You made the responsible choice and signed a lease on a less than gorgeous, but affordable rental while saving for your first house. Bravo!
Then came the time to actually move into an apartment with a used rug, yellowed mini blinds, a moldy pink tub, and no dishwasher and you instantly regretted being responsible. Before you contemplate breaking your lease and splurging for the nearest $3000/mo luxury one bedroom, try these quick fixes to make your rental feel like a home:
Get out the paint roller.
Nothing will change a space faster than a fresh coat of paint. Too many landlords opt for the worst shade of dingy white for the baseboards, walls, ceilings, and cabinets. Adding a little bit of depth by changing a wall color will be well worth the $32/gallon. If you are on an extra tight budget, just paint one room or even one focal wall.
If your landlord isn't paint friendly, you have two choices; you can budget to paint it back to white before moving out or you can propose to your landlord to allow you to paint with pre-approved, neutral colors. Some favorite hard-to-say-no-to neutrals include Benjamin Moore's Coventry Gray, Solitude, and Rockport Gray.
Ditch the blinds immediately.
A screw driver, a few trash bags, and some packing tape is all you need to take down the blinds and safely store them under your bed or in the back of your closet until move-out. Your allergies will thank you.
Once the blinds are down, hang a curtain rod with a few panels to pull the whole room together and regain the privacy the blinds provided. When hanging curtains, make sure to hang them as high and wide as possible to make the whole room feel bigger. Read this tutorial by designer Emily Henderson before getting out the drill.
Rugs rugs and more rugs.
The only quick fix for a stained, old rental floor is to cover it. Whether it's cracked tiles, peeling linoleum, or a dirty lifeless wall-to-wall carpet, an area rug will work perfectly. It will save your toes and your guests won't notice that there's a rug on a rug.
A few tips on buying rugs: no matter how big a 5x7 may look in Target, it is never big enough for your living room or bedroom. Obsessively monitor HomeGoods to find some amazingly priced, large rugs. And never order a rug on the internet unless return shipping is free.
Re-caulk your bathtub.
Stepping into a grimy, chipped shower every morning is no way to start the day. Many older rentals have bathrooms that won't sparkle even after hours of chemicals. If mildew stains gives you the creeps and you aren't afraid of a little light DIYing, consider re-caulking your bathtub. Here's a great tutorial to get you started.
Change the light fixtures and add some more.
With permission from your landlord, consider changing out the outdated light fixtures for something more current. Modern ceiling fans start around $50 from HomeDepot. You can store the old fixture in the back of your closet until you move-out or consider simply leaving behind the new, upgraded fixture. If you are comfortable with this level of DIY project, here's a great tutorial from The Crafted Sparrow. But otherwise, we strongly urge you to hire someone.
Brighten the outdoor space.
Many renters ignore the outdoor space. Whether you have a spacious patio or just a few steps to your front door, decorating it will make you feel like you have a few more square feet to live in. An outdoor rug, plants, seating, and a few strands of lights will really make it a space you will spend time in.
Outdoor furniture can break the bank. Don't waste your future down payment on a set. Instead consider buying a used indoor table set and hitting it with some heavy duty polyurethane.It will only last a year or two but that's probably longer than your lease is. And as always, Buzzfeed has you covered with these 19 ideas for your balcony.
We hope these tips motivate you to nest a little in your rental. We'd love to see some before and afters! Connect with us on Instagram @nestment and use #InvestInANest.
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Caity Salvatore founded Nestment.com when she was sick of hearing her friends complain about their real estate agents. She is out to prove that great agents do exist, and works as a matchmaker between home buyers/sellers and real estate agents. She spends her days interviewing agents and bingeing on Dunkin Donuts.