It can be hard to make your cookie-cutter rental feel like a home. Unlike homeowners, you don't have the ability to knock down walls, upgrade old appliances or rip out carpets. If you're hankering for a big change, however, there are some options that don't require you to alter the apartment itself.
The trick is, bigger changes like adding a closet system or painting accent walls do require planning and, sometimes, professional help. Step one for any project is consulting with your landlord about any policies and procedures that limit you further than you thought.
If you get the OK from your landlord, and you're sure you'll be in one place for an extended period of time, it's time to decide how you'll upgrade your apartment – and how you need to prep ahead of time.
Check out these five apartment upgrades that can make a big change and get ready to prep.
Rentals are notorious for having small or awkward-shaped closets, forcing you to find more creative ways to store your clothing, coats and shoes. If you're tired of storing your shoes in boxes or coats under your bed, your first big project may be a closet system.
There are many low-cost, high-quality brands and styles to choose from. Retailers like Ikea, Wayfair and the Container Store offer affordable DIY closet systems – ranging from $100 to $600 – that are also easy to assemble.
The prep here is all about measuring and situating before installing anything. HGTV shares some helpful details about sizing and spacing to keep in mind as you're planning the system.
Lighting can make a big difference in any apartment, especially a small one. Unfortunately, many rentals are outfitted with dated light fixtures that make the space feel decades old, dingy and dark – or too bright.
Upgrading the light fixtures throughout your rental is a great way to freshen up the style and create a more comfortable atmosphere. Lucky for you, it's also one of the cheapest and easiest things you can do while making a significant impact on the look and feel of the space.
When choosing lights, consider the different types and how each one affects the apartment before you make your purchase.
Mounting your television is a great way to save space and stylize your living room. The only challenge is actually knowing how to properly mount that very expensive piece of equipment without dropping or breaking it in the process.
There are a lot of mistakes that can happen when installing something so large and heavy. But there are also steps to take to ensure you get it right the first time – without any expensive mistakes to hide from your friends.
You need to choose the right location and use the correct tools – or you'll likely be out an expensive TV when it falls right off the wall.
If your rental doesn't come with a built-in air conditioner, you can purchase and install one yourself. This may sound like an easy task, yet it can be quite challenging if you've never done it before.
Painting an accent wall is one of the easiest upgrades you can make to your rental. Note that you may just need to repaint it the original color when you leave. However, in the meantime, accent walls can be used to bring fun and interest to any room, from your bathroom to your living room.
What you want to avoid is getting paint on the carpet or cabinets – anything that you have to replace out of pocket. That means, to prep, you'll need to buy painters tape and a tarp or plastic to cover the floor. And don't forget crucial steps like washing and priming the wall before adding the first coat of paint as well.
If you're ready for a change and have already moved your room around 10 times, now's the time to try some of these fun projects. Just make sure you prep ahead of time so you don't ruin your TV or drop the air conditioner you just purchased. When all is said and done, you can sit back and admire your hard work, while enjoying a new and refreshed space.