Ways to make your apartment or rental space feel a little less “used.”

Whether you’re the second or hundredth tenant in your rental space, here are a few things you can do to make it feel like a renter’s paradise.

Renting a living space isn’t always ideal. Paying your monthly rent and never receiving anything in return can feel like you’re working towards a nonexistent goal, unlike owning a home and paying a mortgage. Even worse, your rental space has likely been lived in by many tenants prior to you, and these tenants may not have kept the space as clean or functional as you’d like. Here are a few ways you can spruce up your rental space to eliminate some evidence of previous tenants.

Tighten the hardware.

Knobs or handles on cabinets can easily become loose, causing the cabinet to feel older, rickety, and worn. Luckily, this is a rather simple fix. Chances are, there is a screw on the inside of the cabinet that attaches the hardware to the cabinet door or drawer, and this likely the reason the knob became loose. Grab a handy dandy screwdriver and simply twist the screw until it becomes tight (remember: righty tighty, lefty loosey). Voila! Your cabinet feels (almost) good as new.

Dust everywhere.

I don’t just mean dust the common surfaces, like tables or mantles. Dust windowsills like your life depends on it. Dust the air conditioning unit. Wipe the dust off the stairs. Look at the ceiling – do you see cobwebs? Get that shit outta there.

Wipe down the baseboards.

Try to do this before you move your furniture into its permanent locations to save time later. Get a damp cloth or paper towel with soap (I use dish soap) and wipe down every baseboard in the apartment. While you’re at it, wipe down the chair rails and door casings, too. Although they may not look dirty to the naked eye, you may be surprised (and slightly disturbed) when you take a look at the dirty paper towel after cleaning.

Vacuum. More than just once.

This was a mistake I made after moving into my current apartment – I only vacuumed once. Granted, I did a pretty thorough job that first time. Or so I thought. I recently vacuumed again, less than a week after moving into my apartment, and the amount of dirt and dust that my vacuum picked up was astonishing. Vacuum your living space multiple times, not only to better clean the apartment, but also to grant some piece of mind that you won’t later find the previous tenants’ dog hair, Cheez-it crumbs, or toenail clippings (this is an actual thing I found in the rug of my current apartment!!).

Deep clean the cabinets and drawers, especially in the kitchen.

Take your vacuum extension and suck out all the nasty leftovers from previous tenants. Don’t stop here. Get a cleaner or degreaser (I use Windex multipurpose cleaner) and a paper towel and wipe the inside of each cabinet drawer, ensuring that I also wipe the corners and edges.

Paint.

If your lease allows you to do so. And if you want to change the color. And if you have the time and means to paint. Really, this one is totally up to you and your situation. Sometimes, painting a fresh layer of color on the walls of your living space can totally change the feel of the apartment. Choosing a lighter color will bring in more natural light and make the space feel larger. White is a classic color to lighten a space but can also be customized. Does your décor and style offer warmer tones? Choose a white with a warmer undertone. Do you have a more modern style with a cooler feel? Choose a white with a cooler undertone.

Arrange your apartment in a way that is different than previous tenants.

This one depends on if your apartment listing showed the apartment furnished or not. Personally, photos of my apartment were listed pictured with a previous tenant’s furniture. This provided me with inspiration for how to arrange my furniture… and how to not arrange my furniture. For example, the previous tenant used the front room as a bedroom and a different room as a living room. I switched the setup. This allowed me to break my mindset that the room I sleep in was slept in by a different human less than a few months ago. It also allowed me more creative liberty rather than feeling bound by a specific layout.

There are plenty of other things that you can do to make your rental space feel brand new, and each apartment will be different and will have different issues to be fixed. Here are just a few functional ways that you can spruce up your apartment before delving into the world of interior design, decorating, and aesthetics.


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