Are you ready for this?
Because it’s going to be a long one.
Go put the kettle on… make yourself a cup of tea.
Or coffee. I dunno, whatever you tend to drink when you want to relax.
No, not wine . . . put that glass down. It’s far too early for that and I need your full attention please.
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All photos were taken by the brilliant Photographer Kasia Fiszer .
Is this a renter friendly kitchen makeover?
The key is in the title really, but I’ll start off by saying no, this isn’t your classic renter friendly kitchen makeover ( I say classic, because it really depends on how you look at it). A makeover like this can only be done if you have one of those chilled easy going landlords I’ve spoken about before in my book. I won’t be changing anything I’ve done here back to what it was before I leave because this was all done with prior permission from our landlord .
If that puts you off because you’ve come here looking for something a little less intrusive that won’t cost you your deposit, check out phase 1 of my rented kitchen makeover.
And now that that disclaimer (of sorts) is out of the way – it’s story time!
Why I decided to makeover my rented kitchen (again).
Because I wanted to.
(sort of). . .
Here’s the unabridged version.
Truthfully, I just didn’t like my kitchen.
Picture attached below to jog your memory . . this is how it looked when we first moved in.
But it’s not even that bad . . I bet you’re thinking.
Well you know what they say about pictures, they aren’t always what they seem. And trust me, I’m in the business of taking pictures so I should know.
But back to story time, after a few years of trying my best to avoid spending any time in my kitchen (which is kind of difficult when you’ve got a family to feed), I decided enough was enough and that I needed to decorate it somehow. My child and husband were in desperate need of nutrients. . . nutrients that only a home cooked meal could bring them. And in order to do that, I needed to like being in my kitchen
Side note : I hope by now you’ve realised that my sense of humour is a little dry. But just in case, I’ll clarify. My family weren’t starving. Just Eat Take-away delivery was around at that time.
So I painted cabinets, removed doors, changed the hardware and applied peel and stick wallpaper (you know all the basic renter friendly stuff I talk about in my book) . The end result looked pretty chic actually. And for once, being in my kitchen didn’t feel as suffocating.
Then the pandemic hit in 2020, and we, along with most of the world (not including our party going Prime Minister), went into quarantine (or Lockdown as us Brits called it) and were told to stay at home.
(And even when they did eventually lift the Lockdown , I still was at home quite a lot to be honest. Anyone else develop a little bit of pandemic induced agoraphobia ?)
That old feeling of not liking my kitchen despite it looking much better started to creep in again. Being at home 24/7 meant it was difficult to ignore all the things about my kitchen that I hated. The lack of light, the waters soaked counter tops, the peeling cabinet doors, the outdated tiles, the overbearing wall cabinets. Basically all of the things I hid really well in my photos but still had to live with.
(Like I said, that’s the thing about pictures)
So yeah you guessed it. I had another one of those ‘enough is enough’ moments.
We messaged the landlord (well alright I got my husband to message because I was too chicken) and asked for permission to make bigger non permanent changes. The landlord replied that that was OK, but that he would be unable to help with costs this time ( he has contributed to improvements in the past) as he had recently lost his job. I was fine with that. I didn’t see myself spending too much money.
We started this renter friendly kitchen makeover project in April and have only just finished early January (Slow and steady wins the race and all that) . I say finished but is a room ever really finished? There are still a few things I need to source .. like a ceiling light and blinds for the window.
At the time of this makeover, I was very very pregnant with my second child, so the parts that I would have usually diy-ed myself, I didn’t. Then my son was born and both my husband and I just had zero time to do anything. We got a trades person in for some of the big jobs like the tiling, installing the countertops, and plastering and my husband and I did all the other cosmetic stuff when we could.
We’ve never gotten in external help before for DIY stuff so this was truly an eye opening experience. It’s not something I’ll rush into doing in the future either because some of the quotes we were getting were ridiculous and finding anyone with availability that year was almost impossible ) You can check out all the progress videos below.
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We’re the dream team… the husband and I. When we’re not arguing about whose DIY method will work that is.
But respect to him. Have I mentioned before that he’s the one who taught me all I know about DIY right (aside from YouTube)? And that he himself is completely self taught?
I think I have , but just in case you didn’t know, now you do.
What I changed in my renter friendly kitchen this time around
The tiles, bottom cabinet doors, flooring, countertops, and top cabinets…
Yup I think that’s everything.
We replaced the darker laminate countertops with these lighter laminate marble ones (Full disclosure these were gifted from IKEA which was a huge help cost-wise). I was in two minds about them initially, but having used them for over 8 months I quite like them. For general upkeep, I found cleaning up any stains when they happen and using chopping boards when cooking helped to keep them looking good!
