Transform Your Rental Kitchen for Under $400

Upgrading a rental home or apartment can be a risky move if you want to get your deposit back. The trick? Make inexpensive changes you can easily un-do or take with you when it’s time to move out.

Before: Boring Builder Grade

This cookie-cutter kitchen went from basic to boho — all for under $400. For the tenant, who loves to cook, the kitchen had good bones but felt cold and impersonal.

After: Brimming With Personality

By adding pops of color, interesting pattern and a few expensive-looking design details, she achieved her goal. Now the kitchen's a fun, welcoming spot where she can whip up a gourmet meal while catching up with friends.

Stovetop Statement

Using peel + stick tile on the walls, especially in cook zones, not only protects the wall, it also looks like a feature you’d find in an upscale kitchen. Mount the patterned tiles on 1/4" plywood, then secure the board to the wall with removable adhesive strips. Tip: Have the board cut to size in the store, so it’ll be easier to transport home. Total Cost: Around $62

Stick to Shiplap

No backsplash, no problem. This removable wallpaper features a weathered shiplap design so convincing you’ll want to use it everywhere. Who knows, your landlord may love the look so much, they reimburse you for the cost of materials. Total Cost: $35

Graphic Arts

Don't underestimate the impact of graphic art — whether it's one oversized piece or a grouping of small prints. These striking abstracts picked up online create a unique effect when butted frame-to-frame. No drywall was harmed during the installation, the prints are attached to the wall with removable adhesive. Total Cost: $28

Mod Runner

Creating a custom, virtually spill-proof runner is a snap when you use peel + stick vinyl. Start by cutting shelf liner to size, then cover it with the vinyl tile. This little runner, made from leftover tile, repeats the pattern on the stove backsplash creating a cohesive, purposeful look. Total Cost: $4

Go Faux

Roman shades are tailored, polished and usually fairly expensive. Not this DIY version which is made from a repurposed tablecloth, so it didn't bust the budget. A few strategically placed tension rods + dramatic draping = a cascade of gorgeous blooms. Total Cost: $40

Boho Beauty

Love boho style? Make your own version of those fancy beaded chandeliers you see in all the design mags. If you liked making beaded necklaces as a kid, you’re going to LOVE this DIY project. Total Cost: $39

Get the How-To: How to Make a Beaded Boho Chandelier

That’s a Wrap

If your rental's appliances have seen better days, consider wrapping them with a patterned or colored adhesive paper. It’s a cheap, easy way to deal with an ugly fridge or dishwasher that won’t damage the existing finish. And choosing a fun accent color is absolutely the way to go. Total Cost: $15

Pretty Pantry

Why stick with a basic contractor-grade pantry door when you can soften up the space with a customized drapery panel. Even the hanging hardware is landlord-friendly. Those aren't brackets; they're removable adhesive hooks, so no screw holes to patch later. We love how this boho-inspired beauty is embellished with a graphic black yarn and DIY tassels. Total Cost: $60

Dowel Design

Small details, like this sleek paper towel holder, show guests you love good design. Whip one up for yourself with a couple of grosgrain ribbons, a large dowel and hook-and-loop tape. Total Cost: $13

Hang It Up

If you're tight on space, put your better-looking utensils on display. We love using self-adhesive, removable hooks in a fun color or upscale finish. Since they won’t damage the walls, you can feel confident grouping several near a food prep zone to keep utensils handy. Total Cost: $8

Tray Chic

Here's a new use for interesting shaped dishware and cookware you may already own. This sculptural tart pan pulls double duty as a small tray. Just the right size to display kitchen accessories and oils. Total Cost: $10

Contain Yourself

Decanting boxes and bags of your favorite snacks and staples into a set of airtight canisters will give your kitchen a neat, pulled-together look. Canisters also help keep foods fresher, longer and that saves you money. Total Cost: $20

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