NYC Rental Kitchen Remodel - Part 1

When you live in New York City (especially as a broke twenty-something), you have to give up a lot of modern convinces that come standard in most other American kitchens.

My first NYC apartment. This kitchen was considered "spacious" by some.

My first NYC apartment. This kitchen was considered "spacious" by some.

You quickly relinquish any hope of ever possessing seemingly basic amenities like dishwashers, closets, electrical outlets, windows...

Things I learned from my second NYC kitchen: Vent fans are a necessity. There's no point in fixing that broken cabinet door, it's just going to fall off again. Keurigs are nothing but expensive roach condos.

Things I learned from my second NYC kitchen: Vent fans are a necessity. There's no point in fixing that broken cabinet door, it's just going to fall off again. Keurigs are nothing but expensive roach condos.

From a tiny micro-kitchen with zero counter space to a nasty bug infestation, we've had our fair share of nightmare kitchens. So when Andrew and I moved into our third apartment — as much-less-broke almost-thirty-somethings — we were ready to put a little more of our resources behind a nicer place and a proper space to cook.

I have abundant natural light, spacious counters, and coveted stainless steel appliances (including a dishwasher!) but there is still one pain point to my current kitchen — the decor.

Butters loves the kitchen, but cats don't know anything about interior design.

Butters loves the kitchen, but cats don't know anything about interior design.

My criticism of this space is entirely subjective. I know there are plenty of people who would love this kitchen exactly the way it is! It's just not my taste at all and as a food photographer, I need a neutral space to shoot in to keep my work looking modern and on-trend.

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I'm longing for the day I can design my dream kitchen, with crisp white cabinets, open shelving, and rich butcher block countertops. But that day is not today. In fact, I can't do anything to this kitchen that is not entirely reversible. Reversible as in not even a nail hole to be seen. I've scoured the internet for ideas on how to give my kitchen a non-destructive makeover, but everything I found will not work for the following reasons:

1. TIME & MONEY. According to the internet, my only option for covering my orange-brown, outdated tile backsplash is to cover them in tile stickers. But those things quickly add up to hundreds of dollars, and there is no reality in which I have the patience to meticulously cover — and worse, remove — each of these 2-inch squares individually.

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2. EQUIPMENT NEEDS. Oh hey there Interior Design Blogger, you made yourself a DIY countertop with a table saw and power sander in your garage? Congratulations. I live in a 600 square foot apartment above a bodega and a gas station so no, I do not own any power tools. If it can't come together with scissors and some duct tape, it's not happening.

Power tool storage is not really a priority.

Power tool storage is not really a priority.

3. PAINT. While I would love to repaint every inch of this apartment over the manila folder color my super chose, I have neither the time nor the energy (see #1). Painting the cabinets is 100% off the table.

But I'm never one to back away from a challenge, so I'll be updating this space with a completely reversible makeover. The most complicated tool I'll be using will be an Exacto knife, and I'm attempting to complete the project in under $200.

Using a neutral palette of blues, dark grays, and white will hopefully neutralize the orange tones, bringing out the richness of the wood cabinets and the black and gray speckles in the granite countertops. I'm going to de-clutter the space as much as possible and create unity by selecting accessories more intentionally.

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Besides the blue/dark gray/white color palette, I'm also adding in touches of metallics for a fun, modern vibe. I've got an idea for a completely removable backsplash that I hope doesn't fail miserably. Plus, lots of plants!

Next week, I'll share an update on the progress, as well as some of the fun (and inexpensive!) items I've added to the space that have already made a huge difference. Stay tuned as well for a step-by-step on the removable backsplash and the big before/after reveal!