26 DIY Renter Friendly Kitchen Makeover Ideas

kitchen hardware and countertop styling

Just because you have a rental lease does not mean you are prohibited from adding personality, style, and warmth to your kitchen. It just means that you have limitations and restrictions on what you can do with the space. While it is unlikely that the landlord will allow you to remove the floors or change the cabinets, you can still make some small renter-friendly kitchen upgrades that can greatly impact your space. No more settling for a dull, boring, and dated kitchen.

So get ready to jazz up your kitchen with style and functionality with these quick and easy DIY renter friendly kitchen makeover ideas. Easily make these affordable changes without risking your security deposit. Just don’t forget to put everything back the way you found it when you are ready to move out.

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Rental Kitchen Makeover Ideas

1. Replace kitchen cabinet hardware

Think about the number of times you close your kitchen cabinets on a daily basis. Now couple that with how many times it was touched by the tenant before you dating back to the 90s – maybe even the 80s. The likely answer is – a lot. Well, spruce up those worn cabinets by changing out the cabinet hardware for new shiny knobs or handles.

You can update the color to this oil-rubbed bronze knob finish or this modern gold handle. The color finish you choose will give your kitchen an instant update. No money? No Problem. Just spray-paint the existing handle for a fresh new look.

kitchen hardware and countertop styling

2. Remove cabinet doors

Okay, so you want a more dramatic change to your kitchen cabinets but can’t paint them or remodel them. Try removing the cabinet doors to create the illusion of open shelving. Open shelving is trendy right now. Temporarily get this look and make the cabinets the kitchen’s focal point. Display your cute dishware, glassware, and appliances. This will open up your kitchen, making it feel bigger.

3. Speaking of open shelving

Open shelving is a modern yet trendy kitchen staple that is popular in homes right now. You can purchase ready-to-install kitchen shelves or DIY your own to give your space even more storage.

drew barrymore kitchen appliances

4. Retro and cute appliances

So you can’t replace the major appliances in the kitchen, but you can add cute ones. Mix in new appliances such as this fancy new sage green coffee maker, stainless steel toaster, retro microwave, or this funky color air fryer.

5. Upgrade the countertop

Contact paper is a great inexpensive way to give your kitchen countertop or cabinet a facelift. Contact paper comes in various styles and colors, from wood grain to faux tile and marble. And the best part is that it will hold up over time with regular wear and tear that comes with water, heat, and humidity. And all you have to do is peel and stick to create your brand new countertop.

6. Accessorize your countertop

Round out your countertop space with beautiful accessories. Incorporate a charming cutting board like this thick bamboo butcher block cutting board and display your pretty cooking utensils with this Natural Teak Wood Cooking Holder Set. Then organize your kitchen knick-knacks with a pretty basket.

styling kitchen shelf

7. Decanter your pantry essentials

Find a cute storage jar or mason jar to store some of your favorite or most used pantry items like sugar, rice, flour, and oatmeal. Display those beautiful jars on the countertop with identifying labels. This will give your countertop space a clean and streamlined look.

8. Spice things up

Grab yourself an adorable countertop spice rack like this Wood Spice Rack to showcase your spices. Spice racks are a great way to store, access, and serve your most commonly used spices. The spice rack design will add flavor to your kitchen decor.

9. Create a coffee bar station

A coffee station is a cool and fun idea that is great for the coffee lover in you. You can take a cute little nook in the kitchen or that extra space on the laminate countertop. Stock it with your favorite coffee maker and other coffee necessities such as ground coffee, a grinder, a mug, creamer, and a sweetener.

coffee station

10. Window treatments

Time to replace those ugly broken blinds or sunburned greasy curtains and give your kitchen windows texture and visual interest. Wake up your kitchen with contemporary window treatments like these sheer curtains or bamboo roman shades. Whether a small window or a big window, new window treatments can make a big difference in the kitchen.

11. Kitchen bar cart or island

Need somewhere to store and display your cute appliances? Opt for a useful utility kitchen cart to house your appliances or store other kitchen essentials. They are great for adding extra storage space and counter space to your kitchen.

12. Add a modern rug

Adding an area rug or runner is a quick way to update your kitchen and cover up ugly tiles. It sounds super simple, but it can make a huge difference. Go with a bold color or a cute multi-color Persian red rug from Target. It will make a great addition to your space.

13. No more ugly fridge

Nothing screams dated apartment more than those old white crummy refrigerators that have been refurbished repeatedly for multiple tenants. Try concealing that ugly thing with appliance-specific contact paper like this stainless steel or navy blue style.

stainless steel refrigerator renter friendly kitchen

14. Paint it

A fresh coat of paint will make the kitchen come alive. Painting is one of the easiest ways to refresh and re-energize a space. Bright colors such as green, yellow, and grey are popular for painting kitchens. If you prefer not to paint the entire kitchen, then paint an accent wall with a splash of color to give it new life.

