The College Housewife » lifestyle » My Rental Kitchen: California Farmhouse Makeover & Progress Photos

My Rental Kitchen: California Farmhouse Makeover & Progress Photos

Why I’m investing in my rental kitchen!

Rental kitchen madness today! Okay first off, let’s just clear the air and say that I do not think I’m crazy for spending money on my rental kitchen. I’m sure a lot of people read my rental content and think ‘what the heck is wrong with her, she’s never going to get a return on her investment’ and while those people are right, they’re also wrong. 

My kitchen space is pretty much my livelihood. For one, I spend more time there than any other part of my house. I cook and cook and cook for the blog and then I do dishes until my hands are pruny. Then after that, I sit at the dining table and try to get a few hours of computer work in.  When I’m really lucky I get to film some pretty awesome videos and my kitchen has to look as ‘food network’ star as I can get it or you guys will think its ugly AF! You see? It’s a lot more than just heading in once a day to make dinner.

It is a space that I take a ton of pride in and ultimately need to feel totally comfortable and somewhat inspired from. Before we even stepped foot into our house and just by going off of the Zillow rental listing, I KNEW. I had a vision for this space that I just couldn’t deny. It was so ‘workable’. Sure, the stove is old and the cabinets needed a killer paint job but I could see the potential lying underneath and knew I wouldn’t rest until I tackled it. I also totally understand that the rental projects are not for everyone but I seriously love them and they feed my ‘inner flipper’ until I’ll be able to have my own home!

What we plan on doing! 

Honestly, mostly cosmetic changes and furnishings! While I would love to gut the whole thing and start from scratch I know I don’t own the home and it would not be worth it. Luckily, we seriously have the nicest land lord ever. He’s owned the home for a few years and realizes that this almost hundred-year-old-house has some charm and needs a little TLC. Before we even moved in we chatted about having the cabinets painted white (to match the newer half) and he painted them for us! He is totally on board with some of the changes we want to make. It just goes to show that you don’t know until you ask. Rentals can be tricky, but I think more often then not your landlord will be okay with you ‘bettering’ the home.

IF I was building my dream kitchen it would probably be different but with a rental you have to keep in mind the existing skeleton. Some of the original built in cabinets have these dreamy vintage hinges that are dark and wouldn’t be removed. I decided to keep an overall ‘black and white’ theme to help accent these. The overall tile/palette in the kitchen is filled with neutral tiles so I went with a ‘California farmhouse’ feel. In the plans we will be covering up some of the countertops with marble covering, adding in some temporary tiles and layering with lots of textiles and shelving pieces. The storage situation in the kitchen isn’t ideal. I plan on adding a little coffee corner cart for some of our larger appliances and serving ware and some shelves in the open wall area above the stove. Note* will have a DIY post for you on the shelves (super easy to DIY!). The biggest layer will be tons of textiles, greenery and kitchenware to really bring it to life!

Stay tuned for more progress photos! I am hoping this project will be complete after the holidays and in better shape to film some more videos for the blog! I would love to hear about your rental fixer upper ideas and stories! Comment below if you have any elbow grease tips that will help us along the way!



  1. May 21, 2019 / 2:27 pm

    SO CUTE! I seriously love this. We rented for a while, and I had to get so creative. It can be really tricky decorating a rental, but so much easier when your landlord is supportive, and you never know until you ask!

  2. Maya
    April 17, 2018 / 1:35 am

    Where is the rug from?! I love it!

  3. Adira
    April 16, 2018 / 3:00 pm

    Is there a way to get links to the items you bought? Like the marble pastry cart? The wood shelves? Wall storage rod? I love them! Kudos!

  4. Allison
    April 15, 2018 / 3:30 pm

    Where did you get the marble pastry cart? Love that!

    • Brenda
      June 16, 2024 / 5:15 pm

      Where or how did you do the marble counter sideboard/pantry shelf? If you made it what parts did you put together or buy to create this look? Thank you for your help- I haven’t been able to find one like this

  5. December 13, 2017 / 6:59 pm

    I LOVE your rental kitchen!! My husband and I rent in SoCal as well and you’ve def inspired me to spruce up my little kitchen;)

    • Elizabeth Van Lierde
      December 14, 2017 / 6:53 pm

      Hi Katie! That is amazing to hear 🙂 There are so many things that you can do that won’t break the bank! Happy sprucing!

  6. November 14, 2017 / 1:46 am

    Your rental kitchen looks better than the kitchen I’ve had for the last 3 years 😂 No food network kitchen here but I want to feel better about sharing my space. I need to get my act together. Thank you for inspiring me!

    • Elizabeth Van Lierde
      December 12, 2017 / 3:14 am

      Thanks so much Dale! I figure spending all of my time in the kitchen it’s sort of like my ‘office’ so I better like it! I can’t wait to see what you do with your kitchen!

  7. Gina
    November 13, 2017 / 6:51 pm

    I love that you are making the argument to upgrade certain parts of your rental kitchen. My husband and I rent currently and we took on similar projects to help our space feel like home. When you move into a place that is going to be your home for multiple years it makes no sense to me to just "exist" in the space without really loving what you’re looking at day in and out. I’m definitely on board and can’t wait to see the continued progress pics!

    • Elizabeth Van Lierde
      December 12, 2017 / 3:16 am

      Hi Gina! I totally agree. We spend so much time in this little home of ours and it really makes a difference at the end of the day to be in a space that you love.

  8. November 13, 2017 / 5:37 pm

    Looks gorgeous! I am loving the black faucet idea! I am renovating our new kitchen in the very near future and love these ideas! Simple and budget friendly! And coming from our rental home, landlords are VERY interested in any updates! Good job!

    • Elizabeth Van Lierde
      December 12, 2017 / 3:17 am

      Thank you Amanda! We are close to getting the black faucet! Thank you so much for the tip, so far we have been in the clear and our landlord has been way on board! Good luck with all of your kitchen adventures!

  9. November 13, 2017 / 5:04 pm

    I hate when people encourage you to leave your rented spaces unchanged. While it might not be an investment that you will get a direct monetary return from, you spend so much time in your home that you should make it a place that brings you joy! Obviously there are some limitations when you are working in a rented space, but there are so many ways to make drastic changes. Thank you for sharing some of the things you all are using in your kitchen.

    • Elizabeth Van Lierde
      December 12, 2017 / 3:18 am

      I’M WITH YOU! I would never be crazy enough to spend the same amount as a regular renovation would take but a little spruce here and there is totally worth it! Thanks for chiming in!

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