My Budget Kitchen Redesign

I need to upgrade my rental kitchen with inexpensive easy solutions.  And fast.

Here’s a secret (from a stylist) my kitchen is, oh how do i put it, kinda not my style.  Welcome to the  the understatement of the year.  It’s like saying Lindsey Lohan kinda is kinda a bad driver.

See for yourself:

The cabinets are oak and as shiny as a guilty man’s sweaty forehead.  The hardware is brass colored plastic – i love brass more than i do food, but this is not brass, my friends. The flooring is linoleum, but i have no idea if its supposed to be that beige or if it’s three years of dirt (although we do clean it so it might just be stained). The countertops are ‘granite’, and frankly the least of my problems, but still not ideal for me.  It was redone 3 years ago. I know.

At least the florescent lighting is flattering.


People congregate in the kitchen, and this lighting makes everyone look wrinkled and sick.  And while ‘wrinkled and sick’ might be coming back, i prefer ‘so youthful and healthy it’s weird’ in my own kitchen.  I always say your house (like an outfit) should flatter you, and florescent lighting does anything but.

The color of the walls is fine, whatever, but looks terrible with everything else.  Again, please take a moment to really let that floor sink in.  I have to not only look at that, but walk on that EVERY DAY.  Oh for shame.

It’s a massive bummer.  When we were looking to upgrade from a one bedroom apartment while we save for a house we had a list of priorities, as follows:

1. In Los Feliz or Silverlake – check, on the border of both.

2. At least 2 bedrooms – check, its 2 plus an sunny office and a dining room that could be another office.

3. Storage  – it has a huge garage and a big driveway for me to do projects.

4. Filled with light  – Check. The living room, office, dining room and foyer all have tons of light, the bedrooms are totally fine.

5 Hardwood floor – Yep, except for this kitchen and the bathroom.  You’d be SHOCKED at how many apartments or houses have carpeting still.  Yucko.

6. Under $2800.  I know.  It’s a fortune, but where you live in Los Angeles directly effects your social life because of traffic, so while we could of course rent a house deep in the valley for $1500, all of our friends live here and it would be social suicide.  And i don’t support suicide in any way, especially if it involves your friends.

What wasn’t on the list? a good kitchen and great curb appeal.  We compromised and sacrificed and i thought i could look past it because i don’t cook, but i’m way too emotionally attached to aesthetics to live this way.

So even though it’s a rental, things are going to change around here.  Full disclosure, i’m pitching this as sponsored content so hopefully i will only spend a lot of my own time, but not money.  I may be superficial and snobby about design but i’m not an idiot (or rich).

I’ve been pinning dream kitchens for a while, and here are some of my faves:

beautiful slab and hood....:)

Love Drew-Barrymore-Kitchen

why not? mixed tiles.

Metallic Kitchen Cabints - via Elle Decor

High gloss kitchen cabinets, patterned tile backsplash, modern + rustic


Right?  So let’s just do that! However there are some problems:

1. It’s a rental property so the budget is not big – in fact the total opposite.

2. It’s a rental property so it can’t be anything too outrageous or my landlord won’t go for it and he won’t approve the plan, let alone help pay for it.

3. It’s a Spanish style home so it needs to have a nod towards an old world style in some way.

This isn’t going to be my dream kitchen, but i know that it can be massively improved without breaking the bank.

So here’s my list of what would be fast, cheap and appropriate:

1. Spray the cabinets white.  I got a quote from my painter for $650 which was lower than i expected, but i’m not sure what the quality would be – need to double check that one.  My cabinets have a lot of flourishes and decorative crap so i’d rather just replace them (or at least the fronts) but that will cost more, obviously.  I can handle most bad things if its white, so i’m thinkin it’ll be good enough.

2. Replace the flooring:

It could be a super simple white linoleum (or click laminate) like above.  YES, i know it will get dirty, but I love a white floor so much and i could bring in throw rugs to help with the dirt situation.

I haven’t started shopping yet, so maybe there are some awesome colored linoleums out there. I’m secretly not even opposed to this blue:

Yes, it’s retro, but it’s also fun and playful.  And again, imagine the cabinetry white, the backsplash a pattern and the floor blue as you look into the kitchen from my entry:

Ignore the rest of the room, the cat on the ground, and the serious lack of styling. The point is that the whole house has this airy white, grey, blue thing happening, but then the kitchen is so dark and dated that it ruins everything. Just EVERYTHING.   If i owned it i would probably splurge on amazing tile or lay wood flooring, but for now i need a cheap unoffensive solution.

3. Paint or tile the backsplash.  I might just paint or do some temporary wallpaper, but If i can get a tile company to donate tile in exchange for press then something like this would be amazing:

It’s just so right.  I’ve been obsessed with it since i first saw it in Domino Magazine 8 years ago.  I love this because while the tile might not necessarily be Spanish or Mediterannean, it feels old world and works with the style of the house, but in a modern color palette.

