Before & After: A “Dark and Dingy” Kitchen Is Transformed with a $500 Makeover

published Jul 24, 2022
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Before: Kitchen with brown floors and brown cabinets
Credit: Kristy Kay

If you’re looking to make major change to flooring, countertops, walls, or cabinets but don’t want to make any MAJOR purchases, consider peel-and-stick coverings. They can create major change without breaking the bank — plus they’re non-permanent, and thus often renter-friendly.

The world of peel-and-stick goes beyond wallpaper these days; there are incredibly believable wood-look and tile options for backsplashes and floors, and there’s even 3D peel-and-stick for a textured treatment.

Credit: Kristy Kay

Renter (and artist!) Kristy Kay (@kristysketch) and her partner brought about major change in their kitchen thanks to the power of peel-and-stick, completely transforming the once-blah space.

Their house was built in 1956, but “it looked like [the previous homeowners] had tried to do some upgrading in the ’90s and changed the floors to a cheap, ugly beige vinyl tile that had little character,” Kristy says. “The original cabinets were messily painted dark brown, and they were peeling and chipped in some areas. There was a linoleum ‘backsplash’ of sorts, but it was gray and dirty-looking.”

Credit: Kristy Kay

Both creatives, Kristy and her partner wanted to give the space a bit more personality and to honor its mid-century roots. “I could feel the dark dingy house taking a toll on my mental health,” Kristy says. “I know how much energy and joy I can get from being in a space that feels like ‘me.'”

Their three-week, $500 project was all about incorporating elements that felt like “them” while choosing materials and colors true to the mid-century time period.

Credit: Kristy Kay

For the floors, they chose an orange geometric peel-and-stick tile from Etsy. “Peel-and-stick floor tiles provide such a huge bang for your buck; I encourage any renter to give them a try,” Kristy says. “They were so easy to install, and we feel happy when we walk into the room now.”

They also used white peel-and-stick tiles behind the stovetop, but Kristy says she might change them down the line for something with a more retro aesthetic.

Credit: Kristy Kay

“It’s hard to choose one thing without knowing how it will look in the space, but I love how it all came together,” she says.

The last peel-and-stick feature in the space is the teal contact paper backsplash ledge behind the countertops “to add a pop of color and create a more interesting backsplash in place of the linoleum,” Kristy explains. She chose to keep the dark brown cabinet color the same. To get the look, she color-matched the existing cabinetry and painted over it to smooth out the chipping fixtures.

Credit: Kristy Kay

As for the decor, Kristy’s solutions were also budget-friendly there as she purchased a lot of it secondhand. She swapped out the cabinet pulls for more modern brass bars, and she also hand-dyed curtains and had them altered to fit the space. “The kitchen already had hardware and a 1950s pulley system for the curtains; we just needed to attach them with hooks,” Kristy says.

Credit: Kristy Kay

She couldn’t be more pleased with the way her DIY details came together. “I am in love with our new kitchen!” she says. “The colors bring me joy, and the way the light filters through the curtains in the afternoon makes me smile… it feels very true to us while still honoring its roots as a 1950s-60s kitchen.”

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: A $500 Peel-and-Stick Makeover Totally Transforms a “Dark and Dingy” Kitchen