A Rental Kitchen Goes to the Wild Side With Animal Motifs, Paint, and Graphic Prints Galore

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Credit: Marta Perez Photography

Personalizing a rental to reflect your style can be a challenge. More often than not, there are restrictions on renovations or even against making simple swaps. And then there are competitive real estate markets, like that of New York City, where you feel like there’s no sense in really decorating, since you could be moving to your next place sooner than you think. But designer Anthony Gianacakos of Anthony George Home didn’t let these factors prevent him from turning his kitchen into a small space sanctuary. In fact, he used them to his advantage, letting a recent trip to Lisbon—and the vibe of the coastal city—inspire this amazing transformation.

Naturally, a series of decorative paint jobs kicked things off. “The biggest thing a renter can do is add paint to the walls,” says Gianacakos. All it takes is speaking with your landlord to get permission. Remember: You can always restore them to their original condition before you move out.

First, using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, he freehanded an orange-and-black graffiti pattern similar to something he saw in Lisbon around the top half of the room. The lower section is an ode to the city’s iconic tile work, which can be found on many facades there. Using painter’s tape and more chalk paint, Gianacakos created a geometric, angular riff on subway tile shapes for the walls. The pattern’s soft blue was also used on the ceiling to elevate this oft-forgotten area. Finally, the dated cabinets were painted in a deep blue (landlord permission granted!) to reflect Lisbon’s seaside culture. Paint is powerful, and you don’t always have to be so literal when you’re taking decor cues from a place you’ve traveled to or just plain love.

Credit: Marta Perez Photography

To carve out a breakfast nook, Gianacakos used vintage brass hooks from a Barcelona flea market to hang a custom cushion above a small bench, creating a small space-friendly banquette. For the bench and the window treatments, he used his own Anthony George Home line. While all of his fabrics reference various cities around the world, here he went with his Barcelona line, which is inspired by architect Antoni Gaudí, whose maximalist works are ever-present in the Spanish city. 

Credit: Marta Perez Photography

Gianacakos suggests making it a habit to collect art, rugs, or decorative accents—like hooks, trinket dishes, or tea towels—throughout your travels. “I’ve always loved to find objects that have a story and a previous life,” he says. On the kitchen counter, you’ll find an African footed bowl, an antique Asian pedestal, and Turkish pottery purchased from Tamam in the East Village. “I’m a firm believer that you need to love what you have in your home,” he says. 

And if you can’t hop on a flight to Europe, Gianacakos recommends Etsy for unique vintage and global-sourced items. It’s where he snagged the blue Moroccan shelf that now lives in his kitchen as a hanging bar, stocked with an edited selection of spirits and vessels. Cheers to a well-traveled oasis, indeed.