I’ll go ahead and say it – i think that the permanent fixtures of the house (flooring, walls) shouldn’t be wildly different than the style or era of the house.  If i, all of a sudden, designed a totally contemporary kitchen in this 1920’s Spanish house that has a lot of Hollywood regency detailing, it would look… stupid and random.  I could go simple and classic which would be fine, but nothing too ‘now’ or not a style that directly opposes Spanish – it needs to have a nod to the era or the style.  (which is why i probably won’t do the blue linoleum, now that i think about it).

4. Switch out the lighting.

It needs to be a flush mount fixture or something that doesn’t hang too low since people have to walk underneath it and i’m thinking something that feels 1920 to match the rest of the fixtures in the house.  I kinda love the idea of something antique (which would match the rest of the 1920’s fixtures in the house) and feminine, something with integrity like this:

Or i just do something very temporary that disappears, gets no attention but isn’t offensive.  I have 2 of these left over from a job that i could use:

It’s not the right style for the house, but its free and so simple and classic that nobody is going to arrest me for installing it.  Go ahead, coppers, just try and arrest me.

5. Face out the ‘granite’ with butcher block (or plywood that can be treated like butcher block). I want to make sure that this is in fact very cheap and way cheaper than using ikea countertops, but i’ve heard and read that you can have a facade created that kinda slips over the granite and covers it. This would obviously modernize it, bring in warmth and work way better in my color palette. The granite is fine and i know that a lot of people like it. It’s actually the least of my problems right now.

Open shelving above sink

Butcher block counters and open shelves

I’m going to try to get a sponsor for this bad boy. That way i can have proper before-and-afters and do videos and posts and not waste my money on a rental.  Having a better kitchen for 1 year (that’s when we are hoping to buy) is worth my time. Not wincing everytime i walk into the kitchen would be amazing.

6. Replace the hardware.  I need to do proper sourcing to find the cheapest (without looking cheap) brushed or antique brass hardware, but i will.  Meanwhile if you have a bigger budget check out some from Rejuvenation:

So here’s what i’m thinking as of right now.  I’m sure it will change once i start to do some research and once i get a budget, but i’m officially committed to do at least something to make this kitchen liveable, if not beautiful.

So for those of you who have redone their own kitchen, bring on the warnings and advice. I’ve done total renovations, but never just cosmetic or basic inexpensive upgrades, so any and all advice is helpful.

  1. Michelle

    I considered doing this in our kitchen as a temporary fix until we realized there was wood under 3 layers of linoleum so we tore it out instead. No idea how painted linoleum wears. . . but maybe worth looking into.

  2. angie

    You could do something very similar to the 2nd inspiration picture you've got there – the one with the black on the bottom/green on the top and checkered floors. Just paint the lower cabinets black, take the doors off the uppers and paint the cabinets and wall all the same color green. Dude, you can even get those black and white peel-n-stick floor tiles (although a smaller scale so not as awesome as those floors, close enough). The countertops would probably just blend in and have the same effect as the butcher block does in that photo. All you'd really have to contend with is replacing that fancy, scrolly trim underneath the cabinets over the sink, and the white appliances. Which you could easily get black ones for super cheap on craigslist or at the re-store, which would blend in with black cabinets. For light, keep lamps in mind – little lamps in the kitchen are so cozy.

  3. sara

    Whats with the metal strip in the middle of the kitchen floor!

    YES, Get rid of that vinyl, PRONTO. I bought my house a few years ago and the kitchen, basement landing, bathroom, closet floors, were covered in this vinyl that was old, grungy,dirty. Maybe cute in 1950, but oh so old and un-cleanable. My goal, remove all vinyl. Gutted kitchen and sandblasted floors a year and a half ago. That was much better looking then the vinyl dirty floor. Finally got the new floor this summer. (goal almost accomplished: have to tear it off the stair risers on the basement stairs)

    That blue retro flooring will look nice beside the wooden floors in the other rooms and shine with white cabinets. (I would be afraid of white, scuffs and stuff). The design board looks good!

  4. courtney

    I would love to redo a kitchen. It was on my wishlist when we moved, but the house we fell in love with already had a recently done (and nice) kitchen.

    Oh a side note, I hope you have a good contract with your landlord! I have heard of other bloggers/stylists doing lots of updating and then the landlord decides to sell because it is so much better than previous!

  5. I love all your ideas. That tile is rad! I think the blue vinyl floors would be really fun, too. If it comes down to it, you could just cover the granite with a few (maybe stacked) butcher blocks. I can't wait to see the finished room!

  6. Carmen

    Love your ideas! I can't wait to see how it pans out!

    I am contemplating redoing my rental kitchen too (mine is downright hideous. it makes your current kitchen look like the epitome of perfection). But have so far decided it would cost way too much money to fix to put into a rental. My budget would be even smaller than what you've proposed. Can you share how you established such a great relationship with your landlord? And how the landlord might be willing to pay for some of the updates?

