A Bright Rental Kitchen Refresh


Having been a rental apartment dweller for 10 years now, I’ve focused a lot of my energy on ways to update and improve my homes, in ways that won’t lose me my damage deposit. Not always an easy feat, so when I find ways to give the space a refresh that isn’t too time or money intensive, I need to share. My current apartment is a little studio in Vancouver, but despite its square footage it has a pretty sizeable kitchen (relatively speaking). It’s a little room off the side of the other room (the bedroom / living room) and it gets a ton of natural light. The cabinets are basic wood doors and boxes, and I decided they were the prime opportunity for an update. Because they’re painted wood it was easy to give them a fresh new colour, and I’ll be able to simply paint them back to white before I move out. When it comes to rental changes, I try to opt for things that are easily reversible.

I didn’t want to make any big changes, so I left the plain shelves in there and focused my attention on the paint, hardware, and styling. For the cabinet colour and hardware direction, I was inspired by Devol kitchens. Have you heard of them? They’re a British company that designs and builds the prettiest kitchens (they remind me of modern Downton Abbey kitchens :)). Here are a couple that inspired my plans:

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I ended up going with Behr Granite Boulder for the paint colour. I wanted a somewhat complex colour that fell somewhere in the range of grey, taupe, and sage. When picking your paint colour, it’s great to do a big swatch by painting a sample of the paint on card stock and leaving it where the cabinets are so you can see the colour in the different light throughout the day.

One of the things that I love about that kitchen on the left (above) is the painted wood knobs. It’s such a great way to add a special touch to the kitchen, and it’s so affordable. You buy simple wooden knobs (I got these ones at Home Depot) and paint them to match the cabinets. The doors in my rental had an uncommon hardware centre spacing measurement, and I didn’t want to drill new holes / fill the old ones, so I found the same hardware they had drilled the holes for, in brass. Turns out they were just from Ikea. If you don’t know your drawer pull centre measurement, remove the hardware and measure from the centre of one screw hole to the other. You can also take one of the pulls you have to the store to find matches. But if you’re ordering online you’ll need to know your measurements.


I really wanted to add a sconce up above the shelves, and I looked through so many plug in options. And then I remembered that I had stashed a pair that I used in an old project and they’re the exact shape and material I was hunting for. They aren’t available anymore, but here are some similar options with great finishes and cool shapes. I’ve pulled together a mix of budgets.


The kitchen has space for a little dining table, so I brought in a marble and oak cafe table from Article. It’s a perfect size and super pretty. The round shape is great for a small space.


For the shelves, I kept most of the pieces white but mixed up the textures of the ceramics. This is a good way to style your open shelves if you don’t want them to feel too busy. I added some other visual interest with art and flowers/branches.

Get the look of this rental kitchen makeover yourself:


wood knobs | brass pulls | dustpan and broom | paint colour | white vase 1 | white vase 2 | candle sticks | sconce | dish brush | glasses

And for fun, here are a couple before shots so you can see where things were at going into the project!


Thoughts? Would you paint your rental cabinets? Or maybe you prefer an all white kitchen? Tell me!

Kendra Murphy