Moving into a rental property can feel limiting when it comes to customizing your space. As a renter, you may feel like you can’t make significant changes that allow you to put your personal stamp on your home. However, there are many affordable and creative ways to make a rental kitchen feel like your own without making permanent alterations.

Embrace Peel-and-Stick Products

One of the easiest ways to customize a rental kitchen is to use peel-and-stick products that allow you to remove them without damaging the existing surfaces. Consider using peel-and-stick wallpaper or contact paper to give appliances, backsplashes, countertops or cabinetry a new look. There are many patterns and textures available, from faux tiles to wood grain. Just clean the surface, measure carefully, cut to size and apply. When it’s time to move, simply peel it off.

Use Removable Fixtures and Finishes

There are removable options for lighting fixtures, faucets, cabinet hardware and more that can help refresh a rental kitchen. Swap out basic builder-grade light fixtures for pendulum lights, sconces or under cabinet lights. Replace the existing faucet with a trendy high-arc version. Install new knobs and pulls on cabinets and drawers for an instant update. Just make sure to keep the original finishes to reinstall when moving out.

Add Color With Appliances and Decor

While you probably can’t repaint the walls, you can use appliances, decor and accessories to infuse color into your rental kitchen. Replace major appliances like the refrigerator and dishwasher with versions in bold hues like red, blue or green. Bring in bright colors through your kitchen linens, dishes, utensils and pantry items. Use colorful rugs and decals to enhance the floors and walls.

Organize With Rental-Friendly Storage

Lack of storage is a common rental kitchen woe. Get creative with organization solutions that you can take with you when you move. freestanding cabinets and open shelving units add storage without permanent installation. Use over-the-cabinet racks, hanging pots racks and magnetic strips to take advantage of vertical space. Install removable sink accessories like cutting board racks. Maximize drawers with organizers.

Display Personal Touches

One of the best ways to make a rental kitchen your own is to display personal mementos and touches. Hang personalized art, photos, chalkboards and prints using command strips. Show off your favorite cookbooks rather than stashing them in cabinets. Use sculptures, vases, plants or baskets to give the space character. Display sentimental kitchenware. The goal is to infuse the space with pieces that show your unique style.

Consider Temporary Accent Walls

Painting accent walls or backsplashes can add drama, but may not be allowed. Instead, use large removable wall decals or tempera paint to create stunning designs. Consider removable tiles or faux bricks around a backsplash. Use washable paint or chalkboard paint on the back of an island. There are many eye-catching options that let you indulge your inner interior designer without permanent changes.

Update Window Treatments

Windows are a great opportunity to make a statement. Skip basic blinds and opt for curtains, valances and other window treatments that match your style. Go for bright colors, bold patterns, or on-trend styles like macrame and linen. You can easily remove window treatments to take with you or revert back to blinds when you move out.

Incorporate Greenery

One of the fastest ways to warm up a rental kitchen is to bring in lush greenery. You can incorporate plants without making permanent changes. Use hanging plants, shelving units, countertop plant stands or tabletop planters to add pops of green. Herbs planted in containers can provide a splash of color and texture while serving a purpose.

Adjust Cabinet Interiors

While you may not be able to paint or replace cabinet boxes, you can customize the interiors. Use contact paper, wallpaper or paint on the insides of cabinet doors for a quick refresh. Replace existing shelves with adjustable versions or glass for openness. Install spin organizers and specialty racks to maximize storage. Use drawer liners to change look and feel.

Update Lighting

Lighting can make a huge impact on the look and function of a rental kitchen. Consider adding under cabinet lighting for task lighting. Swap overhead fixtures for new pendant or track lighting. Use dimmable bulbs to set the mood. Accent with stylish table and floor lamps. You can even use removable wall sconces or picture lights to change the lighting design.

Repurpose Furnishings

Turn furnishings you already own into functional pieces for a rental kitchen. Upcycle a bookshelf or cabinet into makeshift pantry storage. Use a buffet sideboard or dresser for extra cabinet space. Repurpose crates, boxes and baskets for eclectic open shelving. There are many ways to give older furnishings new life with a rental-friendly update.

