Before and After: Cabinet Paint and a DIY Backsplash Revive a “Bland” Rental Kitchen

published Jan 24, 2024
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Kitchens are often the hub of the home — and because they foster such important culinary and personal moments, it’s a bonus if the aesthetics match the vibrant energy of the space.

And it’s even better if you can make the room feel happy and light with minimal effort. Enter: the kitchen in art director and home decor and DIY aficionado Juliana’s modern LA rental loft. But it wasn’t always so effortlessly cheery.

The room is narrow, and the cabinets extend to the eight-foot ceiling. But when she moved in, the kitchen was all white, which didn’t flow with the rest of the apartment. “The kitchen felt dull and small,” Juliana says. “[The] cabinets and walls were an off-white glossy color, and I needed to find a solution for the lack of counter space.”

Credit: Louise Pappas
Credit: Leela Cyd

The soft green is a more exciting neutral.

Juliana wanted a more colorful cabinet solution that would match the vibe of the apartment without making the kitchen look smaller or busy, and she wanted her changes to be low-stress. “It was important to pick a color scheme that I wouldn’t easily get tired of, as I don’t like painting at alllllll.” And that’s exactly what she did.

She loves shades of blush and green, so she picked a soft green (Behr’s Moss Mist) for the cabinet color (and swapped in new hardware from IKEA), and she also found an easily removable way to incorporate pink into the space.  “I painted the cabinets in two days and tiled up the backsplash alone in about four days,” she says. “I had help from a friend with painting cabinets, but [did] the tiling and finishing touches by myself.”

Credit: Louise Pappas
Credit: Leela Cyd

The pink tile backsplash is renter-friendly.

“To keep it renter-friendly, I applied contact paper to the backsplash so I can peel it all off once I leave the apartment,” Juliana says of her DIY backsplash. “I also used some tiles I had from a previous project and chose to place them vertically for cosmetic purposes as well as to make sure the tile weight is distributed more evenly on the contact paper.”

Rather than using grout and tile adhesive, Juliana applied the tiles to the contact paper using liquid nails, which allowed her to use less product to keep the tiles up and is “waaaay less messy than the usual tiling process,” she says. 

Credit: Louise Pappas
Credit: Leela Cyd

A dining area at the end completes the space.

Juliana admits she’s not much of a chef but notes that kitchens are “high-traffic areas.” Some of her best advice for those with small kitchens is to “move small appliances into an area of easy access without cluttering the kitchen,” and that’s exactly what she did with her toaster oven, which rests on a slender black shelf that adds even more storage.

Juliana’s dining room table is custom from Acme 5 Lifestyle, her chairs are from Crate & Barrel, and the oval mirror is from IKEA.

“I love that from the dining room, the kitchen looks like a fun, inspiring little space rather than something to be hidden from guests,” Juliana says. “Though it’s small, my kitchen really inspires me to at least try to cook every once in a while.”

If you love the serene look of Juliana’s kitchen, you’ll want to tour the rest of her sun-drenched Los Angeles loft. Visit Apartment Therapy to see the full home tour

This post originally appeared on The Kitchn. See it there: Before & After: Striking Green Cabinets and Pink Backsplash Bring Life to This “Bland” Kitchen