The One Item That Adds Personality to My Rental Kitchen

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A mid-century modern tea towel

Photo Treatment by The Spruce / Etsy

For as long as I can remember, I have loved tea towels. There's nothing I like more than popping into an adorable shop with housewares and kitchen accessories, and browsing their adorable and unique tea towels. There's just something really satisfying about them. Want a cute print? A sassy quote? A soft texture for drying hands and dishes? Tea towels have it all.

Tea towels have become even more essential for me since moving into my current apartment. While the kitchen is certainly fine—it has a granite countertop and a huge built-in pantry—it's lacking in style and personality. And as a renter, I can't exactly go about painting the cabinets my preferred color, getting new appliances, or upgrading the boring builder-grade light fixture. While the rest of my apartment leans toward a mid-century modern feel, the kitchen is just a bit blah. So I turned to tea towels to add some color, visual interest, and to reflect my decor style.

RenderGoods Crescent Geo Boho Tea Towel

A mid-century modern crescent patterned tea towel


I have had a few nice-ish tea towels for a while that I display on my oven door handle—a classic tea towel spot. But after a while, they started to look worn and tired. My style has also evolved since I bought them, and I was looking for something a bit more adult and less kitschy. And to be honest, they weren't actually that useful when it came to drying things. I was beginning to wonder if it was possible to find beauty and function in a tea towel.

So I took to Etsy, which has never let me down when it comes to finding unique goods that are also really high quality. And once again, it didn't disappoint. I was immediately drawn to the tea towels from this Etsy shop, RenderGoods, which had a range of patterns and colors in a palette I was really partial to.

I ordered three tea towels in a range of styles, and was impressed by the quality when they arrived soon after. They're made of a really soft, waffle-like material, and are surprisingly thick. Unlike some tea towels which are too thin to absorb much water, these could actually handle the job they were made for. And they're also cute. After many washes, the colors are just as vibrant as they were the day I got them. I love how they bring that mid-century modern touch to my kitchen in a small yet effective way. In fact, I loved them so much I ordered more almost immediately.

Geometry Olivia Kitchen Tea Towel

An olive green tea towel with botanical print


But I don't just like rigid, geometrical-type patterns. I also love botanical prints or floral patterns that feel a bit mid-mod. So Geometry's line of patterned and colorful tea towels definitely fit the bill. I've been impressed by how large these tea towels are: they're still small enough to fold and hang on my oven door, but they're also great for lying out on my countertops when I need some extra dish drying space.

And like my favorite Etsy tea towels, these are also super absorbent. I can dry so many dishes and this towel still doesn't get weighed down and overly damp.

Even aside from their functionality though, the best part about these towels is the amount of personality they bring to my kitchen. By having this small detail on display, my rental kitchen feels so much more mine.

Editor's note: The writer received some product samples for editorial consideration, but all opinions are her own.