Before and After: This Son Gave His Dad’s Rental Kitchen A No-Reno Makeover

published May 25, 2018
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This kitchen was very nice—great cabinets, pretty paint, sleek black countertops, fantastic wood floors—but even very nice can use a little boost now and then. Peel-and-stick tiles to the rescue, for a polished, personal, and renter-friendly update.

This looks so great! The mini subway tile from Home Depot is delightful, plus the color works well with the new appliances and looks amazing with the orange sink. This makeover was created by Kevin O’Gara of Thou Swell for his father, and I agree that the results are great. Since his father is a renter, he made sure the solutions wouldn’t require a huge investment and were temporary (for security deposit purposes), so he opted for the peel-and-stick tile and new hardware:

With all the white kitchens out there, I love that this kitchen takes a moodier approach with the dark grey tile and more traditional, detailed hardware. The under-cabinet lighting definitely made it possible to go darker on the finishes, but the result has a bit more drama to it, which fits his house perfectly!

We can’t see the under-cabinet lighting in action in these photos, but it’s nice to know that it’s there.

Let’s back up a moment and hear a bit about the motivation behind this update:

When my dad moved into his historic bungalow in Cabbagetown, Atlanta, the kitchen was definitely the room that needed the most help! And as a huge cook and entertainer, I definitely wanted to make sure the kitchen became a great workspace for him. Fast forward several years and while I’ve decorated almost every other room in the house, we still hadn’t quite been able to take on the kitchen. It needed updated appliances (we had to spark his old range with a lighter), and the space lacked task lighting.

My dad loves to cook and spends a lot of time in the kitchen preparing elaborate dinners—especially the weekly Sunday night suppers he hosts with his best friends. The kitchen is also right next to the dining room, so besides updating the kitchen for style and functionality, the space needed to feel welcoming for guests who come in and out of the room.

This is just so sweet. Kevin seems to really know what’s important to his father. Decorating for a loved one can be an amazing gift, but it’s especially meaningful when so much thought and care is put into the remodeling process.

I want to know everything about the person that originally chose that orange sink, because I love it and it’s such an unusual feature. To me, it works because the rest of the kitchen is black and white—and, now, grey. The new hardware adds visual interest and resembles the handles on the fantastic new appliances (stove and dishwasher, both from Home Depot) and will keep the doors and drawers from getting as dirty.

Shout out to this little electronics wrangler, which is a far better than my “Lean My Phone Against The Salt Shaker” method. This solution looks so streamlined, and is perfect for both checking recipes and streaming a Netflix show while cooking.

If you’re considering updating a room with peel-and-stick tiles, whether you’re a renter or not, Kevin has encouraging words:

If you’re a renter but want to make a big impact in your kitchen, I would definitely recommend the peel-and-stick tiles. Take your time to install, making sure they’re straight and well-aligned, and the change will really make a huge difference!

Thank you, Kevin O’Gara and Thou Swell!