14 Ways to Add a Little Style to Your Rental Kitchen

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Young Couple Relaxing In Small Apartment Kitchen Together

Your rental apartment may be in just the right location, and it may be comfortably priced for your budget. But, you didn’t get to choose your kitchen. Don’t be too disheartened if it’s small, dingy, or just plain dull. There are many ways to spruce it up. By adding storage solutions and a few decorative little touches, you can also add style.

1. Cover the Walls

First off, check with your landlord. If you can paint the walls, then you can add your own taste and brighten up your space. If you’re not able to paint, then non-staining contact paper or decals are ideal. You just stick them to the wall. Nowadays there’s a wide choice of great wall art — from fake bricks to a view of the Grand Canyon — whatever you fancy to transform the look and feel of your kitchen.

2. Put up Some Pictures

Whether it’s your treasured picture of a one-eyed cat painted by your child or a similarly surreal Picasso print, the colors, textures, and sheer eye-appeal of artworks will add a stylish lift to your kitchen. Pictures make for a more homey and interesting space.

3. Hang a Mirror

…or a few. Mirrors reflect and add light; they give a sense of greater space, and they can be handy when you want to touch up your lipstick after you’ve cooked an intimate dinner for your sweetheart.

4. Touch up the Backsplash

By adding colorful or interesting tiles, or just by painting it an eye-catching (waterproof) color, a backsplash is an opportunity to get creative and to make a statement. However, this is another tip that will likely require approval from your landlord.

5. Hide the Floor

small apartment kitchen

With the landlord’s go-ahead, get creative on your floorboards. Painted floors have been around for millennia, and even if you don’t possess the artistic skills of the early Romans, you can still make a statement with polka dots, stripes or tile-like blocks of color.

If that’s not an option — or just not your thing — then floor cloths are an easier solution. Waxed canvases come in many designs. Dating from the days of the early colonies of America, they were originally made from old ships’ sails. Nowadays they’re wipeable and fairly easy to keep clean.

And of course, rugs and runners are always a good idea for a splash of color.

6. Peg Boards

Peg boards provide a great way to display and also to store your kitchen items. Creatively arranged pots, pans, and lids hanging from hooks on a peg board can look good, and it’s a useful way to store your cookware. Bear it in mind when you buy your next frying pan, and maybe spring for the bright red kitchenware collection for a bit of fun!

7. Change the Cupboards

We’re not suggesting you literally replace your kitchen cupboards — just that you can do a lot to change how they look. And, there are a lot of ways you can do this without upsetting your landlord or breaking your lease agreement. You can incorporate pops of color and patterns by adding contact paper to the shelves and to the inside of the doors. Something fun like a shocking pink can make you smile each time you take out the sugar.

You can change old, tired knobs and handles to make your space a bit more modern or to fit your personal decor style. (Just be sure to keep the old ones to replace when you move out.) Or, why not take the doors off altogether? By removing the doors, you can give the space more of a “cubby chic” kind of look. As long as you keep them to put back when you move out, it shouldn’t be a problem. (Though, only try this one if you’re a very neat and tidy person!)

8. Brighten the Place up

If you don’t have strip lighting, never use less than an 80-100 watt bulb in your kitchen. Then add some lamps. Task lamps with movable arms can be wall mounted or placed on work surfaces and they are useful as well as attractive. Why not place a lamp on the top of your fridge — then you’re not using essential space.

9. Invest in Some Plants

small loft apartment kitchen

Plants look good, and they’re perfect in a kitchen as some of them are even edible. Place herbs and plants on window sills and work surfaces. If you have little space to work with, then create a vertical garden on your window; just erect shallow shelves (preferably glass) from the top to the bottom of the window and fill them with greenery. Whether you’re a rare orchid enthusiast or you just love coriander, plants give life and atmosphere to any kitchen.

10. Add Stylish Storage

A kitchen island on wheels with a butcher’s block on top will add storage space as well as functionality. Smaller solutions, like vintage hostess trolleys and bar carts are other wheel-away ideas. They can be tucked into a small space in your kitchen and wheeled out when you need to take things off them or use the top as a work space.

11. Re-use Baskets and Boxes for Storage

Vintage baskets and old vegetable crates can look cool and funky, and they can also add a little shabby chic style to your kitchen. In all shapes and sizes, they’re also useful storage. Square baskets look good placed side-by-side on shelves as they neatly organize the space.

12. Decorate the Fridge

New fridge magnet from the last vacation

If you’re a travel enthusiast, why not buy a fridge magnet as a memento of your holidays? Then, display it on the fridge door. You can source groovy fridge magnets from tourist spots, art galleries and museum shops. If you want to boast about your last trip to London or Tokyo, just buy a magnet and stick it on your fridge to build up a collection of conversation starters.

13. Cover Work Surfaces

Sometimes your work surfaces are just not working for you. Cover them up with large cutting boards. Wooden, marble and glass cutting boards are useful, and they look a whole lot more appealing than old or unattractive surfaces.

14. Bring in Fabrics

Tea-towels, aprons, bright curtains on the window or a country-kitchen style frill underneath the sink can all add a pop of color to a dull kitchen. Hang up your towels and pot holders on hooks behind the door or along the walls. If you have room for a table, consider covering it with your favorite (washable) fabric.

4 Responses to “14 Ways to Add a Little Style to Your Rental Kitchen”

  1. October 12, 2016 at 4:34 pm, Guest said:

    Great list, full of some great ideas. Brighten up your kitchen with art or colorful decals. Both can be placed and removed at your own discretion! The only limit to constructing a wonderfully colorful kitchen is your own imagination.

    Great post, thanks for sharing it!


    • April 25, 2017 at 9:58 am, Eileen O'Sullivan said:

      > Thank you so much! It was fun to research and write – so glad you like it


  2. November 01, 2016 at 11:37 am, John Donovan said:

    Just because you have a rental kitchen doesn’t mean you can’t give it a few personal touches! The stylish options mentioned here are all great choices. Artfully placing rugs, decorating with magnets, and adding a few plants can easily make a rental kitchen become “yours.”


    • April 25, 2017 at 10:00 am, Eileen O'Sullivan said:

      Yup – I agree! It is all about personalizing your personal space, whether a rental or owner-occupied, this is your home


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