Just because your lease says you can’t paint those white walls doesn’t mean you can’t upgare the place. Don’t let your rental agreement cramp your style. Reham Fagiri, co-founder of used furniture marketplace,AptDeco, fills us in on all the tricks to freshen up a much lived-in space without breaking the rules.
Deck out your windows
Even if you’ve got trendy new furniture, stunning wall art and awesome accessories, sticking with the plastic slat blinds or worn white roller shades, isn’t going to give you the homey feel you’re going for.
Instead, Fagiri suggests replacing generic blinds with colorful or patterned ones that compliment your style, or alternatively give curtains a try.
“Curtains are a great way to add coziness without spending a lot of money,” says Fagiri. “You can just go to any drape store and it’s less than 30 or 40 dollars to buy brand new curtains.” Her suggestion: “Long lighter colored white or beige flowy curtains really make a difference.”
Amp up the lighting
The common denominator in almost all rental apartments is bad overhead lighting.
“The overhead lights are so strong that they’re just not inviting,” says Fagiri. She recommends swapping out the basic flush mount light for attractive fixtures like a chandelier or pendant light to “really bring a room together.”
Another tip: Use standing or table lamps as your main light source instead. Fagiri says the light emitted from these is generally much more pleasing, plus they can be a great way to add some extra flair to your space.
Want even more control over the lighting in your apartment? Add a dimmer. “You can go to any hardware store and [buy one for] like five dollars. Just adding that small accessory makes can dramatically change how the room looks,” Fagiri explains.
Swap out the hardware
Changing the knobs on plain, generic cabinets and drawers that typically come in a rental apartment is one small modification that goes a long way in adding personality to your apartment.
“You can go to any hardware store and get new knobs that add a pop of color or even shine depending on your style,” Fagiri says.
The expert says it only takes a couple minutes to unscrew and replace them, and it’s easy to put the original knobs back on when it’s time to move out.
Liven up your walls
Even if your landlord says painting your walls is a no-go, that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with bare white. One of Fagiri’s favorite ways to spruce up walls is by hanging a cluster of framed artwork on a focal wall.
Fagiri suggests that when arranging different sized pictures on a wall, orient some horizontally and some vertically to add variety. “I love it when there’s just different shapes and sizes. It just creates that illusion that it’s sort of an art piece, whereas if everything is just one size it looks very organized.”
Though she also adds that this works best if each frame is the same color so that the look stays cohesive.
The best part is that unlike spending money to paint walls, “these are things that you can take with you to your next apartment, which is great for budget saving,” Fagiri says.
Don’t always go for the cheap option
For furniture that you’ll be using every day, Fagiri says you’re better off investing in quality even if that means buying something secondhand, especially when you live in the city and will move every few years.
“If you buy really cheap furniture that’s flimsy you’re going to spend, lets say, a couple hundred dollars. But you won’t be able to move it because it’ll break down. If you spend a little bit more, or spend the same as you’d pay for a cheap piece of furniture [on something of quality] that’s pre loved or secondhand, you’ll be able to take it anywhere and onto your next apartment,” she says.
Incorporating nice furniture in a rental apartment also makes it feel like more like home, while cheap flimsy furniture is much more reminiscent of your old college dorm.
There certainty items where quality can be sacrificed, but “a nice bed goes a long way, because you sleep on it every day, same with a couch,” says Fagiri. She also says to invest in a dressers or wardrobes. “ You’re going to be opening your drawers everyday so you want something that will stay in tact,” Fagiri says
Make your radiator vanish
Nothing kills a well-designed room quite like a nasty old metal radiator with chipping paint, but Fagiri says it’s easy to make your radiator disappear.
“There are actually places you can go to find radiator covers. Some of them are plain so it just sort of blends in with the wall, and some of them have designs on them,” she says.
Radiator covers, which you can easily find at a hardware store, are safe and simply slide right on over the radiator.
Fagiri says you can also try sprucing up your radiator by giving it a fresh coat of radiator-safe paint or even by adding colorful designs, though you should check with your landlord first before painting.