7 Home Improvement Projects for a Rental

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Are you a renter looking to freshen up your home? You don’t need to be a professional – there are plenty of home improvement projects you can handle yourself to make your home more harmonious and cozy.

There is a difference between a house that needs structural renovation (of facilities, walls, floors, kitchen, bathroom, etc.) and one that just needs a bit of freshening up.

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In the first case, you will need guidance from professionals, such as architects and skilled workers. To do the latter, all you need is a home staging intervention.

This can be done by a home staging professional, but you can also do it yourself, following some of the practical tips in this article.

Let’s begin by having a look at what home staging is.

What is a home staging intervention?

Home staging is not a renovation, but a combination of quick, non-invasive, and affordable actions that aim to make your home more comfortable, cozy, organized, and easier to maintain.

It is a great solution for people looking to make their rental property more appealing, and also renters whose landlord won’t allow them to make big changes.

Your home evokes feelings and emotions, and it’s up to you whether it’s warm and welcoming or cold and uninviting.

With this in mind, you can start your home improvement projects.

1. Decluttering

This is the first step you should take before starting with any interventions.

Decluttering is essential for a house to be clean and tidy.

This step can be divided into smaller steps to help you get through this crucial stage.

  • Remove 

Remove every item that is not necessary anymore, such as pieces of furniture, ornaments and decorations. Keep in mind that less is more.

  • Depersonalize

Remove all personal items of the previous house owner and objects that might have too much of an impact on the general house mood, such as colorful furniture and paintings.

  • Fix or replace

Check if everything you decided to keep is working properly, such as lights, the doorbell, electrical appliances. Fix or replace them if needed.

  • Organize and clean

Make sure to clean and tidy up all rooms, especially in the kitchen and in the bathroom. If you choose to put some air freshener, opt for light smells like the scent of fresh laundry.

2. Choosing a color palette

Choosing good color combinations is important as it evokes positive emotions.

Using warm pastel colors can make the environment pleasant and cozy.

It’s better to avoid using just one color because the atmosphere can appear too unnatural. Instead, choose a combination with a dominant color and its lighter and darker shades.

To have a balanced color palette use the 60-30-10 rule with three colors, where the numbers 60, 30 and 10 refer to the percentages of the presence of each color in the room.

Your dominant color will cover approximately 60% of the room. Consider choosing a neutral and soft shade that won’t be too overwhelming.

Then choose the second shade, which will take up about 30% of the space, and it could be a little darker or softer than the dominant color.

Lastly, pick the third shade for the remaining 10% of the room. It will be the darkest and boldest color of the palette.

3. Paint and wallpaper

One of the easiest things you can do to freshen up your home is to paint the walls.

In general, it’s better to use light colors for small rooms, like white or cream, to make them look more spacious.

You could even decide to paint an accent wall, with a bright color, as a statement that makes the room unique.

Try to use sustainable materials, such as eco-friendlier paints that contain low to zero amounts of toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Another option is to use a removable wallpaper, which you can easily take off when you get tired of it. There are tons of different wallpaper designs, and some of the most popular are geometric and greenery designs. 

4. Furniture

Furniture is arguably the most important and noticeable part of a room. If you want to buy new pieces, there are multiple options for every budget.

In case you are searching for something unique, and you are also concerned about sustainability, research your local flea markets.

If you own some old furniture you want to keep, you can start your DIY project to restyle pieces. There are hundreds of tutorials online on how to give your old furniture a new life.

As far as space composition goes, a tip you can follow is to identify the focal point of the room. This is the first part of a room you see when you’re entering it. Put a furniture piece you want to highlight in that spot.

Another composition tip is to choose a bookcase with modular units and move them around to create unique designs. Try not to fill up all the units with books to keep the overall look simple and tidy.

5. Fabrics

Pillows, curtains and rugs are a complementary part of the general design. You can choose their colors following the 60-30-10 rule, or experiment with vivid colors and geometric patterns. If used well, they can make the space very cozy and welcoming.

Remember to use varying materials and textures, to have an enriched sensory experience and convey different emotions.

6. Accessories 

This part is probably the most difficult because people tend to add too many items in their homes, leading to a chaotic environment.

To facilitate this step, there is the rule of the three: pick three objects that look well together (they can also belong to the same type) and play around with their heights, combining one tall object with one of medium size and a third lower one.

Commonly used accessories are paintings, photos and posters, and you can place them in the traditional way (symmetrically), static way (just one big piece), or dynamic way (different pieces with different dimensions).

A useful tip for the entrance and small rooms is to use mirrors to amplify the light and create the illusion of a bigger space.

Plants are an incredible tool to make your home more pleasant and welcoming. That‘s what Sarah did in her home: “Living right next to Jack Darling Memorial Park is awesome, and seeing nature every day has made me wonder how I could bring nature inside my home. I decided to create a wall decoration in the living room, using tree branches and autumn leaves that I had picked up during my daily walks in the park. Now I feel like I’m surrounded by nature.”

7. Lighting 

Artificial lighting helps to create the right atmosphere that changes from room to room.

Use direct light in rooms such as the kitchen and bathroom, where you need a clear and strong illumination, but put them out of the field of view and point them to walls or ceiling. 

A dim light is more suitable for living rooms and bedrooms, where the main goal is to relax and create a calming environment. Avoid having a single chandelier as that makes the room narrow and small. Instead, go for different light spots and sources.

The positioning of lights can help you create imaginary divisions in a room, so different parts of a room can have distinct atmospheres. For example, in the living room, you can create a reading corner with a strong light spot that frames the seat.

Lastly, you can change out the light fixtures to adapt the lighting to the new home style, and change the light bulbs to more sustainable ones.

Final thoughts

These are just a few useful tips to help you with your rental home improvement projects. Hopefully, they will spark some creative ideas you’d like to pursue.

In case you’re struggling with the restyling, you can always contact an expert in this field, such as an architect, interior designer or a home stager.

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Author bio:

Alice Ibba has graduated in Architecture and is working as a freelancer, combining her passions for interior design, holistic wellness, sustainability, psychology, and graphic design. She defines herself as a multipotentialite. You can get in touch with her on LinkedIn.

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