Mark Roemer image of a person's hand drawing their idea of a remodel for their apartment

Tips for Remodeling Your Apartment While Avoiding Losing Your Security Deposit

I, Mark Roemer, know that if you’ve spent the last year primarily trapped in your apartment, you’ve probably considered how you could make it better. But before you get your hammer and paintbrush out, make sure you understand what you can and can’t do as a tenant.

I’ll go over some strategies for redecorating your apartment without breaking your lease and losing your security deposit, as well as a few options for paying for it.

Read Your Lease Carefully

The first thing you should do is go over the lease you signed when you first moved into your apartment. Many leases have modifications clauses that specify what renters are allowed to do and what the landlord must do. Before making any changes, several standard provisions require you to seek written permission from the landlord. Others allow you to make cosmetic changes for less than a specific amount of money.

You may discover that the remodel you’re contemplating is legal. At the very least, understanding what’s in the lease provides you a place to start when talking to your landlord about your ideas. You might be able to paint, or you might not. You might be able to drill small holes in the walls to hang photos, but not larger ones for shelves. Unless you read the lease, you won’t know.

Speak With Your Landlord

Before you perform any remodeling in your rental apartment, your lease may likely need you to seek formal clearance. Even if your contract expressly states that you have the right to make changes to your flat, it’s a good idea to let your landlord know what you’re planning. If your lease forbids any changes, it’s not a bad idea to mention your wish to remodel. Perhaps your landlord will make an exception or grant you written permission to complete the project you want to do. You may make your case for the remodel during your conversation and perhaps even persuade your landlord that it will benefit them as well.

If you bring up the redesign you want to do around lease renewal time; you might have more clout with your landlord. Landlords may be more ready to work with you if they don’t want to lose a good tenant. If something is broken and fixed, such as plumbing fittings, you might bring up your plans. Your landlord may be prepared to buy the fixtures you want if they have to buy anything new anyhow.

Pay Special Attention to The Furnishings

Anything that isn’t nailed down is referred to as furnishings. What a difference a new rug, shades, and furniture can make in your apartment is incredible. Because you are responsible for furnishing your apartment most of the time, consider giving your living space a breath of fresh air by updating what you have control over. Here are some furniture suggestions to help you transform your space:

  • Storage bins: If your apartment feels particularly claustrophobic, putting items away might be a simple way to free up some space. You can discover attractive baskets that fit naturally in your living space for items that you don’t use all the time, such as spare blankets, clothes, and shoes.
  • Replace the showerhead: A new showerhead can make all the difference in the world. It’s simple to replace the showerhead, and it can even help you save money on your water bill. Just remember to keep the old showerhead in case you need to exchange it back before you go.
  • Replace the doorknobs: New doorknobs create a modest but noticeable difference in your area. You can add character to your apartment by using the same design or concept throughout. Keep all of the old knobs in case you need to swap them out before you relocate.
  • Install a room divider: If you live in a studio apartment and need extra space, a room divider wall can be the answer. Room dividers can also be used to create a separate work area.

Quick Repairs

There is a whole product segment dedicated to temporary renovations. When it’s time to move out of the flat, these are simple to undo or remove. They are as follows:

  • Rolling Islands – They’re also known as kitchen carts, and they’re a great way to add more seating, workspace, and storage to your kitchen without having to hammer anything in place. There are even butcher-block surfaces in some of the kitchens.
  • Flooring that can be removed – Peel-and-stick vinyl or vinyl sheets, click-in-place wood flooring, and carpet tiles are all options. You may even consider using cedar slats to liven up the flooring in your bathtub.
  • Wallpaper that is only used for a short period of time – These peel-and-stick wallpapers are repositionable, reusable, and easy to remove by simply pulling them off in strips.
  • Backsplash tile that peels and sticks – These materials, including temporary wallpaper and peel-and-stick flooring, may lend a touch of sophistication to your kitchen for a limited time.

Consider the Price

Once your apartment redesign has been approved, you’ll need to figure out how to pay for it all while still being able to pay your rent. Credit cards might be an excellent option if you have the discipline to pay them off in a timely manner. If you go this path, keep in mind the remainder of your bills as well as the amount of wiggle room you have in your budget. If you overspend on cosmetic upgrades or take on too much debt, your credit may suffer, making it more difficult to rent or buy a property in the future. If your project is too costly, you may want to think about another choice or cut back your goals.

Fix Light Fixtures

It may not be immediately visible but changing out light fixtures is simple with a bit of know-how. You can hire an electrician or do it yourself (just make sure the electricity to the circuit you’re working on is turned off first). The same may be said for showerheads and other plumbing fixtures. Just remember to save and reinstall the old fixtures before you depart. Plus, you’ll be able to take your favorite fixtures with you to your future place.

Add A Dash of Color

Your lease may enable you to paint the whole inside of your apartment or just one accent wall. Alternatively, your landlord may agree to let you paint the walls as long as you repaint them with a neutral color before you leave. A splash of color on the walls of a dreary, beige rental unit can make a significant difference.

If you are unable to paint, consider using washi tape in an entryway to add a splash of color that is quickly removed.


I, Mark Roemer, have been in the real estate business for many years. I don’t know a single landlord that would not be happy with a few modifications to their property. Provided they are done right; it can even add value for them. Don’t be afraid to ask; you might be surprised by what your landlord has to say.