10 DIYs to Make Your Rental Feel Like Home Sweet Home
(And get that security deposit back, amiright?)
My DIY Pinterest board is pretty much exploding at the seams. I collect DIY project ideas like they’re stamps. But when you’re a renter, you need to pick and choose your DIYs very carefully, because many projects won’t work with the restrictions of your lease. I've rounded up my 10 favorite no-fuss DIY projects for renters and I promise, your security deposit will be safe with all of them.
1: Monogram Doormat
DIY Monogramed Doormat
Make this DIY monogramed doormat for an easy, personalized Christmas gift for under $10. You will need the following materials: sisal doormat, two plates or bowls, one slightly smaller than the other, permanent marking pen, such as a Sharpie, letter template, black acrylic craft paint plus a small brush and measuring tape.
This is a super easy project that will help set the stage for the design in your home. It’s a great way to stand out, especially if you live in a larger apartment building with identical front doors. Go with black if you want a more neutral look, or amp it up by using a brightly colored paint for your initial.
Make It: Monogram Doormat
2: Fabric Backsplash
DIY Acrylic and Fabric Kitchen Backsplash
Update your kitchen with a DIY backsplash made from fabric and clear acrylic sheeting. Perfect for renters, this application can be customized and easily removed when you move out.
When it comes to rental kitchens, you’re often limited with changes you can make. But this is an awesome DIY project that will allow you to completely alter the look of your space without doing any damage to the walls. Measure your space, choose a fabric you love and follow this DIY to create a showstopping backsplash. When it’s time to move out, simply take it down.
Make It: Fabric Backsplash
3: Radiator Cover/Shelf
If you live in a rental with a radiator, consider this project that helps you cover up the radiator while also adding some additional shelving. Even if you don’t have room for shelves, a cover can serve double duty by hiding the radiator and providing some additional space to store books, plants or artwork.
Make It: Radiator Cover
4: Wallpapered Fridge
Sometimes an out-of-date refrigerator can really be an eyesore in a rental kitchen. Replacing the fridge is not an option for most, but all hope is not lost. You can jazz up your refrigerator by covering it with removable wallpaper.
This project is actually a lot easier than you think, and it can really add an element of fun to a tired space. This wallpaper is easy to remove, so when it’s time to move out you simply peel it off and go.
Make It: Wallpaper Your Fridge
5: Custom Pipe Shelving
Renters are often stuck with little-to-no storage. Built-in shelving is a luxury that homeowners get to enjoy, but your options are much more limited in an apartment. Here’s a nice in-between solution that will still provide you with additional storage but won’t do too much damage to your walls: custom pipe shelving.
While this project will require you to make some holes in the walls, they're very easy to fill-in with spackle before you move out.
Make It: Pipe Shelving
6: Slatted Door Storage
Here’s a fun solution that makes use of those bi-fold doors that so many of us find in rental homes. It’s a storage system that makes use of many standard organizing pieces (like a magnetic knife strip) but allows you to mount them on a slatted door. You can really get creative and set this up in a way that works best for you and your baking needs.
Make It: Slatted Door Storage
7: Stovetop Cutting Board/Counter
Small-Space Hacks: Stovetop Counter
â€œIn my rental studio apartment, the kitchen was upgraded but still lacking in counter space,â€ says Sara Swezy of Studio Style Blog. â€œI knew that covering the range was the only way to gain more counter space, but the cover needed to be easily removed and stored. I found a few traditional stove-top covers online that were clunky and ugly-looking,â€ she recalls. Inspiration hit during a trip to Ikea, â€œI remembered that they have an 'as is' section full of discounted remnants and decided to browse around. I found a fairly heavy wooden piece in a white finish which perfectly coordinated with my cabinets and counter tops.â€ Swezy felt that it was close to the size she needed and, at just $2.99, she was willing to take the chanceâ€”and it paid off. â€œFortunately, it fit perfectly! It's heavy enough that it doesn't move or shift while on top of the range but is thin enough that I can slide it away easily if I'm using the stove or oven. I use it all the time now and it makes the small kitchen livable,â€ Swezy says.
Sara Swezy, Studio Style Blog
For anyone in a tiny kitchen, you know all about the lack of counter space. It’s something that so many renters struggle with. Adding a cart as a "faux" kitchen island is a great solution, but sometimes you don’t even have room for that. Here’s an ingenious project that helps you create a good chunk of additional counter space using only the surface area on top of your stove. You can choose to create this cutting board out of material similar to your countertops, or go for some contrast and choose something that stands out a bit. When you need to use your stovetop, simply pop it off and store it until you're done.
Make It: Stovetop Cutting Board
8: Towel Ladder
Stylish Bathroom Features Ladder Towel Storage
Floral tile in cool blue and sage green creates a fun vibe in this bathroom. Fringed bath towels hang from a ladder for stylish storage, and a potted succulent adds a touch of life to the space.
Sarah Hebenstreit / Modern Kids Co.
Towels are chunky and unwieldy, and sometimes you might find that you barely have room for them in a tiny bathroom. Towel racks are great, but you might just have one and need some additional space for keeping bath and hand towels handy. This pipe towel ladder DIY could be the answer to all of your tiny bathroom towel storage needs. The great thing is, you can make it exactly as wide and as high as you have space for.
