14 Unique Apartment Kitchen Ideas

kitchen with white cabinets

Emily Henderson

Renting an apartment has a lot of perks, especially if you want to avoid paying for the expensive maintenance and upkeep of homeownership. But if you also want to get that security deposit back, putting your personal stamp on your home will require a little extra creativity and open-mindedness. Whether your apartment kitchen could use a mini-facelift or you simply want to add a dose of personality, there are plenty of upgrades that won't cause your landlord's blood pressure to skyrocket. 

Whether you want to add a few accent pieces or "install" a new backsplash (trust us, you can), we've rounded up our favorite ideas for transforming your rental apartment kitchen. 

  • 01 of 14

    Make Your Rental Kitchen Your Own

    kitchen with a bench
    Taking Notes

    Take this cozy kitchen from Taking Notes, for example. Just a few unexpected pieces, like a fabric bench and a bookshelf, help create a unique space that causes no permanent damage and makes the space instantly feel homier.

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  • 02 of 14

    Mix up Your Cabinet Pulls

    kitchen with leather pulls

    @may_be_may_ / Instagram

    Something as simple as swapping out old cabinet pulls can up your space's character and make boring cabinets look freshly renovated. We love these leather cabinet pulls seen on  may_be_may_ 's Instagram page. They're modern and streamlined and can work with nearly any kitchen style. Just be sure to put the original pulls in a safe place so you can replace them before you move out.

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  • 03 of 14

    Cover Ugly Countertops With Contact Paper

    kitchen with contact paper marble counters
    Make Do and DIY

    If we didn't tell you, you probably wouldn't have known that these marble countertops from Make Do and DIY were actually created with a few rolls of contact paper. Many rental kitchens are, unfortunately, outfitted with cheap laminate countertops that are no one's idea of luxury. But the good news is that with some contact paper and a little patience, you can cover unsightly counters and make them look high-end. 

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  • 04 of 14

    Repurpose an Old Filing Cabinet

    blue filing cabinet as an island
    Chris Gardner / Curbly

    If you have an old filing cabinet lying around, you can easily repurpose it as a unique rolling island perfect for any small apartment kitchen. This adorable DIY spotted on Curbly is a great way to add a little extra counter space (as well as some visual interest) to an otherwise plain kitchen. Paint the filing cabinet a bold color to really make a statement. 

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  • 05 of 14

    Add Artwork

    kitchen with white cabinets
    Emily Henderson

    If you haven't considered putting a few pieces of art in your kitchen, now's the time to reconsider. This stunning kitchen from Emily Henderson proves that a few striking pieces of art can really elevate your kitchen game. If you don't have the money to splurge on fine art, consider hanging something more unusual, such as baskets or even a small rug. 

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  • 06 of 14

    Use a Tray to Organize

    tray with olive oil and utensils
    Inspiration for Moms

    Rental kitchens are often short on storage space, but with a little creativity, you can turn that con into a major pro. Blogger Inspiration for Moms used a decorative tray to organize bottles of olive oil and salt. If your kitchen is short on space, use it as an excuse to buy fancy dispensers and keep them at arm's reach.

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  • 07 of 14

    Add a Lot of Greenery

    light filled kitchen
    SF Girl By Bay

    We're fans of adding greenery to, well, every room in your house, and this stunning space from SF Girl By Bay is evidence you should definitely bring this trend into the kitchen. Sprinkle easy-to-care-for plants into the free corners of your countertop or on a plant stand, as this blogger did. if you're really horticulturally inclined, adding a few hanging baskets full of winding, climbing plants is a surefire way to transform your space in one fell swoop. 

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  • 08 of 14

    Cover up Ugly Floors With a Rug

    kitchen with a large rug
    Honestly WTF

    Replacing your floor is definitely on the shortlist of things you should never do in a rental, but that doesn't mean you can't improvise. This beautiful kitchen from Honestly WTF may already have nice floors, but the Turkish runner is great inspiration for those of us who may not be as lucky. Not only will a stunning rug cover flooring that's well past its prime, it also adds a bit of cushion for those hours of Sunday meal prep.  

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  • 09 of 14

    Sprinkle in Vintage Accessories

    enamel pan on a counter
    Sarah Joy

    Whether you have a landlord who hasn't renovated your kitchen in what feels like decades or you have a fully upgraded space, vintage details can be a great way to add some personality to your kitchen. Here, blogger Sarah Joy uses an enamel pan as a cookbook organizer, which not only adds a fun visual detail, but is also incredibly useful.

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  • 10 of 14

    Paint a Chalkboard Wall

    Kitchen with a chalkboard wall
    Hunted Interiors

    You'll want to check with your landlord before attempting this makeover, but many will allow you to make changes that can be easily fixed upon moveout. If your landlord approves the project, we highly recommend covering a bare kitchen wall with a coat of chalkboard paint, as seen in this space from Hunted Interiors. A black accent wall not only adds a moody element to your kitchen, but you'll also never forget to buy butter again. 

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  • 11 of 14

    Consider Vertical Storage

    Wire rack in kitchen
    A Beautiful Mess

    When it comes to small kitchens, finding space for utensils can be a necessary struggle. If you're short on counter space, it's time to think vertically. This wire rack from A Beautiful Mess is a perfect non-permanent way to add extra storage space and lends a modern feel to the kitchen.

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  • 12 of 14

    Add Statement Pieces to Fit the Space

    Kitchen with reclaimed wood table
    Christopher Holewski / Pinterest

    If you can't renovate your kitchen, you might as well add a beautiful statement piece. This kitchen from Christopher Holewski features a custom reclaimed wood table that acts as the perfect visual focal point for the space. Though it may feel wasteful to buy furniture for a kitchen that's not yours, consider splurging on a table, chairs or another item you love to make the space feel more your own.

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  • 13 of 14

    Swap out Pendant Lights

    pendant light in the kitchen

    You don't have to be super handy to swap out a ceiling light, and it's one of the best ways to temporarily upgrade a space. This rustic strainer pendant light from Shelterness is an adorable, kitschy idea that's perfect for kitchens with the dreaded "boob light" fixture. Swapping a light takes only minimal handiwork, but if you're not electrically inclined, consider hiring a handyman for this quick afternoon project. 

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  • 14 of 14

    Install a New Backsplash

    kitchen with bright backsplash
    the nic studio

    Ugly backsplash can ruin an otherwise decent kitchen, but you don't have to live with it. This bright, festive backsplash from the nic studio is actually a temporary stick-on that can be easily removed without causing any damage. Covering unsightly backsplashes is a great way to update your kitchen and make it feel completely new.