Before & After: Abigail's "Can of Paint" Quick Kitchen Updates

Renters Solutions

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So, what do you do when you want to give your kitchen an update but you live in a rental?  Why, get out the paint can, of course!  That's what I did when I decided to renovate my own space.  Get out the paint brush and try these tips in your kitchen.  

I'd already switched out my glass chandelier for an oversized Chinese paper lantern, inspired by Barbara Bestor's makeover of Los Angeles' Beachwood Cafe.  It was a good start.  Now, I was going to take it one step further.

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What color?  This space, a kitchen with an attached dining nook, also serves as my office.  The window, which looks out on the building's communal garden, faces south.  The vines that twirl around the safety gate are pretty but, combined with the shadow from the building next door, it means that this space doesn't get a lot of light.  I knew I wanted white but which white?  The coward's way out — Benjamin Moore's Aura paint in eggshell in Base 1, i.e. the base color without any tint added — turned out to be a great decision.  Though the chalky white might read sterile in a brighter space, in here it was just what I needed to perk things up.

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Walls and ceiling and trim, oh my!  Previously, molding in the space had been picked out in black.  Buh bye.  Now everything — moldings, walls, even the ceiling — was washed in the same white.  Not only does the space look bigger, but it feels more modern and sleek.

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Paint the back of the shelves.  I love the look of floating shelves, but knocking down the cabinets isn't an option right now.  I'd removed the doors a few months back.  Now I painted the backs.  I get the look of floating shelves, the space suddenly feels brighter, and my collection of mostly glass and white dishes looks deliberate rather than jumbled.  I would've gone with contact paper to get the same look if painting had not been an option.

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Alternate lighting.  A lamp next to the stove gives off a light that's homier than the bright overhead fixture.  The crock of utensils was moved to the counter directly across, freeing up valuable real estate next to the stove (also, the utensils, out of the direct line of fire, stay cleaner).  Clip on clamp lights, like this one from Ikea, are another good task lighting option.   

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Move the spices.  The metal board, which hung above the stove, was taken down for painting.  I decided to move the spices, in their magnetic Grundtal tins, to the door of the storage portion of my stove (they get used up too fast to "go bad") and I found an alternate spot for the stainless steel slab....

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Faux "zinc" bar.  ...as a new top for the bookcase that divides the kitchen from nook.  The swath of metal reflects light, another brightener in this low light space. This stainless steel backsplash is similar to the one I have.  (Confession: mine's not attached — the heavy fruitbowl ensures it won't move — but you can make one semi-permanent using a water-soluble glue or velcro strips.)

Oh, yeah, declutter.  Moving everything out of the kitchen to paint was a great opportunity to go through things and get rid of what I'm not using.  I mean, really, how many vases does a person need?  

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Chalkboard to chalky.  This spot had been painted chalkboard black.  A wash of white perks everything up.

While there are things I'd love to do — swap out the current fan/light for this one (and avoid this ongoing problem), change out the tile countertop for one made of marble or Ceasarstone, and replace the yellow tiled backsplash for one in white subway tile — I feel elated what a can of paint can do.  

(Images: Abby Stone)

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