$500 Later, This Rental Kitchen Is Almost Unrecognizable

Before anyone gets too attached to this kitchen’s slightly retro style or admittedly charming checkered floor, it should be known that the charming floor was actually rotting — and there were a lot of other issues as well. Not an enormous surprise in a rental, but one renter was determined to give this kitchen a fresh start. Thankfully, she had a lenient landlord who was open to changes.

Because photos never reveal what it’s really like to live in a space, here’s a bit more information regarding the kitchen’s weaknesses:

“Before the remodel, the kitchen design was a hodgepodge of improvements from various tenants over the years. Each new resident would change a few things, making the space feel confused and unfocused. The space had also accumulated a good deal of wear and tear, with chipped tiles and rotted floors. The kitchen needed an aesthetic update, but also needed to be turned into a clean functional kitchen again.”

Katherine Nye, who has rented this apartment for three years, cleverly stuck to a black-and-white palette, always a winner in kitchens. But this kitchen takes that classic look a fabulous step further with a fascinating hand-painted floor. The painstakingly painted floor has a multidimensional geometric pattern, but since it’s monochromatic, it’s not overwhelming or distracting—just fantastic. The rest of the decor — white walls and cabinetry accented by black knobs and countertops, black-and-white appliances — fits together perfectly, without pulling focus from the showpiece floor.

Katherine shares what it took to refresh this sweet kitchen, and what the priorities were:

“As soon as I moved in, I painted the walls and the cabinets, which took a full day or two. I just needed the space to feel brighter and cleaner as soon as possible. The rest of the renovations happened in stages over the years, especially when my roommate was out of town and I could shut down the kitchen for a few days.

Since I was doing all the work by myself, I definitely had a few breakdowns in this kitchen. The painted linoleum floor tiles were especially challenging. I’m a perfectionist, and I still have flashbacks to obsessing over the floor pattern and touching up every square with a fine paint brush to make sure the lines were sharp and nothing was out of place. That being said, the floors have been, without a doubt, the most rewarding improvement.

Because this is a rental there were limitations on what improvements I could do, but I wanted to push the boundaries as far as possible and make the space feel like a custom kitchen. With some pretty innovative uses of paint and some hard work, I was able to completely transform the kitchen for under $500.”

Those floors are indeed something to be proud of — executing such an exacting design so well is a major accomplishment.

Removing the pink doors really opened up the feel of the kitchen, which seems to feature plenty of closed-door storage elsewhere. The shelf above the stove is now much more within reach, and the microwave looks nice and neat upon it. The stainless steel sink remains the same and works well with the monochromatic decor.

After years of work, Katherine is able to enjoy the results of all the time, energy, and money invested:

“I like that the kitchen now has a distinct point of view. The space feels impactful, bright, and clean. It doesn’t feel like a generic, rundown rental kitchen. It now really has something to say. The only thing I might do differently is go with a lighter color on the floor. The dark color packs a nice visual punch, but you can always see any crumb that ends up on the floor.”

That is a detail nobody ever mentions about their otherwise dreamy dark floors, so take it to heart if you’re considering a deep stain or tile.

The newly open shelving also allowed Katherine to introduce some color into the black-and-white room. The dishes, glassware, and serving pieces bring subtle hues to the kitchen, and the presentation is attractive, practical, and not overly precious.

Thinking of giving a room a much-needed makeover? Katherine has some encouragement:

“Just jump in and do it. Once you’ve started, there’s no turning back and you have to figure out a way to finish. Ultimately, you’ll be happy you did.”

Thank you, Katherine Nye!

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: $500 Later, It’s Really Hard to Believe This Is the Same Kitchen

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