Make It: Copper Pipe Ladder
9: Pendant Light
While lighting can sometimes be a bit trickier for a renter, you can actually switch things up in your apartment without doing any real damage or putting your security deposit in jeopardy.
The key to switching out lights is making sure you have some space to store the original ones. You also want to avoid making any additional holes in the ceiling and only using whatever holes or openings are already there. If you can meet those criteria, I say switch out your lighting! This DIY pendant is an inexpensive way to quickly up your lighting game and completely change the look of your space.
Make It: Pendant Light
10: Slipcovered Ottoman Storage
Neutral Transitional Living Room With Graphic Ottomans
A weathered-wood settee is given elegant new life with linen upholstery and a contrast welt. Round button-tufted ottomans in a geometric print add graphic interest and extra seating. A mirror-topped antique coffee table is dainty and functional.
Not to sound like a broken record with this whole storage issue, but it really is the #1 challenge of most renters. Which is why I absolutely love this ingenious project.
You can take a simple utility bucket and turn it into a gorgeous, upholstered ottoman. No one will even know that there is storage inside this gem (or a bucket for that matter!).
Make It: Utility Bucket Ottoman
For some people, the thought of being surrounded by four off-white walls is simply unbearable. And for others, it's just plain boring. As removable wallpaper becomes more popular, the designs become more stylish and more affordable. It might just be time to pick out your perfect pattern!
You're certainly not going to change the electrical work in your rental, so you may be forced to live with some oddly-placed lights, light switches or power outlets. Carmel from Our Fifth House solved this problem by camouflaging a light switch within a tasteful gallery wall.
Glitz and Glam
Love Your Lighting
One of the worst things about rental units has got to be the outdated light fixtures. Luckily, this is also one of the easiest switches. Simply swap out that light fixture for something more your style. Just be sure to reattach the original fixture before moving out.
Camo and Custom Shelving
Radiators are not attractive; it's as simple as that. But covering a radiator is not always so simple. Luckily, Marian from Miss Mustard Seed shares her beautiful solution. Her custom radiator cover not only disguises the unit, but it even adds extra storage in an often tight space.
Not Your Daughter's Washi Tape
Did you think washi tape was just for the kiddos? Think again. With so many attractive styles to choose from, you're bound to find a roll that suits your taste. These washi tape frames add a colorful touch to any space. Opt for cool geometric shapes to give your home even more personality.
Washi Accent Wall
A washi tape wall can be as colorful or as subdued as you like. Emily from Everything Emily created this stunning accent wall with just two rolls of black washi tape. The best part? She completed the project for less than $10.
Sneaky Stainless Makeover
Older appliances might work just fine, but that doesn't mean you should have to live with a dated design in your cooking space. Julie Blanner found an ideal solution in the form of stainless steel contact paper. For around $5, this change has the power to totally transform your kitchen. In fact, the landlord may even ask you to leave it up.
If you're hoping to add a homey feel to your rented space, simply adding a few plants around the house might do the trick. This fiddle leaf fig tree adds life and texture to the living room. And for an added bonus, plants help purify indoor air. (No more mystery smell from renters past.)
Gallery Wall Paper
If you can't wallpaper your rental, then why not try framing your favorite wallpaper instead? Marianne Canada from HGTV Crafternoon recommends getting a sample of your favorite print and displaying it in a gorgeous frame. Now you can have your wallpaper and your rental deposit, too!
Shower in Luxury
One change that makes a huge difference, but is often overlooked, is the showerhead. This is one of those upgrades that is worth spending some extra dough. After all, when you're ready to move, simply reattach the old fixture and take yours to your new abode. Make barely-drizzling showerheads a thing of the past!
Separate in Style
If you can't paint the walls, changing the basic structure of the room is obviously out of the question. That's where room dividers come in handy. Create a home office or give the kids their own play space in a single bedroom.
Rugs on Rugs on Rugs
Let's talk floors. Scratched hardwood and stained carpet are just the beginning. Before moving in, it never hurts to have the floors professionally cleaned. But if they still look like a mess, area rugs will be your new best friend. Place them over hardwood and even over carpet for a clean, updated look that is all you.
If you like the duct tape idea, you'll love this stylish door by Stacie from Stars for Street Lights. Some quick measuring, a steady hand and a bit of electrical tape totally transformed these contractor-grade doors. The result is nothing short of fabulous!
Fabric Feature Wall
While you've probably heard of removable wallpaper, removable fabric wallpaper is another great option for renters. It peels right off, and has the potential to add a ton of color, pattern and even texture to your home. Learn how to install it here.
Practical Pantry Additions
Another excellent idea for extra space is an over-the-door pantry unit. You can maximize the space on the back of the pantry door with only a few screws. Warning: Some landlords are more than fine with storage additions like this one, but you may be asked to leave it behind when you move.
Want more space instantly? Add a large mirror to any room, and the visual effect is bound to make your space feel bigger and brighter, all without knocking down a single wall.