  7. gwen

    i am excited to see what you do! I liked what one other person said up there, take off the top cupboards and leave it open.
    We have been in our rental for 3 years and I have been suffering with an ugly kitchen. I finally decided it is worth it to do a few little things even if we are only here one more year.
    good luck!

  8. Leah

    your moodboard looks great- I can see lots of white, butcher block, and those blue tiles from that Domino pic in your kitchen! oh, and brass somewhere of course. i picked up these brass cabinet pulls for $1.98/each after seeing them on Little Green Notebook: at Home Depot recently for my sad kitchen and they help! good luck and can't wait to see/hear more about the progress!

  9. elz

    Awesome ideas. Our house has red granite counters (not my style or preference-but they were here when we bought), but it is too expensive to relace. I am SO curious about refacing them in butcher block. I mean, so excited I could pee thinking I could have butcher block! Even just on my island. Oh yes, yes yes!!

  10. Hey Emily,

    Here's a link to super-affordable brass cabinet pulls:{keyword}&kwd={keyword}&cm_mmc=shopping-_-googleads-_-pla-_-202241367&ci_gpa=pla#.UHRh3RjgLoA

    And you've worked with ikea before… I wonder if they'd be willing to pitch in with new cabinet door fronts – and maybe also their Tundra floor?

    The blue linoleum could look stunning, with lots of white and what you have going on in the rest of the house, but it may be a little too taste-specific….although, it'd be very cool:

    I'm not sure what your options are with the granite – are you allowed at all to replace them, or you can only temporarily cover them up?

    Anyway, I know you'll come up with something great, and I'm pretty certain folks will donate stuff in exchange for press.


  11. We went through a similar transformation when we moved into our house last year. We thought about living with the bad oak and hideous paint, counter & floors but ultimately couldn't do it. We put in new floors, IKEA butcher block, tile backsplash, had the cabinets sprayed a warm white, and replaced all the hardware including hinges.

    Some thoughts…I live in Des Moines and the cheapest quote I got to spray our cabinets was $1k, which was a fraction of the other quotes. They've held up really well except for where I've been really clumsy and knocked them pretty hard.

    The total for our butcher block was $800, and it's beautiful…definitely worth it. We only sealed it twice, and it cracked by the sink, so we went back and resealed it several more times. Now it's glossy and super durable.

    What about Marmoleum in a low contrast checkerboard for the floors?

    Can't wait to see how it turns out! I love the tile and lighting and hardware you've pictured.

  12. We just moved into a rental a few months ago and the kitchen, which could be seen from the entryway and living and dining rooms, was a dark, dingy 70s disaster. Before we even finished unpacking, we painted the cabinets white and it changed everything. Here's what we learned:

    1. Everyone online says you should remove them cabinet doors and sand the cabinets first, so we did and this makes a huge mess everywhere and takes a lot of time. We had two different areas of the kitchen to do, Phase I and Phase II, so just did the sanding on Phase I. For Phase II we tried just painting them without sanding them first and you can't tell a difference. So skip the sanding.

    2. The paint we used was a recommend one that had a primer in it. That was supposed to save us time, but we ended up having to paint like 5 coats on each side of the doors. That takes awhile because you have to let them dry in between, but I didn't mind the painting part (that said if you can find a better paint where it only takes 1 or 2 coats, that would be easier). Or, if you have the $650 for someone to come in and spray and don't want to waste a weekend or more on painting, even better.

    3. It's totally worth it.

    Good luck! Can't wait to see the finished kitchen.

    p.s. Didn't Orlando once do an amazing black and white vinyl flooring in his rental that just went over the existing floor? That would be awesome.

    p.p.s. For the tile, maybe talk to Lee at Filmore Clark. She's great!

  13. aimee

    I don't have any recommendations or anything, but as a renter myself, I would LOVE to see this start to finish. Our kitchen is this hideous mix of original 50's fixtures in pastels, "arty" primary coloured glass pendant lighting, and the grossest mottled stick-down vinyl flooring known to man. I live vicariously through other people's kitchen renos. Sigh.

  14. I have a 1960's kitchen (think Mad Men kitchen before Don & Betty split, exactly like that) that I am in the process of re-doing on a budget. Our goal is to turn our house into a rental, so we didn't want to put the funds in to replacing the cabinets. We have new/nice tile flooring in the kitchen and all new appliances. I am painting the cabinets bi-color, a color on the bottom, white on top and changing out the hardware. I plan to leave the doors off of two of the cabinets that house my serving items & glasses. We will be using the butcher block counter tops from Ikea and getting a new sink (OMG I can't wait for this part). I'll probably go for the white subway tile as a back splash because it's clean and cheap! My husband is handy so we'll do the work ourselves, including some fixes within the cabinets to make them more functional (like a vertical shelf for my pans). I've been using Pinterest as an idea station, which is a great resource; you can check out my Kitchen Witch board here:
    Good Luck!

