Your rental is in dire need of sprucing up. The walls are too plain, the furniture too old-fashioned and the overall feel is not you at all. However, you don’t want to go overboard with the décor changes either, lest your landlord show you the door earlier than you’d like. Also, even if you can go overboard, you’re not sure your budget can really afford it.
Not to worry, though. You can make your apartment look good, while staying within your budget and the good graces of your landlord at the same time. To do that, here are a few pointers to remember.
1. Familiarize Yourself With the Rental Rules in Your Area
It’s easier to negotiate with your landlord when you have the law by your side. In New York City, for example, you’re allowed to paint your rental in a color other than white, as long as you repaint it before you move out, otherwise your security deposit can be withheld. Keep regulations like these in mind when persuading your landlord to let you do any kind of renovation on your rental.
2. Get Your Landlord’s Permission in Writing
A written agreement is better than a verbal one for a number of reasons:
- First, it ensures you and your landlord will be on the same page.
- Second, in case your landlord happens to forget your agreement, that piece of paper can serve as a reminder.
- Third, if your landlord refuses to comply with the terms even when they’re written down, it’ll be easier to take legal action if you want.
Don’t forget to let your landlord sign the agreement as proof of consent by both parties.
3. Use Removable Décor
In case painting’s not an option, you can always use wallpaper. Use the peel-away ones or the ones that can be waxed on and off like stickers. Same goes for other decors. The easier they are to remove and/or clean up, the better.
4. Avoid DIY Repairs As Much As Possible
You don’t do this for the same reason you don’t repair garage doors on your own. Regardless of your skills, botching up the repair job will pin the resulting expenses on you. Before you move in, do a thorough check on the rental with your landlord’s approval and supervision. Watch out for anything broken or malfunctioning, and bring it to your landlord’s attention ASAP. That way, any repairs or upgrades will be your landlord’s responsibility, not yours.
5. Get Your Décor Cheap Online
If you’re iffy about Craigslist, you can check out Overstock, Etsy, eBay and other places online where you can get cheap home decor. Although they’re convenient, they also make it easy to get less than what you pay for, so brush up on the do’s and don’ts of shopping online to avoid getting scammed.
6. Bring Your Own Stuff Over
Instead of shopping for new décor, why not bring in your old stuff? Not only will this save you money, but it’ll also keep you from missing too much of the home you left behind. Even if you can’t make your rental exactly like your old place, you can still put your own stamp on it.
7. Rearrange the Furniture
Sometimes it’s not what you add to the rental but what you make of what’s already there. For example, if there’s a spot you think could make a good “living room,” place your furniture around it. As long as the furniture is in good condition, it can work fine on its own as decorative pieces.
8. Don’t Forget to Color Coordinate
If you want your rental to pop, mixing and matching colors is always a good idea. You can use monochromatic color schemes, complementary color schemes or any another schemes that you think will suit your place and your personality.
9. Highlight the Positive
Like wearing makeup, good decorating involves showing off the good and hiding the bad. Clean up every nook and cranny of the rental. Use bookshelves to hide any cracks and spots on the walls. Maximize every bit of free space, and arrange your stuff as neatly as you can.
10. Get Help From a Design-Savvy Friend/Family Member/Acquaintance
When in doubt, get help from the ones who know better than you. Contact someone who’s familiar with interior design and won’t mind helping you out for free. You can always repay the favor later.
How would you keep your rental’s aesthetics up and your expenses down? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!