Hey small Space lovers! Hey renters! Hey basement apartment dwellers! My first makeover. *cue girly squeals!*
I have been looking forward to publishing this post, for, well it seems like FOREVER. If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you would know that I have FINALLY finished renovating my tiny basement apartment kitchen. If you’re new here.. you can get a little bit of backstory here. Basically, I’ve been living in this tiny basement apartment for 5 + years now.. and it was starting to wane on me. I was waiting to invest any $$ into my REAL house.. but, I also don’t have any immediate plans to move out- so enough was enough- I made a sweet deal with my amazing landlord.. and here we are.
I wanted my kitchen to feel BRIGHT and playful. Living in a basement can be a bit of a drag. Part of the purpose of this makeover was to really open up the space, make it feel fresh, and add some life! Since this is just a rental, I really wanted to design a space that I loved right now, today. I think painting the wall pink was a bold decision (even bolder considering the fact I did not do the proper design protocol and “test patches”.. I literally carried a vintage plate into Home Depot and bought enough paint to cover the entire wall), but I wanted to design a space based on what I thought was cool, and what I really loved-today. I didn’t want to necessarily be responsible or think about longevity. I wanted to be creative and do something different. I think I have my whole life for a sophisticated, adult looking kitchen. I wanted something that reflected me today, quirks and all! BTW though.. for those renting in Toronto, I think whoever the next tenant is would be pretty stoked to have such a fun and unique kitchen, no?
Fun- bright- welcoming- and full of personality. Those were some of the things I wanted my kitchen to feel like. And more so then that- I needed a space that would be functional with ample storage. I wanted to actually want to go in my kitchen.
And I think I’ve achieved all that, and more.
And, before we fully get into this.. I want to mention something. I remember telling close friends that I really wanted to redo my kitchen.. and I was met with the same faces and answers each time. For the most part, people didn’t really understand WHY I would spend money on a basement rental apartment, instead of saving for a house.
Well, I’m going to have to go ahead and wholeheartedly disagree, as renovating my kitchen has been an absolute game changer. I am not sure people fully understand the positive impact of great design. Not just aesthetically, but for the way your LIFE works. Before we redid the kitchen, we had nowhere to prepare food- so we didn’t. Our eating, and the time we spend cooking has done a 360. We now ENJOY spending time in the kitchen. Things are MUCH more organized, so there’s no hairy conniption fit in the morning looking for a smoothie lid before work. I can find all my knifes, and all my forks with ease now.. It’s cleaner, brighter, more open, and it’s changed our lives for the better. It was worth every single penny.
So as you can see from the before..There was next to no counter space. Like, zero. Actually, the drawers on both sides were so small that you couldn’t fit a utensil rack in them- so if you wanted a fork, or a knife, you basically had to dive in “at your own risk” and hope you weren’t stabbed lethally in the process. The fan didn’t work for anything more than to make a lot of noise, and the cupboards just felt.. gross. Like no matter how much Fantastik you attacked them with, they would never become clean… or fantastic ;). The toe kick was chipped and old, the sink was basic AF. That door was another problem. The door actually goes into the other half of the basement- which we do not rent- but it was such an eyesore. We came up with, what I think was a clever solution to disguise that bad boy.
To say we are thrilled with how this turned out is an understatement. For our first fixer upper project on a bootstrap budget, I would have to say we did a preeeetttttty dec job.
And, I had the absolute pleasure of ALSO sharing my reveal with House and Home! Peep the link below!!
Now, let’s chat design decisions.
The Cabinets. Shaker style all the way. We wanted cabinets with a tonne of room, sleek design, and bright white! Hello Sektion. (The number of times I did the math to get the right configuration, gaaaah).. Luckily, the counterpart to my creative, wild, let’s just start and see how it goes soul- is my grounded, mathematical, methodical man. Bo made sure my math was correct and ensured every last detail was looked after (while my mind was already styling the shelves haha). I went with black pulls for the drawers and brass hex knobs for the cupboards, cuz- fun! This kitchen does not take itself too seriously.
Open Shelving. We chose to do open shelving because first of all, it was WAY cheaper.. and since I was paying half of this reno out of my own pocket- the affordable option wins. It worked out much better anyways to do open shelving because now we have space to add life to our shelves via plants, and it really really opened up the entire room. Everyone who visits comments on how much bigger our apartment feels now, and I tend to agree. We went with a knotty pine from Home Depot- stained it up with some minwax and mounted them with brackets we spray painted black. (Sorry guys my computer had a meltdown and I lost all the process pics- but believe me, it was a good time having shelves drying around our apartment propped up on nails haha).
