Affordable Ways to Update a Rental Kitchen

Remodelista editor Meredith wanted to perform a a miracle rental remodel on her San Francisco apartment kitchen with paint. At first, she contemplated painting the cabinets (faux- mahogony) —but backed down for fear of a incurring a damage fee. Instead, she painted her kitchen walls a dark gray, elevating her kitchen cabinets into a more stately mahogany.

Here’s how Meredith upgraded her rental kitchen in an efficient and affordable way.

Above: She painted the walls in Benjamin Moore’s Galveston Gray, which blends in with the cabinets reducing their  prominence.

Copper Tea Kettle and Heath Ceramics Bowls and Bud Vases, Remodelista

Above: Anchored by her grandmother’s copper kettle, Meredith’s collection of Heath ceramics are displayed against a moody gray backdrop.

Mini Apples in Heath Ceramics Bowl with Pear, Remodelista

Above: A few of her favorite things go a long way to upgrading her kitchen: a Heath Covered Serving Dish in Moonstone, a tea towel from Enormous Champion, and a $9 Ikea Magasin dish drainer.

Glass Mini Bowls and Painted Ceramic Bowl with Matches, Remodelista

Above: Miniature glass bowls for mixing spices.

Ikea Drawers Painted as Spice Chest with Heath Ceramics Bowl, Remodelista

Above: Meredith painted this small storage Ikea wood cabinet in Benjamin Moore’s Iron Mountain, which pairs well with the walls and gray bowl.

Fog Linen Napkins and Serving Spoon and Cutting Board Hanging on Wall, Remodelista

Above: Meredith keeps kitchen essentials within reach; on the wall above the sink are napkins, a cutting board, and serving spoon—all hung from oversized nails.


Above: A before shot showing the kitchen’s original blue-green walls and orange cabinets.

Above: Painting helped Meredith to prioritize what’s kept on view and what’s behind closed doors. Here, a before shot showing the open shelves.

Explore more palettes in 10 Moody Paint Picks and 10 Happiness-Inducing Paint Colors.


janet t.
janet t3 years ago

very nice!

Donna Ferguson
Donna F3 years ago


Jody B.
Jody B3 years ago


Elena T.
Elena Poensgen3 years ago

Thank you :)

Vrishni S3 years ago

Thank you.

Ana Marija R.
ANA MARIJA R3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Patricia H.
Patricia H.3 years ago

thanks for sharing

Aud Nordby
Aud nordby3 years ago


Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se3 years ago


Robert O.
Robert O3 years ago

Those are nice suggestions since a little change can go a long way and so many of us are apartment dwellers on tight budgets. Thanks!