Simple, easy upgrades to create a home you're proud of.

May 14, 2019

After countless rental inspections, you’ve finally found your dream apartment.  It’s in the perfect location with a parking space, but even though the interior is clean, it’s looking a little dated. Decorating a rental is tricky, but just because you didn’t buy it doesn’t mean you can’t own it.  A rental is still your home, although a temporary one, and it deserves some interior love – because everything that surrounds you affects you.

If you’re renting, feel good about it and create a space you’re proud of – to make it feel like a well-curated and liveable space.

So what simple upgrades can you make to a rental that won’t cost much? Ones your landlord will also approve that will turn your makeshift space into a place you love?

Before you move everything in, there’s one thing you need to do first: Paint your rental a colour that’s right for you. Image via Zara ‘Natural’ 2019 Range,


Think of your rental like an artist’s blank canvas. You need a fresh foundation to build upon and layer around to create your magic castle. So before you move everything in, there’s one thing you need to do first: Paint it. Read more, ‘The 20 Best Paint Colours According to Dulux.’ Even if your landlord repainted before you moved in, sometimes the colour just isn’t quite right for you. Paint is transformative and affordable too. Read more, ‘Australia’s Best Paint Colours.’

Put your money in the paint and not in the painter, roll up your sleeves, and pick up a brush. Painting is tough work, but the gratification you feel at seeing the final result makes it worth it. Read more, ‘Paint Mistakes: The 9 Colour Mistakes You Should Never Make.’


If there’s one part of the house that requires your urgent attention, it’s usually the kitchen. As the most frequented room in the house, it should be pretty and practical, but it also needs to be fresh. No one wants to cook in a dirty kitchen. If you’re short on cash but want to make it look expensive, paint the cabinets if your landlord allows you. Read more, ‘7 Ways To Save on a Kitchen Renovation.’

Opt for cabinetry in a neutral colour like white, grey, or charcoal.

But if you’re ready to take it one step further,  invest in IKEA’s low-cost butcher blocks to replace cheap laminate benchtops. If that’s not possible, hang some pendant lighting. This will act as the focal point to the space and pull your eye from less desirable areas. And update ugly door handles with new hardware – it will instantly improve the tone of the room.

This home won’t be your last, so invest in furniture that can move with you. Photo via Zara ‘Natural’ 2019 Range,


They are absolute necessities in any room (and we complain when there aren’t enough), but the truth is that light switches and plugs can be eyesores. So how do you camouflage oddly placed light switches and plugs?  

Make sure light switches and plugs are the same colour as your wall so they disappear. If this doesn’t work, then Gachot says art is the best solution or designing a chic cover.


One of the most common faux pas in a rental property is the lighting. They’re usually old and which can make the whole space look dated and tired. Thankfully, lighting is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to upgrade your home and bring it into the 21st century. Ikea is a great source for affordable, stylish options. Read more with, ‘The Essential Guide to Lighting.’

Opt for some floor and table lamps to establish interesting light levels – plus you can take them with you when you leave.

For simple, low-cost upgrades, invest in stacks of fresh, crisp towels to bring life to an old rental space. Image via Zara ‘Natural’ 2019 Range,


Bathrooms can be tricky, especially if you have ugly tiles, but don’t let that deter you from turning it into a space you love. After all, this is the place where we beautify, cleanse, and look after ourselves every day so it should look the part too. It’s also another room, like the kitchen, that needs to be clean. For simple, low-cost upgrades, invest in stacks of fresh, crisp towels to bring life to an old space. Read more, ‘Bathroom Revived: The Budget Edition.’

If you have a long-term lease, consider investing in bathroom reglazing. “You can coat any old mildew or time-worn tile on the floor, on the walls, and even the bathtub with a fresh, crisp white glaze. It looks brand-new and likely costs around $500 to $800, but it’s worth the investment if you plan to stay. Replace door handles.

Consider replacing tapware, too – it’s not as expensive as you think and can make a huge difference to the space.


Some rental properties don’t allow you to add as much artwork to the walls as you’d like. If you’re really set on the place, we think you should hang to your heart’s content. These days, the nail for art hangers is smaller than a pin. Sometimes you just have to break the rules. It’s easy to fill that hole, when you move. If you don’t want to upset your landlord, then you can be inventive with how you hang your artwork, in fact, you don’t have to hang them at all. Layer them up on the floor, or on a mantel or bookshelf if you have one. Read more, ‘The Art You Need and How To Hang It.’

Layer art on shelves, mantels, the floor, to add your individual touch. Zara ‘Natural’ Range,


If there’s one thing that can age a room, it’s the blinds. The colour, fabric, and style can upset your entire aesthetic. Simply hang curtains in front of the blinds. Buy some affordable fabric from a bargain outlet such as Spotlight, and get a seamstress from AirTask to whiz up simple natural linen custom curtains. It can make a huge differenct to the space.

Equally, try simply blinds from your local hardware store such as Bunnings which are cost effective and great.


Lastly, since this home won’t be your last, invest in furniture that can move with you. Then when you move to the next rental, you already have the building blocks to decorate a chic home.

Upgrade your kitchen rental: As the most frequented room in the house, it should be pretty and practical, but it also needs to be fresh. Image via Zara ‘Natural’ 2019 Range,

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