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Before & After: A Bright & Cheery Rental Kitchen Refresh

Before & After: A Bright & Cheery Rental Kitchen Refresh

There's nothing quite like like a dramatic rental refresh. It's amazing what a fresh coat of paint, new hardware, and a few simple swaps can do for a space. Recently, our Copywriter, Chelsea, moved into a new apartment and decided that her kitchen was in desperate need of a little love. With some hard work and a few simple DIY's, she was able to take a bland, outdated space and transform it into something cheerful, fresh, and full of life. Below, you just might find the inspiration (and advice) you need to get a jump start on your next home project.



Bland and unfinished kitchen.



Bright and sunny kitchen with yellow and white cabinets and butcher-block countertops.


Tell us a little bit about your home and how long you've lived there.

I actually just moved in a few months ago! I was craving a change of scenery and couldn't have chosen a better spot (I mean, just look at the light in this place!). When I first toured the apartment I instantly knew that the kitchen had major potential, it was just a matter of choosing the right color palette and making a few easy upgrades. It's a relatively small kitchen so I wanted to go with something bright and fun to liven up the space and I think that this cheery yellow definitely did the trick! 

For the paint, I chose "Cork" by Behr for the lower cabinets, and "White Heron" by Benjamin Moore to give everything else a fresh, clean feel. 


Before image of outdated, bland kitchen.

Close in shot of yellow wall with peg rail and gray clock above.


What's your favorite part of the finished design? 

The half-painted wall with the peg rail wasn't part of the initial plan, but as I was painting the cabinets I decided to go for it, and in my opinion, it turned out to be the best part of the kitchen. It's the perfect spot to hang regularly used kitchen tools like my apron and produce bags, and I think it visually ties the whole space together!


Sunny kitchen with yellow cabinets.


How long did the refresh take to complete? 

It took about a month to paint, add peel and stick tile, apply the contact paper countertops, and install the surface mount and hardware. It was a a labor of love, but well worth it in the end!


What's your favorite Schoolhouse product that you chose for this space?

This is a hard one, but I'd have to say the Alabax and the Utility Stool. We recently launched the Alabax in a few new colors and each shade is utter perfection. I chose the Auburn color way for the kitchen because I thought it would play well with the yellow cabinets, and I think it fits so seamlessly into the space!

As for the Utility Stool, it's the perfect height and shape, and makes reaching the upper shelves of my cabinet a breeze! Thought it primarily lives in the kitchen, I'm always using it around the house when I need to get something just out of reach, or want somewhere to put a book or glass when I'm taking a bath. 


Yellow peg rail with hand broom and dustpan.

Soap dish and towel on counter next to white sink.


Is there any advice you can share for those attempting their own rental refresh?

My number one piece of advice is to GO FOR IT! Rental or not, it's your home and if you want to, you should make it feel like you. Plus, you can always repaint and swap the light fixtures and hardware back before you move out. 

Also, you can do it! It's intimidating to know where to start if you've never painted cabinets, or switched out a light fixture, but you'd be surprised at how easy it can be! There are so many helpful step-by-step tutorials out there to guide you along the way, and believe me, in the end the work is well worth the reward. 


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