When you need a larger space, you can just close the dividers up!

12. Use a Pantry Organization System

Unfortunately, updating your kitchen cabinets may fall outside of your lease. However, you can make the best out of the situation by getting creative with pantry organization systems . These come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and functions, and it’s relatively easy to find one that’ll work well for your space, needs, and budget.

13. Update Your Blinds

Many rentals either don’t come with window treatments at all, or have basic, ugly white shutter blinds that easily get caked with dirt and debris. Like other upgrades on our list, you can uninstall the blinds your rental came with, put them in storage, and replace them with more tasteful blinds or curtains.

14. Install Sticker Flooring

Flooring is another rental upgrade that is generally out of the question with most landlords. But there are some clever ways to hide that outdated, hideous tiled floor: removable sticker flooring . A variety of removable flooring options exist online and in stores that you can use as a rental-friendly upgrade fairly easily without breaking the bank.

15. Create a Kitchen Backsplash

Similar to sticker flooring, you can also use stickers to create a removable kitchen backsplash. Even if you could replace your tile, this could be a cheaper option and allows you to change your backsplash pretty easily and as often as you want!

16. Replace Lightswitch Covers

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to instantly add some pizazz to a room is to swap out the light switch covers. You can replace a cheap, basic plastic cover with one that’s more modern or more unique, depending on your decor tastes.

17. Buy a New Kitchen Faucet

Is your water pressure awful? Do you have a rusty old sink faucet that you just can’t stand using? You could upgrade that, too! Just be sure to put the old one in storage so you can swap it back before moving.

18. Find a Stylish Toilet Seat

Let’s be honest: Most rentals come with very generic-looking toilet seats. When a toilet seat cover just won’t do anymore, it may be time to upgrade to a more modern toilet seat. You can find a wide variety on Amazon, offering an instant update to any bathroom.

19. Paint Your Moulding & Trim

Before selecting paint swatches, you may want to double-check with your landlord that this is allowed. Many landlords welcome you painting your moulding and trim, since it’s an easy way to update a rental without them having to shell out cash for it!

20. Invest in Good Rugs

Quality rugs can run well into the thousands, but there are less expensive options that can not only keep you warm, but also add an instant style boost. This is especially true if you have ugly, stained carpeting, worn wood or outdated tile.

The Takeaway

Renter-friendly updates may not mean updating your kitchen cabinets or even painting a wall, but there are some relatively cheap and fast ways to instantly update your rental. And while many of these options don’t require a ton of money on their own, you can still rack up quite the bill if you’re planning on doing several updates at once, so it’s a good idea to start by figuring out your budget.

If you need help paying for your renter-friendly updates, you may want to consider a home improvement loan from SoFi. You could be eligible to get your funds the same day you’re approved.

Photo credit: iStock/CreativaStudio

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