  15. decorbuddy

    I am in the same position (looking for inexpensive DIY ideas for the kitchen) but I own my own home. My home was built in 1961 and while I have worked to install and return some vintage fixtures to the home, I am eclectic and not a purist. My sister had quartz countertops overlayed her ceramic tile countertops. Looks nice but was as expensive to buy new, I thought. Have you considered something like cork on the floor (softer ont he tootsies). If you do much cooking and entertaining in the kitchen, concrete floors may get tiring after a awhile on the feet. Love your backsplash idea. Painting out your cabinets in white is a much better solution (cheaper too) for a rental property than buying new (unless it is at the owner's expense). Anxious to see what you come up with.

  16. leslie

    hi emily! :)

    honestly? i'd be redoing that kitchen, pulling colors from the granite counter and keeping it as neutral as possible.
    the reason being, your landlord may have more trouble renting his place out, since your design is much more specific to certain tastes.
    heck, even painting the cabinets gray with brass hardwware, would be awesome.
    you're a talented woman, em.
    make it work for the *gen'l population*

    my .02.

  17. sj

    Do you know what's under the linoleum? I love the photo with the giant painted checkerboard floor- those colors, the chandelier, the whole thing. Awesome! I also love the blue retro linoleum. My big question, because I have this problem in my house too, is how to inexpensively deal with the gross faux granite countertops?! That blue linoleum might be cool? I've read about a concrete product that you can put over laminate. It comes in different colors, some solids. It's not the same as the product that again, mimics stone. I'm afraid to try it, though. If you come up with any good solutions for transforming ugly laminate counter tops please share!!!!!

  18. sj

    PS In a rental kitchen I like the idea of painting a faux tile backsplash. In a Spanish style house you could do something with a Spanish feel. I've looked at a lot of blue and white Mexican tiles- they're so pretty and fresh! You could do a really simple design that would have a big impact. Cheap, impermanent, custom!!!

  19. I had to do this once…and on a tiny budget! I would remove upper cabinet doors and hardware. You need light so I would do all white on the upper and paint the bottom cabinets a deep china blue with "real gold hardware"….but save the old so you can take them with you someday. You can easily lay down the laminate floor tiles, black and white…maybe?? Or even laminate wood (since you're on a budget) The back splash would be awesome in white subway tiles but use charcoal grout instead of white for drama. As far as lighting, I would definitely find matching chandeliers ans spray them in solid white, (add a dimmer switch), for a modern look and lastly, add under counter lights because we all look better in incandescent lighting;)

    I cannot wait to see what you decide!!!


  20. Jen

    We bought our 1968 house last year and it had a new kitchen which is great. Sadly it was not our style at all! The cabinets were even shiner than yours (must have had at least 3 coats of high-gloss poly) and the reddest cherry stain I've ever seen. Our budget was super limited so we painted the cabinets ourselves. We used a high adhesion, high hiding primer (no sanding!) and then white paint. It took two coats of primer and one coat of paint on the frames and I believe 2 coats on the doors. I put a clear wax on top so it wouldn't be super shiny in case the paint had any brush strokes in it. It took about 2 weeks (working during my toddler's naps and nights). New hardware brought the total to about $200 dollars and I LOVE the transformation! It's really amazing what some paint can do! And so far it's held up really well! No scratches, dings etc and that's with a toddler in the house :) Good luck with your transformation!

  21. Stephanie

    Peel and stick tile would be your friend for the floor. Painting cabinets yourself isn't so bad, although I've never painted anything that shiny. Remove the decorative trim above the sink and change out the corner shelves for something modern. The curves look so country and dated. I wouldn't bother covering the counter, I think it's going to look really bulky with how high the counter back is, plus the curve on the one side will complicate things exponentially. We have hideous counters in our house which we're dealing with until we do a whole kitchen makeover next year. The entire kitchen was hideous, but some nuetral flooring and white walls/trim/cabinets made the sort I disappear.

  22. I just cringed when I heard this kitchen was done 3 years ago. Ugh. I had great suggestions till I realized you said you were renting. But a couple of suggestions. I would put in a "temporary" backsplash. Ikea sells floating type panels. Definately switch out the hardware and ceiling light. Good by curtian and if there is anyway you can unscrew that Scalloped valance and put a straight one up there in a contrasting colour or mount over it. Nothing says dated like "scalloped". Still cringing. Possibly if you can afford it install floating floor over the existing one. It can be taken up when you leave. Check the dishwasher very often the panel on the front is reversible if not remove it (very easy) and put your own in there or find someone with a vinyl cutter ( me too bad you were not closer) to make you up something interesting. It's 5:02 am here can't sleep and on my phone. Other wise I'd post a few links of ideas. Also very easy to run mini lights under or above for a bit of drama. If you can take a few doors off and store the safely away install coloured paper or coloured backer stuck on with Velcro for easy removal to add some interest. Same with the bases. Remove a couple of doors and add funky baskets. Break up the kitchen. I would have bare minimum put glass in those little Doors above the sink. Good luck my Dear. P.S. really enjoying your blog. Elaine

  23. That kitchen has a ton of room for improvement, that's for sure! We did a $2,300 reno in our 70s kitchen (appliances included) and it looks so much better. Our neighborhood didn't warrant a super nice kitchen, so we chose to do it as cheap as we could.

