The One Thing You Need to Completely Remodel Your Rental Kitchen

By Clair Jones


Due to its potential wow-factor, the kitchen is often one of the first things to get updated when a house is put on the market. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case for rental properties. If your rental has a less-than-droolworthy kitchen, contact paper offers several easy options for updating it in a nonpermanent way — without spending a lot of money or begging your landlord for a costly renovation.

While it may have an old-school feel to it, the bold colors and patterns of contact paper can add a fresh, new look to any kitchen. Use our five tips to transform even the dingiest rental kitchen into an oasis of style and comfort.

1. Brighten Those Shelves

Pick a contact paper in a print and color that matches your kitchen design aesthetic and that will work with the color and pattern of your dishes. Carefully line the shelves or the back of the cabinets with the contact paper. Either way, once your cabinets are filled with your dishes and goodies, you’ll be amazed at how much better they look.

Photo from Design Ideas and Decor

If you’re extra adventurous, consider removing the cabinet doors so you can see the contact paper — and your eclectic set of dishes — all the time. Just be sure to carefully store the cabinet doors so they can be reattached when you move out.

2. Draw on Your Doors

If you decide not to remove the cabinet doors, you can make them more attractive and functional with specialty contact paper, including cork and memo board types.

Photo from My Trash and Treasure

Select one or two cabinet doors to accent and carefully apply the paper to the front. Within moments, you’ll have a corkboard or a chalkboard to keep grocery lists or write notes to family members or roommates.

3. Make Those Toes Pretty

Add a pop of color to the toe kick under your cabinets by adding contact paper to the small area between the bottom of your cabinets and the floor. A little color and pattern there can give a small area a big impact.

Photo from Oh Joy!

4. Add a Splash to Your Backsplash

Contact paper on the backsplash behind a sink is a quick and easy way to update smaller, dated-looking tiles. Look for patterns that will enhance the look of not only your kitchen but also other rooms that open up into the kitchen.

Photo from Remodelaholic

Cut the paper into larger pieces to cover the entire portion of the backsplash or, depending upon the pattern you selected, cut it to the size of the individual tiles to make your own interesting design.

5. Upgrade to Stainless

Stainless steel is a popular option for kitchens, but older rental units may not include these updated appliances — and you probably don’t want to purchase new ones for a rental property. The good news is that you can get that sleek stainless look by using the appliances you already have and a few dollars’ worth of contact paper.


Photo from Accomplished by Accident

Grab a project buddy, then measure the size of the area you want to cover and cut the paper to fit. Apply the paper to the appliance from the top down while your project partner smooths the paper with a credit card to ensure that no bubbles remain.

Once the paper is applied, take an X-Acto knife or a razor blade and carefully even out any ragged edges. With careful application, the contact paper can give you a look that will fool all but the most discerning guests.

Just the Beginning

Once you get the hang of using contact paper, you may find yourself looking around your kitchen for more opportunities to make updates. Consider these options:

  • Add contact paper to your laminate countertops to make them look like granite.
  • Create labels from brightly colored contact paper to use on your canisters.
  • Use clear contact paper to line the shelves of your refrigerator. When spills happen — and you know they will! — any stains will be on the paper, not on the shelves. The paper can then be easily removed, thrown away, and replaced.
  • Make stencils and add stickers to your walls or cabinets to create your own patterns and designs.

If a previous tenant added contact paper you don’t agree with, don’t fret. It’s easy to remove old contact paper: all you need is a hair dryer and maybe rubbing alcohol or a sticker remover to remove any remaining stickiness. The heat from the hair dryer will warm any stubborn glue and help the old contact paper lift off in larger, more complete sheets.

With a bit of effort and creativity, you can give your rental kitchen a brand-new look without breaking the bank — and with something that is completely removable when you move on, so you don’t get in trouble with your landlord. How have you used contact paper to renovate your rental space? Comment and let us know!