The problem with many apartments is that they’re generic. You can personalize your space easily, but if you’re renting you don’t want to spend too much money on a place that isn’t yours. Your property owner will also want you to restore the space to the same condition it was before you moved in (even if you think it’s an improvement, your property owner may not think so). Here are some easy fixes that are just as easy to remove should you decide to move on.
It’s Curtains For You
Inexpensive drapery panels can hide a multitude of sins, and they don’t need to be used just to block an ugly view. If the walls are in bad shape use curtains to mask the damage. Install rod holders near the ceiling (don’t forget brackets in the idle for support on long walls). If you can’t find a curtain rod that’s long enough, buy a wooden dowel (easily available in up to 12 foot lengths.
Or create an upholstered wall by screwing a small strip of wood (a 1”x2”) along the top of the wall, near the ceiling. Do the same along the bottom, just above the floor molding. You can have the people at the lumberyard (or at Home Depot or Lowe’s) cut one to the exact length (they usually only charge a few cents for each cut). Buy inexpensive muslin or a printed fabric. Fold the cut side under and staple along the board. Cut the fabric slightly longer than the length you need to reach the bottom board. Pull taut, fold the cut side under and staple to the bottom piece of wood. When it’s time to move, just take down the 1”x2” pieces of wood, fill the holes with a little patching plaster and everything will look good as new. If you want to hang pictures, simply use wires to suspend the pictures from nails in the top board.
Hate the ugly ceiling fan in your room. Simply remove the blades (easy to do with a screwdriver), scrub them down (you’ll be amazed at how greasy and dirty they are). Trace the blade to make a template, transfer to Con-tact paper, and trace the outline at least 1” larger than the fan. Peel and stick the Con-tact paper, wrapping the excess around to the top of the blade. Poke holes through the paper where the screws go, reattach to the fan and enjoy your one of a kind statement. You can also use window cling (see below) to dress up a blade easily.
Hate the View?
We’re not talking about the TV show; we’re talking about the view out of one of your windows! Head over to Home Depot or Lowe’s and look for the window cling sheets (usually in the same aisle as window shades). These peel and stick sheets come in translucent, frosted and varieties made to look like stained glass. There are even clings designed to look like leaded glass, when you just want to add architectural interest.
Most apartments are painted with boring colors. Painting is one of the cheapest ways to transform a room. Try doing an accent wall in a dark shade; you can always repaint it white before you move. If you’ve one of those apartments with a long, narrow hallway, here’s a trick to make it look larger. Paint one of the walls one shade lighter or darker than the other. Look at the paint strips and pick two adjacent colors. It’s subtle enough that it’s not noticeable, but it actually makes the hallway seem much wider.
Short on Storage
Buy an inexpensive bookcase, and attach a spring-tension drapery rod to the inside of the bookcase and hang inexpensive curtains down the front of the bookcase or wooden roll-up blinds and you have instant hidden storage space. For an entire wall of storage, use the same technique, except use the brackets for closet rods attach them to the top of the bookcases and hang the curtains along the entire wall.
Ugly Tile Floors
If your bathroom has ugly tile floors, hide them with thick luxurious carpet. Carpet in the bathroom, you say? Yes. Head over to a carpet liquidator and buy a remnant the approximate size of your bathroom. Line it up at the doorway unroll it, cutting away excess and trimming around fixtures with a razor knife. If you choose a high pile carpet, it will hide any little mistakes you make; you can even put down patches. About every two weeks pull up the carpet, flip it over and let it air out overnight. Even with an expensive carpet, it won’t cost much to do a typical apartment sized bathroom, so you can replace it when necessary.
The Renter’s Tool Kit
Everybody should have a tool kit to take care of little repairs. You needn’t spend a fortune, and can usually fine good kits at home improvement stores or Ikea, you can even assemble your own.
Each kit should have:
lightweight claw hammer
rigid tape measure (at least 8 feet long)
set of Allen wrenches
two screwdrivers, a Phillips (pointy) and flat- head