4 Ways to Spruce Up An Ugly Rental Kitchen

This is not going to be the prettiest of posts, but in an effort to keep it real around here- I wanted to share my least favorite room in the apartment… the kitchen. While it’s certainly looking better than move in day (see below), it’s no gorgeous white and bright kitchen like in my last apartment. 

But I’ve made a few tweaks to distract from the ugliest elements. So if you have an unsightly rental kitchen… check out the tips below!

Note: If you notice a small difference, the dishwasher has changed. It ended up being completely defective so it was replaced with the black one shortly after I moved in. 

1) Hide the ugly tile: this tile is some terrible shade of salmon. So one of the first things I did was put this West Elm runner down to hide most of it.

2) Keep it clutter-free: A bad kitchen can look even worse if it’s full of clutter and stuff piled up on the counters, so keeping it tidy really helps.

3) Distract from the ugly counters: I have a nice knife block, modern coffee maker, stainless steel toaster oven, marble paper towel holder and my DIY ‘marble’ utensil holder. Everyday items, but it helps when they are pleasing to the eye and they can distract from the ugly counters.

4) Keep it neutral: Almost everything in this kitchen is black and white. This keeps the space looking a little more uniform and put together. 

Hope those tips were helpful! If I owned this apartment, I would gut this space in a second (and knock out that wall on the left!) but sometimes you just have to make the best of it and work with what you already have. 

HGTV Feature! Small Space Tips

Exciting news! I have a small feature on HGTV today! The writer reached out to me a couple months ago about one of my posts and I was thrilled. It’s a quick little round up of small space tips from design bloggers and I’m honored to be included. Check it out here:

15 Clever Small Space Tips from Design Bloggers


My counter top over the stove solution from my last apartment is highlighted in this article along with great tips and solutions from other bloggers. Head over and check it out! There’s also a little interview blurb about the solution if you click on ‘read more’ underneath the photo (mine is #8 in the gallery).  IMG_4862 IMG_4865I hope this is just one of many features to come! So nice to be recognized by such a big voice in the design industry. Thanks to HGTV and thanks to my amazing readers (new and old) for continuing to follow along!



Year One: Kitchen

If you missed any posts from last week, check out the Year One series where I covered the entryway, living and dining areas. Moving on to the kitchen! This probably looks the most similar to move in day but I’ve made quite a few subtle changes in this small space.

Here’s a look at the empty kitchen when I first viewed this apartment:2014-08-15 17.23.25 Surrounded with moving boxes:2014-08-16 09.43.39 Putting a few things away in the cabinets on moving day. I can’t imagine life without this lovely little shelf riser insert (whatever it’s actually called). I might get another one for my next place. They are so helpful for those with limited cabinet space. 2014-08-16 09.59.34  Then I changed out the hardware for brass cabinet and bin pulls:2014-08-27 19.58.31 2014-08-28 21.37.13    Added a new coffee maker (brewstation):2014-09-06 12.37.04-1 Used some of the leftover decals from the entryway on this beam:2014-09-01 18.21.05 Added art and dish towels:2014-11-09 14.32.30 Made a quick and easy DIY painted vase to hold pens, scissors and dry erase markers:2014-11-07 20.27.55 Also made a faux terrarium:2014-10-26 19.16.32 Organized my mail mess and changed a couple items on the small window ledge:2015-03-15 13.00.43 Finally purchased my amazing kilim runner:2015-05-10 19.13.21 2015-05-10 19.13.41 2015-05-10 19.14.49 Found a quick and easy solution for extra counter space:IMG_4862 Organized my drawers:2015-02-09 16.53.30  And here’s the final look! a3UgMokV4YI61bVnFjIA_GiIZghoKQ-VJF_MlWWrFfk qgebYjh9MVzIvO7Q0fcxPVRKn64xStuvw_ztVXbrfzw DLXhiI0PWPH5iYYYshsI2Eb3qeoSeftw3c3ehTo0at0  jKD4ApftgK3lI4OACVWM8eyN4e4UUOBo18XZ8E95x8s jffR-1-JGg0FeVY90YCDZu_EZZhAJvO26GEtyU4K8RM 7xN3SHqV7UY8Zwb-QUOiFWwjnpZLc92TyU-wQEkLq-o Nf27QUa5KMjZP0-YeVLC883sZVE7wbI9z3Iw0AnoDSM      V0f1V9oAuXb-BwkL-1ighRzO-jKELePdpoNNTLOXKlw pJb7bZ2e6urIDZ9iDgdYT_jhl-kcX-GM8ylCd2ISEkw

Check back tomorrow for the last post in the Year One series.. the bedroom/office area.

