The key to falling in love with a home, whether it's a rental or purchase, is to bring your own personal style and flair to the space. There are plenty of ways for renters to remodel without losing their security deposit, and these do it yourself projects make for great, quick upgrades to any home. Really, easy decorating options for rentals are endless once you start looking for inspiration. We’ve rounded up eight home improvement ideas, all DIY, that anybody can choose to tackle. Here’s where to get started.
1. Get crafty with cup hooks
If you can’t put holes in your walls or cabinets, command hooks are a fantastic, removable alternative. However, if your landlord does permit nails in the walls, then you can use cup hooks for a ton of great design updates.
These small and inexpensive pieces of hardware are incredibly versatile. Use them around your home to put up string lights. Screw them into the bottom of a kitchen cabinet and hang your favourite mugs. Or use them on a kitchen wall to hang utensils, colanders, pots and pans. They’re a great (and affordable) way to put your favourite items on display.
2. Upgrade your outlet and light switch covers
This home improvement project is often overlooked, but it’s one of our favourite DIY projects for several reasons. Most notably, the amount of effort it takes is next to nothing, and it can have a huge impact. Change all of the covers to a black or bronze to add a stark contrast to your white walls. Or, for even more character, go for a bright and bold pattern.
If you don’t want to buy new covers (as you’ll need to store the originals somewhere), then go for contact paper. It will be more time consuming since you’ll have to wrap each one individually, but start with one room, see what you like, and go from there. Just don’t forget to remove the contact paper or swap back to the original covers before you move out.
3. Change your light bulbs
This is another simple project that anyone can - and should - do. We recommend swapping out the light bulbs in all of the rooms with energy-efficient LEDs, then customize the feel of your room for brightness and temperature. You may want a warm light in the bedroom and living room, but cool lighting in the bathroom and kitchen. This quick swap can really enhance the ambiance of your home, as well as decrease your electrical bill.
4. Use the space above the cabinets
Some homes don’t have bulkheads, leaving an awkward space above the kitchen cabinets. Instead of using it as a vase graveyard, you can make this a sleek extension of your cabinets. Decorate it with carefully curated décor, or add storage boxes, such as wooden milk crates for easy storage. If the space above your cabinets is quite large, add floating shelves or shelf risers to make it even more functional. This would also be a fun place to play with removable wallpaper.
5. Customize drawers and shelves for optimal storage
Customizing the inside of your drawers is a great way to stay organized. While you could buy some cheap, plastic containers from the dollar store, why not DIY-it? Check out these instructions for an inexpensive, home-made kitchen drawer organizer.
Also, take a look inside your cabinets. Are your shelves far apart, to the point where there’s wasted vertical space? Shelf risers are a great solution to make the cabinets in your rental unit work for you. You can purchase inexpensive risers from stores like Ikea, or make your own. Shelf risers also work great in fridges and freezers!
6. Disguise or transform your radiator
If you’re renting in an older building or house, you’re likely familiar with the hot, clunky, metal radiators that we’re talking about. The good news is you don’t need to just ignore this equipment. Instead, disguise it and make it functional. For a quick fix, put a floating shelf an inch or two above the radiator, and line up some books or other trinkets. If you’re handy and have the time, build a complete radiator cover.
7. Make a portable garden
Many renters are lucky enough to have gardens at their homes. Some apartment buildings are even offering community garden spaces these days. But, if that isn’t the case at your rental, raised planter boxes are a great temporary garden solution – and they can even be packed up and moved when it’s time to go. If you have power tools and a workshop, YouTube has plenty of detailed tutorials for DIY raised planter boxes. If you don’t have the time, skill, or patience, most big-box hardware stores have pre-fab versions in a variety of sizes that you can paint and decorate to fit your style.
8. Turn your balcony into an oasis
This is a fun project that will turn any balcony or patio into an Instagram-worthy space you’ll never want to leave. First, lay down some green artificial turf to get a grassy feel. Then, string up some outdoor twinkle or cantina lights, or paper lanterns (if it’s sheltered enough from the wetter elements). Then, start decorating! If you’re in an adults-only home, set up some lounge or Muskoka chairs and a cute metal table. If you’re able to screw into the ceiling, hammocks add even more comfort. Surround your sitting space with patio-friendly plants: for a woodsy vibe, choose potted cedars, or to bring the tropics up north, go for potted banana trees. Your local garden centre will be able to set you up with the best plants for your climate, sun exposure, etc.
If you have kids, turn the balcony into a play area just for them. Add a playhouse, a slide, or a little table for tea parties. You could even add a small, raised sandbox for some extra tactile play. If you have a full yard for your kiddos, check out these DIY outdoor play areas.
Don’t shy away from creating a personalized, cozy home that you love spending time in just because you might be in the space temporarily. You can find so many DIY projects that will bring life and character to your home, no matter your budget, skill level, or space size. Just remember to revert back to the originals before move out day!