Inspiration > Kitchen & Bath

The Dreaded Apartment Kitchen

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It’s the one thing you just have to deal with when you move into an apartment. You can paint walls and hang pictures, but when it comes to the kitchen, what you see is what you get. I moved into an apartment and loved everything about it…except the kitchen (but it wasn’t a deal breaker). I just have to get creative and fix it up without changing the cabinets, hardware, appliances, counters or pretty much anything! But it can be done.




Adding Visual Interest and a More Open Space
The first problem I addressed was the cabinets. My landlord wouldn’t let me paint them or add hardware so I decided to remove a few of the doors to showcase my colorful dishes. I also used this space for things I use every day such as tea, coffee and cookbooks.

This was really easy to do. Using a power screwdriver, I removed the screws and the doors just popped right off. I removed and washed off the shelves. Then I cut some black wrapping paper and used some sticky tack to place it on the back of the cabinet. I dropped the shelves back in and put my dishes up. It’s not a 5-star kitchen, but it looks better than it did!


Adding a Colorful Backsplash
The next thing I tackled was the backsplash or lack there of. I didn’t really want to paint the backsplash because it would be a real pain to paint at the end of my lease. I did a little searching and found some great removable wallpaper tiles. The trick is to use a level and make sure you start at one end and work your way to the other, row by row. I was able to remove them a few times until I got each one perfectly level. I was able to complete this project in about three hours.

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Fixing an Uneven Space
Our kitchen is on the first floor of our apartment, which happens to be the basement. There is a tiny window above the sink that really doesn’t serve a purpose. I went ahead and took some extra fabric from my dining room chairs and made a valence to cover the unusual spacing where the small window is. I just purchased a tension rod and placed it near the ceiling.

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Bumping Up Counter Space
I cook a lot, and with a tiny kitchen, I seem to run out of counter space in no time. I looked around for ways to create a little more area for slicing and dicing up my vegetables. I noticed there was a little bit of room between the fridge and the pantry door. I measured the space and found that I could easily fit a kitchen cart or table. I found a plain wooden table that folded out if I needed even more space! The table was built of a light colored wood, so I bought some black spray paint in a matte finish and painted the bottom. It fits perfectly and I use it all the time.


Creating a Message Board
One of the last things I added was a chalkboard wall. The path from the living room into the kitchen was pretty bland so I purchased some chalkboard paint and covered the small wall leading into the kitchen. This wall is easy to get to and only took me about 10 minutes to paint, so I won’t have to spend a lot of time painting it back when I move out.

As you can see, when we have friends visit, it gets used quite a bit. Everyone seems to love a chalkboard wall. Click here for a video on priming walls for painting.

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All it takes is a little creativity and a few tools from your local hardware store to turn a dreary, old apartment kitchen into a colorful, useful space.

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Whitney Daulton
More about Whitney Daulton

Whitney is the art director at NRHA and oversees the development, branding and design for all of the association’s magazines, marketing campaigns and websites. She spends a lot of time with her staff looking for new ideas to keep the association up to speed with the latest design trends and technology. She enjoys spending time in the cultural district, downtown Indianapolis finding unique items at small shops, trying local restaurants and biking or walking her two small dogs on the trails around the city. Her love of downtown convinced her to move into a vintage townhouse apartment with her best friend just a couple blocks from her favorite shops in the area. Living so close to shopping and fine dining has made a dent in her budget, but Whitney still looks for ways to make her apartment warm and inviting. White walls are forbidden in her household, so she has been using her weekends to update the apartment without spending a lot of money and sticking to the boundaries of her lease agreement. Not always easy. She believes that color and style are the keys to a happy, comfortable home!

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8 responses to “The Dreaded Apartment Kitchen”

  1. Layne Lavett says:

    where did you find wallpaper tiles? Ive never heard of such and I love the way they look on your backsplash

  2. heather ellixson says:

    Where do you purchase these removable tiles from? I’m interested in doing this myself.

  3. April says:

    Please share where you found these tiles, I just love them!

  4. L. Love says:

    Thank-you, such great ideas, loved them!

  5. L. Love says:

    Thanks so much, Beautiful

  6. Lisa says:

    Would love to know where I can find the Wallpaper tiles?

  7. Vamuleto says:

    Loved the wallpaper tiles. Where did you get them?
    Have you tried to removed them after a few months? If so, was the wall intact?
    Thank you,

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