10 Rental Agreement-Friendly Apartment Upgrades

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Barred from hanging a picture, putting up a floating shelf, changing or installing a light fixture, or doing some other kind of upgrade to your apartment? We’ve got 10 awesome upgrades that you can do all on your own without alarming your landlord.

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Use Furniture to Divide a Room.
Shelves can be a great way to divide larger spaces and double as extra storage for you and your roommates.

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Ugly or Annoyingly Placed Doors? Remove Them!
Removing swinging doors (cabinet, closet, or otherwise) typically only requires a few common tools, like a hammer and screwdriver. Just make sure to store them and their attachments in a safe place until you plan on moving out.

When removing painted doors, pay extra attention as old paint can chip easily. If it seems like you’ll damage the paint and don’t want to deal with the repercussions, all is not lost: you can cover them up instead!

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No painting? No Problem: Embrace Removable Wallpaper.
Even if you are allowed to paint your apartment’s walls, you might not want to. It’s a time consuming task and can only be reversed with more painting. Luckily, there are hundreds of temporary wallpaper options out there, so you can jazz up your new place without jacking up your repair fees when you move out.

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Need More Light and Don’t Like Lamps? Plug-in Pendants Could be Your Pal.
Granted, you’ll have to be allowed (and have the skills) to drill holes to make use of this hack. But if you can, you’re in luck. All you need is a hook, some screws, a drill, and a plug-in pendant light to install a stylish new light source in any room.

Take extra care when drilling your holes to ensure they are positioned on a stud (a beam running across your ceiling), rather than on drywall (the unsupported surface of the ceiling).

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Adjust Your Temperature…Color Temperature, That is.
In case you didn’t know, lightbulbs come in a variety of color temperature options for almost every kind of common household fixture.

Having a hard time relaxing in your living room at night because of the bright white/blue-ish lighting? Swap the bulbs out to Warm White versions. Need something bright and clear? Look for Daylight or Super Bright colored bulbs.

BONUS: You can save money by swapping out your bulbs, too! Many rental properties still use inefficient incandescent bulbs, which draw far more electricity than their LED or Fluorescent counterparts. Make the switch to lower your monthly electric bill (and carbon footprint).

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Shoddy Shower Head? Better Bathing is a Click Away.
A shower head that’s difficult to adjust or doesn’t provide enough water pressure can be a real bummer for your morning routine. Good thing they’re built to unscrew easily and be swapped out with better ones.

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Not Feeling your Floor? Cover it Up.
Ok, so you’ve probably noticed by now that we like sticky stuff. Can you blame us? It’s easy to remove and even easier to put on, and that goes for vinyl floor tiles, too.

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Adjust Your Knobs*.
Someone very wise once said, “If it can be unscrewed, it can be screwed back on.” Add some flare to your apartment’s cabinets or drawers with some brand new knobs or handles. Screw the old ones back on when you move out — your landlord will never know.

*Think outside the box! This tip goes for door knobs, too.

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Store Your Stuff Inside (and Under) Your Other Stuff.
Can’t mount shelves in your apartment and have a bunch of things that you need out of the way? There are storage opportunities all around you. Pick up some bed risers to elevate your bed and put things under it. Think an ottoman could add to your living room decor? Search for “storage ottomans” instead to kill two birds with one stone.

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Can’t Hang Pictures (or Anything Else)? Think Again.
Two words: Command. Strips. If you didn’t already know, now you do (you can thank us later). They make hooks, too.

We’ve only scratched the surface of all the amazing, non-destructive apartment upgrades you can make without alarming your landlord. In fact, most of these upgrades won’t even leave a trace. But if you have any doubts about what’s allowed in your rental agreement, we always advise you to check with your landlord before making any changes to their property. Once you’re all clear, have fun customizing your space!


Michael Ochnicki