    We painted the cabinets ourselves (pain in the butt, but saved us a lot of $) and even removed some cabinet doors where we could so we could have open shelving. That was one of my favorite simple changes.

    I second what Leslie said about doing it as cheaply as possible in neutral colors, since it's a rental and your landlord will love you forever if you do. If you do anything super unique/style specific, I would try to make it something you could remove and take with you, like an awesome rug or light fixture. I vote for a bright white kitchen with some open shelving that you can style with all sorts of awesome dishes, plus a statement rug!

    Can't wait to see what you do. It will be fun to watch the process!

  24. Jill

    I think you need to take off the kitchen cabinet doors and paint everything white, including the walls. Forget about the granite – that's too difficult to deal with and will sort of disappear with all your fabulous styling, and with amazing new hardware and lighting, etc. I think the blue linoleum floors would look great also. I'm sure you could get a sponsor to pay for that!
    Can't wait to see it all done!

  25. val

    I can't wait to see the transformation, but can you please tell me about the chandelier you posted? I acquired one just like it when i bought my home, and it is a mystery to me. Mine has paint on its base and is missing some crystals, but my husband and I adore it.

  26. christa

    Wow, that is quite a project. Ahem. You've got some great ideas going here. If it were me I would want a matte near-white for all the cabinets. Farrow and Ball White Tie? And I think the entire wall of uppers on the sink wall should be replaced open shelves, maybe the same wood as the counters. Butcher block counter covers sounds amazing and I would love to see how that is done.

    For the floors – no laminate, no vinyl, no beige, no peel and stick, no checkerboard. Just no. I do wonder what is under the laminate – if it's wood, just sand it smooth and wax it or paint it. If it's not wood, then I like the blue Marmoleum idea. Good luck on getting sponsors!

  27. Sarah

    I saw these on Craigslist and immediately thought of you. (How weird is it that I think of a total stranger when I see brass? Don't answer that.) I feel like you need those in your life.

  28. Martha

    I was going to suggest the Armstrong tiles that were in Catilin Wilson's Design Sponge sneak peak as well! They look awesome–kind of like marble. But if there is hardwood under the linoleum that is worth redoing, going that route would be best.

    I wouldn't cover the granite, it just seems like a waste of a material that is still functional, requires a significant amount of resources to extract and is in demand. Either ask the landlord if you can replace it with butcher block (and sell the granite on Craigslist to recoup some costs) or work around it. If the cabinetry is painted white and you add an awesome backsplash, maybe the countertops won't look so bad?

  29. Della

    We bought an old house in Toronto two years ago.

    The previous owner had redone the kitchen with a budget one. She'd put as little money as possible in.

    It was dark brown cabinetry, with black iron handles, a "baby poo" paint colour and stainless steel countertops (hate! they look dirty all the time). She had simply ripped up the old linoleum and stained the subfloor chocolate brown (old wood planks – sounds sexy but really it's not). Along one wall where there should have been a wall of cabinetry sat the fridge – all alone.

    We wanted to gut the kitchen but the space was totally usable, the appliances were new and we don't have the money to do what we wanted now. So we decided to do some small updates.

    First, we painted the cabinets and walls white. This made the biggest difference. Suddenly the room was bright and airy.

    Then we painted the wood sub floor a robin's egg blue. I normally wouldn't have done this but it was a crappy subfloor and we figured this was a chance to do something fun. The planks look much better now.

    We replaced the hardware with some from Anthropologie and swapped out the lighting with classic pendants. We sewed up some curtains (vintage sunny yellowy fabric) and bought a vintage buffet off Craigslist for $200 to fill that sad empty wall next to the fridge and suddenly our least favourite room in the house was our favourite.

    We spent about $1,000 total (fortunately there was nice subway tile backsplash and we didn't need to replace the appliances) and it's totally livable for the next few years. I figure we can live with it for five years so that's about $200 a year for a nicer kitchen.

    I learned that making a few small changes can make the biggest difference and that when we decide to gut the kitchen that we should do it full on – not halfway – to make sure we have a space that we love.

