50+ Ways to Spruce Up A Rental

Since becoming a homeowner almost a year ago (!!), I’ve tackled tons of ways to re-do a house. I’d always dreamed of owning my own home so I could do basically anything I wanted to decorate it, but also so I could do more routine maintenance.

apartments

image courtesy pexels.com

Landlords are darn near universally jerks, IMO. They’re reluctant to do any modifications to a property, even if it will raise the value of property they ownThey’ll never come in and change old, gross carpeting, even if you’re a long-term tenant. In my experience, landlords want nothing more than for tenants to move out at the end of their leases so they can rent to the next guy for even more money, without changing any of the amenities or problems.

Now that rental prices in LA, Boston, NYC, SF and most major cities are so damn high, I know more and more people who are staying their apartments for longer– especially if they’re rent-controlled. So, your temporary “until I get a higher paying job” apartment has now become a long-term solution because no one can afford $2500/month for a 1 bedroom with a dishwasher.

So, what’s a tenant to do?

Here are 50 ways to fix up a rental apartment, so it can feel like a whole new place– without sacrificing your security deposit.

It might cost a little bit of money for appliances or materials, but think of all the cash you’ll save on rent. (No links are affiliate links.)

Clean:

  1. Wash your windows with vinegar or spray cleaner 
  2. Wash your baseboards, walls, and cupboards with magic erasers
  3. Open your windows & clean off your exterior window sills. Trust me.
  4. Grow beyond a Swiffer and deep clean your hard floors
  5. Rent a rug cleaner and steam clean all your carpets– or check on Yelp for a professional with a deal or coupon
  6. Dust every light fixture in the place
  7. Clean your vents
  8. Febreze literally every last damn soft surface in your house
  9. Dust your blinds
  10. Deep clean around the base of your toilet
  11. Snake your bathroom drains for hair & clogs
  12. Soak your stove burner covers to remove caked-on food
  13. Or, replace your drip pans 
  14. Soak your hood vent cover to remove grease
  15. Polish your faucets
  16. Clean your oven
  17. Clean your dishwasher traps
  18. Nuke some vinegar & wipe away grease inside your microwave
  19. Take ALL food out of your fridge and wash each shelf with anti-bacterial spray
  20. Re-wash all your dishes– especially the ones you never use
  21. Buy touch-up enamel & clean up dings on non-stainless appliances
  22. Move your furniture and vacuum/dust beneath every last piece
  23. Dust your books and bookshelves
  24. Wash your curtains
  25. Steam clean your upholstery
  26. CLR gunky faucets and shower heads
  27. Use Simple Green to wash off all outside surfaces
  28. Re-caulk your tub and sinks to cover up mold
  29. Remediate small bug problems with hidden traps or sprays
  30. Fix damp bathrooms with DampRid
  31. Clean your mattress
  32. Clean OUT your bedside table
  33. Clean out your closet– not just giving away old clothes, but vacuum under shoes, dust shelves, & clean off rails

Spruce:

  1. Buy new wastebaskets & garbage cans (or wash the ones you have)
  2. Buy a new plunger & toilet brush
  3. Replace bath mats and shower curtains
  4. Bleach your grout
  5. Or pen-over the unbleachable grout
  6. Repaint your baseboards if dinged or marked
  7. Sand down painted cabinetry doors that stick
  8. WD-40 squeaky or unmoving hinges & drawer tracks
  9. Change out too bright, too dim, or oddly colored light bulbs
  10. Spray paint metal fixtures that are chipped or tarnished
  11. Fill holes in all walls & touch up paint
  12. If you have the space, take down ugly light fixtures & hide them away; replace with your preferred fixture
  13. Take down & store ugly blinds
  14. Cover ugly or gross carpet with inexpensive area rugs (my favorites are from Overstock)
  15. Re-organize & purge all of your media
  16. Re-organize & purge kitchen cabinets
  17. Polish metal fixtures
  18. Buy an air filter

Decorate

  1. Assess empty walls & fill with inexpensive pictures in frames
  2. Bring life to a house with houseplants
  3. Fill empty floors with area rugs (see Overstock hint above!)
  4. Empty vertical space can be filled with plants, coat trees, or hanging art
  5. Got a small or dark room? Hang a mirror next to or across from a window to bounce the light
  6. Hang drapes over ugly blinds using long brackets OR a ceiling-mounted track
  7. Use hem tape to iron-together inexpensive throw pillows– no sewing required (pillow forms are wicked cheap)
  8. Come up with a full-house color scheme to keep rooms cohesive (hard with roommates, but give it a shot)
  9. Cut down on brightly-colored pet toys & furniture to fit your decor
  10. Invest in “grown up” furniture– a dining set, a good coffee table, a nice bed
  11. Display hardcover books without their dustjackets, and squirrel away paperbacks

What are some of your ways to fix up an apartment?

50 Ways to Fix Up A Rental

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