5 Genius, Real-Life Rental Upgrades With Huge Impact

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Viv Yapp)

It’s the beginning of the year, when self-reproach runs rampant, and shame oozes from the pores of everyone around us. Either we spent too much money last year, ate too much, or didn’t get around to joining the gym. But, really, nobody’s got time for that kind of guilt. Here are a handful of folks who unapologetically altered their rentals to meet their needs, and filled their apartments with things they love. Each required either time or money (and sometimes both), but their spaces are so much better than before. These real-life renters report zero regrets.

A quick note: no one mentions landlord approval with these updates, but we’re going to assume that, as adults, they’ve run all the projects past their rental overlords, or plan to reverse the changes, if possible, when they move out. We know that not everybody has this option, but can still celebrate and get inspiration from those that do. And remember, it never hurts to ask your landlord about what’s possible!

→ Real-Life Rental Renovations That Landlords Actually Helped Pay For

(Image credit: Viv Yapp)

This rental apartment was pretty disgusting when Rhonda moved in and she knew she couldn’t relax until she transformed the space, as cheaply as possible. Among her upgrades were the open shelving above the kitchen countertops, ripping out old laminate flooring and painting the wood underneath black, and installing the window shelves to house all of her plants (seen in the lead image above). Her formerly gross digs now look high end.

(Image credit: Samara Vise)

Caitlin’s big problem was lack of light in her bathroom, so she wanted a door with a window. She scoured Craigslist and found one from an old, remodeled house. With the help of her dad, she sanded it, replaced the glass, moved the knob, and fixed the door frame. Not only does it help with the light situation, the new, character-filled substitute also adds a lot of interest to the space.

→ See the rest of Caitlin’s Carefully Crafted Home in Cambridge

(Image credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion)

Like many old houses, Jonathan’s Montreal rental walls are plagued by layers upon layers of paint, and patching jobs done by previous tenants. He hired someone to install a shou sugi ban (Japanese method of charring wood to preserve it) wood wall in his bedroom, and the results are striking. He liked it so much he wound up removing his bedroom doors so you can see it from the rest of the apartment.

→ See the rest of Jonathan’s Modern Montreal Apartment

(Image credit: Anik Polo)

When Pedro first found his current apartment, it had been abandoned since the ’70s and rocked peeling wallpaper, moldy carpets and a lonely vintage bathtub. But he immediately saw the potential, signed the lease, reorganized the entire floor plan, and got busy renovating. He finished the kitchen in a week, right before Christmas.

→ Take the full tour of Pedro’s Organic Modern Apartment in Switzerland

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Danny and Joni had to come up with plenty of creative solutions for their loft apartment which is essentially just a single room, with just one closet. The most prominent solution is the custom-built platform for their bed, which serves the double purpose of creating a cozy spot for the bed in a large, open space and also incorporating lots of extra storage.