Little by little, I’ve been hacking away at the “easier” rooms in our house. Those spaces that either: I had a fairly good idea what I wanted to do, or were a little easier to come up with a design plan for. I have finally been able to see progress on the first floor (thanks to some initial work in our family room and our completed foyer and downstairs bath), yet there is one space that has continued to be a major challenge for me: our kitchen. Like many homes (I assume), the kitchen is the hub of our home and where we spend a majority of our time. And while I try very, very hard to be thankful for its generous size, abundant cabinets, expanses of countertops, and ideal location within the downstairs floor plan, I’ve had a very difficult time seeing past the brown cabinets, brown countertops, and brown floor enough to identify ways to make it better. Well…after a whole year of giving it the stink eye day in and day out, I am thrilled to report that I’ve come up with a plan…a good plan…a totally doable plan…a plan that really excites me…to give a little more color and style to this really ugly bland rental kitchen. Read on to see what inspired me and how I’m gonna do it!

Do you have an ugly rental kitchen and no idea how to make it pretty? Check out these smart, easy and renter-friendly plans for adding major style to a bland rental kitchen!

Let’s have a quick reality check, shall we? This right here, my friends…is my dream kitchen:


And this right here…is our current rental kitchen.

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As much as I consider myself a pro at transforming rental spaces, getting that “before” picture to look like my “dream” kitchen is…let’s just say…a bridge too far. I know that seems obvious. But I think I was sitting in denial of that fact for the last year (I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve tried to come up with a renter-friendly way to change cabinet colors!!!) The truth is, it wasn’t until I fully, totally accepted that the kitchen I want is not possible in the kitchen I have, that I was able to focus in on the one thing I can do: make the kitchen I have better. Not perfect…not dreamy…but better. And that notion alone was enough to open me up to wanting to make some small updates in here. And soon after, this image came across my Instagram feed:


I was instantly struck by this photo from Ann of On Sutton Place for many, obvious reasons (the blue and white motif, the white tile, the light-and-brightness of it). But it was actually those beautiful jars that caught my eye. Not only did I LOVE the blue and white flower motif on them, but the way the pattern interacted with the honey brown lids gave me hope…a lot of hope…for our honey brown kitchen. So I hunted down those beautiful jars at Hobby Lobby and then set about finding some additional inspiration images that would help me blend our brown kitchen with the crips blue-and-white elements I love so much. Here’s what I found:

Do you have an ugly rental kitchen and no idea how to make it pretty? Check out these smart, easy and renter-friendly plans for adding major style to a bland rental kitchen!

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Although these images aren’t exactly my dream aesthetic, they are very, very lovely spaces that I could totally get on board with in our home. I won’t be able to re-create them (obviously), but I was suddenly filled with ideas of what our kitchen could be. So just like I did when trying to come up with a plan for our equally-as-challenging family room, I set about sourcing various textiles and accessories that would not only bring in the blue, white, gold and wood hues I needed, but that were also 100% removable and movable. After playing with lots of various options (just like I outlined here), here is where I landed…

Do you have an ugly rental kitchen and no idea how to make it pretty? Check out these smart, easy and renter-friendly plans for adding major style to a bland rental kitchen!

…and this design plan…which I’ve actually already started executing…makes me very, very excited!

I wanted to share this design plan with you guys today for a few reasons. Mainly, I wanted to preview where I was heading with our kitchen before I start to reveal some completed projects in the coming weeks and months. But also, I wanted to chat a bit about facing reality in our homes. You guys know that I believe in making whatever changes necessary in order to love your home more. Heck, I’ve built a blog and a business on that exact sentiment. But I also know many of us are living with homes (or parts of homes) we don’t love. And because of a variety of situations (e.g., renters, budget, time, life circumstances, etc), we can’t change them, or at least change them significantly. And if we can, sometimes those changes feel lame, silly, or inadequate. And that’s often enough to keep us from getting started.

But as one little picture in my Instagram feed reminded me, sometimes the smallest changes can make a big difference. As soon as I put those pretty flowered jars on my brown counters in my brown kitchen, I started to smile in there a little more. They created a pretty little moment that allowed me to dream about what the space could be, rather than what it was or wasn’t. I started to see opportunity (in color combos I’ve never tried) and beauty in areas I wasn’t expecting (just wait until you see my pretty pantry!). And for the first time in over a year, I’m pretty darn excited about our kitchen and where’s it’s headed.

Do you have a space you don’t know how to turn around? Have you recently figured out a way to make forward progress in a space you’re stuck in? I’d love to hear all about it!

In the meantime, I hope you have a great weekend. I’ll see you back here next week with a super simple storage solution I’m loving right now, as well as a discussion about where and how I bought rugs for this home! See you then!

See You Soon!