This Is Apartment Therapy’s Most Popular Budget Kitchen Makeover

updated May 1, 2019
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: Dabney Frake)

As you’ve probably noticed, we’ve got budget kitchen makeovers on the brain, and we’re not the only ones. Whether you’re a cook-every-night type or someone who only uses their kitchen to store takeout menus, it’s one of the spaces you look at all the time. And when it’s dark, dated, or tight on storage, you really feel it.

With that in mind, the folks at our sister site Apartment Therapy tackled a run-down rental kitchen. Since it was a rental, they didn’t want to spend too much on the makeover, and they had to get the landlord’s permission to make their changes. But what’s remarkable is that they totally changed the look of the space from one that was drab and cluttered to one that’s vintage chic. And for just $300!

(Image credit: The Kitchn)

The tricks the team used were a mix of old standbys and new surprises — some to give the space a timeless look, others to increase functionality. But there were five basic steps they took to make this thrifty makeover oh-so smart.

Check out what they did and you’ll totally get why it’s the most popular makeover on the site.

(Image credit: Anna Spaller)

1. They painted the cabinets.

This is a favorite makeover technique because paint is so transformative! With the landlord’s permission, the team painted the cabinet doors and frames a classic black, which covered the dated wood tones and gave the space and elegant look.

(Image credit: Anna Spaller)

2. They covered the floor.

The kitchen had a run-down linoleum floor, so the team disguised it by laying black-and-white VCT tiles right over top of it. The graphic pattern is both punchy and timeless.

(Image credit: Anna Spaller)

3. They amped up the storage.

In every kitchen — but especially apartment-sized ones — storage is an issue. Here, they made smart use of the vertical space, installing a few rails, a spice shelf, and even a magnetic paper towel holder to make use of all the walls. This way, stuff could be rearranged without feeling cluttered.

(Image credit: Anna Spaller)

4. They added cabinet trim.

This is a detail you don’t notice at first: The team attached small wooden strips along the cabinets with caulk, then painted them the same color as the rest of the cabinetry. Suddenly, the cords from the under-cabinet lighting disappeared, giving it a cleaner and more custom look. Smart!

(Image credit: Anna Spaller)

5. They invested in wallpaper.

Perhaps the most fun (but also the most expensive) part of this makeover is the new patterned wallpaper. It’s removable, so the renter can easily take it off if her taste changes or she moves, but in the meantime it gives the space a true personality.

What do you think? Do you love it as much as Apartment Therapy’s readers do?