Five Temporary but Transformative Apartment Updates

Rental apartments are a decorating challenge unto themselves. On the one hand, you don’t own the space, yet, at the same time, you want it to reflect your own personal taste and style. This means striking a balance between making sweeping changes or simply leaving things “as is.” 

Fortunately, in the case of most apartments, even small changes can make a big difference – and they don’t have to be permanent, either. We’ve put together five simple tips and tricks you can use to quickly transform your apartment into a place that feels like home without calling in a contractor. 

Before You Begin 

If you’re renting, think of smaller versus large-scale projects. After all, any investment you make will probably not be recouped when you move out – and too extensive a makeover could cause you to lose your deposit or even result in a fine from your landlord.  

Start with a basic idea of how you want your place to look. Check room dimensions and even the dimensions of the street door and hallway before ordering furnishings and fixtures that won’t fit physically or thematically. If you plan to do a lot of hammering, sawing, or other noisy activities, let your neighbors know in advance. This way you can schedule your projects so that they’ll have minimal impact on others’ comfort and well-being. 

Finally, set a timeline and stick to it. You don’t want paint cans and sawhorses cluttering up your space for months on end. 

Here are five tips and tricks you can use to turn even a so-so space into something special: 

Personalize With Paint 

Many apartment rentals come with standard issue stark white walls. If your lease allows it, a well-chosen color scheme is one of the least expensive ways to totally transform your new apartment’s look and feel. It’s a good idea to get a few paint samples (not paint chips) and apply them directly to the wall to test the effect. If your floorplan is relatively compact, lighter, neutral colors will help make the space appear larger – and an accent wall can add a bit of visual interest. If you have painted woodwork, try using a contrasting color to tie the room together.  

Decorate With Plants 

Not only do plants help freshen stale air, but they are also a wonderful way to add some visual “pop” without a lot of expense. In general, look for hardy plants that can thrive in lower light conditions and place them in pots or containers that keep water from spilling out onto the floors and furniture. Forbes has put together a list of some of the best choices for novice and green-thumb types alike. 

Change out Knobs, Switch Plates and Ceiling Fixtures 

Anything that can be unscrewed or unbolted is fair game here. Even the most hum-drum kitchen will immediately look better when you replace basic cabinet knobs with something a bit more upscale. Outdated and/or basic ceiling light fixtures can be easily swapped out to help make the space feel more like “yours.” Switch plates are another low-cost item you can change to better fit your room color and décor. And while you’re at it, think about adding a dimmer switch in areas like your living room and bedroom. Two pieces of advice: if you’re not comfortable dealing with electrical wiring, get the super involved; and hold on to the former fixtures and store them in a safe place so that you can swap them back easily when the time comes. 

Buy a New Shower Head – and Kitchen Faucet 

These are two inexpensive items that landlords tend to skimp on – but replacing them has an immediate and positive impact on some of your most important day-to-day routines. Places like Bed, Bath & Beyond, Home Depot and Amazon always have a wide selection of shower heads and bath accessories available to dress up a basic bathroom. And modern, highly flexible plumbing connections make installing a new kitchen faucet a DIY project you can easily accomplish without professional help.  

Create a Mini Art Gallery 

The best thing about a gallery-style arrangement of paintings and posters is its eclecticism: just mix and match the art to suit your own personal taste. It’s also a great way to highlight your apartment’s features by arranging your gallery around doors, windows, and unique architectural elements. Googling “home art gallery ideas” is a good start – and Pinterest is always an excellent source of inspiration. 

Looking for more ideas for settling into your abode? Or getting to know your new city? Be sure to check out our blog. 

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