This Trick Will Make a Small Kitchen Feel Bright and Airy

published Sep 10, 2022
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In many smaller, older homes, the kitchen is often the space that ends up needing the most TLC. If you’re renting, updating your kitchen can be even trickier with all the limitations your landlord may impose. One crafty Canadian renter, though, has found a way to create open shelving without actually having to mount or install a thing, and I’m here for it. If you’re intrigued by this idea, get ready to take notes on what Amanda Lowthian did in her 600-square-foot Toronto apartment.

Lowthian has been renting her place for about nine months, and her only roommate is her beloved cat, Sugi. “This is my first time having a place all to myself,” Lowthian says. “So I finally have space of my own to let my ideas run more freely and get creative with a tiny space.” Even though her space is a rental, Lowthian got busy with DIY projects just one week after moving in. “My surroundings influence my mood very much, so it is extremely important I custom-make a space a home,” she says.

Credit: Amanda Lowthian

The kitchen in particular is one room where Lowthian went all out, and the result was so worth it. She installed a pink peel-and-stick brick backsplash above the kitchen counters and peel-and-stick checker flooring underfoot to give the kitchen a retro-inspired face-lift with tons of personality. One unexpected but very cool choice Lowthian also made was removing the doors from almost all of her upper cabinets.

Small spaces can sometimes appear cramped— even when they’re not — and one way to combat that effect is with light-reflecting finishes and open features. Since Lowthian is renting this space, removing the doors from the upper cabinets is a super-simple, easily reversible way to get the same effect as true open shelving with very little effort and for zero-cost. You could paint or wallpaper the shelf backs, but Lowthian didn’t really need to; the white backdrop keeps the look light and airy, and the eye sees less bulk and mass with the cabinet doors gone.

Growing up, Lowthian’s family home was filled with shades of brown and beige, but she took the complete opposite approach when designing her own space as an adult. “My favorite colors are pink, green, and yellow, so I have that color palette throughout the apartment,” she says. Now that the doors are off of the kitchen’s uppers, you can see that exact color palette on display on the now-visible shelves, which she has stocked with her favorite dining and serving pieces. Yes, she now has to keep her dishes and cups organized at all times, but it’s a small price to pay for the personality this one thing has added to her cook space.

If you’re looking for a way to make your kitchen feel visually light and just a little more bespoke, the solution could be as simple as taking your cabinet doors of the hinges. The best part? All you have to do is reinstall them when you move out, and you’re good to go with no harm done to your apartment or that security deposit.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Here’s a Budget- and Renter-Friendly Way to Make Your Cramped Kitchen Feel Bright and Airy