The newest property that I bought in Columbia is completely finished as well as rented out (in one day after listing for rent!). There were so many cosmetic things that I did to modernize the space without spending too much money. With rentals, the worst thing you can do is dump a bunch of money into it to make it look super high end. You never get that money back with higher rents. There is a range of rents that every neighborhood has and your aim is for your rental to be at the higher end of that rent range without spending too much money getting there. I always look at the rental comps for the neighborhood and try to make mine look a little nicer than the nicest ones so that I can get rent in that higher range.
The kitchen is the one place where I tend to spend a little more money and put in a few more upgrades to make the whole place look higher end.
With this house, although it doesn’t look like it from the photos, I started with a good foundation.
I’m terrible with taking before photos I think because I just want to start tearing into the ugliness right away so I don’t take the time to document the before. So, this is one of the only photos that I have from the old kitchen.
You can’t tell from the photo, but the floor was newly replaced and is gray laminate that looks like wood planks. They’re durable and in good shape. The cabinets are solid wood and in perfect condition, they were just dated so I knew that I wanted to keep those and paint them.
I also wanted to keep the appliances because there was nothing wrong with them. White appliances are starting to make a comeback so that’s what I told myself for not spending thousands of dollars to replace them with stainless steel appliances. That and I don’t like spending money for nothing! 😉
A few months ago I was on a blog site and saw a kitchen that another blogger flipped and LOVED the results!
Painted cabinets in colors other than white are on-trend right now. With this kitchen, I didn’t want to paint the cabinets white anyway with the appliances already being white. It would’ve looked hospital stark! So, after seeing these taupe/oatmeal color cabinets, I knew that was the look I was going for.
I had the hardest time matching the cabinet color to the cabinet color in my inspiration kitchen and it’s not like you can go into a paint store and say, “Hey, give me the color Taupe-y Oatmeal.” So, I put on my thinking cap and noticed that the cabinets used in my inspiration photo were from Home Depot so I just had my local Benjamin Moore store color match the cabinet color after bringing them a sample cabinet face that they had at HD.
I painted the cabinets which took over a week with the sanding, priming, sanding, painting, sanding, painting, sanding, and final coat of paint. It was a PROCESS, but painting was much cheaper and smarter than replacing perfectly good cabinets.
I also had my contractor cut out part of the wall leading into the dining room since previously the galley style kitchen was almost completely blocked off from the rest of the house. When possible, open up spaces!
I wanted to open the kitchen up even more, but that would have required moving appliances and buying more cabinets and since it’s a rental, it didn’t make sense to spend the money. Opening up the kitchen even a little bit did a world of good to making the spaces flow better.
When I’m not at the house, I sometimes text my contractor photos to let him know what I want. I sent my contractor this:
And got this:
Next came the granite. Normally granite shops grade countertop materials and each grade is given a certain price point with the higher grades at higher price points because those pieces are typically nicer looking. I told my granite salesperson to show me Grades 1 and 2 and that’s it! I didn’t even want to look at the higher grades and be tempted into getting a more expensive piece of granite. In my inspiration kitchen, the countertops were light but I knew there was no way that there would be a light option in Grades 1 and 2. There never is. Lighter countertops are in demand right now, so they’re graded higher and are much more expensive.
I brought a couple samples back to the rental and found one that I thought perfectly complemented the oatmeal color in the cabinets.
I chose a white subway tile backsplash since the tiles are a mere 22 cents per tile and I dressed it up with a dark granite grout to tie in the dark countertops. If the countertops were light then I would’ve gone with white grout but in this case, gray looked much better.
After putting on cabinet handles, installing a fancy new faucet, and painting and styling the kitchen, here are the beautiful and budget friendly after photos.
And here’s a view from the dining room with the cutout.
I can’t get around the fact that the footprint of the kitchen is small but with opening up the wall and modernizing the space, it’s now a nice looking kitchen that I didn’t spend too much to renovate and it’s perfectly suited for a rental.