Here is the same space today!
My goals for this space were to open it up, make it brighter and breathe some whimsy into it by decorating with things we love.
I know what you are thinking- “she said she couldn’t paint the cabinets!?” Well, I did NOT paint the cabinets. It was not an option. We are renting for a short time and the owners weren’t interested in making any permanent changes to their kitchen.
Stick with me.
The first thing I did to open up the space was move the refrigerator to a new spot. It was not a counter-depth fridge and it stuck so far out into what was already a very limited space, it was literally screaming out to me “get me outta here!” It was easily repositioned to the opposite wall. This made room for the bench we had as seating at the breakfast table at our old house.
This kitchen is clearly too small for an island and I wanted a spot for my husband and baby to sit and hang out and chat with me while we cook meals. The bench fit perfectly into the spot previously occupied by the fridge.
I also put the small white armoire in the kitchen-it was in our bathroom at the old house. It offers additional storage and is directly opposite the fridge now which just expanded the footprint of the kitchen nicely.
My original plan with the cabinets was to remove the upper cabinet doors and to skirt the lower cabinets. Removing the upper cabinets doors was very easy. Took about ten minutes, one screw driver, and removing a few dozen screws. Everything is carefully stored so that we can reaffix the doors in a snap when our lease is up. When the doors came down, however, the kitchen just looked worse. Not just small and dark but small, dark and cluttered (and with someone else’s stuff!!)
I boxed and labeled and moved the homeowner’s things to the finished basement. This made room for our things. Then I pared things down majorly. I only kept out the things that I need/use regularly and that are nice to look at-anything ugly got stashed in the lower cabinets that are covered or was sold at a garage sale prior to the big move.
Here is where things went white I started by putting white contact brand shelf paper down on the bottoms of those upper cabinets. The homeowners already had old white shelf paper down but it had seen better days (like 1972). The new shelf paper looked so nice and clean and crisp and was so easily removed after installing (I checked it carefully!!!!) that I . . . yes, I did . . . I covered every inch of those upper cabs in shelf paper. You can slipcover a sofa. Why not a kitchen? (or so I rationalized) It cost $10.00 in shelf liner (Target) and I used my quilting tools (rotary cutter and mat) to measure and cut the paper in the right size strips. It really did not take all that long. Probably because this kitchen is so tiny! I also broke up the work and did bits and pieces over a period of several weeks as we were busy moving things into the house.
This was not a perfect job by any means. I suppose you don’t need to worry about things like a perfect finish when you are the girl who is contact papering her kitchen. (or so I rationalized!!! again!)
Before long I was able to move all of my pretty kitchen things into my newly white cabinets.
Here is another before and after of one area of cabinetry:
I also included family photos printed in sepia. I love being able to see these displayed during everyday meal prep, life, etc. It really took this kitchen from being a temporary rental into a space filled with our family.
So there you have it. A rental kitchen, transformed without any permanent changes to cause issues with our landlord, and done for less than $100. All of my goals were met in this project, most importantly,
it feels just like us!
It feels like home.