Before and After: This Son Gave His Dad’s Rental Kitchen A No-Reno Makeover | : May 25, 2018

We’re always keen on spotting these stories about low-impact kitchen or bath upgrades for renters. In San Francisco, where even a terrible unit can fetch a king’s ransom in rent, making the best out of your landlord’s horrible attention to detail can be a godsend.

Click on through to the story of how one son-of-a-renter made a huge impact on his dad’s pad.


Shout out to this little electronics wrangler, which is a far better than my “Lean My Phone Against The Salt Shaker” method. This solution looks so streamlined, and is perfect for both checking recipes and streaming a Netflix show while cooking.

If you’re considering updating a room with peel-and-stick tiles, whether you’re a renter or not, Kevin has encouraging words:

  • If you’re a renter but want to make a big impact in your kitchen, I would definitely recommend the peel-and-stick tiles. Take your time to install, making sure they’re straight and well-aligned, and the change will really make a huge difference!

via Peel and Stick Tile Backsplash – Kitchen Before After | Apartment Therapy

from The Kitchn : “The Tiny Upgrade for a More Stylish Rental Kitchen”

If there’s one room in your rental apartment where a good handyman can help make the difference between a good home and a GREAT one, it’s either the bathroom or the kitchen. In this case, let’s turn to your kitchen and to Apartment Therapy’s sister site, The Kitchn, for help in figuring out where to focus your energy on apartment upgrades that won’t break your bank account or your lease.

The one thing my rental apartment kitchen has going for it is that it’s new. When the old tenants moved out, a team of contractors came and removed the ugly floors, cabinets, and countertops and replaced them with new versions — but new in no way equates to modern or cool. My kitchen looks, I imagine, about the same as many rental kitchens out there: beige and bland.


via The Tiny Upgrade for a More Stylish Rental Kitchen | Kitchn

Rental Updates that Won’t Upset Your Landlord | Apartment Therapy

You see a lot of posts on this site from Apartment Therapy. Though we consider the site a shadow of its former self in terms of scope and layout, we find its audience to be tightly in line with ours — city renters trying to make the most out of their urban homes — and we see value in a lot of the ideas they share.

One of those ideas is how to make improvements to your apartment that won’t conflict with your lease. Have a look at this page for their ideas, and even more in the comments section!

I’ve been in my rented apartment for three years and it’s starting to look a little dingy — water stains from a rainy winter have become a white-wall eyesore, my old bathroom never looks clean, even when it is, and the bedroom carpet has started to lose its newness. I’ve refreshed it in ways that are mostly on the cheap and won’t challenge my lease agreement, and thought I’d share them here.

by Theresa Gonzalez
Nov 29, 2017

5. Switch out light fixtures.
For my bedroom I wanted to wake up to something a little nicer, lighter than the cheap brass fixture that came with the place. I hired an electrician to replace it with a George Nelson lamp and will likely hire him again to replace it when I move out. The work cost about $60.


6. Add new hardware.
The cabinet handles that were originally in my kitchen were, to put it mildly, hideous. I swapped those out with simple, modern stainless steel ones from IKEA, and it completely transformed the room. Those can easily go back when I move out, or the landlord can keep mine since they cost so little.


As always, we can help you out with everything on this list and many more!

via Rental Updates that Won’t Upset Your Landlord | Apartment Therapy

Where and How to Find Vintage Schoolhouse Lighting | Apt. Therapy

e85238f6b4b5a70ba02eddf9544b1eed2d3cec82via Vintage Schoolhouse Lighting: Shop The Look for Less | Apartment Therapy

As much as we love schoolhouse-style lighting, it isn’t always the best idea to buy something truly vintage and hope it works. There are stores — such as Schoolhouse Electric or Barn Light Electric — who sell absolutely beautiful fixtures in this style, but they are often out of financial reach. To help you stay on budget, and get the look you want, we’ve rounded up some of the best lighting options out there, all well under $100.

… and if you buy them, we’ll install them.

Another affordable option, this one with clear glass (so pick up an Edison bulb to complete the look) and an aged metal frame. Find it at Target for $89.


House Tour: A Colorful 400 Square Foot Studio Apartment | Apartment Therapy

Name: Adrianne Hawthorne Location: Lower Pacific Heights, San Francisco Size: 400 square feet Years Lived In: Renting 1.5 Adrianne’s studio apartment, perched high up in a Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, is an oasis of color and unique details. The thoughtfulness of each item placed in her home isn’t surprising; Adrianne works as a visual designer by trade!

