10 Ways We’ve Disguised Ugly Rental Kitchen Countertops

published Oct 5, 2015
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: The Kitchn)

We’ve all been there: Living in a rental apartment that might be great for any number of reasons, but has one fatal flaw. Usually a fridge that’s too small, floors that have seen better days, cabinets that don’t measure up, or countertops that hail from a bygone decade.

Luckily, a few of these can be fixed. Today we’re looking at countertops. There are a few things you can do to hide those unsightly laminate or tile counters. A few will require landlord approval, and some can be installed and removed easily, making them ideal for stealth situations. Take a look and see which one might work for your rental kitchen.


  • Faux Marble – Better Than Eden: If you have a lot of patience and a steady hand, you can use paint to create a faux marble countertop. We’re in awe of this one.
  • Paint It Black – The Kitchn: If you’re dealing with dark or stained countertops, it’s always an easy choice to go black. Follow this step-by-step for the easiest way to paint.
  • Faux Granite – DIY Network: There are plenty of kits out there that give you all the supplies and instructions for turning your counter into one that appears to be granite. DIY Network gives a good review of this one.
  • Simple Paint Job – The Ugly Duckling House: Sometimes you just want something straightforward and light. This blogger used and reviewed the Rustoleum countertop coating.
  • Chalkboard Counters – Assortment Blog: We’ve looked at this one before, but it’s worth revisiting. Not only does it look like soapstone, but if you used chalkboard paint on an island counter, you can write the menu directly on it when entertaining!

Contact Paper

  • Wood Grain – Under the Snowball Tree: Can’t get your landlord to install butcher block countertops? Fake it with wood grain contact paper. Just make sure you have the wood grain all going in the same direction.
  • Granite Paper – Just Misty: If you don’t trust yourself to paint granite countertops (we’d be nervous!), try using granite or stone patterned paper instead. Because the pattern is so small, it’s very forgiving.
  • Polka Dots – Mrs. Mama Hen: Of course, contact paper comes in lots of colors and patterns as well. If you want to go bold, go for it! You can always swap it out if you change your mind.

Other Ideas

  • Concrete over Tile – Remodelaholic: This will definitely break your security deposit if you don’t tell your landlord, but we love this easy fix for tile countertops. Using a quick-setting concrete over tile is a perfect solution.
  • Large Cutting Board – The Kitchn: In a small rental, you might not have enough counter space to begin with, which also means you don’t have much to cover. In that case, just invest in a beautiful cutting board to cover that ugly laminate.