We removed the top cabinets to open the whole space out a little. It’s a narrow room and tended to get dark fairly quickly. The shelves are custom ones from shelf bar. I painted them white with Valspar to match the walls.
Aren’t they a beauty?
They’re called Kit Kat tiles, and I absolutely love them. If I’m being honest, waiting for the tiles to arrive was one of the reasons why this renter friendly kitchen makeover took so long. I originally ordered them from Period House store, but as they weren’t in stock and the delivery date kept getting pushed back, I had to cancel my order. In the end, I found similar from Tiles Direct.
It wasn’t apparent from the sample I ordered, but once they were up I noticed the tiles had a very slight blue-ish tinge to them depending on how the light hits them (just a heads up). It annoyed me initially. I’ve gotten used to it now.
We kept the bottom cabinet frames as they were in adequate condition and just changed the doors for these walnut ones. I won’t be sharing the company as I wasn’t entirely happy with them. A story for another time …
Replacing cabinets was quite easy and we opted for doors without pre-cut holes to keep costs down. I’ll do a post about it later.
We hadn’t planned on getting new flooring. I loved the previous checkered lino we had put down in our renter friendly kitchen a few years ago … however it got damaged a little in the makeover process. So when I saw that this flooring was on sale, I bought it. Cheap, cheerful and does the job.
The flooring underneath the old Lino was level so the installation was quite simple.
I ditched the steel one for this beautiful ceramic one which I can’t for the life of me remember where I got it from. I remember being hooked by some targeted ad on Facebook, seeing 15 % off, and buying it immediately. Pictures don’t do it justice … its seriously beautiful. Be warned though, if you’re not careful a ceramic sink will chip your dishware.
I don’t care how outdated it might seem. I honestly love the idea of wallpaper in the kitchen. I bought mine from B& Q home using a gift card (it’s the same one I used in my pantry)
I do love it … but I’m not sure if I’m in love with it. It definitely warms up the kitchen and makes it feel more homely. But I feel like it would have worked better if my ceilings had been a little bit taller.
Do I see myself removing it in the future?
Possibly. Your gal’s toxic trait is indecisiveness.
Storage in this renter friendly kitchen.
Because we removed all the top cabinets and replaced them with open shelving, we did lose some storage space . . . which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing actually. It prompted me to do a massive declutter of all the useless junk we’d accumulated in the top cabinets over the years. It’s easy to hoard when you can just close the door on all the ‘stuff’ you know? I think that’s probably why a lot of people prefer closed cabinets to open ones.
Our fridge now lives in the garage/utility room (it’s just off the kitchen) and in its place, I put a pantry cabinet that stores all our dried food. You can see that makeover here.
Everything is labeled with my trusted DYMO label maker.
The glass jars are from here
A second hand hanging pot rack I got off eBay also freed up space in the pot cupboard.
And a knife rack to hold our knives – tutorial here
I’ll probably do a more detailed post on this in the future. I’m still implementing lots of little organisational systems to my renter friendly kitchen.
The cost of it all.
You’re probably wondering how how much it all cost right?
Honestly if I owned this home, I’d have no problem sharing those details with you because I always find it helpful when other bloggers do that. Spending money on decorating a home is certainly a privilege so it’s nice when that’s acknowledged rather than lots of dancing around what things actually cost.
However, I rent my home and on that basis alone, I’m not willing to share what my budget actually was . I’m aware that I’ve opened myself up to enough criticism already just by sharing that I’ve decorated my rented kitchen.
I can picture a few of you who might be new here shaking your heads in disbelief (the few that might take offence at how other people spend their money perhaps? )
That’s ok. Now can you picture me rolling my eyes?
I’ve been renting for over 12 years, and have been blogging about interiors for about 6 of them. In that time I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been told I’m wasting my money. Its one of the reasons why I started the #howirent series, to provide a safe space for others like myself who wanted to decorate their rented homes without judgement.
Investing in my home will never be a waste.
Creating a beautiful home for my family (especially my children) will never be a waste.
And no, the money I spent here couldn’t have been put toward a deposit because that would imply that the end goal would be to get a mortgage.
Not everyone wants or can get a mortgage. That can be for religious, financial or personal reasons. I’ll leave it at that.
Is she being defensive or is she just setting a boundary?
Food for thought.
Final thoughts on our renter friendly kitchen.
This whole process has definitely been a huge learning experience.
I started this makeover with one of my friends Charlotte Jacklin (an early guest on the howirent series) who was also decorating her kitchen. It was great having someone to chat to who was in a similar position and in a way it kind of motivated me to get things done (I have a problem with starting things and never finishing them). We’ll be doing a Live on Instagram next week to chat all things kitchen!
In the mean time you can check OUT HER RENTED KITCHEN MAKEOVER HERE.
Let me know what you think of my new kitchen in the comments below.