Before & After: Moody Green Cabinets and ’70s Accents Bring the Drama to a “Totally Blank” Kitchen (Instantly!)

published Jul 10, 2024
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Tiny house being built to use as Airbnb property.

When coming up with a small kitchen design for my tiny house Airbnb in Boise, Idaho, my husband and I had to think of function and an aesthetic that would make people want to book. With a short-term rental, you can’t appeal to everyone, but we went for a dark, moody design with a bit of mid-century flair to attract the traveler looking for a vibey space.

The look might be appealing (and we’ve received tons of compliments!), but every Airbnb guest is different, and some might care a lot more about function than the paint color. That’s why we considered functionality, storage, seating, safety, cleanliness, cost, and looks when building out this totally blank kitchen space. These were the six additions that made the biggest difference in the kitchen remodel.

1. A dark, moody vibe

I love a moody vibe. Give me a dark and moody library, a rustic cabin with wood paneling, or a dark and stormy nautical theme. We chose an aesthetic that is a toned-down version of that because, while we aren’t trying to appeal to the masses, we still want the majority of people to like the look. I’ve stayed in a lot of Airbnbs, and I’ve noticed that they’re often super plain or have a very light, airy, white and clean aesthetic. We wanted ours to be a bit cozier with a touch of drama. We chose Valspar’sPeacock House” in a flat sheen for the paint, which we love (but honestly struggle with because it chips off easily). 

2. A space-saving “extra tall” cabinet

This is a tiny house, so we had less than 700 square feet to work with (in total!). When creating the kitchen, we had to keep the space in mind, including how it would affect the rest of the house and the experience for the guests. We opted for a super tall cabinet that, while not the cutest design-wise, holds all of the essentials. This is where guests will find a lineup of cooking spices, extra towels, an induction stove top, and the pots and pans that go with it. 

3. No tiles, to keep costs low

Building out the kitchen required a pretty strict budget. Since the entire project was an investment, it was important to make sure we stayed within budget. We made some design choices that weren’t ideal aesthetically but were cute enough for us and kept costs down. I would have loved to add some tiles to this kitchen, but the cost of tiles and labor were just too high for this remodel. 

4. A hand-cut wooden countertop & eat-in kitchen island

Cost and space utilization were at the top of our minds when we chose to go with a wooden countertop. Stone counters can cost thousands of dollars, so we went with wood to save money. Luckily, my husband is handy, so he cut the countertop and island himself. With limited space, we decided to utilize part of the countertop as an eat-in kitchen island with two stools. This way, guests can eat meals, have a place to play games, or even move the stools to the other side of the island to watch TV. 

5. Antique & thrifted mid-century touches

This tiny kitchen needed some accessories, but of course not too many because of the limited space. We love the mid-century aesthetic, so we had fun going antiquing for the real deal. Our ‘70s orange, three-tiered coffee and tea holder was one of my favorite finds. I thrifted some vintage goblet cocktail glasses, a prayer rug, and a unique mid-century cutting board, too. Some of the finishes look vintage, but they’re actually modern — like the drawer pulls, the mini fridge, the hanging light fixture, and the microwave. We threw in a few fake plants for good measure. Real plants would have been ideal, but when you’re running an Airbnb, the more low maintenance, the better.

6. A versatile coffee setup

Finally, the coffee setup. I’m a coffee drinker, so I couldn’t build the kitchen without a decent coffee bar. We have a French press, an AeroPress, and a regular coffee maker for anyone who doesn’t want to get too fancy. Our electric kettle heats up super quickly, and we stock the place with coffee beans and tea. 

Setting up this Airbnb kitchen from scratch was a fun project that involved thoughtful design and creating a sense of place. Our little space has been up and running for two years now, and in reviews, people always mention the vibe. I guess we pulled it off!