Rental Kitchen Renovation

Hi DIY Hometalk, first time question post so please be gentle. I currently live in a rented house and want to improve the look of the kitchen even if it means just using sugar soap to wash the ceiling and/or walls. Is this a good place to start? The kitchen is 1970’s with stripped wallpaper, choc brown kitchen cabinets and tan coloured vinyl floor. Here are some pictures. Any tips/advice would be much appreciated.
q rental kitchen renovation
q rental kitchen renovation
q rental kitchen renovation
  12 answers
  • M. M.. M. M.. on Jan 06, 2018
    A good cleaning is always a GREAT way to start. How picky is your landlord about changes? The cabinets with their dark color against the white wall seem too high in contrast. They seem to be very visually 'busy'. I think if you removed the cabinet doors, sanded and painted them, maybe changed or polished up the handles, you'd have a huge change in the feel. Then you could splash out on the fancy colors/patterns in small ways, like keeping the trendy but fun things for accessories, tea towels, etc. For the floor, since you probably can't make a big change, you could get carpet tiles that fit together like puzzle pieces and have a grippy back. It would also have the benefit of feeling warmer and much quieter...That's probably enough for a start!

  • Linda Sikut Linda Sikut on Jan 06, 2018
    Hi Dee,
    Of course, cleaning is a good way to start as M.M suggested. There are also wall decal décor that is designed for apartment renters. Some of it comes in rolls that could be used to temporarily cover you cabinet doors. Other people who rent , swear by Contact Paper - not a substitute. They say that Contact brand paper will come off when you're ready to leave. I've never done it so I can't be 100% sure, but I've read that a lot of people do it. Below is a link from other Hometalk members who show how they solved their kitchen issues when they rented. Hopefully this will give you some ideas. Wishing you the best.

  • MBLori MBLori on Jan 06, 2018
    You could change all the cabinet handles to something more modern. (just keep those and put them back when you move)
    What I always do is offer to paint the walls myself with a Landlord approved color, then you can pull off that wallpaper. I would try a very soft blue in that room. (or even white to match the cabinet base) They will usually go for a tenant who makes positive upgrades at your own expense. Then make some curtains that match your new wall color and treat those brown cabinets as brown furniture. ( Because they look like they are recently painted and I'm guessing the Landlord is liking them). You can also swap out that ceiling fan (it has seen better days) then save the old one to reinstall when you move. You could probably paint the ceiling white after you clean it and he wouldn't be angry because it needs it!
    If you can't get rid of the wallpaper, I would hang as many light colored pieces of artwork on that wall as possible. Do a big grouping...maybe add a variety of architectural pieces too like old shutters. Check out some ideas on Pinterest. If you find shutters big enough you can lean them on the wall and add artwork on top of them. Have fun!

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jan 06, 2018
    Are you allowed to change colours ? If so, can you post more pics.?

  • Sharon Sharon on Jan 07, 2018
    Like all MBLori's ideas. I might do the wall a pale aqua blue, cause I like it and its right on trend right now, and if landlord won't go for that i would find a bunch of old white plates and do a wall arrangement over it. Ceiling fan, maybe just buy a new light kit for it, and see if landlord will let you paint the blade edges the same as the cupboards. I would just do a white blind on the window. I would repaint the sink lower cabinets to match the wall cabinets.

  • Zonski Zonski on Jan 07, 2018
    I think you should ask the owner to approve of your upgrade-project, first over the phone or in person, and then have him sign the changes he approved, so as not to have a big unpleasant surprise when you leave (like : having to redo the original version of kitchen).
    Though blue is "in" right now, it might not be when you leave, so i'd paint everything in white after having taken off the wall paper. If too much work for you, then nail wooden planks (from palettes or store-bought, or even pegboards) to the walls, paint them white, screw hooks or bars to be able to hang kitchen utensils.
    Since your kitchen seems a bit small, the wooden planks should be nailed horizontally so as to lengthen the kitchen width.
    I wouldn't have any curtains or blinds for the window, just some ikea like useful and beautiful decoration idea :
    If the landlord doesn't agree to your painting the cabinet doors, then use colorful parts of wooden fruit crates as decor (the ones that exist in european markets, but i don't remember having seen them in the states other than in NY organic type food markets, see pict. hereunder)
    You could also change the backsplash for gluable tiles, blue if that's the color of your choice or multi-color tones.
    Voilà what i think you could do

  • Zonski Zonski on Jan 07, 2018
    I forgot to say that you could also just remove some cabinet doors and paint or wallpaper the insides (and get rid of the hinges of the doors you removed).
    As for the fan... it is quite a problem, remove it, paint it, abracadabra it away anyway

  • Stephanie Rountree Stephanie Rountree on Jan 07, 2018
    All good suggestions. When I was a young mother, we didn't have any money for renovations in our rented house. I took off all the doors to the upper kitchen cabinets and hung curtains in place of the doors. It looked really cute and I got oodles of compliments. We also hung a pegboard to display utensils right next to the stove. It really was handy and attractive. Good luck!

