Cheapest Rental Improvements For Your Money

I’ve utilized about every DIY I can come up with to make my small apartment a real home. I’ve redone the kitchen 4 times now in 6 years. And each time I tend to do something completely different.

My daughter (who flips houses) helped me redo my kitchen this spring and I absolutely love it. For around $500 the look of my kitchen is vastly changed.

I decided to buy a new refrigerator, a real treat for myself, simply because I hated the one that came with the apartment. This one looks spiffy clean and has plastic shelves, which was missing in the other one.

I paid around $700 for the refrigerator, but I find it’s well worth it. The refrigerator is of course above and beyond the $500 I mentioned above.

I took the doors off the cabinets to make the kitchen appear larger than it actually is.

I redid the countertops. Again.

The first time I redid the countertops around 2015 I applied contact paper. It stayed down pretty well for a while.

Around 2016 I was gifted a DIY counter top kit from GianiGranite.

This last time I also used a GianiGranite product. They had come out with a more expensive marble kit that I purchased.

I really didn’t want the marble look, so I opted to leave out that step and just go for a nice shiny white counter top with epoxy. By no one’s standards could you say I did a perfect job because there are mistakes everywhere. But they’re not something most people notice.

Years ago I changed out the faucets in the kitchen and bathroom. I also tore out the vanity and huge mirror and had my own vanity put in. With that ugly probably 6 foot mirror gone, I replaced it with a simple scalloped mirror that I hung from a nail for $21.

I had my own toilet installed before I moved in because I needed a taller one with my chronic ankle injury. So the only thing in my bathroom that hasn’t been switched out or improved upon, including the floor, is the bathtub/shower.

I’ve listed the top 5 improvements that made the most difference for the money in my rental apartment:

An apartment tends to be pretty generic. These apartments were built in the sixties. And there really hadn’t been many improvements since then.

So I sat down and went over the things I most wanted changed that would fit in my budget. And then over time made it happen.

I purchased wood trim and paid someone to add it in my bathroom and kitchen. I painted. I switched out the kitchen cabinet drawer and door pulls and added some I ordered online.

I also ordered peel and stick subway tile that my daughter added to the backsplash in the kitchen. And I redid the countertops myself.

No matter how long you live somewhere, it is your home. You should give your rental home all the character and personality your budget can afford so that you will love it. And of course what your landlord will allow.

If you switch out cabinet hardware, keep the original ones so that you can put them back on should you decide to move.

With the other four changes I’ve listed, you have to decide if you can come to terms with whether it is worth spending your own money to make the improvements.

I’ve lived in my apartment for over 6 years now and have no intention as of now of moving anytime soon. Every improvement I’ve made was well worth it.

I have to be happy with where I live. I’m not going to compromise that happiness just because I rent instead of own my home. It is your own individual decision of course. But I know that I made the right decision for me.


You might also be interested in reading these posts about improving a rental home…

  • Cheap & Easy Renter-Friendly Kitchen Updates
    There are many renter-friendly ideas you can utilize to update your rental home without getting in trouble with your landlord. It just takes a bit of creativity, googling, or checking out Pinterest. As I research…
  • Cheapest Rental Improvements For Your Money
    I’ve utilized about every DIY I can come up with to make my small apartment a real home. I’ve redone the kitchen 4 times now in 6 years. And each time I tend to do…
  • Decorating Kitchen Tips For Renters
    When you rent a house or apartment, you are pretty much stuck with the way it looks from the time you move in. But there are some easy decorating tips to at least help hide…

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14 Comments

  1. Your kitchen looks wonderful! Is everything white or have you included some soft pearl gray? Is the colour on the cabinets the same as the walls? The back of the cabinets seem to have a faint reddish glow. So lovely.

  2. Your kitchen is quite lovely. I love the look of open shelving but I know myself… I not as organized as you so they wouldn’t work for me. I really like the light above your kitchen sink… I can see how that ties in with your style. The gingham check is nostalgic for me… signs of a simpler time.

  3. I love what you’ve done, and how you’ve provided a concise list – as well as a cheering section! – for making your rental your own!!! if this had a share button, I would definitely pin it to my board!

  4. It all looks really beautiful, Brenda. I think your money was well-spent. There are so many things I would like to change in my house but can’t really afford to do plus with my daughter and her two boys living here things have changed and been re-arranged to her convenience and liking. I am considering moving out and letting her have the house so I can have my own space again. I don’t know if or when that will be possible but I think about it every day. I have been quite ill over the last month and a half and I don’t think I will be quite well again until I can have my own space. So I know how important ones’ satisfaction with their surroundings is.

    Enjoy your space, as I know you do, and stay well.

    1. Is there any type of senior or disability housing in your area you can get on a list for ? I’m thinking it would be something to look forward to. Now, the present apartment that I’m in – I’m in an in-law suite owned by friends who live in the house. It was a meeting on the corner of realizing how well we would get along, with me being in a desperately bad housing situation that was sucking all the money out of me. I feel that my present landlady and landlord were led to this decision by the holy spirit – by knowing me well as a friend, so they knew the situation I was living in. it pays to talk about yourself!

  5. Hi. I think you’ve also added or replaced the storm door, and you’ve bought containers and things for your patio. I’d say your changes have been a good investment since you have lived there for so long.

  6. I have read back through all the archives and I have to say I’ve loved every update you have done.
    It has been fun seeing the changes that have evolved in the time you have lived there, as your tastes and creative direction change as you move forward with life. I commend you for making such a warm and beautiful home regardless of you rental status. Everyone should be happy and comfortable in their own home!

    With that being said, I have been living in a house that is not where I wanted to be, but health and financial difficulties keep me here. With your blog, you have inspired me to truly make this a “home” and not wait until my circumstances change. Now I am excited about my life and enjoying the planning
    and refurbishing things I already have for a different use. My creativity is back.

    So glad I found your blog and thank you for your lovely posts!

  7. Hi Brenda,
    I applaud you for making the changes on your dime in your rental. Most people would not do that since they do not own it. I feel if you are going to make it your home and be there for sometime you should have it nice and feel good about how you live there. Your kitchen re do looks great.
    Kris

  8. Brenda, You are clever, creative and practical! You have created a beautiful home and it reflects your personality. Great Job! SherryB

  9. I forgot to ask you about your washer being in your kitchen. Does it bother you being there or I’d that the only option you have? Where is your dryer?
    My washer is in my kitchen also and it does bother me but to have it moved to where the dryer is located would involve moving the water line from one area of the house to another which would be “major” money!!

  10. Brenda, I love your kitchen!!
    I had to take a second look at the subway tile….it looks like the real thing!! Amazing!!
    You have done a fantastic job
    and it certainly looks like HOME!!

  11. Your kitchen looks wonderful and I like the open shelves which display your dishes. You do such a great job with your decorating!