Plus, two details you should never mess with.
girl painting red wall with paint roller
Credit: Getty / Easy Production

If you're tired of looking at the same four walls, you may be thinking about making some minor (or major) changes to your home. But if you're a renter, are you actually allowed to do so? According to Jordan Reid, founding editor of the interior design blog Ramshakle Glam, the answer is absolutely. Ahead, changes—big and small—that apartment or home renters can make without angering their landlords or losing their security deposits over. Plus, why you really should be tweaking your space to suit your needs and style, whether you own it outright or not.

Invest in Change

Only staying in your rental home for a year? Don't skip making those personal-to-you changes and updates, Reid says—it would be a mistake to put a timeline on the comforts of home. She suggests making small (and inexpensive) updates that will make it feel more like yours, regardless of how long you'll be living in it.

Add a Ceiling Fan

Before you alter anything, speak to your landlord. Once you have their approval, Reid says little things, like adding a ceiling fan (especially if you have an existing central light fixture), can make a big difference in both the feel of your home and your energy bill. "Just remember to keep the original light fixture so you can replace it when you move out," she says.

Invest in Paint

Additionally, a fresh coat of paint can have a big impact. "Paint everything white," she suggests, but adds that you shouldn't be afraid of color, either. "A coat of bright paint on a single wall (or door!) can make the entire place feel brand-new. You may also want to just paint the moldings; this is a super-quick way to give a room some character," she notes. "The owner may want you to return the walls to the original color when you leave, but it's worth the effort for the impact."

Install Your Accents

If you want to take painting one step further, Reid suggests accenting a single wall with stick-on wallpaper or adding curtains (skip the suspension rods and install luxe options, should you be allowed to drill!). Consider hanging window treatments a long-term investment: You'll be able to take them with you when you leave (just beware that they may not fit the windows at your new place).

Revamp the Floors

If you have the skills—and the permission from your landlord—Reid suggests changing up your flooring with peel-and-stick iterations. "While they don't look quite as good as real tiles, alas, they totally work—especially if you throw a rug over them to add some texture," says Reid. In smaller spaces, like a backsplash or bathroom wall, Reid says they're nearly indistinguishable from the real thing.

Never Touch Your Plumbing or Electric

While it may seem like almost anything is game for updating, Reid says you should never take it upon yourself to make changes to your rental's electrics or plumbing. "As an example, at my last rental home, there were a few outdoor lanterns that didn't work, so I bought new tops for them and rewired them," she says. "I didn't ask my landlord first, because it seemed to me to be such an obvious improvement both aesthetically and in terms of safety, but he used the fact that I'd made those changes to hold me accountable for completely unrelated electrical issues that arose in other parts of the house."


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