Updated: Jul 5
If you’re single, young, or just love living in the city, chances are you rent an apartment. Growing up, I had fantasies of moving to a hip apartment in the city: lofted, brick walls, hardwood floors, and subway tile. I’m sure many people had this same fantasy. TV shows and movies glamorize this idea of what an apartment should look like. Sorry to say that this bubble was burst when I moved to Seattle and started apartment hunting.
While lofted apartments like the one I had envisioned do exist, they are far and few, and the rent alone on one of those is not something a young person starting her career can afford. Even if you do find a cool space with architectural features like brick walls or crown molding, there are other design details that have not been updated in years, such as the kitchen cabinets or bathroom tile.
So many people settle. You’ll get a place within price point, or that is in a great location, but may be severely lacking in style. You’ll stare at the same ugly vinyl flooring that reminds you of your high school hallways, or deal with those blank white walls for months, never really allowing your rented space to feel like your home. Why go to all the trouble of renovating a space that is only temporary?
Even if you aren’t planning on staying in your space for long, there are minor changes you can do that make major improvements for your space. The great thing about these changes is that they are temporary as well, and can move with you to your next rented space!
Swap Out Hardware
If you have a screwdriver handy, this is a quick and easy solution to updating your space. Most apartments have standard hardware, which can be pretty boring. Switch out the hardware to add some more of your own character to your rented home. Be sure to keep the existing hardware in storage for when you move spaces so you can switch them back! Do it to your outlets, doorknobs, drawer pulls, and even toilet paper holders.
Maybe you have a kitchen tile you can’t stand, or your bathroom’s vinyl floor hasn’t been touched since the 70s. LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tile) is a great fix for flooring that is past its prime. Floating LVT has a click system, so instead of gluing down the product, you just connect the pieces like a puzzle. They come in a variety of looks, from wood to concrete, making it easy to find a floor to fit your space.
As with hardware, most apartments have builder’s standard lighting. It’s what people refer to as “the boob light”. You know what I am talking about, that flush-mounted dome light fixture with a dot on the end that looks oddly similar to a breast. If you are bothered staring at a boob on your ceiling each night, swap out your light for something more stylish and that can add character to your space. Check out sites like AllModern and YLighting for modern and stylish fixtures.
Opt for Open Cabinetry
This is useful especially if you have a small space. Removing the doors on some of the upper cabinets allows for that open shelf look. Glam it up by adding removable wallpaper/decals to the inside.
Wallpaper Accent Wall
Want to add some color and create a focal point to your space but don’t want to spend the time with painting? A removable stick wallpaper is easy to install and take down. Check out Walls Need Love and Wall Monkeys for a variety of looks and options. And for a complete wallpaper guide to help find a wallpaper on budget, head over to Happy DIY Homes.
Furniture and Decor
Aside from all the minor updates and renovations, having a solid set of furniture and accessories can make your space feel more like home and less like a rented unit. Start off with major furniture and accessory pieces such as a sofa and area rug, and slowly work your way from big to small.