De-beigeifying our rental kitchen with no-damage DIY and lots of color

Guest post by Alice N

KitchenWe are software engineers by day, burners and artists by night. Six months ago, we lived in a warehouse with a ton of roommates (this was us). Then we found out I was pregnant, and pretty much everything about our living situation needed to be reconsidered overnight. Since the lease was about to expire and the perpetual semi-recreational home construction lifestyle of the warehouse turned out to be not so compatible with my newly pregnant state, we decided it was time to get our own place. Thus commenced Operation Settledown.

Since then, we’ve been hard at work turning our San Francisco apartment from OMG RENTAL BEIGE into someplace colorful and awesome that reflects our style. While the place has great bones (seriously, 12 foot ceilings and original 1906 pre-earthquake woodwork and all that jazz) it definitely lacked character when we moved in. But since we’ll probably only live here for a year or two, we’ve had to be careful about what kinds of modifications we make.


The morning light in our kitchen is AMAZING. Since many parts of the city tend to be foggy all the time, the fact that I can spend half an hour every morning drinking my coffee in a beam of sunshine is a great luxury. We spend a ton of time just hanging out at the kitchen table having leisurely brunch on the weekend. It has changed the way I live. Seriously.

So here’s how we de-beige-ified one of my favorite rooms — the kitchen.

KitchenIn the kitchen, we decided there were just too many nooks and crannies to paint, plus our lease doesn’t officially allow it. So we opted for wall decals (which come off easily when we move) and making everything else in the space bright primary colors.

KitchenWe painted the table (it’s actually an Ikea table covered in red glitter paint to match our microwave.

KitchenThe kitchen utensil poster came from a craft fair, and a lot of the other bits and pieces have been gathered from thrift stores over the past couple of years. We’ve been pretty careful to make sure that all of the furniture is stuff we can reuse in our next place.

KitchenThe room is also a really weird shape. We actually had to move the fridge to block some of the cabinets because we wanted to fit a table in, and our sideboard blocks another cabinet and the only drawer. But we decided that functionality was more important than extra storage space.

PantryWe’ve had to be somewhat creative with storage — the Ikea bins in the pantry, the pegboard, and the fact that all our silverware lives jumbled in a bin on a shelf spring to mind — but so far it’s working out great.

DIY pegboardSpeaking of the pegboard, we spent a while looking for various shelves that could hold our heavy pots and things, and finally stumbled on this stupidly simple tutorial for putting up a pegboard.

I’ve lived in places for much longer that never managed to feel as homey as this apartment. With regards to painting and putting holes in the wall and all those other things your lease probably says you can’t do — just do it! Even though it might just be for a little while, these things will affect you every day, and you’ll be glad you put your personal stamp on the space… as long as the changes are more or less reversible, you may get out of losing your deposit.

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Comments on De-beigeifying our rental kitchen with no-damage DIY and lots of color

  1. What about just taking the doors off of the blocked cabinets? That way you can use them. Maybe put some awesome fabric hanging over the lower cabinets to keep out the pests (and eventual grubby baby hands)

    • We actually do use the blocked cabinets – only one side of the doors are blocked by the fridge and it’s all connected inside, so we use the behind the fridge bits for some deep storage stuff we don’t use very often. Though actually we don’t *need* a lot of the extra storage space (and a big chunk of it’s 10 feet off the ground!) so making it more accessible hasn’t been a big priority.

      Also, now that I look, those cabinets are original to the house and the hinges have been painted a million times. Taking the doors off might be kind of difficult!

  2. My husband and I are both oil painters with other survival skills, and we are making one very happy kid. She turned 2 this summer and you may never meet a better adjusted individual. Feel good about becoming parents and introducing the next generation of weirdos!

  3. I love your pegboard! We have one in a closet with our tools hanging on it, and I would put one up in the kitchen in a heartbeat if I had a good place to put it. I just don’t have sufficient wall-space for one, except in the far corner behind the kitchen table, where it would simply be too awkward to access.

  4. I think I know you and have cooked in your previous kitchen with a computer scientist named Kathleen. Congrats on the baby, and the lovely kitchen, it seems like things are going well for you.

  5. You also have wonderful, colorful accessories. I have the same dishtowels (yay C+B Outlet!) so my dish drying corner looks remarkably similar to yours. I was drooling over all of your pretty blue Le Creuset too. Great job!

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