Before & After: This $500 French Rental Redo Is Packed with Brilliant Ideas

updated Jan 29, 2020
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It’s rare to be able to find a home that doesn’t require some kind of compromise — a bigger place with a longer commute, or a smaller place with a shorter commute, for example. Sometimes you find a place that’s a great size, super conveniently located — and needs some work. That was the case for Anna Kovalchenko, who recently moved with her boyfriend to Paris, France. There, she says, it’s not so easy to find housing, so when they found an apartment that was conveniently located and super spacious, they jumped on it.

The only problem? The kitchen, which Anna says was in poor condition. “The room is quiet and the old-fashioned gray wallpaper made it look even more gloomy,” Anna says. And even though they were just renters, they wanted their place to feel like home. “I love to cook and we also like to spend time in the kitchen — our breakfasts and sometimes dinners are in here,” Anna says. “It was essential for us to make this room look nice and cozy.”

So with a budget of $500, Anna and her boyfriend set to work. First up: removing the wallpaper, which took almost two whole days. Once that was done, they patched and painted the walls.

For a crisp, modern look, Anna chose a deep teal for the bottom half of the wall, and a creamy white for the top half; wood trim painted charcoal gray stylishly separates the two sections. She swapped out the old barely-there countertop for a new black laminate one sourced from IKEA; a second one under the window makes for a stylish and functional breakfast counter.

Black curtains hide the storage underneath the countertop, which also now features a smaller sink to make room for more chopping and slicing. Anna left the 1970s white tile backsplash in place, but with its new surroundings it looks totally fresh. Open shelves and rails keep essentials within reach.

Here’s something extra smart: To make ugly-looking pipes blend into the wall, she painted them to match.

Vintage posters from Parisian flea markets adorn the walls, as well as wine crates and wine bottles. The whole kitchen took just three weeks, and Anna couldn’t love the result more. “I like how clean and neat our kitchen looks like after transformation,” she says. “I love every detail about it and wouldn’t change anything. Though perhaps with time I will add more posters to decorate the walls and some other small details.”

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: This $500 Rental Kitchen Redo Is Packed With Great Ideas