Source: House Tour: A Colorful 400 Square Foot Studio Apartment | Apartment Therapy

From Chicago, Adrianne originally planned to rent a one-bedroom apartment upon moving to San Francisco but quickly decided that a studio would be the way to go. With a smaller space, she wasn’t worried about having enough stuff to fill it up. Instead, she was able to focus on only bringing in items that brought her joy. Between the bright, airy light from the window next to her bed to her sweet cats cuddled up when we visited, we can confirm: this sweet studio in the heart of the city is simply delightful.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Polished, textured, bold and quirky. I love simple, clean lines that are softened by pattern and texture.

Inspiration: Color. I’m a visual designer by trade and I always browse color palettes when I have a creative block — it usually gets me back on track. I took the same approach with my studio. The first thing I did when I moved here was create a mood board with color swatches, which I referenced throughout the decorating process. I’m also inspired by Emily Henderson, Anthropologie, Free People, The Brick House blog, The Jungalow blog, and Apartment Therapy (which is the reason I rented a studio in the first place — I was so inspired by the Small Cool spaces I saw!)

Favorite Element: A vintage Martini & Rossi vermouth bottle from what I think is the 1950s. To anyone who doesn’t know the story, the bottle looks like trash on display. Which it is, but it’s memorable trash, since I salvaged it from my great-grandmother’s original home in Campagna, Italy last summer. My sister and I were able to track down her home and go inside. This bottle was on the ground so I took it and I’m glad I did — it makes me feel a connection to my ancestors and my Italian heritage.

Biggest Challenge: The kitchen. It’s dark and has black countertops paired with maple colored wood. I wasn’t sure how to work with it when I moved in but decided to brighten it in any way that I could. I started by covering the dark tile floor with a bold, striped runner. I added lots of framed prints in white or gold frames, plants in white pots and white linens. Even though the black counters still aren’t my fave, the space feels brighter than it did when I first moved in.

What Friends Say: Friends comment on the detailed “nooks” that I’ve built in nearly every corner of the studio. They are impressed that I was able to inject so many deeply personal items into my decor.

Biggest Embarrassment: I have a few prints where the framing is slightly off (things like the mat is half an inch too large…) and I haven’t gotten around to fixing them. Also, I eyeballed my gallery wall and sometimes I notice the imperfections…but it depends on the day.

Proudest DIY: The pipe shelf in the living room area. I built it with my dad and back then, it was twice the size. Part of the shelf was damaged during my move to California, so I reconfigured the pipes and created a smaller version that fits perfectly into my new space.

Biggest Indulgence: Custom Joybird sofa. When I downsized to a studio from a one bedroom, I knew I’d want a comfy sofa to sleep on if I had guests. Not only is it comfortable, but it turned out exactly like I imagined. Choosing the swatch was the hardest part — I went back and forth between neutrals and bolds for at least a week. I finally settled on Bentley Daisy (textured yellow) because it was somewhere between super-bold and a safe-neutral. Plus, yellow has been my favorite color since kindergarten so I figured I couldn’t go wrong!

Best Advice: Only keep the things that give you joy. I got this from Marie Kondo’s famous book on tidying, but man did it help me downsize when I moved here from Chicago. I followed this advice and because of it, I come home every day to a place that calms me, inspires me and makes me happy – my own personal sanctuary.

Dream Sources: Vintage flea markets, Restoration Hardware, Design Within Reach, and Edgewater Antique Mall in Chicago





  • Bar Stools – Amazon
  • Pink and gold tray – souvenir from Austria
  • Wood vase – handmade by my great-grandfather
  • “A” Marquee
  • Macrame Plant Holder – Wild Feather in San Francisco
  • “Flesh Out” briefcase from a collaborative art piece I did with Franchec Crespo in 2013 – Shown at Typeforce in Chicago
  • Pink Saddle Shoes – Famous Footwear circa 1991
  • Gold Record Stand – an original from my mom’s apartment back in the day
  • Calisa Block Print rug – Urban Outfitters


  • Quilt in Cream – Target
  • Vintage Kilim Throw –
  • Nyvoll Bedframe in gray wood – IKEA
  • Gold Vintage plant stand – Etsy
  • DIY Terrarium – Juicy Kits
  • Trones Storage Cabinet aka nightstand – IKEA
  • Curtains and hardware in both rooms – IKEA
  • Vintage Red Dresser – Vintage Ground in Chicago
  • MCM “Bulbous” Ceramic Lamp – Seek Vintage in Noble Square, Chicago
  • Quartz gold clock with glass dome – inherited from my grandfather
  • Vintage Lucite Purse in green – gift from my aunt


  • Chimp Pope original art print – JessianPress on Etsy
  • Threshold Mirrored Etched Accent Table – old Target find
  • Shower Curtain – Target
  • Metal Cat print – Dirty Lola on Etsy