How to Easily Update the Kitchen in Your Rental

My family and I have been renting a home here in Raleigh for the past couple of years.  We found ourselves having to make a fast decision, and ended up with a home in a great location and with a simple, mostly classic feel.  There is lots of light streaming into the living room and the hardwood floors are warm and inviting.  But.  The kitchen and the guest room are clad in the ubiquitous orangey knotty pine paneling of the 1960s. 

 Had we purchased this home, I would have surely slapped some white paint on the paneling ASAP, if not taken it down completely.  Knowing we couldn’t cover it, I had to come up with some ideas to freshen it up so I could get through the next couple of years without loathing our home. 

Here’s a look at the kitchen before.  It’s a galley kitchen, with two banks of cabinets facing each other.  Luckily the countertops, backsplash and fridge are white. 

I knew that whatever I did to brighten the room needed to be temporary, and fairly simple and inexpensive.  I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of time or money in a home that isn’t truly ours.  I needed to do just enough to help me not despise the space over the next couple of years.  I decided that by removing the upper cabinet doors on the sink side, I could lessen the amount of orangey wood in the room, and create an open shelving look. 

I wanted to line the back of the cabinets with some pretty paper, but had the hardest time finding inexpensive (beautiful) paper in big enough sheets.  Though, I did discover there are exponentially more options for inexpensive (beautiful) fabric.  So, I had to come up with a way to apply the fabric to the back of the cabinets easily and temporarily. 

The fabric I chose was Michael Miller Bekko Home Decor Swell in Navy from fabric.com.  I ended up cutting a fabric piece for each section a 2″ wider and taller than the size of the section itself.  I ironed a crease in the vertical sides so they were now the exact width of the section. 

Then I cut two pieces of inexpensive wood slats to the length of the section.  I folded the top edge of the fabric over one slat and stapled the fabric down along the back side.  I did the same for the bottom edge of the fabric, making sure the finished height of the new “panel” was the exact height of the section it would fill. 

I did this for each of the sections of cabinet that would be open.  For this project, I made 8 panels.  Once they were all assembled, I simply nailed them into place in the back of the cabinet.  A small nail at each of the 4 corners is all it took to hold them in place.  Now, when we remove them, the tiny holes won’t be noticeable in the back of the cabinets. 

Keeping all of the accessories and furniture in the room either white or a bright clean color  helps to keep the space fresh and current. 

I hope this helps inspire you to spruce up your rental kitchen.  I’d love to hear from you if you have done something temporary to create a space more suited to your style.

Oh, and a million thanks to Jordan Maunder for the gorgeous after pics!


May 21, 2015



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