  30. leslie

    hi, it's me again, leslie – the one who advised you to keep countertop and decorate around that, for gen'l population.
    oh you remember me? good. ;)

    emily, even though i know you love a good bargain, it sounds like you seriously don't understand what a *good bargain* is. :)
    i have read your blogs for a long time…and your version of a "bargain" remains much more costly than my version, lol.
    yes, you have gotten some great deals but there are ways to seriously spend less than what your kitchen budget is.
    i think that's what many of us are trying to share with you.

    i just thought of quarry tile for your floor.
    it is very inexpensive, comes in different colors, and is definitely appropriate to the spanish decor going on.
    you can get this stuff for less than $3/sq ft.

    redoing your floors, keeping the counter, painting cabinets and removing a couple of doors…
    and getting vintage lighting on ebay – oh my gosh- i have gotten some STUPENDOUS vintage lighting for little money…
    and am kicking myself in the ass for giving some of it away, lol.
    i'm talking about a vintage crystal and (real) brass chandelier (hundreds of crystals) for $30 and change.
    i spent $60 to get it rewired and a while later, some guy offered me $900 for it.
    he had planned to turn around and resell it for…eh… i don't know how much.

    seriously there is soooo much you can do with this kitchen, for A LOT less money.
    think about it, will you please?
    and keep us updated?
    i sense that many of us just love a good deal.

    blessings be. <3

  31. Jessica

    My comment is more of a question: Is there a product that you can paint on to avoid being able to see the wood grain of the cabinets? I'm thinking some sort of filler/primer of sorts? I want to paint my cabinets myself but am really against having the woodgrain showing through the paint. Oh and I think you should do the white IKEA laminate for the floors. Thanks!

  32. S@sha

    I don't think you'll have any problem getting some good sponsors. Hopefully good enough that your landlord will agree to let them gut the kitchen and start again. I mean c'mon, you've met the Kitchen Cousins, pitch them a special episode. On a practical note, be careful if you actually remove your vinyl, in an older house its likely that there will be asbestos tiles underneath. Why not cover it with the same IKEA floor that you put in your dining room/office? Also, if your landlord says no painting the cabinets (could happen, lots of people think any real wood is better than painted wood), I would take all the doors off and paper the insides with contact paper, then put little curtains on the lowers, a la some French country house.

  33. I have done ONLY cosmetic renovations, and dream of a GUT wonder job. Some day. Our current kitchen is 50% done, the longest kitchen reno of all time (kids, braces, soccer…leaky roof- lots of things keep bumping it back) Our first year here, we rented then bought after a year. The old kitchen was 40 years old. and the landlord gave us a small budget to upgrade. We: painted cabinets, replaced hardware (ebay) vinyl fllor remnant actually pretty hip and I HATE vinyl…boring formica countertops and new appliances… that bought us 6 years of okay…. and last year I actually had all new doors made by a guy I found online…. the boxes are fine, I like the layout and the new doors gave the whole kitchen a new look. I put subway tile backsplash in and will do the whole room when I get the countertops…I am doing faux marble formica, please don't wince…I just cannot see putting real anything in 40 year old a kitchen I would gut if my ship comes in, but like you, I want to be happy when I walk in. Got some great lighting very J Adler at Lowes of all places…splurged on hardware at Restoration, it can be recycled in a nicer kitchen. all stainless, although I wish I could hold out for the next big thing cause I think stainless is completely over rated and a pain to keep clean. I tried white however and it looked terrible, like someone GAVE me the appliance and that is why I used it. so stainless it is. You prob have the appliances included. last the floor I want to do either brick or outdoor slate, will look more rugged and fit with out 130 year old house.
    I hope I have helped!
    Good luck, it sounds exciting and I know whatever you do will look amazing!!!

  34. Love the way the entire apartment has been designed and organized, it really seems to have a great influence on the buyers…

  35. sarah

    Like everyone else, I can't wait to see what you do. We don't own yet but I can imagine when we do, we'll probably be in a similar situation. My top ideas for counter tops are
    -ikea butcher block
    -stainless steel from a local steel worker (idea from YHL reader)
    -casting concrete over existing formica.

    I've seen painted floors and it sorta looks cheap, but would be easy-ish.

    Good luck!

  36. Hi Emily!

    WOW – yuck. But seriously, YOU can paint the cabinets! You do all kinds of awesome stuff. Use a Wagner spray painter. Remove the doors & all hardware. Lay the doors down flat on a drop cloth (i recommend doing this outside as over spray can get crazy). Test it to get a feel for it of course. I used a light grey high gloss paint & it looks amazing. Just be sure to let the doors dry completely between coats & turning them over. Carefully hand paint the frames & you've got picture perfect painted cabinets. I can send a photo if you like. I literally just had someone ask at a party this weekend who we hired to paint them because they look perfect! The wagner is your friend!

  37. hey, that's my white dining room! so happy you like it. i am still madly in love with my floor. despite the upkeep.

