By New York City standards, I have a great kitchen. I have a decent amount of closet space, a large window that lets lots of light in, and a most beloved dishwasher. But there is always room for improvement. Although I could not tear out the cabinets and replace the worktops to make it my dream kitchen, I was able to make a big impact with a few small changes to a kitchen that is now more functional and aesthetically pleasing. Liz Rui, trend strategist at Lowe’s, says now is the perfect time to test your do-it-yourself skills with tenant-friendly kitchen upgrades.
“While it takes a bit more creativity to infuse personal style into a rental space to ensure that updates are not permanent, there is so much value in taking DIY one step further to do so. to yourself, “says Rui.” From incorporating fun pillows and rugs to going all-in on a tenant-friendly kitchen renovation, there are plenty of ways to add non-permanent touches of style that can make all the difference in the space you call home. “
The easiest (and most impressive) tenant-friendly kitchen upgrades
Add color and texture with peel-and-stick backsplash, countertops and wallpaper
Peel-and-stick options have come a long way. Cover old linoleum with durable contact paper, add a color with removable wallpaper, and add texture with peel-and-glue-backsplash tiles. “Peel-and-stick wallpaper can also make a big difference on the cabinet door faces and add a touch of color and texture with a minimal amount of time investment,” says Rui.
In my kitchen, I used SmartTiles Metro Blanco ($ 8) as a backsplash, and I couldn’t be happier. The quality is great – they really look like tiles as long as you do not look too hard. And even when you look closer, they do not look cheap. To prepare, I measured the walls and used the SmartTiles calculator to find out that I needed about 48 tiles for both walls. When they arrived, I used a ruler, tool knife and spirit level to get them up. With all the little carvings I had to make into corners, the whole process took about six hours – and it was worth more than that.
Get more storage space with shelves, islands and console tables
There is nothing worse than a kitchen with limited storage space. Installing shelves can make a huge difference. “Open shelves can make the room feel more light and airy, especially in smaller kitchens, so consider adding floating shelves or removing the cabinet doors from the wall cabinets and using peel-and-glue wallpaper to decorate the back wall,” says Rui.
If you also lack table space, consider adding an island like this Home Styles Kitchen Cart ($ 223) or a console table like this Faux Cement And Wood Cordova Console Table ($ 300). “If your rental kitchen does not have an island, a rolling or free-standing island is a good addition that buys you more table space and can give a bold look to your kitchen,” says Rui.
And depending on how handy you are, consider making DIY your dream storage solution. This summer, I built this console table with my dad (read: designed it and saw him perform the entire building), and it has completely changed the way my rental kitchen works.
3. Replace hardware and fixtures
Even if it’s a small change, adding new knobs to your cabinets can breathe new life into your kitchen. All you have to do is save the old ones and put them back before you move out.
“Replacing hardware is a simple upgrade that has a big impact on the look and feel of a room,” Lui says. “The possibilities can feel endless, so be sure to check out Lowe’s Cabinet Hardware Buying Guide to gain insight into the styles and finishes available.”
A new luminaire really makes a big impact. The faucet in my rental home had been leaking since my roommates and I moved in, and when we told our superman, he said he would “keep an eye on a new one” as if faucets magically appeared. So I took it into my own hands and installed this American standard filtered kitchen faucet ($ 279). I have never installed a faucet before, and installing one with a built-in filter made the task even more difficult, but after a few hours, a little stress sweat and a hectic call to my dad, I got the case in. (Tip: Be sure to put the batteries in the filter before reopening the water valves, otherwise the water will just flow out of the tap even when the handle is off.) Paired with a sweet soap dispenser from Home Goods and this Grove Collaborative Ceramic Wash Side Tray ( $ 13) this faucet really pulls the space together.
Get creative with lighting
Powerful overhead lighting is great when you need to see what you’re doing while cooking – not so great when your meal’s done and you’re enjoying it with a glass of wine.
“Lighting is a game-changer for the aesthetics of any room, and the kitchen is no different,” says Rui. “Even if reworking wires or removing standing fixtures is out of the question, using battery-powered puck lights under the cabinets is an incredibly easy upgrade and also serves as a convenient solution.”
I used these Brilliant Evolution Under Cabinet Lights ($ 17) and they are amazing. I wish the light was a little warmer, but out of the battery-powered undercarriage lights I saw, these were the warmest. They are fastened with command strips so you do not have to put holes in your closets.
Over the table, I chose a picture frame light similar to this House of Troy Advent Picture Light ($ 60). It exposes the perfect warm glow and makes every dinner feel a little romantic.
Show personality through art and rugs
Because most kitchens have neutral finishes, art and rugs are a great way to add color. Society6 and Saatchi Art are great places to find works of art by tons of different artists. I got this Support System Art Print ($ 44) from Society 6 years ago and it’s still one of my favorite works. All posters and Etsy are also great options for posters. I was very keen on having a vintage spirits ad like kitchen art, and I’m in love with this Martini & Rossi ($ 18) poster that I got from Etsy. When it comes to kitchen rugs, it is a must to have one that can be machine washed. Ruggable is perfect for that.
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