Before you break out the toolbox…

Tiny kitchens need seating space too. Grab a clean-lined stool to offer additional seating, but make it work double duty: Set a tray on top, fill it with your favorite liquors, and make the stool into an unobtrusive corner bar cart.

Laurey W. Glenn

Rental living comes with its own special set of frustrations and quirks that most people experience at one point or another. I like to think of it as a character building exercise, dealing with all the "quirks" that is. After all, takes some ingenuity to figure out how to turn the hallway to one’s bedroom into a closet—for two people. And it builds diligence, turning off and on the 15 lamps you scattered around the house just to avoid that lovely flourescent overhead. 

But before you break out the tool box and set to work to transform your rental—whether it’s non-functional or just dated, make sure you’re not about to commit a mortal renter sin and lose that security deposit (or pay even more in damages). Here, a few things to avoid when making your rental a home.

The Big No-Nos

Locks
Should the need to change the locks arise, turn to your landlord or management company. This could land you in big trouble otherwise.

Painting Natural Wood
If you’re lucky enough to land in a place with some character thanks to natural wood, leave it be.

Painting Brick
Again, if you’re lucky enough to have brick, embrace it! Painted brick does look great, but natural brick is something the landlord won't be able to get back once painted.

Wiring
Not only could this pose a serious fire or safety risk if done incorrectly, messing with the wiring could land you more problems than you started with. Plus you risk affecting neighbors. If anything with wiring needs addressing, definitely take that to management.

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The Maybe's…

Light Fixtures
See the wiring post above. If it requires in-the-wall, wires-on-wires kind of work, leave it be. But if you have a fixture that can easily swapped for a slightly more stylish option, go ahead—as long as it can be switched back just as easily for move-out.

Shower Head
Sometimes this is as easy as a $20 purchase from the hardware store. But if the swap isn’t as simple as screw-off, screw-on, leave it, or put in a work request.

Nails in the Walls
Check the lease. Many rentals these days accept these as part of life. If not, luckily we’re living in the era of Command Hooks…

Go For It…

Knobs
Swap them out! Sometimes all kitchen cabinets need is a cute new knob. Just be sure to hang on to the old ones for move-out day.

Temporary Wallpaper / Decals
Speaking of living in the era of modern invention, temporary wallpapers, decals, and other surface coverings abound.