I've been in my rented apartment for three years and it's starting to look a little dingy — water stains from a rainy winter have become a white-wall eyesore, my old bathroom never looks clean, even when it is, and the bedroom carpet has started to lose its newness. I've refreshed it in ways that are mostly on the cheap and won't challenge my lease agreement, and thought I'd share them here. Got more ideas? Add them below!
1. Rescue dingy grout.
My new favorite tool is this tile grout coating applicator. It looks like a shoe polish applicator — I just tapped the paint over my bathroom floor tile, waited 4 hours, then wiped away the excess and my floors look a-mazing. They're really old but now look just like new for about $12.
2. Get your carpet (really really) clean.
My building owner is a bit of a cheapskate, but I decided it was worth it to hire carpet cleaners to come in and make the carpet feel fresh again.
3. Touch up the walls.
I've asked my landlord for the color of white paint that was used when I moved in (it's incredible how many different kinds of white paint there are). Luckily, she still had some empty cans downstairs, so I now know what color to use without having to paint the whole apartment.
4. Dress up your windows.
I've never been a fan of those white plastic blinds that come in every rental. I pulled mine down (they can go back up when I move out), bought some fabric and made myself some DIY roman shades. You can buy a set if you're not super-crafty.
5. Switch out light fixtures.
For my bedroom I wanted to wake up to something a little nicer, lighter than the cheap brass fixture that came with the place. I hired an electrician to replace it with a George Nelson lamp and will likely hire him again to replace it when I move out. The work cost about $60.
6. Add new hardware.
The cabinet handles that were originally in my kitchen were, to put it mildly, hideous. I swapped those out with simple, modern stainless steel ones from IKEA, and it completely transformed the room. Those can easily go back when I move out, or the landlord can keep mine since they cost so little.
Re-edited from a post originally published 5.9.13 - DF