oving into an apartment can be extremely exciting, especially if it's your first time having your own space. However, the shoe-box-like white and gray color scheme of many standard apartments gets boring quickly. 

Many people stick with the blandness of their rental homes because they don’t think they can change much while keeping their security deposit. Others may also be discouraged to splurge on a temporary space.

However, there are many upgrades you can make that won’t break the bank and won’t jeopardize your security deposit. Also, whether you’re living in your apartment for a year or a few, freshening up your living environment is certainly worth it. Studies have shown that the quality of your living space affects your mental health and mood. Our homes are often our sanctuaries from the loud and busy world. Making simple changes can personalize your space into a beautiful, cozy place you’ll want to come home to after a long day.

So, if you’ve been dying to transform your apartment into a home you love, here are the easiest, budget-friend upgrades you can make.

Our favorite apartment upgrades include:

  • Plants, Plants, and More Plants
  • An Accent Wall with a Twist
  • Better Lighting is the Key to an Apartment Upgrade
  • Transform Your Kitchen Countertop

Plants, Plants, and More Plants

One of the simplest, but most rewarding, steps you can take to upgrade your apartment is to add a touch of life, literally. House plants are the perfect addition to any home that will not only visually brighten your space but will also brighten your mind with an added sense of purpose. 

You don’t have to be an expert on plants to own and successfully care for a new green friend, either. If you are worried that you’ll struggle with a picky plant that needs constant care and attention, opt for a plant that is difficult to kill such as the zz plant, a vine, or snake plant.  

Add a Simple Touch of Greenery

Or Completely Transform Your Space into a Green Wonderland

Whether you decide on one plant or a dozen, your apartment will be a happier, more visually aesthetic space with this easy upgrade.

An Accent Wall With a Twist

In the world of rental apartments where white colorless walls are the norm, an accent wall can completely transform the mood of your whole space. An accent wall can be used to make a space look more colorful or to draw attention to different parts of your room. You can play with light colors to make a room look larger, or incorporate a unique design for a stunning change. Also, don't forget to replace your wood floorings to have a fresher look at your surroundings. Consider upgrading it into a composite decking material to minimize color degradation and maintenance over time.

Although not all landlords are eager to let you paint the walls, you can use even more creative techniques, such as rental-friendly wallpaper or washi tape, to create the perfect accent wall.

Rental-Friendly Wallpaper

Even if you can paint your walls, the endless colors and designs that wallpaper offers make it the better choice for most renters. Many companies specialize in very easy-to-use and affordable peel-and-stick wallpaper that is a perfect apartment upgrade. There are even many reusable wallpaper options that you can take with you to your next home!

A colorful wallpaper of a white background with oranges on their green leaves up on a wall with a large, white window in an apartment room.
This peel-and-stick wallpaper is a vibrant, fruity addition that can add a touch of life and excitement to any room. Image courtesy of Young House Love.

Washi Tape Accent Wallpaper

Washi tape is a decorative adhesive tape that is perfect for personalizing any wall. You can use it to create geometric patterns to highlight an otherwise empty wall or to frame pictures and objects on your wall. It comes in all the patterns and colors you can think of--the creative uses are endless!

A white bathroom wall with pictures of a yellow bus, abstract faces, people, and objects framed with washi tape. There are also plants on top of a toilet seat and sink.
You can use washi tape to create a beautiful wall of art and photos without having to drill or paint anything on your walls. Image courtesy of Honestly WTF.

Whether you use a beautiful pattern of rental-friendly wallpaper or get creative with a few rolls of washi tape, your accent wall is bound to give your apartment the color it needs. 

Better Lighting is the Key to An Apartment Upgrade

One of the aspects of a room that you might overlook when decorating your apartment is the lighting! Regardless of how well you’ve decorated your space, you need the right lighting to properly illuminate your environment.

Not only is it important to have adequate lighting, but an ugly and outdated lighting fixture can mess with the decor of any room. You can easily update lighting fixtures to ones you’ll love. Also, although some spaces look wonderful with a traditional white or yellow light, adding colorful lights can completely make a room!

Switch Up Your Lighting Fixtures

Many lighting fixtures that landlords install can be easily unscrewed and replaced. However, be sure to save the original lighting fixture and reinstall it before you move out. In the meantime, don’t be stuck with an outdated design! Choose a lighting fixture that fits your décor and style for an easy apartment upgrade.

A before and after picture of a light fixture where the before is a boob light and the after is a modern light.
Switch out the traditional boob light with a more modern look, or better yet, DIY! Image courtesy of HomeMade Modern.

LED Color Lights

Colorful LED lights have blown up across college campuses with every other student lining their walls with an LED light colors strip. In spaces you don’t have much control over, a switch of color can be all the change you need. It is no surprise, then, that many people continue to use them beyond their college dorms.

There are many varieties of LED lights, so you can still stick to the classic light bulb (just one that can change colors). These lights can make any room go from bland to colorful. What’s awesome about them is you don’t even have to stick to one color or level of brightness. You can switch the colors based on your mood and increase and decrease the brightness level. They also come in modern lamps that look beautiful and classy in bedrooms and living rooms alike. 

A TV with vibrant water and boat background is hung up in a living room surrounded by Philip Hue Ambiance Go Table Lamps that give the room an orange and purple tint.
The Philips Hue Ambiance Go Table Lamp can transform the vibe of any room in a matter of seconds with only a few clicks. Image courtesy of Best Buy.

Transform Your Kitchen Countertop 

You might initially think that you are stuck with the ugly, stained kitchen countertops of your rental. However, with contact paper countertops you can glamourize any kitchen surface. Go from a bland surface to a luxurious marble finish with this affordable interior décor. 

Peel-and-stick countertop paper is simple to use and can be removed when you’re going to move out without any risk of damaging the original surface. It also comes in many different finishes, from marble to granite. That’s why we love peel-and-stick paper for an apartment upgrade that can make your kitchen look like it’s been completely renovated.

A Classic Marble Countertop Finish

A marble kitchen countertop with a few condiments by a stove.
Do you love a marble countertop finish? Then this peel-and-stick kitchen countertop wallpaper is perfect for you. You’ll get the marble look without the hefty price tag or having to risk your security deposit. Image courtesy of Amazon.

A Gold and Black Marble Countertop Finish

A gold and black marble kitchen countertop.
This beautiful gold and black finish looks just as luxurious as real marble. It is easy to apply, waterproof, and affordable. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Upgrading your apartment can make your standard living area look much more spacious, expensive, and personal. With this guide, changing your space doesn't have to be a daunting task. Our apartment upgrades are easy, fun, and won’t risk your security deposit--so transform your standard apartment into a home you love today.

Jan 28, 2022