Okay, this is simple and has already been mentioned in reference to the kitchen, but still needs a little reiteration and elaboration. The two best items that are (conveniently) the least expensive and easiest to install, remove and replace are vinyl and carpeting. These materials are so affordable; you could remodel every couple of years. Unless your unit commands a luxury rate, ignore the following temptations: wood, marble and tile – it’s just a rental. Wait until you are ready to move back in or to sell before upgrading your flooring. If the unit came already equipped with a higher grade material, then you’re a winner! Keep it if it’s in good shape; otherwise, replace it with a more affordable material.
The majority of the unit should be carpeted with inexpensive fibers and padding, regardless of what type of warranty is thrown your way. The reason is that after about five years, you’ll invariably be replacing the carpet anyway – good luck then on trying to exercise your warranty rights, because the exclusions will get you. The estimated replacement time, incidentally, takes into account that there are no dogs or toddlers residing in the unit (or drunken party goers, for that matter) to wreak havoc on the carpeting. Raspberry punch, anyone…?
It’s well understood that every individual will have their own vision and tastes to bring to their rental property, but keep in mind that your property is (at least, for the time being) just a rental property. Try to keep your amenities practical, not problematic, and your décor universal, not restrictive. No one else will ever appreciate your property and all your extra touches and tender loving care as much as you do, so try not to set yourself up for disappointment when you discover that some tenants exhibit no emotional attachment to the property whatsoever (i.e., they neglect it, because it is not their own). Just do your best to make sure your rental vacancy “functions” completely safely and that it appears clean between tenants – this will definitely entice more cattle to graze, so you can pick the best of the herd.