You’ll Never Believe This New York City Kitchen Cabinet Redo Is Renter-Friendly

published Nov 22, 2022
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As far as rental kitchens go, Katelyn Sailor and her husband, Kyle, were in pretty good shape when they moved into their New York City apartment. Spacious for the area’s standards, the kitchen had modern appliances, sleek black countertops, and a white subway tile backsplash. That said, Sailor wasn’t a huge fan of the cabinets, the builder-grade tile floor, or the plain white walls. “The cabinets in our kitchen are reddish brown wood,” she explains. “They aren’t terrible, but the color didn’t match what I had envisioned for the space.”

“I begged my landlord to let me paint them,” she says. “But in typical NYC landlord fashion, he said no.” Aside from taking off the doors and replacing them or painting against strict instructions not to, one idea bubbled up on her list of options: contact paper. It wouldn’t be quick or easy even, but contact paper seemed like the best solution for getting the light and bright look she wanted. “I was determined to have white cabinets to make the wallpaper pop,” Sailor says. “So after some trial and error, I finally found a contact paper method that worked to cover them. It wasn’t easy, especially because of the grooves in the cabinet doors, but I made it work. It was a 30-plus hour project, and some people think I’m crazy, but I absolutely love them now, and I’m so glad I did it.”

Sailor didn’t stop there: Her former dingy floor tile was also painstakingly hidden with starburst patterned peel-and-stick tiles, which added instant character and charm, as well as a leopard print area rug from Ruggable. What’s more, she also covered the walls in a playful ode to NYC with Spoonflower’s peel-and-stick wallpaper featuring the iconic NYC Greek coffee cup. Along with the cabinets, this peppy pink and blue paper totally brightens up the space. Finally, the kitchen cabinet knobs were swapped for some more modern T-bar knobs. With all of these changes, you wouldn’t even know this was a rental kitchen, and everything can be reversed, should the couple want to move back to their home in Raleigh.