5 Home improvement tips renters can use

When you're renting a home, you're less likely to want to spend money on home improvement...

When you're renting a home, you're less likely to want to spend money on home improvement projects that you can't take with you when you move. If you're planning to be there less than two years, but still want your home to look good and be functional for your needs, try these tips to get the most out of your stay.

Tip #1: Get a portable air conditioner.

When the heat is on, nothing beats a air conditioner. Freestanding fans tend to get in the way, and ceiling-mounted fans qualify as a fixture so you may need your landlord's permission to install them. You can take a portable air conditioning unit with you when you go, though. You can also move it from room to room. All you need to run it is a power outlet and a window for the hot air expulsion hose.

Note: Before you run out and buy one, check with your landlord to make sure the electrical system in your apartment can handle the wattage an air conditioner requires.

Tip #2: Use color, color, color.

Using color smartly makes a difference to any home improvement project. Most rental homes are painted white or light cream when you move in. Choose a shade that complements your furnishings, then hire a professional painter to color one wall in each room. Once you move, it's easy to repaint one wall back to its original shade, and for the duration of your stay, you'll have color-coordinated rooms throughout your home, instead of a hodgepodge of color and design.

Note: Before you start painting, get your landlord's permission. Make sure your painters use drop cloths and painter's tape to prevent damage to the floors.

Tip #3: Add movable kitchen furniture.

Kitchens are often the biggest bugbear for renters. Your kitchen is a very personal space for you, and the way you work requires specific functionality. Try adding movable furniture, such as a kitchen island on wheels or a baker's rack. For extra storage, hang a pot rack or peg board above your cooking area where you can store pots, pans and cooking utensils. When you go, simply take it down, fill the holes with spackle and paint over them.

Note: Before you hang anything, make sure the walls and ceilings can support heavy objects. Older walls may not hold up against several pots and pans. Make sure you find the studs to anchor your racks.

Tip #4: Change your hardware.

Beautify your bathroom, kitchen and bedrooms by changing hardware such as faucets, door knobs and light fittings. These are easy to install and are just as easy to replace when you leave, as long as you store the old ones safely. You can create a look all your own by buying fittings that match your life and style.

Tip #5: Create a portable garden

Make a patio or portable garden you can enjoy wherever you live by planting your favorite flowers in pots, half-barrels and portable planters. It takes more effort when you move, but it's worth it for the duration of your stay. Use hanging pots for herbs, large pots for trees, such as lemon or banana, and mix plants of different heights to create an interesting look.

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