As a long-time renter, I’ve made my fair share of upgrades to various units over the years. But as we all know, most of these fixes, no matter how pretty, need to be undone prior to move-out, and packing up your belongings while also trying to return your apartment to its original state can be quite stressful.

If you’re moving into a new place soon and find yourself wondering what tweaks are worth it and which may make sense to skip, look no further.

I’m Glad I Switched Out My Lighting

Rental bedroom with modern fan fixture.

Now that my unit’s original ceiling fans are back in place, I’m extra glad that I took the initiative to swap out my light fixtures for more aesthetically pleasing options. Yes, fans have many benefits of their own, but let’s face it: on a day-to-day basis, they’re a bit of an eyesore. Plus, I loved being able to take design risks and showcase more of my style through lighting.

My Serge replica fixture, with arms that spanned the larger part of my living room ceiling, is a new favorite that will most certainly be coming with me to my next place. The globe light chandelier I hung in my entryway was so cheerful and full of personality, and now that a plain pendant light is hanging in its place, I miss all of the pep that my piece added. Of course, I hired a skilled electrician to both install and take down the fixtures which was an added cost, and I had to safely stash the original fixtures in my building’s storage unit, but the results were 100 percent worth it.


I’m Glad I Removed Pesky Wall Shelves

Apartment dining space with large gallery wall.

My unit came equipped with several IKEA wall shelves that I used and embraced at first, but then, I began to tire of having them as I moved around furniture and acquired new pieces.

The long shelf in my living room, for example, quickly began to cramp my style, as it was extremely difficult to incorporate into my décor scheme. However, a screwdriver was all it took to remove these pesky shelves, which I have since drilled back into their original spots in preparation for moveout. Because these shelves were long and thin, it was easy for me to stash the smaller ones under my bed, while the larger ones lived in my storage unit.

Of course, keeping all of the original hardware safely tucked away was also key—you won’t have to track it down and repurchase special parts down the line.


I’m Glad I Creatively Added Character

Dining table next to faux fireplace mantel.

In this apartment, I began to incorporate faux mantels (yes, multiple) to add some much-needed architectural character to my space, and I plan to do the same in any future units that don’t come readily equipped with gorgeous fireplaces. I sourced my mantels on Facebook Marketplace, and they added so much flair to my generic unit without breaking the bank.

While they’re fragile and shouldn’t be transported too many times, they’re easy enough to disassemble and take with me as I please. And they’re convincing enough that many of my guests assumed they were original to the apartment, too.


I’d Skip Drilling a Shelf Into the Wall

Modern pink living room with tiered bookshelf.

As I described above, it’s extremely easy to drill a shelf back into the wall after taking it out, but conversely, it’s more difficult to remove a shelf that cannot stay past your lease and then patch the holes in a skillful manner. In a past apartment, I loved having a wooden shelf above my bed until it came time to prepare for the move out.

I’d Skip Taking Down a Medicine Cabinet
Bathroom with white medicine cabinet and shelves.

In a past unit, I took down a clunky medicine cabinet with my landlord’s permission and opted to hang a vintage-looking ornate mirror in its place. While the mirror truly popped against my bathroom’s exposed brick walls and made my sink area look extra glam, the setup just wasn’t the most practical. I ended up seeking out other forms of beauty storage, which ultimately took up more space in my already small bathroom.

My current apartment unit has not one, but three medicine cabinets, and even though they’re not the most beautiful, I’m so thankful for all of their storage capacity (fellow skincare addicts, I’m sure you can relate). In this case, I now majorly value functionality over aesthetics.