An 800-Square-Foot Rental House’s Kitchen Was Transformed With Contact Paper and Paint

published Dec 16, 2020

An 800-Square-Foot Rental House’s Kitchen Was Transformed With Contact Paper and Paint

published Dec 16, 2020
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Name: John-Taylor Corley
Location: Beauregard Town — Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Size: 800 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, renting

Hidden among the tree canopy in the historic Beauregard Town neighborhood of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, you can find John-Taylor taking in the views from his 1911 shotgun-influenced rental. Immediately drawn to the house’s unique placement above the street, John-Taylor knew this rental would make the perfect home for him. While the outside speaks for itself, he has been hard at work adding unique touches to both the landscape and the interior of the space to make it truly feel like home. Working for a landscape architecture firm in both the design and green industry, John-Taylor has a unique outlook on design and its functionality.  

Credit: Minette Hand

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Contrasting, inspiring, and meaningful. I’d say my style is varied, and at times, conflicting with the precedents I have already set. It somehow feels like it is constantly evolving and growing into its own thing.

Inspiration: I find myself drawing inspiration from every aspect of life. Working at a landscape architecture firm, I find myself inspired by my peers and their approach to design, along with the landscape and the natural world. Landscapes are a dynamic system, constantly changing and evolving overtime, much like my style. I also draw inspiration for online sources and designers. A few of my favorites are Taylor Bennett with his use of textures and natural elements. Liz Kamarul with her use of bold colors and patterns. And finally, India Habson + Magnus Edmondson of Haarkon Adventures for the way they capture the spirit of the place in which they travel to.

Credit: Minette Hand

Favorite Element: This is a tough one, because it changes daily. I’d have to say that my all time favorite element is the front porch on my home. The way the house sits 15-plus feet above the surrounding street makes me feel like I get to live in a treehouse. I can walk outside with a cup of coffee and listen to the birds, or watch the squirrels jump from branch to branch.

Biggest Challenge: I’d have to say the biggest challenge is working with a space that is so compact, but also still needs to function correctly. The house was built in 1911 as a Craftsman-style shotgun, meaning that there are no hallways or galleries for circulation. Today, furniture tends to be larger, making it tricky to fit enough living room / bedroom furniture to entertain and live, but also feel like you can still circulate naturally through the space.

Credit: Minette Hand

What Friends Say: My friends love how the space feels like home. They talk about how comfortable they are in being here, whether they are visiting for a cup of coffee in the morning, or making s’mores in the backyard in the evening.

Biggest Embarrassment: Like most people, I have a problem only seeing the flaws in my DIY work. I know when a shelf isn’t perfectly level, or that there is hot glue and zip ties holding a picture to the wall.

Credit: Minette Hand

Proudest DIY: There are two things I’ve done to make the space my own. I’ve made nearly all of my shelving, along with painting the fireplace mantles to add contrast in the house, but the biggest improvement I tackled was giving the kitchen an update under $200. When I moved in, the whole house was a sea of off-whites and unsettling yellows that really made the space feel flat. Since then, I’ve attempted to add contrast to the home through highlighting a particular element through paint or textures.

Before, the kitchen cabinets were the same color as the walls, and the countertop was a swirly yellow Formica. Since the countertops were in such good shape, I was able to use contact paper with a butcher block pattern to refinish them. My deep dive into YouTube tutorials helped me prepare for the challenge ahead. The countertops really changed the look of the kitchen, but then I decided to take it a step further and paint the cabinets a dark dark green with new black hardware and faucet from Amazon. Overall I think the project lasted about two weeks and cost a little under $200.

Credit: Minette Hand

Biggest Indulgence: This is a tricky one, I feel like most of the time I try to work within a budget and buy things on sale. I will say, during quarantining at home the Instagram ads got me. I bought all new bedding and frame that wasn’t so budget-friendly.

Best Advice: I’m not sure if this is good advice, but I think it is important to show your personality in the space you live in. For me, I love collecting items, whether it is a book from a trip or a handmade planter from a local artist. If an item speaks to you, go ahead and get it. Not to infringe on Marie Kondo’s trademark, but you should be surrounded by things that bring you happiness.

Dream Sources: One thing I’ve had my eye on for a while is an original painting by Chase Mullen titled “Doom and Gloom.”


Credit: Minette Hand


  • Kitchen — Sherwin-Williams “Jasper”
  • Living room and bedroom fireplace mantels — Sherwin-Williams “Tricorn Black”


  • Terracotta Planters and Plants — The Red Onion
  • Textured Woven Outdoor Throw Pillows — Threshold / Target
Credit: Minette Hand


Credit: Minette Hand


Credit: Minette Hand


Credit: Minette Hand


Thanks, John-Taylor!

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This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.