#HomeSweetJoy Kitchen Plans

rental apartment kitchen

Ugh, rental kitchems. They’re the worst, aren’t they?

After living in our apartment for a little over a year, we finally got around to giving our kitchen a fresh coat of paint and the white walls make such a big difference. Before we painted, the walls were that apartment tan color (you know the color I’m talking about) and so weren’t the all interior doors in the unit. Since we moved, we’ve done a lot of painting (we painted the living room the same white color, painted all of the doors, and painted our bedroom!) and am happy we’re basically done. The electrical box just needs a quick coat so it’s not as noticeable!

Now that the walls are painted, I’m itching to make a few more updates to make the space a little less….. ugly. When I turned to my BFF Pinterest to find some inspiration for our space, I realized that we’re not going to be able to have the “perfect” rental kitchen – the layout of our space isn’t great, the black appliances are an eye store, and I’m not getting into painting the cabinets.

We’re very much going to be working with what we got and our goal is not to make the space look perfect, it’s to make it look better. Small updates here and there, and spend as little money as possible because at the end of the day, we are renting and don’t know how long we’ll be here for.

old outdated kitchen
outdated rental kitchen

Before getting into our plans, I want to give you a quick rundown of our kitchen space and some of the pros/cons, as well as a little insight into our apartment and the building we live in!

Chris and I moved into #homesweetjoy in September 2019. We live on the top floor of an old building. Our unit is front-facing, so we get a bunch of natural light throughout the day (yay!) but our apartment is tiny and the layout of the kitchen isn’t great. When you enter our apartment, you walk straight into the kitchen (the front door is next to the sink!) which isn’t great for coat/shoe storage, but we make it work.

Kitchen Pros & Cons


  • There is a lot of cabinet space (not so much counter space!), a pantry with several shelves, and the (ugly) shelving unit to the right of the bathroom door so storage really isn’t an issue.
  • With the weird layout, we are able to have our own “space” when we’re both in the kitchen cooking.


  • The layout isn’t great.
  • We don’t have a designated “entry way” since you walk straight into the kitchen when entering the unit.
  • There’s limited counter space.
  • The floors are very ugly and dated.
  • The cabinets themselves are white wood, but it seems like they fronts were replaced more recently and the color doesn’t match (this KILLS me).
  • We have VERY small appliances, black appliances.

The Plan

The goal: make the kitchen cuter and flow better with the living space.

Budget: not a lot 😂

I refuse to paint the cabinets even though the cabinets and cabinet doors are two different colors. It’ll be a huge paint in the ass and we have no idea how long we’ll be here for. 

  • The first task will be to replace the cabinet pulls. I love these ones from CB2 but this option from Home Depot is nearly identical and they’re half the price. I’m going to order one of each and go from there but since we have 18 pulls to replace, the Home Depot ones are definitely going to be more cost-effective.
  • Since we have limited counter space, giving our current counters a facelift will be a quick and easy upgrade that won’t cost us a bunch of money. I’ve heard great things about this peel and stick countertop option but recently came across this option and love the pattern. Which do you like better?!
  • Ugh the floors…. As you can see in the photos, the laminate flooring in our kitchen is awful. Not only is it dated, but it’s gross and is installed OVER another layer of laminate flooring. Because of this, there are some areas that the flooring is moving apart so dirt, dust, and debris collects in the crevices. At some point, I’d love to lay down a layer of removable/adhesive flooring but it’s so hard to find something that would match with the hardwood flooring in the living spaces. I think a tile-looking adhesive with some color would be our best option when the time does come. Maybe this option, this option, or this option!
  • The ceiling lights throughout our entire apartment are SO dated and ugly. I hate looking at them, they’re awful. I’m planning on updating them throughout our unit but want to start with the kitchen and love how sleek these ones are.


We really haven’t spent too much time trying to make the kitchen look nice, so adding some pretty decor is also at the top of our priority list.

  • I just ordered these self-adhesive hooks to add to the back of the front door so we can have some sort of wreath or decor of some nature on there.
  • There’s a decent amount of wall space above the pantry door and I’m thinking a wall clock would be the best option for up there! I’m obsessing over this one from Target to add a little bit more color into the space.
  • We have 205822583 hand towels for the kitchen but none of them match and it kills me. I think these ones would be a great option for pulling in the black appliances and cabinet pulls.
  • I love the look of cutting boards behind the stove (we have a little lip we can lean things on!) and am loving these ones and these round ones together!
  • We’re going to add a few more cookbooks and a glass jar/vase of some nature to fill with wine corks above the stove to make it look a little bit more put together.
  • The lemon and orange prints are cute but I think we need to switch them out for something more modern. I love these frames from H&M but still need to figure out prints.
  • Something needs to happen above the cabinets. Maybe some decorative baskets, a print or two, and a vase?

Have you made updates to your rental kitchen before!? I need all the inspo!

Leave a Reply


  1. 9.28.20
    Lizzie said:

    I love the paint! It looks so good! I’m with you on laminate floors. our old apartment had them and they were not my fave! So excited to see the other updates you do!! <3


  2. 9.28.20
    rebecca said:

    it can be so difficult to make things your own, but still in a rental!!! I think this plan sounds great and you are lucky to have so much natural light in your space.

    xx rebecca // http://www.rebeccapiersol.me

  3. 9.28.20
    Lee said:

    This is so awesome! I love how youve laid out the pros and cons and a detailed plan!

  4. 9.28.20
    Kileen said:

    I think the kitchen looks so great! But I have found that no matter how much counter space I have, I always need more!

    cute & little

  5. 9.28.20
    Lily said:

    I bet it can be so difficult to make a space your own, when renting. Looks like you have a solid plan, I bet it will turn out great!

  6. 9.28.20
    GRETA said:

    All your plans sound great! I can’t wait to see how the space turns out.

  7. 9.29.20
    Anna English said:

    My rental kitchen is the worst too! I can’t wait to see your finished product.

  8. 9.29.20

    I understand the struggle. Because I rent I have to live with the existing setup and although not terrible, I can do without the super dark countertops! Think you have a solid plan for making it work! xoxo, Sarah

  9. 9.29.20
    Laura Leigh said:

    okay giving alllll of my opinions…

    – go with the cheaper pulls, they are so identical – worth saving the money there.
    – LOVE the peel & stick you found with more of pattern. love that it’s different and I think it totally fits your personality!
    – OMG OMG do I love the peacock colored tile – 100% gets my vote!

    cannot wait to see the updates!

    xo Laura Leigh

  10. 9.29.20
    Stephanie said:

    I love the plans you have for your kitchen! You’re so lucky that you’re able to paint and replace handles and things like that. We’re not allowed to do anything in our townhome, and we’ve got orange-wood cabinets, dark granite-looking countertops, and weird flooring with a mix of dark and light appliances haha! The kitchen is the least attractive place in our home, that’s for sure. But I can’t wait to see what you’re doing with yours and how it turns out!

  11. 9.29.20
    shianne said:

    Great post! I am actually a kitchen designer and interior decorator 🙂
    lovely post hun
    shy – https://www.shyyshianne.com/

  12. 10.2.20

    How exciting! I can’t wait to see the transformation! Please keep us updated!

  13. 10.5.20
    Mariah said:

    Oooo! I can’t wait to see how it comes out! Renovations in any form is so fun!