Kitchen Upgrades Tenants Can Make in their Apartment

There comes a point when you just want to make this rented house or apartment into your home. The problem is that it isn’t your home. But there are some kitchen upgrades you can make that can completely change the look and feel of your apartment without freaking out your landlord.

Here are some ideas we would like to share. We are going to write a series of articles and our first one will address changes you can make in the kitchen. While some kitchen upgrades will require approval from your landlord, others are pretty harmless or are easily returned to their original condition when you decide to move out – which we hope you love the place and stay.

Kitchen UpgradesApartment Upgrades Tenants Can Make in the Kitchen

Kitchens are the most expensive household area to renovate and often landlords put it off as long as possible. This can mean that you could be stuck with a kitchen that is either caught in the 1980’s or one that is constructed of bargain basement appliances and Craigslist specials. There are a few kitchen upgrades that you can do to change the look and feel. We will start with the cheapest and easiest and work down:

  • Change the hardware. How about changing out the knobs and drawer handles. This can be a cheap way to modernize the look of the kitchen. If you do not want to get landlord approval, make sure you keep all the old hardware and replace it when you move out.


  • Update the backsplash. You do not have to take out the old, just cover it up. Mount tiles to panels that you can stick in place with a temporary adhesive.


  • Put up artwork. It is amazing how a piece of artwork or some other decorative item can change the look of a room.


  • Change the curtains. This is another interesting and low cost option. Consider Roman shades, classic shudders or a fancy valance.


  • Hang a shelf or pot rack. A metal spice rack, a copper pot rack or a white shelf could be the new focal point in the kitchen. It requires little effort and is easy to remove down the road. Another option is to prop up a pegboard to hang all the kitchen gadgets – color plus design all in one.


  • Paint the walls. Just changing the walls from beige to a deep red, vibrant blue or subtle gray could completely change the look of the kitchen. Use chalkboard paint to add some fun to the kitchen. This change will need landlord approval.


  • Install temporary wallpaper or decals. If you do not want to paint, or the landlord opts to leave it as is, consider installing temporary wallpaper. There are plenty of options, colors and design choices from wild to classic. If you have a spot that needs just a pop of some color or pattern, add a decal. They’re giant stickers for adults.


  • Remove the cabinet doors. A popular option is open shelves. If you remove the cabinet doors and put down some pretty wrapping paper, shelf liners or lace edging, you can get the newest look for almost nothing. Just remember to tuck to doors away in a safe place because you will need to put them back on when you move out.


  • Change the lighting. Does the kitchen have ugly “boob” lights or florescent bulbs? Consider installing a new ceiling light or just simply replacing the covers. Inexpensive covers can be found at Home Depot or Lowes. If you do not have much electrical experience, please hire an electrician to install the light. We would hate to have you burn down the apartment. If the kitchen is dark, install LED under the counter lights.


  • Add crown moldings. Crown molding is easy to install and relatively inexpensive to buy, but it can make a cheap ugly kitchen look like a million bucks. What is more, if the landlord doesn’t like it, it is easy to remove.


  • Replace the faucet. You can get a new modern faucet for around $80 to $150. This can be a small price to pay for something you use all of the time. It is amazing how much of a difference a faucet can make and how proud it will make you feel. If you keep the old one, you can even take yours with you to your next place.


  • Paint the cabinets. While this will definitely need landlord approval, it can quickly modernize a kitchen for minimal cost. Bring a picture to your landlord of what you have in mind along with paint swatches. If the landlord stomps on the idea, cover them with removable (yes, removable) contact paper.


  • Change the countertops. Okay, I don’t mean taking them out or painting over them, but if your counters are hideous, you could cover them with decorative contact paper. You can remove it with a hairdryer and goo gone when you move out. Another option is to cover them with a large cutting board or serving tray.Apartment Upgrades Tenants Can Make in the Kitchen

Work with What You’ve Got

Before you start on your kitchen upgrades, take a long hard look at this room. Visualize what it will look like when you are finished. What look do you want? Are you aiming for modern and sleek? How about country chic? Once you set your style, now work from the cheapest option out. Remember that a simple coat of paint can change dull into dreamy, dingy into dramatic.

Look for ways to conceal your kitchen’s unattractive features or draw the eye away to something more visually stimulating. Even putting down a colorful throw rug could be all it needs to make the kitchen yours.

Just remember that any permanent kitchen upgrades need to be approved by the landlord or their agent. Any damage to the drywall such as holes or tape marks will need to be repaired when you move out. But other than that, please make yourself comfortable. We want you to stay!

Read more about what tenants can do with their bathroom here…



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