Stuck with Really Old Rental Kitchen Cabinets? There’s One Silver Lining.

published Sep 29, 2017
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(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

If you’re a renter, it’s pretty likely that you’ve had to sacrifice at least one or two “wish list” items when you moved into your place. Maybe it’s a few extra blocks from your favorite supermarket, lacks a pantry, or has a really ugly vintage kitchen.

While landlords can be tough — the majority of them are pretty reluctant to allow renters to make any major home improvements — you may be in luck if your cabinets have seen better days.

We interviewed a few-dozen landlords for this story, asking if they’d allow tenants to paint their kitchen cabinets. For the most part, it was a hard no — unless the cabinets were decently old and could use the refresh. Then, many of them were all about it.

3 Tips for Convincing Your Landlord to Let You Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets

1. Ask.

Before you take it upon yourself to do it, ask your landlord if he’s willing to let you paint your cabinets. Because it’s a smaller cosmetic change (i.e., not ripping out the cabinets or demo-ing tile), you stand — at least half — a chance at getting a “yes” out of the gate.

2. Come to the conversation prepared.

Go into the convo armed with specific information about your vision, like the paint color you’re hoping to select (neutrals like white, gray, or light blue are considered fairly renter-friendly) and any photos of past makeovers you’ve done to give your landlord an idea of the quality of your work.

3. Offer to hire a pro.

If necessary, be ready to offer to hire a painting professional to ensure the job gets done properly.

If the Answer Is Still No …

If the answer is still no after all your begging, you still have a few options for a quick aesthetic fix. Try covering the cabinet doors with removable contact paper — a marble pattern would be cool! Or go one step further and remove the cabinet doors entirely. At the very least, choose a funky set of hardware to swap with the existing stuff.

Have you had luck convincing your landlord to let you paint kitchen cabinets? How did you do it?