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8 Ways To Add Character To Your Bare-Bones Rental Apartment

Got a landlord who hates your home improvement schemes? You don’t have to suffer another day in a charmless rental! We’ve rounded up eight amazing lease-friendly DIY upgrades. And, yes, you can take them with you. RELATED: Check out This Old APT for more ideas.—Katelin Hill, This Old House magazine

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1. Swap out ugly knobs and pulls


Pull, don't kill my vibe. Kitchens in rental apartments aren't the best, but ugly kitchen cabinet hardware kind of adds insult to injury. Before you find the knobs of your dreams, measure the distance between existing holes to avoid drilling. Stash away the originals—and screws!—in clearly labeled ziplocs somewhere obvious. Then you can take your awesome hardware with you when you upgrade your address.

RELATED: 21 Cheerful Ceramic Cabinet Knobs

2. Show off the goods with open shelves

Interior designers love this look because it makes a small space look bigger. Remove the clunky doors from your cabinets—stashing all hinges and screws where you can find them later—and let the light illuminate your space! Then rearrange your shelves for the best #shelfie ever.

RELATED: Paint your kitchen cabinets these color combos (if you're allowed)

3. Stick on easy etched glass

Block the view of your exhibitionist neighbors. Cover a portion of your window with peel-and-stick decals. They cost less and let in more light plain old blinds and drapes. Try Emma Jeffs Otto Adhesive Film, about $86 for a 40” x 50” sheet;

4. Customize removable wallpaper


Haven’t found the wallpaper pattern that SCREAMS you? Design your own. It's ridiculously easy to remove—plus, if you’re careful, you can take it to your next place. One wall is all you need to make a statement for the fraction of the cost of papering a whole room. From $60 per roll (2ft x 12ft);

RELATED: Take note of these wall decor ideas on This Old APT

5. Fake moldings with washi tape


ICYMI, washi tape is the best. It comes in hundreds of patterns and can dress up everything from boring switchplates to—you guessed it—walls. It adds faux architectural interest for a mere few bucks. Opt for a solid color, smooth out air bubbles with a credit card, and level out those lines for a place worthy of an apartment tour.

RELATED: See every which way to use the stuff in our washi tape roundup on This Old APT

6. Add divided lights to windows


True dividers are embedded in the panes of the window, but you can fake it with ones that slap on. Count on spending about an hour and between $10-25 worth of removable muntins per window. (It takes work to be this classy). Find the step by step here

7. Tattoo your tile


Maybe you can’t replace your subpar stock tile, but you can give it a major spruce-up. Mibo’s Tile Tattoos can be used in the kitchen or bathroom and are resistant to moisture. Apply with a few drops of water, and peel them off mess-free when the lease runs out. Shown in Bembridge French Blue, $18 for a set of 6;

8. Plug in a pendant

Forget hardwiring for a hanging fixture. Just pair a pendant with a decorative cord kit that you can plug in to the wall! We like World Market’s Jute Rope Swag Kit ($35) or West Elm’s Metallic Cord Set ($49) Get creative—we literally made this one out of a trash can. Get all the dirty details here.

Like what you see here? Get more hacks for your rental digs from our brand-new blog This Old APT