Recover With Textiles

Use fabrics and textiles to make inexpensive yet dramatic updates. Recover a basic dining table with bold, patterned tablecloth. Make removable cushions or slipcovers for barstools. Add warmth with cotton rugs. Use fabric to create unique roman shades for windows. Textiles provide an easy and affordable way to introduce color, pattern and texture.

Rent Out Unique Features

Some rental companies offer appliances, fixtures and special features as part of rental packages for an additional monthly fee. This may allow you to rent that coveted wine fridge or high-end gas range without a permanent investment. You may also be able to negotiate the addition of rental upgrades like new lighting packages or synthetic counters.

With a little creativity, you can customize a rental kitchen to suit your personal taste. Focus on inexpensive, removable upgrades that allow you to achieve the look you want while abiding by your rental agreement. In the end, you’ll have a stylish kitchen to enjoy for the duration of your lease.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some good rental-friendly flooring options to personalize a kitchen?

Some good flooring options include:

  • Area rugs – they can add color, pattern and warmth. Look for low-pile rugs with slip-resistant backings.
  • Removable vinyl tiles – these stick onto the existing flooring and can mimic stone, wood or other looks.
  • Peel-and-stick floor tiles – another removable option perfect for rentals. Easy to cut, apply and remove.
  • Floor decals/stencils – create patterns without full floor coverage. Great for accent areas.

What type of paint is best for use in a rental kitchen?

The best paints for use in a rental kitchen are darker, bolder hues applied to accent walls or small sections. Removable options like chalkboard paint, tempera paint or removable wall decals are great for color without permanence. Always check with your landlord before painting anything.

What are some ideas to inexpensively update worn-out rental kitchen cabinets?

Some inexpensive ways to update worn rental cabinets include:

  • New knobs and pulls – quick swap outs make a big impact.
  • Glass door inserts – open up cabinet fronts without replacing doors.
  • Interior wallpaper/contact paper – colorful patterns inside cabinets.
  • Chalkboard paint – use on insides of cabinet doors for notes.
  • Adjust or add shelving – improve storage and visibility.
  • Under cabinet lighting – illuminates work surfaces.
  • Removable panels or trim – freshens up exteriors.

How can I decorate a small, dark rental kitchen to make it feel brighter and more spacious?

Some tips for small, dark rental kitchens include:

  • Add mirrors and reflective surfaces to open up space.
  • Paint the interior of cabinets a light color to maximize space.
  • Incorporate glass/acrylic furnishings and organizers.
  • Use lighter-colored, sheer window treatments.
  • Update overhead lighting fixtures with something bright and modern.
  • Choose lighter colors for dishes, appliances and accessories.
  • Keep tabletops and counters clutter-free.
  • Maximize natural light with sheer curtains.

What are good ways to baby-proof a rental kitchen for safely?

Some tips for baby-proofing a rental kitchen include:

  • Use cabinet locks and latches to secure cabinets. Easy to install and remove.
  • Purchase corner cushions for sharp corners and edges.
  • Keep appliances unplugged when not in use. Use outlet covers.
  • Secure freestanding kitchen furniture to walls with removable brackets.
  • Use non-slip mats and rugs to prevent slips.
  • Keep hot foods and liquids away from edges.
  • Install removable stove knob covers.
  • Mount safety gates to keep baby out during cooking times.

What should I know before drilling holes or making permanent changes to a rental kitchen?

Before making permanent changes in a rental kitchen, always consult your landlord and review your lease agreement to understand limitations. Get approvals in writing. Offer to restore the kitchen or hire professional help when vacating. Avoid installations that require drilling into floors, tile or stone. Patch holes properly before moving out. Know that you may be charged fees or lose your security deposit if permanent changes are made without approval.


Renting doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your sense of style when it comes to the kitchen. With a bit of creativity, there are many affordable and removable ways to make a rented kitchen distinctly yours. Focus on quick updates like peel-and-stick products, bright accessories, stylish lighting and greenery. Look for organizational solutions and ways to infuse your personality through art and accents. And always get landlord approval before making any permanent alterations. By personalizing your rental kitchen, you can gain function and style to enjoy throughout your lease.