3. Replacing Light Fixtures
Worth it? Yes. “Great lighting fixtures are super easy to install and de-install, and pay off in a big way,” McHale says.
What our pros suggest: If you’re planning to hire an electrician, expect to pay about $50 to $100 an hour; my local electrician charged $120 per hour. Sites like Handy.com can give you price estimates based on your location and the scope of the project.
You can also go it alone. “It’s a fairly easy task, and once learned, you’ll be amazed at how simple it is,” Saks says.
You can pay as little or as much as you want for light fixtures, but places like Ikea and Schoolhouse Electric and Supply Co. have affordable and stylish fixtures for around $50 to $200.
When to bug your landlord: As long as your lights work, you don’t have much of a case for getting your landlord to pitch in purely for the sake of aesthetics. But think of your new lighting as an investment for your future home: If you’ve got the space to store the old fixtures, you can take your new ones with you when you move.
“FLOR carpet tiles come in a variety of colors, patterns and textures. And if one tile gets worn or stained, you can replace it, which is less expensive than replacing the whole carpet.”
4. Refinishing Floors
Worth it? No. “Refinishing floors can be expensive and messy,” Saks says. “A contractor needs to sand, which is dusty, as well as restain, which involves fumes and time to dry properly.” If you have to front the money for this project, expect to pay anywhere from $3.92 to $5.04 per square foot.
What our pros suggest: Rugs are the easiest way to hide an imperfect floor, and add a touch of design. “Even if you aren’t looking for color and pattern, a simple sisal rug will add texture to the room,” Saks says.
Another perk: Rugs absorb sound, cutting down on noise for your neighbors below. To find good deals, Saks recommends websites like Overstock and RugsUSA. He’s also a fan of FLOR carpet tiles: “They come in a variety of colors, patterns and textures, and they are great for high-traffic areas. If one tile gets worn or stained, you can replace it, which is much less expensive than replacing the whole carpet.”
When to bug your landlord: Barring a hole in the floor or some other type of disrepair that’s potentially dangerous, your landlord probably isn’t going to invest money in a cosmetic fix. “You can try, but it really depends on the market you live in,” McHale says. “If inventory is so scarce [and there’s] high demand, landlords don’t need to share that cost with you.”