9 Ways to Remodel Your Rental Without Breaking Your Lease

Young woman painting
Photo by ViDi Studio / Shutterstock.com

Being a renter can make you feel like a renter, unfortunately. After a while, the cheap flooring and outdated kitchen can get to you, and you might find yourself wishing you just owned the place so you could fix it up.

But renters can personalize their space, too. In fact, you can make quite a few improvements to a rental without breaking your budget — or your lease.

Before you get started, get your landlord to agree to any more permanent changes — such as painting. Without written approval, your landlord could penalize you or keep your security deposit.


A coat of paint can completely transform a room. For example, my last rental was nearly perfect — except that the landlord had painted the walls the color of yellow snow.

After trying to live with the horrible color for a few months, I finally invested $50 in some light gray paint and covered the walls in a single weekend. It was like living in a brand-new apartment.

Swap out light fixtures

Light fixtures in rentals are usually cheap, brassy and ugly. Fortunately, if you’re handy with tools, you can swap out the ugly fixtures for ones you like — and then just pop the ugly ones back in when you move out.

You can find cool, cheap light fixtures at resale stores. I purchased two wrought-iron chandeliers at the Habitat ReStore for about $50.

Replace light switches

Replacing light switches is a dirt-cheap and quick way to spruce up a room, especially since rentals always have the cheap plastic ones.

You can find different styles at any hardware store. Etsy also has handmade light switches you can buy if you want a funkier look.

Create an open-storage look

The kitchen cabinets in my rental were cheap and outdated, so I gave them a new look. I removed the top cabinet doors, lined the back walls with decorated shelving paper and displayed my dishes inside.

In about 30 minutes, my kitchen went from typical rental to modern and cute. I kept the doors to reattach when I moved out.

Cover up ugly flooring

You can always cover up ugly linoleum or cracked tile flooring with a rug, or you can buy removable flooring to cover the entire floor. Hardware stores sell click-and-lock bamboo flooring and carpet squares that you can lay down without gluing.

Add more countertop space

Rentals never seem to have enough countertop space to hold your appliances. Several hardware stores and home decor places sell rolling kitchen islands or butcher’s blocks with no installation required.

And if you buy one with wheels, you can just roll it out when you’re ready to move.

Add storage

The bathroom in my rental came with a tiny medicine cabinet, which wasn’t nearly enough storage space. I bought an over-the-toilet cabinet, a towel rack and a storage shelf from a department store for about $100.

Upgrade the tile

While your landlord would probably flip if you ripped out the tile, you can still change it a bit. Tile stickers come in all sorts of different designs and adhere over your existing tile.

Once they’re on, they look just like the real thing. You can find tile stickers at home decor shops and some hardware stores.

Improve the shower

You can easily replace the basic showerhead with a wrench and some plumber’s tape. I bought a $15 rain showerhead to replace the cheap one my landlord installed.

The new showerhead had 10 times the water pressure of the old one — definitely a worthwhile investment for both me and the landlord.

Do you have more great tips for remodeling a rental? Share them in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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