Easy Rental Upgrades That HGTV's Dave And Jenny Marrs Swear By

Revamping your home has a magical effect on your life — your day-to-day routine feels easier, you'll be happier spending time at home, and you'll be more affirmed in your personal taste and identity. However, home renovations often feel out of reach for those who rent. If you're feeling frustrated by the design limitations of renting, you're not alone: according to data from 2019, 36% of Americans rent instead of own their homes (via Pew Research Center). This means that a lot of people are dealing with the constraints of a rental when trying to enhance their living space. Many of the classic home renovation projects — such as changing the walls or updating appliances — are off-limits for renters. As frustrating as styling a rental space might feel when you're looking to upgrade your rental home, you have more options than you'd think. Dave and Jenny Marrs, design experts and co-hosts of HGTV's "Fixer to Fabulous," share with Realtor.com some of their best tips for renter-friendly renovations.

Per the Marrs', you can make a lot of changes to your rental space as long as you talk with your landlord and exercise a little bit of creativity. While you probably won't be doing a full gut job on your rental home anytime soon, there are still some exciting potential upgrades that you should consider, from landlord-approved makeovers to rental-friendly DIYs that won't jeopardize your deposit

Talk to your landlord

Dave and Jenny Marrs encourage folks to talk with their landlord about making changes. The obvious reason for this is that your landlord owns the property, and it's really their decision whether or not to permanently alter the space. The other reason to ask your landlord is that they might surprise you. If your renovation idea adds value to the interior of the home or makes the exterior of your rental more attractive, your landlord might be in full support of the project. As Dave Marrs tells Realtor.com, "I don't know one landlord [who'd refuse] if you said, 'I'd like to buy a couple pretty lights. I'm going to be here for a while, and I'd love to change out this lighting.'" Marrs goes on to note that from the landlord's perspective, new lighting is a welcome upgrade.

Even if your landlord isn't interested in a permanent change, they can still be open to decorating choices that can be reversed when you move out, such as paint on the walls or hanging plants on a porch. As long as you can re-paint the walls the original color and unscrew any installations without noticeable damage, your landlord will likely be comfortable with it. The only caveat to the "ask your landlord" tip is if your landlord is a large corporation. If you live in, say, a large corporate apartment building, the space is extremely standardized, and the company will likely prohibit any significant alterations.

Think of the small things

Even if you can't make major upgrades, plenty of renter-friendly DIY decor tricks are still at your disposal. Jenny recommends choosing some of your favorite prints and hanging them up on the wall. Sometimes it's tempting to pick the first random print you find online, but try to take the extra time to choose pieces that really reflect your aesthetic. Platforms like Etsy or Minted are great places to shop for unique art prints. If you or a loved one has some artistic talent, this is also a great opportunity to make your own custom art. When arranging your wall art, you can do a few large statement pieces — or fill the entire area with a gallery wall. For a gallery wall style, opt for coordinating frames that make the display more cohesive, like these multi-mat gallery frames from West Elm, which start at $30. 

Small decorative pieces can also play a big role in sprucing up your rental home. Sentimental collections, such as seashells, can serve as a special decorative element in the home. For example, Dave and Jenny have a rock collection on display, which adds a personal touch to their space — "Every time I see those rocks, I smile," says Jenny to Realtor.com. Other small pieces, like throw pillows or vases, can go a long way in making a space feel more lively and personal. With these easy changes, your lackluster rental can soon become your dream home.