If you’re looking closely you’ll notice that the studs are actually off. This was something we found out once we were ready to put the shelves up haha. We “faked” the center bracket to even it out a bit, but yea- if you’re analyzing it, it’s not completely even.
Shelf Styling 101: I am a big proponent of displaying things that have meaning to you. I am also an advocate for supporting artists. My shelves have been collected over time with a variety of different ceramics, planters, thrifted glasses, and things I generally just love.. like this little ceramic girl with a bun, my set of vintage catci margarita glasses, or this boobie Group Partner Vase. I like to pepper in things that are interesting and unusual.
Once you go black. Matte black faucet, dark grout. Oh yeah baby- we went to the dark side on this one.. and we are never going back! This faucet LOOKS like it’s a Delta faucet that costs $600. Nope. Amazon score under $100. We sprinkled in black accents in our cooking utencils too. These slate spatulas from Unison Home have become a household favourite- just ask Bo. He is the spatula man. (The black cutting board is also Unison, and it’s also Bo’s favourite.) We tend to like anything that is small in our apartment given the lack of well, space.
Country girl’. Went back to my roots on the farmhouse sink ;). I was afraid initially of going down to one sink vs. two- but haven’t even noticed. I love all the space!
The Counter: We went with a butcher block countertop because it is probably the most affordable option out there. If this was my own kitchen, I may have done quartz or marble, but for a rental this worked great to warm up the room. I also looooove these sleek stoneware containers to hide my sugars and rice! The painting was a vintage score I got at a little thrift shop near my hometown. I was super lucky and scored three paint by numbers in the same family- as you will see below.
Come on ova to the island mon’. This kitchen island might be one of the best purchases of our life. Before we had it, we literally had zero counter space to prep on. This island has changed the way we eat, because now we have space to prep and make meals. It’s changed our storage situation, as we now have tonnes of space below for all of our pots, pans, bowls, and sweet potatoes obvi. It’s a spot for me to work on my laptop, or for Bo and I to meet for breakfast. It’s the new gathering spot for when we have friends over. I love this island way too much. Best investment. Also, I may add that we are obsessed with these Falcon Enamelware mixing bowls. Firstly, they are black and match the kitchen. Secondly, I use that colander like, daily.
One of the first things we did to our apartment when we moved in, was all these Wall Pop Bricks to the walls. I have always dreamed of living in a bright city loft, this was as close as I could get ;). I actually really love these Wallpops. They were extremely easy to put up, and I get lots of compliments on how real they look. I think they just added some nice texture to the otherwise pretty boring walls. And they can peel right off no problem, if we need to take them down before we go. (A+ for renters!)
We went with wire backed barstools because we wanted barstools that felt airy- while still providing back support. When I’m working on my laptop I want to be comfortable. Plus, they were on sale- so that kind of sealed the deal.
And that’s it! Here I am, cool as a cucumber, loving my new kitchen. Thanks for stopping by!
Photography: Shawn Lovering
PS: I am a bit elated that this makeover first appeared on Design Sponge earlier this week… It also made the BEST OF D*S FEED, and I’m kinda giddy. Thank you DS!
IKEA Sektion Cabinets in Grimslöv off-white | IKEA Sektion Base Cabinet f/DOMSJÖ sink | DOMSJÖ sink | Matte Black Faucet | Karlby Wood Countertop | Hexagon Door Pulls | Brackets (We spray painted black) | Knotty pine from Home Depot | Stove Light | Kitchen Island | Wire Barstools |Peel and Stick Brick Walls | Clock | Letterfolk Sign |Lindsay Hampton Circle Jug | Group Partner Tan Lines Vase| Rami Kim Figurine | Work a Day Handmade Seeing Eye Bowl | Copper Hanging Planter |White Stonewear Containers | Copper terrarium Anthro | Glasswear | Cacti Margarita Glasses Vintage | Seeing Eye Bowl |Mustard Mugs | Cacti Tea Towel | Mustard Tea Towels | Watering Can H+M | White Basket | Cacti Art- Vintage | Kitchen Rug- