Kitchen updates you can do in a rental

Written by in Renovating

Few people ever actually consider renovating a kitchen when renting their home, but there are really simple kitchen updates you can do in a rental that will refresh your living space and make a dramatic shift in the way you view and interact with your home. The kitchen is one of the most heavily used rooms in the home, so make sure that if you intend on living in your rental for at least a year, apply some of these simple hacks to brighten up your kitchen.

Play around with lighting solutions

There are three types of lighting in the home: ambient, utility and accent.

Kitchens are often seen as spaces in which lighting only serves a purpose, and none more so than in rentals. This is what you would refer to as ‘utility’ lighting; often very bright and angled on workspaces from high above. But with utility lighting being directed down at kitchen workspaces from the ceiling, it’s common for your own body to create a shadow right where you are cutting your onions or dressing a salad, which completely negates the use of the light.

You should still have utility lighting in your kitchen but consider how and where else it could be applied. LED strip lights are a low cost/low energy lighting solution that is one of the easiest renovation hacks in the kitchen. Apply on the underside of your benchtops to highlight your workspaces. Alternatively, apply them on the underside of your cabinets near the floor to act as ambient lighting.

Lights on cups in the kitchen

Ambient lighting is incredibly important in a kitchen, especially when entertaining. Don’t wait until you might “one day” own your own home before entertaining. Consider downlights that can be attached to cabinets, free-standing lamps or floor lamps that can be strategically placed to add warmth to your kitchen.

You have utility and ambience ticked off. What about accent lighting? The best example of this kind of lighting are LEDs that shine down on paintings at a particular angle to highlight the painting on a wall. But why not do this in the kitchen? You may have wall space for artwork in your kitchen that you can highlight or use your ceiling light as an accent light to shine on a particular aspect of your kitchen. A nice warm accented ceiling light can be left on when entertaining to keep the space warm as you and your guests eat.


Peel and stick solutions

This is one of the best ways to update a kitchen in a rental house, as it immediately changes the way your kitchen looks. Peel and stick wallpaper and tiles can be used to add the impression of texture and opulence to a once tired or dated rental splashback. What’s more, they are affordable, easy to apply and easy to remove once you leave.

Kitchen with tiled wallpaper

Replacing cupboards

When in a rental, your landlord must provide a kitchen that meets the needs of a tenant, with access to hot water, a sink, and cabinetry. All of these things have to be in a reasonable and working order, but this is the extent to which your landlord needs to provide any updates to the kitchen.

You may consider approaching your landlord, especially if you have a good relationship with them, to talk about possible options for renovating your rental kitchen, as this promises to improve the value of their property and may come with the added bonus of you being there to aid in the labour if that is something you are interested in, while it will likely keep you in the home for longer, removing the risk of them being out-of-pocket when looking for a replacement tenant.

If this isn’t an option, one of the best ways you can update your kitchen in a rental is to physically replace your kitchen cabinetry. Remember to store the old cupboards without risk of damage so that they are waiting for you to put them back when you leave the property, but otherwise, you are free to put whatever cabinetry you want on the hinges. It is a good idea to inform your landlord of this, but as long as you store the old cupboards safely they have no reason to deny you this update.

Temporary flooring

There is nothing better than new flooring to boost your relationship with your home. Temporary floorboards can be an affordable, easy, and highly effective way to improve the aesthetics of your kitchen. Major home outlets will sell these shallow timber solutions, which you can place above the existing floor within a day and completely refresh your kitchen.

Man measuring floorboards

Find a theme to your kitchen

Develop a colour palette or invest in accessories, such as a crockery set, that speaks to a particular theme and unifies the kitchen. This is a great way to upgrade your kitchen because it actually does nothing to the physical space itself but imposes are refreshed palette and style to the space that you can take with you when you leave. This is a great option for those who don’t like to be stuck in one home for too long and like to move around and explore different areas of a city.

Cover the stove

A simple kitchen hack, but a good one. Cover your stove when it’s not in use with a good quality timber chopping board of some sort. It will hide the burners when the kitchen is not in use and act as extra space on which you can place accessories or plants, or you may just keep it bare to show off the warmth of the wood.

Show off your wares

If you have a nice set of pots and pans or other nice kitchenware (glasses, crockery), then show them off in your kitchen rather than hiding them in cupboards just because you have them. Use that cupboard space to store other things in your home and use hangers and shelving on your benchtop and hanging from the wall to show off those kitchen items you originally invested your money in.


Even if you don’t own many pots and pans or those you own aren’t those beautiful looking copper pans that chefs’ homes seem to be full to the brim with, having your cooking utensils on display tells visitors that you use your kitchen, while their very presence on display may even get you cooking more often and improve your relationship with your kitchen.

Plantlife is the good life.

The less said for this, the better. We all know how much a few plants in the home and in the kitchen can make a dramatic impact on the aesthetics of the kitchen and of your relationship with your home. Improve the quality of the air in your home and refresh your kitchen with this cheap and quick hack.

Having edible plants and herbs, just like all of the above kitchen renovation hacks, will have you cooking more and spending less on takeaway.

Plants on kitchen bench