15. Removable wallpaper

Not interested in painting? Then add removable wallpaper. Removable wallpaper is an excellent alternative to painting the kitchen. Removable wallpaper is a less intrusive, temporary solution. You can stick wallpaper to a door, an accent wall, or inside or outside of the cabinets.

16. Removable peel-and-stick backsplash

It’s time to fake it till you make it. Peel and stick removable kitchen backsplash is a fantastic option while renting. This fake backsplash will make your rental kitchen look like luxury. It will give your kitchen lots of character and elevate the kitchen’s beauty. You can have fun with it now and remove it without damaging the wall. So go with a funky style like this multicolor Tuscan style, or keep it timeless and simple with these subway tiles.

17. Artsy light fixtures

While we’re on the topic of lighting, switch out that old antiquated light fixture for an artsy light fixture. You can pick up a super cute lighting fixture like this pendant chandelier from Home Depot and have someone from task rabbit install it for dirt cheap.

farmhouse style light fixture

18. Outlet cover switch

Not too long ago, I learned that switch plates come in various cool colors besides the traditional shades of white and off-white. So, grab a small head Phillips screwdriver and replace those old switch plates with these floral switch plates or electric Canary Talavera switch plates made by artists in Mexico.

19. Install under the cabinet lighting

Under-cabinet lighting can instantly change the mood of your kitchen. Under the cabinet lighting are typically small lighting fixtures that help to brighten your countertop workspace. It can also help to give additional lighting to areas with limited lighting. And they are super easy to install. From light bars, puck lights, and tape lights, there’s an array of under the cabinet lighting to choose from that will blend with your kitchen style.

20. Kitchen faucet to the rescue

It is unlikely that the kitchen faucet you have in your space is from this century. If it’s functioning, it’s the last thing the landlord will change. However, a stunning kitchen sink faucet can add beauty and sophistication to a kitchen – especially if it is a pull-down faucet. Opt for a unique color like gold or matte black for a big impact. You can also install it yourself with this easy DIY kitchen faucet installation guide.

kraus kitchen faucet in matte black

21. Dreamy artwork

Decorate your kitchen with unique artwork. Artwork will add visual interest to your kitchen. Hang the artwork on a bare wall or a shelf.

22. Line the cabinet drawers

Think about all the people who have used your kitchen cabinets over the years. No amount of cleaning will make it feel completely sanitary. So go ahead and line your kitchen cabinets and drawers with liners to make your cabinets look clean and refreshed.

23. Greenery galore

Greenery brings nature to your kitchen by bringing the outdoors inside. Hang a cute fern or place a herb potted plant on the window sill or place a realistic looking fake plants for an easy update.

kitchen plants for renter friendly upgrades

24. Hanging pots and pans

If you don’t have a lot of cabinet space in your kitchen, consider hanging your pots and pans. Hanging your pots and pans is a very trendy and hip way to use up your wall space instead of the cabinets. For a more cohesive look, place the pots and pans side by side and mix up the lengths and colors.

25. Floor stickers to the rescue

If you’re not feeling your floors, then cover those ugly floors with peel-and-stick tiles. Choose from stick floor tiles like this retro green medallion pattern or this multicolored peel and stick to this bold black-and-white design to show off your personality.  Floor tiles make your kitchen look like you just finished a complete gut renovation. They are also super durable, easy to clean, and removable.

26. Declutter, reorganize, and clean the kitchen.

This one might seem quite obvious, but sometimes our kitchen just needs some decluttering and a little scrub down of all surfaces, including cabinet doors, around the handles, etc. We often don’t realize how much stuff we pack into our cabinets that we simply don’t need or no longer use.

We also use our kitchen so often that we don’t always notice the gunk buildup, the splatter of food on the wall, the stains on the floor, and the food hiding behind the appliances. So grab some wipes, rag, and all-purpose cleaner spray and start cleaning, degreasing, and uncluttering the kitchen.


Pro Tip – for easy renter-friendly makeovers, make sure you:

  • Take before and after pictures of the house.
  • Store everything in a safe and central place, like under the bed, in a cabinet, or the living room closet. It is important that you return everything the way you initially found it.


So there you have it – a solid renter-friendly kitchen makeover with clever, impermanent upgrades in your beautiful home. I hope you found these renter-friendly hacks useful. While living in a rental apartment or rental home as an adult may have its challenges, it should not stop you from making the space your own. These quick upgrades will make a noticeable change in your kitchen.

For renter friendly space makeover ideas, check out 7 Best Small Apartment Decorating Ideas on a Budget and 12 Renter Friendly Bathroom Makeover Ideas.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this article, so leave a comment below. Feel free also to follow me on my social media pages – Pinterest and Instagram or subscribe to my mailing list for other design inspiration and home decor ideas.

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Hi! I'm Tamara White