Wednesday, October 9, 2019 / by Kevin Oliver
9 Nifty Ways to Personalize the Kitchen in Your Rental
As a renter, you know you can go only so far when fixing up your property's interiors. Painting, pulling up carpet, and even hammering into the wall are usually no-no's, especially if you want to get your security deposit back. However, we've seen enough empty apartments to know that the average rental property's interior is less than inspiring—especially in the kitchen.
But just because you're under the landlord's thumb doesn't mean you have to live with a bland kitchen that lacks any design personality. The solution: easy ideas for perking up your kitchen decor when renting.
When approaching your rental kitchen makeover, select items that'll make the greatest impact. Bold colors, natural textures, and pieces of marble, stone, or slate are all smart design improvements that are worth seeking out.
To help liven up the heart of your home, here are nine ideas to try.
1. Rug or runner
A vintage-inspired Moroccan rug or a fun chevron-patterned runner is a great mood-lifter and a pretty way to improve any rental space.
"You can also add a decorative anti-fatigue mat in the spot where you spend the most time to relieve stress on your feet, legs, hips, and back," says Jamie Gold, a San Diego–based wellness design consultant and author of "Wellness by Design."
2. Pots of herbs
Greenery is always a smart idea in a rental kitchen that's less than pretty.
"Plants are some of the easiest decor options because they create no permanent damage and instantly brighten a space," says Kristin McGrath, an editor and shopping expert at Offers.com.
Try fragrant herbs on a shelf or corner of the kitchen. They do a great job of adding some life to your kitchen, and can be used to enhance the flavor of your meals, too.
3. Chalkboard or bulletin board
Photo by Jack Allan
Hang a chalkboard or bulletin board on your kitchen wall to display your recipes, photos, and shopping list.
"Target and Michaels have affordable, lightweight options that won't take much more than a small nail to put up," says McGrath.
4. Colorful accessories
"You may not be able to change your kitchen appliances or counters, but you can add pops of color on them with coordinated dish towels, pots and pans, potholders, and more," says McGrath.
Drew Henry of Design Dudes, agrees: "Fun oven mitts by the stove, a vase of flowers, decorative bowls, and a bold cookie jar will add more personality," he says.
You can also line up a set of canisters (flour, sugar, coffee) to improve a bland countertop or lay down a marble cutting board to mimic a higher-end material.
5. Rolling cart
A rental kitchen is usually tight on space, but if you can swing the square footage, try introducing a rolling cart into the mix. You'll gain more surface area for food prep and a few extra shelves for storage.
"If you can fit a small rolling island, it'll dramatically change the look of your rental kitchen and make it more functional," says Henry.
6. Fresh paint
Dying for a new color scheme? Painting your kitchen might be possible, even if you're renting. Check with your landlord first and then get the OK in writing if he or she says you can repaint.
"Consider how your new color will tie in with adjacent rooms, and choose a paint in a low- or no-VOC formulation to minimize fumes," says Gold.
7. Upper cabinet displays
That space above your cabinets near the ceiling is woefully underappreciated—and ripe for a little decor in a rented kitchen.
Gold recommends placing little-used items like large serving bowls or even tablecloths and fancy flatware in decorative boxes to keep them clean while not in use.
Or add your personal stamp with wicker baskets or faux foliage, says Jeanine Boiko, a real estate agent and blogger at Okio B Designs. Be certain to measure the space between the ceiling and cabinets before shopping for new baskets.
8. Temporary backsplash
Backsplashes might not be everyone's cup of tea, but in a small kitchen, they can be the difference between a one-of-a-kind space and a room that looks like all the rest.
If your landlord is not willing or able to let you install a backsplash, the pros suggest using temporary tiles or removable wallpaper.
"A peel-and-stick backsplash is a quick, nonpermanent way to add some personality to this space," says Boiko.
If your rental kitchen is small (of course it is!), opt for light or bright colors, as darker shades will make the space feel even smaller, she adds.
9. Under-cabinet lights
Most rental kitchens are on the dark side—and few have the benefit of a window for natural light. To the rescue are undermount lights so you can see what you're chopping.
"Ikea offers a good selection at reasonable prices, and you can attach them to the bottoms of your cabinets with removable Velcro strips," says Boiko. No fuss, no mess, and (likely) within the rules of your lease agreement.