Just because you rent your home doesn't mean you can't make some seriously impressive upgrades. Recently, I asked renters of the BuzzFeed Community to share the best lease-friendly upgrades they've ever made to their spaces, and the responses were as creative as they were helpful. These are the home improvement suggestions that'll make the biggest difference in your daily life — all without getting on your landlord's bad side.
1. "New hardware on kitchen cabinets! The standard hardware in our rental was cheap brass, so I purchased matte black cabinet pulls for less than $50, and they've upgraded the look of my boring cabinets."
2. "Our house was built in 1988, and all the light-switch plates and outlet plates were faded beige. We changed all of them to white, and it immediately made it look so modern."
3. "Smart plugs are amazing, and I am not normally an advocate for gadgety things. You can set lamps on timers for when you're away, and it's also super convenient for holiday lights. I especially love the timer for my winter electric blanket. It turns on 20 minutes before I go to bed every night and automatically shuts off 30 minutes after I've fallen asleep so I don't wake up all sweaty and agitated."
4. "A white noise machine — the kind that uses a little fan inside to make a whoosh sound, not the sound machines that just play an audio track. I love my apartment, but it's on a street with constant road noise. The white noise blocks out all the annoying sound, and it's the reason I sleep so well now."
5. "My apartment has a MASSIVE patio with no hose. My green thumb and I have cultivated quite the urban jungle over the past two years, and after getting sick of carrying gallon after gallon of water out there in my watering can, I bought a faucet adapter kit for less than $20 that lets me hook up a proper hose on watering day!"
6. "I saw this TikTok video on battery-operated wall sconces, and I've never purchased something so fast. They stick onto the wall, so there's no need for drilling holes, either. Makes my bedroom feel so much cozier, and it's more homey than just plopping two lamps on my bedside tables."
—Ellie, 29, Washington
7. "It is so easy to replace your showerhead with a nicer one — just be sure to keep the other one to put it back when you move. When I moved into my old apartment, they had the cheapest 'water saver' showerhead that had so little pressure that it defeated its purpose, because my showers were twice as long from me just trying to wash out my shampoo and conditioner adequately. I went to a hardware store and found a much better one for about $40, unscrewed the old one, and put on the new one (you might need a little plumber tape, too). The installation process took maybe five minutes."
8. "I completely transformed my kitchen for under $100. I covered every 'smokers white' surface with contact paper. My scratched, yellowing countertops became white marble. My discolored cupboards and drawers were updated to a gloss white. My vent hood and sink backsplash are now copper accents. Contrary to what you're probably thinking, the contact paper has held up for over two years, and the maintenance guys always comment on how nice my apartment is compared with the others. It's the best DIY project I've ever done, hands down."
Pro tip: Clean your surfaces with any degreasing cleaner before covering them with contact paper to ensure the best possible adhesion.
9. "I don't know how this is legal, but our bathroom has zero ventilation. In fact, I think it might not be legal. Anyway, I was tired of our freshly laundered towels smelling like mildew after two days, so I bought a small dehumidifier that runs 24/7. Our bathroom no longer feels like a rainforest."
10. "Iridescent window film. It's pretty, it creates privacy, the sun burns less, and it throws nice light effects into the room."
11. "My dog sheds a lot and is pretty stinky in his old age. My husband and I were losing it trying to bathe him every two weeks in our rental bathroom without a handheld showerhead, so we bought a dog wash shower attachment that's super long and makes bathing him as fun as it could be. I truly don't know how we did it before."
12. "Extensive wire shelving and removable small labeled bins in an extra bedroom closet. This space now holds all of my craft and sewing materials, and the whole operation cost less than $200."
13. "The house we rent is a builder's original from 1998. The faucets extend barely 2 inches into the sinks in the bathrooms, so I found these easy-to-install faucet extenders online that cost about $17 each. Game changer!"
14. "Magnetic, battery-powered light strips. Every closet, laundry room, and pantry has one. Open the door and voilà! Instant light that turns off automatically. I recharge with USB power about once a month. Makes life a little glamorous and easier without any fuss."
15. "A power strip for every inaccessible power outlet behind furniture. No more bending, fumbling, reaching, or moving furniture to plug and unplug anything — for less than $10 a strip."
16. "We bought remote-controlled LED rope lighting for above-the-cabinet lighting. It has multiple colors, which is nice for different holidays."
—Caren, 55, Oregon
17. "Sticky under-cabinet lights! Mine don't even have to plug into the wall because they're rechargeable. I recharge them about once a month overnight. It's completely changed the vibe of our kitchen for the better."
18. "Motion-sensitive light bulbs are great for rooms you don't occupy for long periods, like laundry rooms, bathrooms, patios, and garages."
19. "Pull-out spice cabinets are to die for."
20. "Wi-Fi cameras that don’t need a hub. Just set them wherever and plug them in. No configuration is needed. I’m in Florence at the moment, and I can look around our house for $35."
—David, 75, California
Pro tip: Don't put one in a common area if you live in an apartment building — just within your own unit!
21. "My peel-and-stick subway backsplash! Warning: The process of installing them is very frustrating. And if you're a perfectionist, you'll have to get comfortable with everything not looking perfect. But I get so many compliments on mine every time I have people over — even though I know there's a crooked spot or two. No one ever notices!"
22. "I've put up blackout shades in the past two rentals I've lived in. It might not be 100% renter-friendly, since it requires two tiny holes in your window frame, but I've been able to successfully fill them in in both apartments before moving out — and no one ever noticed. It improved my sleep quality more than I thought it would."
23. And finally: "I installed those LED night-light outlet cover plates throughout the house. They come on automatically in the evening and bathe the entire house in just enough glow to walk around without having to turn on any lights. Perfect for when you have to get up briefly in the middle of the night, and turning on lights would otherwise wake up your biorhythm and maybe make it harder to go back to sleep."
What's the budget-conscious, renter-friendly home upgrade you made that changed your space for the better? Tell me about it in the comments below, or through this anonymous form.
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.