Renters, You Can Remodel — We Fixed a Kitchen for Less Than $500!

As a renter sometimes you walk through a house and think I can clean that or add decor to that and it will be just fine. That was my thought as I walked through a 100-year-old Victorian. The beauty of the woodwork totally intoxicated me and through my rose-colored glasses I thought the kitchen was “cute.” When my husband walked through the house his view was a lot different. He saw a kitchen with a horribly depleted vinyl floor, old miss-cut and mismatching counters to the sink, and a 2×4 holding up the counter top. The pluming under the sink was leaking horribly, and it had mold everywhere and an opening to the ground outside that I had not seen on my initial walk through. There were mice everywhere and he was not amused. By the time we moved in I was heartbroken.

We talked to the rental company and asked why they rented the kitchen without bottom cabinets? And just 2×4’s? There was no answer other than “that is the way it is”. We asked if they could fix the leak under the sink and clean up. Everything stayed in bins for weeks while those items were checked off the list. Then we still had to deal with the 2×4 and kitchen. We asked them if they would fix it. They took care of the mice and the leak but that was it. They said if you want to update the rest go ahead.

With permission we were on the hunt for a HUGE redo on a very small budget. We had a total of $500 with a note to spend much less if possible. First on the agenda was the bottom 2×4 cabinet. We bought nice plywood and some decorative edging and started to design. The cabinets that existed were already mismatched. So some sanding, paint, and hardware we came out with some pretty great cabinets. For the walls we used a light blue to give a light breezy space, as it was so small. For the floor we bought three boxes of a peel and stick wood vinyl approximately 50 dollars a box from Home Depot and began to create the floor. The mudroom was just a (plywood) floor so we continued it out there as well with what was left over.

The cabinets were over the gas stove so anytime you got anything out of the cabinet while cooking you got burned. We did move those to make a pantry and then tiled the top of the bottom one to create a place for a microwave because there was none. For a back splash we did a neutral glass tile on sale approximately $75 for the whole space. We added the edging on the microwave shelf to match. The white square tiles on the microwave table were about $20. All is neutral so that the next renters can change colors if they want to. Over the stove we hung floating shelves and a large potholder light, which helped with storage. We also added a window applique, which helped with design and privacy. When you have a small space you can check out sales, and extras at Home Depot or Lowes there are great deals available. Even though we were very sore for a few days there is peace in the kitchen and we came in under budget at $435.

Our lease was 2 years long so spending the low budget was needed for us to be happy there. I do believe you have to put love into your home own or rent. The difference is astounding and we gained some confidence in remodeling. It was nice to put a little piece of us into this old Victorian and I know the next family who rents it will have no mice, no leaks, and a great space to call their own. It was worth it!!

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