#HelloSpring Rejuvenating A Generic Apartment Kitchen For Around $100

I live in a 1960s four-plex. It was not at all updated and very generic. I will have lived here two years April 2016, but this is actually my third redo of the kitchen! I think I got it right, at least for me, this time around.
The first thing that got this redo started was that GianiGranite send me a free kit to redo my counter tops. And I love how they turned out! So I don't count the kit in the price of the kitchen redo because it was free. I believe you can buy the kits for about $79.
After the GianiGranite kit had been applied
Then I repainted the cabinets and walls again. White for the cabinets. And a light tan color for the back splash.

The maintenance man here at the apartment complex and I have become friends. He does extra work for me, and I pay him. (Sometimes I feed him meals too!)

He added the molding/trim. I didn't have the tools to do it myself.
I lived with it all complete, sans what you see above, for a few days. But I kept walking into the kitchen and thinking to myself: This is very pretty. But it most certainly is not "me."

So I started wandering through stores, trying to gather inspiration. And while walking through Bed, Bath & Beyond, inspiration struck when I came across these colorful bamboo place mats for $1.99 each. I wasn't sure quite what I was going to do, but I knew I was on my way. I bought 7 place mats.

Then I came across bags of wooden utensils for $5.99 a bag while there. I bought 4 bags.
I had already added under-counter lighting on one of my other kitchen redos. I wanted to add trim around the place mats that I carefully used small nails to nail to the cabinet doors. But it just wasn't in the budget this month. Maybe I'll do it later.

So I dug through my things until I came across an unopened roll of shelf liner in black and white checks in the closet. I carefully cut them apart, and used them to set off the bamboo place mats.

I painted the wooden utensils in paint I already had on hand. And because the utensils weren't round, as some are, but instead rather flat, they weren't that hard to nail thought the middle and hold tight to the cabinet doors. I then went over the nail heads with additional paint to cover them.
I already had these knobs, as I had purchased them previously and put them on my cabinets. But I wanted them to be black, so I painted them with spray paint.

This is the easy way to spray paint knobs. Get a cardboard box. Push holes in it (I used a Philips screwdriver), and attach the knobs on top, with the screws to them underneath screwed tight to hold them upright. Easiest way to paint knobs all at one time!
The real drawback to this place was that there were no washer/dryer connections. So I ordered this European-style washer/dryer in one, that runs on a 110 back when I first moved in.

The fridge was originally in this spot, so I had management come get the stove and haul it off. I have an ongoing ankle problem, so I needed a way to do laundry so I wouldn't have to haul it out to a laundromat.

The washer/dryer worked better here because I could take the hose and reach across the cabinets and hook it up to the faucet when doing laundry.

It is very energy-efficient. But it doesn't dry very well, so I hang my clothing up in the closet. And now I have a clothesline out on my huge privacy-fenced patio that another company gave me to review.
Across from the washer/dryer is this small space that wasn't big enough for a table and chairs (I have them in the next room). It is an awkward space.

I ordered a big industrial-style cart from World Market, and now it holds all my small appliances and fulfills my storage needs.

Oh, and if you're wondering how I cook meals, I've got it covered. I have a Breville Smart Convection oven, a microwave, a panini maker, an electric skillet, a crock pot, and a special casserole crock pot. I do not go hungry!
The little red cupboard houses my snacks and such. I found it for $30 at an antique mall just as it is. Didn't even paint it.

I also found the rake that I spray-painted red to hold utensils on the wall.
I found the ICE decal on Etsy. And as you can see, I continued the black and white checked theme on the small cabinets with my checked shelf liner.
I love this little red and white plate I found at Target for $1.99. It holds everything I need for soap, dish washing liquid, and sponge that is held by a little cow planter I found.
I just love how it all turned out. Now it is "me." Colorful and different!

The place mats and wooden utensils came to $38 before tax. I bought paint, and the two cans of paint came to about $35.
This is how the kitchen looked when I moved in. I had taken down the cabinet doors to paint.

If you want to see the various evolutions of this apartment kitchen over the past two years, you can see the rest on my blog, Cozy Little House.
Brenda @ Cozy Little House
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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3 of 5 questions
  • Lisa Bloom Lisa Bloom on Dec 20, 2018

    How did you get the placemats to stay on the cabinets?

  • Bonnie Bonnie on Jan 19, 2019

    Cute kitchen. I've thought about painting one cupboard black and alternate with French vanilla. I've seen that rake holding your utensils before. Where do you get the rake??

  • Michelle Perram Michelle Perram on Feb 07, 2020

    How did you get permission to make all these changes to an apartment? Do you have to return the apartment to its original state?

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2 of 38 comments
  • DORIS DORIS on Dec 29, 2020

    You have given me such great inspiration to redo my cabinets. I love what you did. It is beautiful.

  • Rosa Rosa on Apr 17, 2022

    I love love love all the changes you have made it adds color and a beautiful place to enjoy your meals...