If you’re one of the more than 40 million Americans who rent their home, you know it’s not always easy to make a rented space feel 100 percent your own. Landlord’s rules, budget limitations, and the knowledge that investing today doesn’t guarantee tomorrow, can cause many well intentioned renters to forgo making home improvements entirely.
If this sounds like you, then you’re in luck. We’ve got a list of 5 quick, cheap, and easy changes that will make your home feel like your own, without making you broke.
Spruce up Old Appliances
There’s nothing worse than those rust spots that have been on your fridge since before you moved in. You know the fridge is clean, but it just feels dirty. Well, instead of elbow grease, why not try applying some contact paper to the offending surface, and designing the refrigerator of your fantasies with some acrylic paint. Stripes, spots, patterns, and when you move just peel it up and off you go. Use chalkboard paint for a unique twist.
Replace those ugly Fixtures (but don’t throw them away!)
Just because you don’t own the house, doesn’t mean you can’t install beautiful (and removable) light fixtures, door handles, even light switch plates.These little changes will make a big difference in your home’s appearance. Install them now, and if you ever leave, take them along. Just don’t forget to make a list of everything you’ve swapped out, and keep a stash of the old ugly stuff so you don’t leave the house stripped.
Go Ahead, Paint
If your landlord is flexible, change one wall in each room of your house to a non-neutral color. Adding a splash of color will change the mood, and make your home feel decorated with intention. Save money and hunt for paint in non-traditional locations. Thrift stores, garage sales, even companies like Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore offer discount paint options that are perfect for accenting a room.
If your landlord hates self-expression, you can always ask for the name of the original wall color, buy one new gallon, and use it to touch up scratches and nicks that are common in rented homes. The difference will be worth the small investment.
Beautify the Bathroom
Bathrooms are one of the most often neglected (read: grossest) rooms in a rental home. Old calcified shower heads, mildewed caulking, and dirty grout are common woes. Luckily, they are easy to fix. Replace your shower head (remember you can take the new one with you!) with one that makes you feel like you’re standing under a waterfall. Then use a specified grout cleaner. These usually require some patience, but will brighten dirty grout making your bathroom look new.
Indoor and outdoor plants are good for our mood, our health, the air quality and coolness of our homes, and they can add all kinds of beauty and tranquility to an otherwise untended space. Plants outside are are renewable, therapeutic, and allow you to connect with your home by investing personal time and care into the growth of something else living there. If you don’t have any outdoor yard space where you rent, consider getting a planter, or starting an indoor herb garden.
Don’t forget, just because you don’t own the house, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take ownership of the home. Making a few changes, and some small (removeable) investments, will make a huge difference in your home and in you.