How to Instantly Double Your Kitchen Counter Space

While I love my kitchen, it’s certainly lacking in counter space. I really only have a small section between the range and the sink and the only other counter space is the island. I often find myself setting things on top of the burners when I run out of room. So, I’ve been in search of a solution to utilize the range as an extra work space without an ugly cover or an expensive slab of granite or marble. 2015-03-15 12.24.38-1IMG_4867

Enter: the Ikea “as is” section! There’s a small little area near the checkouts where they have discounted damaged items for final sale, weird sized pieces of wood, etc. I forgot to measure my stove before going, but I found a white piece (that actually looks exactly like my dining table) with zero damage/markings for only $2.99. It seemed close enough to the size of my stove, and if it happened to be too big or small, it wasn’t a huge risk at that price. I brought it home and to my delight, it’s almost the exact size. There is a bit of overhang at the front, but nothing too significant. This piece is perfect for extra work space. It’s heavy and sturdy enough not to move around and the plain white color works well with the rest of the kitchen.

IMG_4862 IMG_4863 IMG_4865I‘m so glad I found this piece and for a few dollars, I now have a great deal of extra “counter” space. If you have a similar problem, I would definitely suggest checking out the “as is” section at Ikea or your local tile/stone place to see if they have remnants or samples that will allow you to cover your range for an extra work space.

Update: this project was recently featured! Check out the post here.featured_button

DIY Memo Board Revisited

I made a little DIY memo board over a year ago and it’s survived two apartments and I use it every day. It’s a great place to jot down a grocery list, keep track of workouts and other to-dos. I’ve stuck mine to my fridge with 3M velcro strips, but these could go just about anywhere, from a door to an office wall or whatever works for you. Simply buy a frame and throw in something for a background and use the glass as a dry-erase board. Works with the same markers and wipes off easily. (I even took my gold leaf pen and added a little decorative trim around the inside of the frame)2015-04-26 16.41.24 2015-04-26 16.41.25

After a year + of looking at this every day, it started to look messy and chaotic. I originally threw the fabric samples in there as a temporary solution until I found another alternative, but never ended up switching them out. Thanks to some leftover gift wrap from my DIY Floral Art project, I had just enough to fit in the frame! I love this pattern and now can enjoy it in my apartment and my office. A few photos of the new look below and how to use it for to do lists, etc. 2015-04-26 16.53.10 2015-04-26 16.53.25 2015-04-26 16.54.36

Design Trend: Tuxedo Cabinets

Tuxedo cabinets are a huge trend right now and it seems like they are here to stay. I absolutely love the look of light upper cabinets paired with dark lower cabinets. Add in some marble countertops and brass hardware and you’ve got my ultimate dream kitchen!

Starting off with some inspiration from Young House Love, though this isn’t the traditional ‘tuxedo’ look, the large navy island brings great contrast to the light grey cabinets.


One of my favorite blogs, Elements of Style, has a more understated take on this trend with white upper cabinets and grey lower cabinets.


I’m not usually a fan of this shade of blue, but paired with the light upper cabinets and amazing tile, I really love this look.


Green cabinets are a bold design choice, but it couldn’t have paid off any better. It’s the perfect shade and I love the use of mixed metals in this kitchen. It’s the perfect example of just enough without overdoing it. The brass hardware, copper accessories and stainless steel appliances all work well together.


These last two photos are the more traditional tuxedo style of white uppers and dark blue or black lowers. It adds such visual interest to kitchens of all sizes and I hope this trend becomes a staple in every home in the next few years.


Click here for more trendy posts: Design Trends

Design Trend: Black Ceilings

I’ve already covered black walls and black trim in past posts, but I’m currently obsessed with black ceilings. It works well in almost any room, though bathrooms and kitchens are my favorite. When paired with white walls or tile, a few pops of color and metallics (especially brass), black ceilings look elegant, expensive and classic. It gives the illusion of an open space and taller ceilings. The black color draws your eyes upwards and creates an endless height effect. I’ve selected a few of my favorite examples below. Hope you love this trend as much as I do!