A Q&A with Sarah Lonsdale of Remodelista on Her Rental Kitchen Makeover

published Dec 19, 2013
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(Image credit: Matthew Williams)

We have a special treat today: a sneak peek of Remodelista editor Sarah Lonsdale’s rental kitchen, featured in the just-released book Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home. Sarah’s rental kitchen is absolutely lovely, the result of a few smart updates. Jump below to see another photo and to hear more from Sarah on what changed in her kitchen, what she loves, and her advice to people who live and cook in rental kitchens:

(Image credit: Matthew Williams)

4 Questions for Sarah Lonsdale On Her Kitchen

1. What changes or updates did you make to your rental kitchen?
I had a mottled black and gray granite kitchen counter and a gray checkerboard linoleum floor that I did my best to ignore but to little avail. My landlord did not want me to make any changes, so instead of replacing the countertop I covered it in sections of maple plywood that I had laser cut at a local fabrication shop. I nailed in thin strips of plywood to hide the front and the sides of the countertop.

A local flooring company sourced some 1/2-inch-by-2-inch oak tongue and groove boards for the floor in untreated oak which I painted with one coat of Benjamin Moore’s Silver Gray (so that the texture of the wood can still be seen). We (rather my husband, David) cut the boards to size and we numbered the backs and fit it in like a jigsaw puzzle. It sits on the existing linoleum, wedged in between the cupboards and walls without nails so we can take it up when we move.

2. What’s your favorite element of the new kitchen?
The countertop. Having a neutral palette as a work surface makes for a really good backdrop both for cooking and prepping food as well as for displaying my ever growing collection of ceramics. I use walnut oil to condition it every once in a while and it gives the wood a lovely rich texture.

3. Have any smart tips for people who live and cook in rental kitchens?
I think storage can often be a challenge in a rental kitchen especially in an older cottage like mine. I was not wild about the pot rack when I moved in but it has proved invaluable and I like the accessibility of the pans for cooking. I also hang as much as I can from metal S hooks on the walls and it becomes part display and part decor, whether it be lemon verbena picked from the garden for tea or scrub brushes hanging in the kitchen window. (I just got a new triangular wood board from Fort Standard that looks great hanging from a large metal hook—it’s a good visual note.) As much as I like to hang things from the wall, I like to keep as little clutter as possible on the countertops. Not only does it feel clean, it makes the small kitchen feel more spacious.

4. Any shopping resources for the kitchen you’d like to share?
I have several of these small stackable Hasami pots that are really useful. The one shown here beside the stove has salt on top and garlic inside. The white ceramic pouring bowl with oranges is by local potter Kelly Farley of Pope Valley Pottery. I have had the Sori Yanagi Tea Kettle for a while. It’s a classic and I never tire of it.

Buy the Book → Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home, $22.50 on Amazon

Thanks so much for sharing, Sarah!

(Image credit: Matthew Williams)