clock menu more-arrow no yes
A living room apartment features a white couch with open shelving behind it, a white spindly side table, and windows with breezy white curtains on the right.
Sheer curtain panels ($16.95 for two)添加一个breezy, sophisticated look to rental windows.

Filed under:

16 easy, affordable ways to upgrade your rental

Landlord-friendly ways to make a rental feel more like home

If you buy something from a Curbed link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See ourethics policy.

Oh, the joys of renting! Nothing says welcome to adulthood quite like navigating the world of expensive deposits, mercurial landlords, and a sea of beige and white interiors. And once you’ve moved in, you start to notice all the less-than-ideal problems: faded tile, bad lighting, and a showerhead that trickles instead of showers.

You may not be able to go full HGTV renovation on a rental—sorry y’all, those walls have to stay—but that doesn’t mean the situation is hopeless. A few strategic moves can transform a drab room into something warm and inviting; it just takes the right tools.

We’ve rounded up some of the best budget-friendly products to help any rental shine. From new light fixtures to affordable window coverings, here are 16 ways to make your rental feel a bit more like home.

Enhance your lighting

Bad lighting can ruin a good apartment or house, but switching out light fixtures is relatively easy. If you have thedreaded “boob lights”in your rental, opt for an affordable flush light fixture like the one below. Other easy upgrades include giving dining room fixtures some color, addingsmart light bulbsthat connect to aGoogle Home or Amazon Echo, and installing a few stick-on motion sensor lights to mitigate dark closets.

Flush Mount Ceiling Light Fixture

  • $17

This low profile, maintenance-free light emits 810 lumens while reducing energy consumption as much as 75 percent.

Semi Flush Ceiling Light

  • $250

These midcentury-inspired light fixtures come in mint or mauve and add a bit of glam to any room.

Philips Smart Light Bulb Starter Kit

  • $109

These smart light bulbs use WiFi to turn on and off, dim to different levels, or be set to a specific schedule when you’re not home. The set includes four bulbs and a hub compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant.

LED Closet Light

  • $18

Available in white or black, these motion sensor lights can be installed with screws or stickers and provide an easy upgrade to dark closets or kitchen cabinets.

Spruce up the bathroom

Let’s face it: Many rentals have bathrooms that are mediocre at best. The first thing to tackle is your showerhead; swap in something with a bit of glam and your morning suds will be infinitely better. You can also upgrade your towel bars or spoil your tush with a new toilet seat.

Kohler 22169-G-CP Forte Showerhead

  • 74美元

If you’re looking for a spa-like feel in the shower, this three-spray showerhead offers a powerful spray and nice range of cover.

Jardin Towel Bar

  • $78

Available in bronze or silver, this towel bar adds glam to any bathroom.

Mayfair 48SLOWA 000/848SLOWA 000 Molded Wood Toilet Seat

  • $29

It may seem like a small thing, but when most toilets are closed carelessly, they slam with an unflattering slap. This seat closes slowly and quietly and can be easily installed with a wrench.

Rethink window coverings

Rental window coverings can leave a lot to be desired. If you have blinds and need to make things look fresh, sheer white curtain panels do the trick. Blocking out city lights can also be tough, which is why we turn to Ikea for affordable—yet effective—black-out curtains. And while painting a rental wall can be an easy DIY project, not all landlords allow it. If that’s the case, try adding colorful curtains to combat white or beige wall overload.

Layne Velvet Curtain

  • $78

With splashes of coral flowers on a rich teal background, these dramatic curtains could work in a living room or bedroom.

Sheer white curtains hang on a white window. The walls are gray and they feature white trim.

Nicetown Sheer Window Curtain Panels 54‘’ x 96‘’

  • $17

These elegant curtains—a favoriteof Curbed SF editorBrock Keeling—let in plenty of light while still providing some shade and privacy. Also available in other neutral solids and nature-themed patterns.

Gray curtains hang next to a white couch.

Ikea Marjun Blackout Curtains

  • $50

These inexpensive curtains come in one length and three color-blocked styles, blocking out street lights and sunlight from the room.

Replace knobs and handles

Looking to add a bit of whimsy or color to a bland rental? Switch out kitchen or bathroom knobs and handles with more stylish alternatives. Just be sure to keep the original hardware in a bag or drawer so you can put the old ones back on when you move.

Set of 12 Gold Leaf Knobs

  • $25

This set of handmade ceramic knobs feature a leaf pattern in gold and black on a white background.

Concrete cabinet knobs

  • $3

TheWhitewashed Shopon Etsy mixes concrete with whimsical colors and shapes for an easy way to refresh cabinets.

Lunda Cabinet Knobs

  • $9

These champagne bronze tab drawer pulls can be used on kitchen or furniture projects, and the Etsy shopForge Hardware Studiohas lots of other on-trend styles available.


You may not be able to retile a bathroom or get the landlord to put in new kitchen cabinets, but you can achieve a similar look thanks to peel-and-stick products. A bit of repositionable wallpaper can add color or pattern to any room, as can stick-on tile. And don’t overlook the power of contact paper; the self-adhesive film can be applied to cabinets, cupboards, shelves, and stair risers.

Blue Moroccan Peel & Stick Wallpaper

  • 42美元

Peel-and-stick repositionable wallpaper is backed with an adhesive that removes cleanly with no residue.

Sea 10” x 10” Resin Peel & Stick Subway Tile

  • $14

These peel-and-stick tile panels with a high shine finish have the look of sea glass and reviews say they are easy to install.

Decorative Self-Adhesive Film, Grey Marble

  • $8

Available in an array of sizes, this decorative self-adhesive film can be applied to walls, kitchen cupboards, furniture, shelves, and more.

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n"}">