  • Eroque022810 Eroque022810 on Jan 07, 2018
    I agree with Stephanie, just take some of the doors down keeping hinges attached. I would leave them open but would add fabric to cabinet backing to bring in a more suitable color. On this site you can find out how to attach fabric to walls and cabinets and remove when you leave. Also as for ceiling fan you can buy the blades and just take those down and replace them,heck I think that they still sell that model. Any way take the blade to store because the ones you buy have previously drilled holes and they need to match up so you will only make one trip. Keep everything you take down. Of course wash walls, replace toilet sits and that stuff. T it's not that bad. I have to admit I don't care for the curtains maybe switch them out for thermal lined white or at least a Tanish type of color to tie with floor. This is your first time so I wouldn't bother cause chances are next year you will move on out. Add your touches with a potted plant and your counterparts stuff like mason jars filled with flour or rice or coffee. You know your stuff don't waste it on a place that isn't yours. Save your money so that you can either eventually get your own place or if this is a great locstion, then for you to enjoy your life. Are you even a big cooker? Invest in your things for yourself. So while yes you can add some things to make it more to your liking, make those things your personal touches like colored pots and pans, pretty platters. If you leave cabinets door less display things you find in them. Your dishes and glassware. Go to all the thrift stores as well as dollar stores and become creative and think outside the box but only get things you truly love or things you can transform to truly love. Right now it's about saving money.

  • Indy Indy on Jan 08, 2018
    In my opinion if your landlord is picky the best options are changing the door knobs, take those curtain off and add some white faux wood blinds, as for the light fixture come to an agreement. For the color I wouldnt painted blue as the cabinets are dark however, i will give it a very lite brown color, kind of like a the cappuccino foam color. In the past i tried the peel and stick back plash (really cool because you can stick it in top of current tiles) and that will totally give a change to the kitchen. Once you are done you can etheir leave it or grab a roll of contact paper and take it with you. Adding floating shelves and a floral painting can always change a room. My last suggestion is if you dont like the cabinet doors you can always takethe off and properly store them away. You can always wait and show your landlord how good you are on maintaining its place and can later make changes. If you ask me i will totally sweet talk to them and show them how tiny changes can make their investment a more modern place.

  • Pat Ruge Pat Ruge on Jan 09, 2018
    As a landlord, I just love questions from renters. My first piece of advice is to come up with a plan and estimate the costs. Go back to the landlord and explain that you would very much like to make these changes (paint cabinets, new hardware, etc.) and ask his permission and to COVER THE COSTS of materials and labor. You always begin your negotiations by asking for more than you expect him to give. Then if he refuses, ask if he will cover the cost of materials and you will do the labor. Even though it comes late, I also advice (this is for the future) to make those changes before you are willing to move in.

    Linda guided you to an excellent group various suggestions. I also advice you to look do a search on youtube for "Engineer Your space". This gal really is a DIY and has many great suggestions for renters - especially things that can be undone and take with you. Good luck.

  • Gale Allen Jenness Gale Allen Jenness on Jan 09, 2018
    Have to agree with what the others are saying, have you discussed doing anything to this rental with your landlord? Some landlords, well more then not are very picky what they want a tenat doing! Without the landlords approval first, you could find yourself being charged extra fees from the landlord claiming what you did is damage he has to redo! So other then cleaning I’d not touch a thing without written proof you got the go ahead to do whatever you want to do?
    But if the land lord gives you permission to remodel the kitchen or do whatever you want? Be careful how much labor and money you put into a rental! My Dad was a cabinet maker and he made deals with landlords to remodel the kitchen in exchange for rent. Well soon as my Dad got the kitchen remodel done the landlord sold the rental right out from under us and my Dad lost the rent exchange he was supposed to get! Of course my Dad never learned his lesson and made the same deal with a different landlrod and once again my Dad got screwed and the landlord sold the home and we had to move again!
    moral to this story, don’t put a lot of money and labor into a rental house where the landlord sees he can make a huge profit off your hard work and money you put into his home! Don’t forget it’s not your home and it can be pulled out from under youanytime unless you have a lease and even then landlords been known to pull shady deals anyway!