  38. Lisa Hargus

    I love your posts and this one in particular really got the ideas flowing!
    Here is a nice blue floor which your post reminded me of… though I have to say we used the crescendo stick-on vinyl tiles (recommended above) over hideous rental floors and it got us through the next year or so.
    One key to keeping the crescendo from screaming "digitally approximated fake stone" was to identify the 3 or 4 basic patterns and to lay them out randomly to prevent the dejavu of the same "random tile" repeated side by side.
    Also I remember this new-ish encaustic tile company that seems to be open to social media publicity opportunities. I spoke to them about a year ago and they were developing a version for a backsplash/wall application: might be worth checking out?
    I did an Ikea heavy kitchen renovation and found if you must replace the counter tops, it is hard to beat the pricing of their butcher block counter tops. We sealed ours with vapor-loc (sp?) tung oil and it really looks gorgeous.
    Best of luck!

  39. How exciting! Here are my tips:
    1. Lino flooring is inexpensive and durable-you could do peel and stick or sheet vinyl in pretty much any color you can think of.
    2. I think painting the cabinets is good-it takes forever. Replacing the doors or even refacing them would add a lot, but it would be an undertaking. I think it's worth it though.
    3. Maybe mix in open shelving (since you're so good at styling) with the closed cabinets? You can get inexpensive shelving from IKEA or Home Depot. It would help open up the little kitchen a lot, and it allows you to infuse more of your style in it.
    4. If you replace hardware but don't replace cabinet fronts, get hardware that's the same sizes as existing-it never looks good to redrill, it's difficult to patch and a total pain.
    5. If you switch out plumbing fixtures, cabinet hardware and lighting using the same existing conditions they have now, you could switch them back when you move.
    6. I like the idea of wallpapering or painting the backsplash area:)

  40. Jennjo

    I'm afraid if I was your landlord, I'd say no to the blue, as I can't live with blue. I think it would be best if you stay with neutrals, white, gray, black… so future renters can put their own colors in there as accessories. If you do use that backsplash tile, which I agree is very pretty and "modern yet traditional", what about a black and white or gray and white pattern rather than blue and white? Or go with a white textured tile. Or, if you really need the blue, a blue stencilled backsplash would be pretty, and also easily changed in the future. What about a whitewashed wood-look laminate floor, or is that too country for your taste? I agree the granite isn't very attractive, but I doubt the landlord would be open to changing it, unless you were able to get a replacement surface of equivalent value, such as a solid color granite or quartz, and get it paid for somehow.

  41. Suzy

    Wow, that is one ugly kitchen. I feel your pain. I wouldn't put a white floor in a kitchen. I just got rid of my white tile floor, halleluyah. Whte floors have to be cleaned constantly, even if you don't cook. Especially if you have a husband and a dog. I'm sorry about those granite counter tops too, they look like mold. I've seen that granite at Home Depot, ugh. If you could replace, I like the butcher block option. They sell butcher block on Amazon, I got an amazing piece for my island. I bet once you fix the floor and paint the cabinets you will feel a lot better. I love your style and I'm looking forward to seeing your fixes for this room.

  42. Elaine

    The granite is actually quite nice you just have to put the right colours with it. If your landlord will let you paint your very fortunate. I think I miss read the article earlier and thought these cabinets were just installed 3 years ago…cream white cabinetry or more of a taupie for lack of better words might do the top justice. :) good luck.

  43. Elaine

    The granite is actually quite nice you just have to put the right colours with it. If your landlord will let you paint your very fortunate. I think I miss read the article earlier and thought these cabinets were just installed 3 years ago…cream white cabinetry or more of a taupie for lack of better words might do the top justice. :) good luck.

  44. Elaine

    hey check out this link here's a fairly easy option…blue walls that can be painted over when you leave and possibly find an easy way to do this floor with some paint and tape and paint out the cabinets. chick out this link

  45. I'm having a similar conundrum, so I"m eager to see how things go here. Any chance you know who make the covetable 8 years ago Domino mag tile? I really really love it.

  46. Kristie

    First of all, love your style! I just purchased an apartment in Boston which will serve as a second, "just-for-fun" home, so I will be redesigning it on a budget (somewhat) as well. My apartment has original wood floors from 1900, but unattractive tile in the kitchen and bath. For tile replacement, I will most likely buy sheets of plywood (nice grain/quality), have them cut into large squares and lay them on a diagonal. Paint will likely be applied checkerboard style and then distressed. I'll use large bolts to secure the squares to add industrial flare. We had a similar floor installed in our CA home; it was designed by Kenneth Brown. The floor was fabulous and only $800 for a really large space!

    My kitchen cabinets are laminate. I have two ideas thus far: framing each door with painted moulding and selecting a fun fabric(s) for inserts, or using vintage paintings, signs, salvaged windows, doors etc. Open shelving will be utilized as well and possibly beadboard or metal to cover the cabinet frame.

