Everyone Can Relate to (& Remedy) These 7 Common Rental Woes


Every rental has at least one major quirk, or blinding eyesore that makes you blanch and, perhaps even worse, the general blah-ness of a home you can’t personalize. There’s a good solution to most, if not all, of these common rental woes, and those fixes are usually easy, cheap and quick to turn around. Here are some smart — and completely temporary — ways to deal with the space you’ve got.

#1: Heinous Kitchen Cabinets

Cabinets are front and center in the kitchen, and take up a huge amount of wall real estate. So when they are ugly or depressing, they bring the entire space down to their level. Painting is usually out of the question, but how about removing the offensive doors and embracing some open shelving instead? If all that visible clutter makes you cringe, try covering them up with either fabric or removable wallpaper instead.

#2: Crappy Lighting

Lighting is usually especially tricky because, even if there is enough of it in your apartment, it’s usually pretty awful. If you can’t camouflage or upgrade what’s there, temporarily swap out fixtures. There are also easy and affordable options to boost the lighting levels just about anywhere; you can add clamp lights, tap lights, or string lights to dark corners, closets and under kitchen cabinets. Above, Lauren and Danny used an adapter to transform ’90s track lighting into stylish pendants.

#3: Not Enough Countertop Space

Most city apartments aren’t blessed with a huge wraparound kitchen with acres of work surface. If you find yourself challenged by your one tiny countertop next to the sink or stove, try freeing up what you’ve got, or extending what’s already there. You can make burner covers for your stove, temporarily fill an open, awkward gap with some shelving, or add this one key piece if you’ve got the room.

#4: Inadequate Storage

Not many rental apartments come with a plethora of built-ins that are both beautiful and store your clutter out of sight. It’s up to you to create attractive and adequate storage for your stuff. Squeeze in classic workhorses, make use of slim spots where nothing else will fit, seek out space-saving products, and — by all means — go vertical. And remember, curtains on tension rods can hide a multitude of sins. Above, we created a little extra closed cubby between two kitchen cabinets, with just a little bit of fabric and a rod.

#5: Dreary or Non-Existent Backsplash

Landlords rarely splurge for the extras, and backsplashes often fall into the category of “unnecessary.” If there is one, it’s usually made out of the cheapest material around, which is also often the ugliest. Temporarily hang some inexpensive tile, try out some removable adhesives, or cover what tile is there with some decals. Even removable wallpaper is a nice visual boost.

#6: Small Closets, or No Closets at All

If your clothing storage is lacking, you can either adopt the minimalist, capsule wardrobe lifestyle, stop buying clothes entirely, or you can you get clever with some storage options. Create a closet out of thin air, DIY your own clothing racks, or make your existing closet more efficient with some strategic buys.

#7: Beige Box Syndrome

Do you feel like your home really represents you, or does it look like every other neutral rental out there in the world? Even if you can’t build your space from scratch and choose every detail that surrounds you, you can make your space feel like you actually live there, versus just biding time while you pass through. Sometimes your kitchen needs a little style, or a cheap refresh, and other times it’s your bathroom that needs a boost. Often, it only takes a weekend to make a significant difference.

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