If you’re a renter in Boston, you’re in good company. In fact, you may have had to really work to stake your claim in a market that’s absolutely packed with students looking for cheap digs. Whether you’re in a place that’s been well lived in by the previous tenants or one that’s brand new but oh-so bland, turning a rental into a home that reflects your personal style isn’t always easy. After all, you’re limited by the rules of your lease, which typically prevent you from doing much of anything that will permanently alter the space. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of projects that can be undone when you move out — and that won’t force you to make a big investment to fix up a building you don’t own. Updating a rental property as a renter is all about letting your creativity shine through in unique ways. Try these ideas to get started:

1. Upgrade Your Shower Head

There’s nothing worse than taking a shower with poor water flow — or worse, one that feels like little needles jabbing your skin. Turn your bathroom into a spa-worthy retreat by investing in a new shower head and some Teflon tape to install an upgrade. It’s easy to do, and it will definitely improve your daily quality of life. When you move out, just put the old one back on and take the good one with you.  

2. Go Wild With Washi Tape

If you hate being surrounded by plain, white walls, it’s time to get creative. Washi tape comes in hundreds of colors and patterns, and it peels easily off of any surface. That makes it a perfect solution for creating your own unique wallpapers that are totally temporary. If you measure and cut carefully, you can create intricate patterns or fun geometrics to brighten up a plain wall in any room. 

3. Let There Be Light

Rentals are notoriously dim, so invest in some accent lighting to brighten things up. Table and floor lamps are the classic choices, but don’t forget that you kind find pendant lamps that plug in instead of needing to be hardwired. If your kitchen is dark, add inexpensive LED strip lights under the upper cabinets to create more task lighting while you cook.

4. 3, 2, 1 Contact

Contact paper is a great way to cover up surfaces you don’t like, especially in the kitchen. Though originally designed for the insides of drawers, you can also use it to mask a boring refrigerator or to cover up ugly laminate countertops. Look for varieties that are designed to peel away easily so you can pull it up without a hitch when you’re ready to move out.

5. The Sounds of Silence

If your neighborhood is loud, some soundproofing for your windows could help you get a better night’s sleep. Try buying heavy, insulated drapes, installing an extra curtain panel so the curtains are artfully bunched instead of pulled taut to cover the entire window span. If you prefer to let in the natural light, try installing interior storm windows instead, which will keep out drafts while helping to deaden unwanted noise. 

If you’re looking to paint the walls or do anything more permanent to your apartment, check with the landlord first. They might be willing to let you install shelving or paint the walls if it’s an upgrade they’ve been meaning to get around to anyway. It never hurts to ask, and you’ll definitely want to get permission before doing anything that can’t be undone when your lease is up.

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