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Tara’s Budget Rental Remodel: Severing Ties With a 1970s Style Kitchen

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Dabney Frake)

Tara Bellucci, our News & Culture Editor, just moved into a new apartment in Boston’s South End this fall. The space definitely needed updating but, since Tara’s renting, a full on, rip-it-all-out reno just isn’t in the cards. She got permission from her landlord to make a few changes — simple inexpensive updates to make it more livable and inviting. And yes, a whole lot less ugly. Her landlord even agreed to pitch in to help get it done, by way of a handyman to do some of the labor.

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(Image credit: Dabney Frake)

Here’s the state of affairs, and the plan for a low-budget and light landlord-friendly remodel:

(Image credit: Dabney Frake)

Cabinets: These aren’t the prettiest flowers in the bouquet, but they’ve done their job for years, and still have life in them. They are solid. The biggest problem is the odd laminate that looks more like wood stripes than actual wood grain.

Verdict: Cabinets stay, but will get some sort of refacing —either paint or adhesive paper.

(Image credit: Dabney Frake)

Flooring: Now, moving onto the 70s dream that is the floor. The hardwood around it is lovely, but that little patch of pea green linoleum leaves a lot to be desired. It looks dingy and dated. And again, it’s pea green.

Verdict: Either these will get painted or replaced with a low cost option.

(Image credit: Dabney Frake)

Appliances: Appliances are on the newer side and, although they could cause snow blindness, don’t need to be replaced any time soon. They work just fine and aren’t scratched, dented, or dirty.

Verdict: The stove and fridge stay. There’s no way Tara’s paying for that.

(Image credit: Dabney Frake)

Countertops: The countertops are marble-like laminate which, you know, is the Beyoncé of laminate. If you’re going to have those in your kitchen, at least the pattern is on the subtle side.

Verdict: Countertops stay. Distract from the laminate-ness with smoke and mirrors.

(Image credit: Dabney Frake)

Lighting: The plug-in lights underneath the cabinets are useful, but given all their dangly bits, they sure are ugly.

Verdict: Lighting stays but we need to clean them up somehow so they aren’t as visible.

(Image credit: Dabney Frake)

Backsplash: The backsplash is the same marble pattern as the countertop, but there’s just so much of it. The countertop is one thing, but a whole backsplash is another thing.

Verdict: Remove or cover with another material.

(Image credit: Dabney Frake)

Above Cabinets: The white wasteland above the cabinets could use some help. It’s great storage, but again, it sure is ugly.

Verdict: Eliminate the void with something — anything at all — and hopefully something useful like storage.