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5 Renter-Friendly Upgrades to Refresh Your Home for Fall

a plug-in wall sconce in a bedroom.

Here at Schoolhouse, we have always held the mindset that time spent on your space is well worth it. Whether you rent or own, creating a meaningful abode is about designing your living space with intention and care. And when it comes to interiors, there is never a shortage of new tricks to discover. With fall just around the corner, we thought we'd share our tried-and true tips for making the most out of apartment living. Here are five renter-friendly updates we swear by—to help get your space guest-ready for the season ahead. 


A plug-in wall sconce in a cozy nook.

1. Add Ambient Lighting

There are a few routes you can take when it comes to swapping out your lighting in a rental. The first option is to swap out your lighting by rewiring—this will require access to your breaker, permission from your landlord, and some electrical know-how. If you aren't able to locate your breaker or don't have permission from your landlord to change out the existing lighting, you can opt to install a plug-in wall sconce, table, or floor lamp (for plug-in lighting inspiration, read here).

The final option, that most people aren't aware of, is to simply swap out your light fixture shades (check out our guide here). For this method, all you will need is to know the fitter size of your light so you can purchase the correct size glass or metal shade. 


The Allegheny plug-in wall sconce via @kaitlinmgreen_photo

An Isaac floor lamp by an accent chair via @heathertaylorhome.

A globe pendant in an apartment breakfast nook.

2. Swap Out Hardware

Replacing the hardware in your kitchen is a lot easier than most people think. It does require some measuring, but we promise this upgrade is well worth it (read the full how-to here). To upgrade cabinet pulls, unscrew the existing hardware and measure the distance between the holes. From there, source new hardware that fits those measurements. For example, if the holes are 4" apart (center to center), look for 4" hardware. If you're looking to upgrade a cabinet knob, all you'll need to do is unscrew it and replace it with another knob. For a lower lift home project, start with a smaller space like the bathroom or outfit an existing furniture piece (such as a dresser) with new hardware. 


A bright kitchen in a rental apartment.

Brass cabinet knobs in the kitchen.

3. Make the Most of Mirrors

Mirrors make a space feel bigger and brighter while adding a decorative touch to your walls. To determine perfect mirror placement, strategically install your mirror opposite of a window. This allows the mirror to capture and reflect natural sunlight, making the room feel lighter and more spacious. When it comes to mirrors, don't be afraid to size up. As a general rule of thumb, opt for a mirror that is about 2/3 the size of the largest piece of furniture in the room. 

 A large round mirror over a sideboard.

4. Upgrade Your Area Rug

Adding an area rug can help define spaces, add warmth, and protect the existing flooring from damage while creating a nice sound buffer between you and the apartment below you. Not only do they make an instant interior impact, they are easy to roll up and take with you when you move.



When selecting an area rug for your home, material is the most important (in our opinion). Whether you go for wool, cotton, or jute—select an option that suits your lifestyle and maintenance preferences. For example, wool rugs are durable and luxurious but require more care in cleaning, while jute rugs are more forgiving with spills but less soft underfoot. Sizing is also a key factor when selecting an area rug. To figure out rug placement and layout options by room, read our how-to here.


A modern cotton grid flatweave area rug in a bedroom.

A 1970s inspired living room.

5. Hang Original Art

While this tip isn't groundbreaking, we do have a few suggestions to share around this topic. The first is that art doesn't have to be expensive. While we can appreciate and believe in investing in quality art pieces, there is also a case to be made for thrifted art, art made by friends, kid art, and found art (read our tips on how to design a gallery wall).

In the same vein, we recommend investing in quality frames for your art pieces. Well-chosen frames can enhance the overall appearance and protect the artwork. You can choose matching frames for a cohesive look or mix and match for a more eclectic style. 

  A stendig calendar in the kitchen.

An art wall in a cozy living room nook.

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