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  • Writer's pictureLauren Reinhart

Before & After: Budget Rental Unit Kitchen & Bath

Before my husband and I were married, he bought a rental property. At the time, we had barely any money and couldn't afford to do much besides slap on some new paint and flooring and get some tenants in there.

Fast forward a few years later and we were ready to update the unit to attract great tenants, and let's be honest, so I could do a little tiny bit of design work in there. The goal was to honor the 1950's soul of the home while maintaining a distinctly contemporary feel.

We were still trying to stick to a budget so I focused on small changes that made big impacts: new light fixtures, painted cabinets, cabinet knobs, and a little bit of peel and stick wallpaper. The unit is now rented and we got some great tenants in there, so I'd say the transformation was a success. See photos below!


I only have a couple of before photos. The first is when we bought the house, and the second is right before we started the most recent updates. You can see the original wood cabinets in the kitchen. While I love original wooden elements, these cabinets were in rough shape and paint was the best option.


Right before we started the most recent work! This gray color was just extra exterior paint from the paint job on the house... not the best option but it worked for a while!


We added the countertops and cabinets surrounding the stove. Previously this was an empty wall with just a stove and a stand alone rolling cart and is much more functional now! The light fixture is a brushed gold finish track light that allows for ample lighting and fits much better on the beam than the previous fixture.

We matched the top cabinet color to the wall with green on the bottom cabinets and this created a feeling of more height and spaciousness.

The bottom cabinet paint color is Benjamin Moore Mistletoe Green, a refreshing medium to light green. Since there is a lot of Southern light in this space I wanted to go with a green that wasn't already too warm, and this worked perfectly! The upper cabinets and walls are Benjamin Moore White Dove, a favorite warm white of mine.

Here's another view of the kitchen with the new cabinets. These are Home Depot budget cabinets that got a fresh coat of paint along with home depot knobs for a more custom look.

The cabinets on the wall below are original to the house - built in 1954! With a fresh coat of paint and some gold knobs to add interest, it's difficult to tell that these vintage cabinets do not match the new Home Depot ones.

I added a little bit of geometric gold and white peel and stick wallpaper to compliment the gold finish on the knobs and light fixtures and to brighten up the aging bottoms of the drawers. The top surfaces on the inside of the cabinet also got it!

The countertops are stock countertops (aka CHEAP) from Home Depot. The white and gray pattern adds brightness and some texture to the space.

The gold sputnik fixture is the only light in the living room. It provides plenty of light compared to the one-light fixture that was there before, and a dimmable switch was included for when tenants prefer lower light. The gold finish matches the track light in the kitchen.


The bathroom updates were subtle but I wanted to maintain consistency and add some modern fixtures and small details that would update the space.

I loved the old floral wallpaper lining these shelves but it was in bad condition.


The brushed gold globe vanity light is consistent with the modern fixtures in the kitchen. A new shower curtain rod was added to compliment the light.

New wallpaper was added to the shelves in the bathroom closet.

I hope you enjoyed this before and after of the budget rental unit kitchen and bathroom updates! Investing in some unique (but affordable) fixtures, paint color and cabinet knobs helped make this rental unit feel unique and updated. Adding cabinets and countertops on either side of the stove took up the majority of the budget, but was still cost effective and added a lot more functionality and value to the home.

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