    In all, these ideas could end up being quite inexpensive, and I hope fabulously fun!

  47. leslie

    so em…what's the scoop?
    have you decided anything re kitchen reno?

  48. Marlo

    We bought a new home a year ago, and the cabinet options were shaker in maple, some espresso color, or thermafoil white. The white was an "upgrade", but not real wood and way too shiny, so we went with the maple shaker cabinets knowing we'd have them sprayed white immediately upon getting keys. They look about ten thousand times better, although, a year later, they're starting to show a bit of wear. $650 sounds like a really good price- I think we paid nearly $2000 for a small kitchen and two bathroom vanities.

    The guys took off all the cabinet doors, worked in the evenings in the garage spraying some super expensive but very durable paint (color matched to Martha Stewart's Picket Fence), and it took about a week. Seeing how long it took them and how much sanding was required in between coats, and how perfectly smooth it turned out made us really glad we didn't do it ourselves. They didn't, however, fill in the gaps between the panels, and that's impossible to do afterwards.

    White Corian countertops were standard, and although I'd die for Carrera marble countertops and a farmhouse sink, the Corian is very durable and I like the look well enough. Much better than granite- hah! We replaced vinyl with a really pretty multi-toned acacia hardwood that we ran throughout the first floor, which added some warmth to an all white and stainless kitchen. On brass hardware- Restoration Hardware has had theirs on sale for quite a while now- not sure if it's the right brass, though. We used their polished nickel hardware, but it's also starting to show some corrosion, weirdly.

    Still no backsplash because I can't decide between marble subway tiles or something more colorful and interesting in a Moroccan quatrefoil type shape.

    Anyway, can't wait to see yours! We lived in a rental for 4 years with a terrible kitchen and fluorescent lighting and hated it everyday.

  49. Shavonda @ AHomeFullOfColor

    Im knee deep in a cosmetic upgrade kitchen reno myself. We own our house, but it isnt our forever home and we are happy with the overal layout of the space so we werent looking to do a total gut job. We chose to work with what we already have. Not a huge fan of our corian countertops but they are in good shape. Our cabinets were in great shape but we hated the finish so we painted the uppers white and lowers grey, took off the doors on a few to create the open shelving look since our original plan to remove cabinets and do true open shelving went bust. We added inexpensive ikea hardware to the drawers which i am planning to rub n buff to give them the look of brass or aged metal. We are also installing a marble, stone, and glass tile backsplash and a new faucet. The only "real" monetary investments we are making are new appliances and hardwood floors to replace (our possibly worse than yours) linoleum floors. Since you are in a rental i would consider vinyl tiles to cover the lino flooring. Also I would remove as many upper cabinets as you can possbily remove and still function in it. That alone will breathe new life into the kitchen. Sine the house is a spanish style, maybe you could replace the uppers with some thick dark wood stained semi-distressed floating shelves. Either way I cant wait to see what you do!

  50. anon

    There was no happier day than when I gutted my rental kitchen. Now it is so much more functional and I actually spend time in there because it looks great too. I didn't spend a ton – painted white floor, butcher block, small sized appliances and subway tile, ripped out the uppers, put in shelves and a refurbished vintage china cabinet works as a pantry.

    When you put granite in quotation marks, I assume you mean faux granite. I just came across this at a client's rental. It is a cheap particleboard-esque replica of the exact real granite in my other clients kitchen – and I have to confess, I hate them both. I'm not a fan of most granites aesthetically speaking, so I was disappointed to see someone thought it was a good idea to produce it in 'faux' as well. I bought my butcher block from IKEA. I hope they will help you out so that you can afford to do it. Good luck!

  51. Virginia Mom

    Hey, Emily,

    Those cabinets are very solid-looking. No doubt, the frames are veneered particle-board, but the doors are worth keeping. Mine were very similar, builder-grade, solid oak doors, with Cathedral arch on the uppers, in a nice, orangey, grainy, glossy polyurethane. Gag. I am a landlady and I allow my tenants to paint because I want them to be happy and take pride in my properties. If you ask, you may find that you're allowed to make some changes.

    You can paint the cabinets yourself — go for it. It's therapeutic and not hard. All you need is a folding table, and a couple of boards with nails poking out to rest the doors on (so you can paint both sides — do the interior side first, then flip.) Do not sand the doors — it gets dust into the corners. Use "Liquid Sandpaper" which is a deglosser. Rub it on with an old t-shirt, let it get tacky for 10 min., then start priming. I used 3 coats of ivory-tinted primer and 2 top-coats of Behr Creamy White semi-gloss. $17 per gallon. I added light rail, a few corbels and some crown molding. Most cut by hand on a little miter box and attached with Liquid Nails and a few finishing nails. All. By. My. 50-year-old. Self. An open bottle of Chardonnay helped tremendously. My kitchen makes me smile now.

    Hope you go for it!

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