Real Life Rentals: Problem-Solving Inspirations & Solutions from Our House Tours

Real Life Rentals: Problem-Solving Inspirations & Solutions from Our House Tours

Carrie McBride
Jun 24, 2015
(Image credit: Carolyn Purnell)

No doubt about it - a rental usually comes with restrictions. Can't this and can't that. You can do nothing and keep pinning ideas for "someday" when you own a home or you can take the decorative bull by the horns and come up with some design solutions. Here are some examples taken from Apartment Therapy House Tours of real solutions to real renter problems.

Problem: Can't Paint

For only a few dollars, Meg and Andy added color and interest to their living room wall using dots cut out from duct tape sheets. (For more details see their blog.)

Problem: Still Can't Paint

Evan reports that he would "suffer bodily harm at the hands of the management company" if he painted so he added wall decals in his bathroom to help it look less generic.

Problem: Can't Wallpaper

A landlord who will let you wallpaper is...a unicorn. Katie really wanted her daughters to be excited about the move to their new home so she covered one wall of their new bedroom with removable wallpaper. Not inexpensive, but a huge impact. She says "I would highly recommend it to all renters out there. What a difference it made!"

Problem: Ugly Light Fixture

Almost nothing screams "rental" louder than a builder-grade light fixture. Swap yours out for something that suits your decor like Simran (with her mom's help) did above her dining room table. Instead of an eyesore, she has a focal point. (Need help? Check out How To Install a New Light Fixture.)

Problem: Ugly or Outdated Floors

Not crazy about old linoleum? Cover it with a rug. This one is smartly in the same colors (black and white) as the floor underneath so it blends in easily and the two work together.

Problem: Carpeting

Stuck with carpeting you don't fancy? Use throw or area rugs to cover it up or to add more color and pattern to a room.

Problem: Generic Bathroom

If you're allowed to paint, adding color to a builder-grade sink cabinet can go a long way. If you can't paint, for a few bucks and just a few minutes, you can swap out the hardware for something that suits you better. Matt, a renter who made some improvements to his bathroom above reports: "It just goes to show you that some paint and inexpensive upgrades can make a world of difference - especially if you are in a rental."

Problem: Outdated Kitchen Cabinets

The bad news was Kerry had ugly cabinets. The good news is her landlord allowed her to paint. She painted inside the cabinets and left the cabinet doors off for maximum effect. You can see "before shots" at Kerry's Colorful & Quick Rental Kitchen Makeover. I can hear you ("But I'm not allowed to paint!") - if you really hate your cabinets, take off the doors for an open shelving look. You could apply contact paper on the inside for a look similar to paint.

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