5 inexpensive quality of life apartment upgrades that'll make your place feel (almost) new

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New year, new apartment? That may be wishful thinking, but a few inexpensive home improvements, such as these, can significantly transform and freshen up a tired, old space.

DwellStudio's Ornate Pendant ($150) requires a wall outlet but can be hardwired into junction box by a certified electrician.

Why settle for a standard issue lighting fixture when you can have one that packs some punch—and better suits your design aesthetic? Stylish fixtures come in virtually every price range and adding one gives an instant face-lift to an otherwise ho-hum space. If you’re not handy enough to install it yourself, enlist the help of your super or an electrician or contractor to do it for you. Or find one through our guide to handyman services

Add a dimmer and change the mood of a room with a slide of a button.

While you’re at it, swap your regular light switch for dimmers in the living and dining rooms, and anywhere else mood lighting is required. The fix is quick and easy, but potentially hazardous (involving electrical wires and fuse boxes), so leave it to a pro (such as the above mentioned super, contractor or electrician) to make sure the job’s done right.

This allen + roth Satin Nickel Standard Toggle Metal Wall Plate ($9) looks so much more polished than standard issue plastic.

Ditch the plastic light switch and electrical plate covers—especially if they’re cracked, discolored, mismatched, ill fitting, or just plain dirty. A more stylish version in, say, nickel, bronze or glass, can totally transform a room. The key, says Dave Sartori of Brushed Interiors, a New York City-based boutique paint contractor, is to match the plate covers with something else in the space, such as glass table lamps or brushed metal coffee table.

Similarly, old, dirty, or mismatched door and cabinet knobs can quickly make a space appear more shabby than chic. Swapping them out for a new and matching set can make a space seem more polished and—depending on the design you choose (retro crystal, satin nickel lever, sleek modern)—can help set the style of your home.

The Brondell Swash 3000 Advanced Bidet Seat ($249) has a heated seat, a temperature control nozzle and can be self-installed in under an hour.

Even with regular cleaning, toilet seats can show wear. They become wobbly, discolored, chipped. Fortunately, replacing one is an easy—and frequently inexpensive—fix. You can get a basic but ergonomically designed seat for less than $15. Or, for a little more money, upgrade to one with a few additional bells and whistles. A quiet closing version means no loud banging if the seat should fall closed unexpectedly. On a chilly winter’s day, a heated seat is a decadent upgrade. And for a truly indulgent experience (as one freelancer wrote for Brick), a seat with a built-in bidet can be a life-changing experience.


Landlord-approved apartment upgrades

Upgrade your apartment without losing your security deposit with these rental-ready renovation ideas

Want to upgrade your rental? Start thinking like a landlord

Ask Sam: Is my landlord obligated to upgrade my ancient kitchen?