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DIY Projects for a Rental Apartment Makeover

You shouldn’t have to own a home to take pride in where you live. Renting an apartment doesn’t mean you can’t give it a well-deserved makeover, it simply means you have to do it without damaging or altering the structural integrity of the property.

Most people think painting the rooms different shades, pulling up the carpet, or nailing big fixtures onto the walls are the best ways to transform your home, but in most rental properties, that isn’t allowed. This can be daunting and result in an abandonment of the very idea of an upgrade. However, easy solutions exist, and they will help you transform your apartment into your very own home. Check out these cool DIY projects that can make a difference in your apartment’s look and feel.

Refurbish Your Furniture

Every apartment is full of furniture. From dressers to tables to shelves, furniture is a great starting point for your DIY journey. Whether you inherited a piece from a family member or bought it at a resale store or garage sale, there are so many things you can do to transform the furniture into something unique. Adding a new splash of paint and polish can really bring it to life. Remember, of course, proper sanding and painting techniques are essential.

Want to go a step further? Antiquing is a trendy DIY trick that a lot of people love. The process is a little complicated, but once you finish the project, you can change any old piece of furniture into a stunning focal point.

furniture makeover

First, you need to sand down the entire surface, giving it an even, clean surface to paint. Second, apply primer, allowing enough time for the primer to dry, and then paint it. Third, sand it again. This final sanding is the part of a process that ensures an older, antique look. Make sure you sand areas down enough to allow the wood to poke through the paint, which will make it look like the furniture has endured years of wear and tear. Finally, apply stain, allow it to dry, and apply a final coat of polyurethane to protect the final product.

Antiquing is a great DIY project that is low cost and will give your furniture that vintage look. It will help you better implement certain design styles that require aged furniture as centerpieces, such as vintage or shabby chic.

Spruce Up Your Floors

Floors are often a missed opportunity in apartment makeovers because people don’t really consider changing or revitalizing them. Sometimes, it’s not enough to just run a broom or vacuum over your floors. Years of foot traffic can scuff up the tiles, hardwood, or concrete, and even flatten the fabric of your carpet until it’s stiff and difficult to manage. If you live in an older apartment, your floor can turn into an eyesore.

So, if you have a carpet, give it a much-needed steam cleaning. If you have concrete floors, which are incredibly popular these days, give that floor a good polish. Polished concrete not only looks great but, when properly maintained, it can last forever.

custom area rug

If you want to step it up a notch, you can always create a custom area rug. If you go to any store that sells carpet, they will usually have carpet square samples or very cheap carpet squares that you can take home. An extremely cost-effective DIY project is taking all those carpet squares and sewing them together to create a large area rug. The design ideas are endless because you can either keep them the same or if you want to get creative, cut them into different shapes. It may be a time-consuming process, but all you need to know is how to use a pair of scissors, how to read a tape measure, and how to use a sewing kit. Suddenly, you’ll have a statement piece right in the middle of your living room, that will fit great in a shabby chic or boho design style.

Add Flare to Your Décor

rental makeover pillow decor

If you do a quick search for DIY projects for your home, you’ll find a ton of ideas that can turn your apartment makeover into an interior designer’s dream. There are thousands of things you can do to transform your home, and some of them are breathtaking.

For instance, you can glue exotic fabrics to canvas pillows and turn them into unique pops of color that can brighten any room. Pick an exciting fabric or textile, choose a design, and just go with it. It’s simple to do and it can refresh the look of a couch or an armchair.

headboard diy makeover

Or, you can take it a step further and craft a homemade headboard for your master bedroom. Find an old door at a resale shop, or even buy a cheap one from a hardware store. Take it home and paint it; the possibilities are endless. You can make it a simple pop of bright color to accentuate your aesthetic, or go for a simple, worn wood vibe that would fit great with most colors—be them on your wall, sheets, or décor items. When you’re finished and the paint is dry, attach it to your bed frame, and you’ll have a one-of-a-kind headboard.

DIY projects for your apartment makeover can be a ton of fun, and you can do them without breaking any rules. Whether you want a change in the feel of your apartment or a new conversation piece, you don’t need to feel limited by the fact that you’re renting your home. These are just a few DIY projects to get you started, but there are so many options. Think outside the box, get a little creative, and have fun with it.

Mihaela Buzec
Mihaela Buzec is a writer and online content developer for RentCafe. She covers topics about everything related to the renting lifestyle, from decorating and interior design to finding the right apartment, frugal living, money saving advice, and more. She dives deep into topics of interest, writing well-researched comprehensive guides on subjects such as renting with pets, saving on utilities, or avoiding rental scams to help renters stay informed and live smart. Mihaela is a versatile writer whose work was also published on many blogs and websites in a variety of industries: real estate, design, lifestyle, college life, and personal finance. Mihaela holds a BA in English and German Language and Literature, an MA in Current Linguistics, and she is currently pursuing a PhD in neurolinguistics. With a background in academic writing, she is a passionate reader, writer, and researcher, looking to always expand her knowledge. You can get in touch with Mihaela at

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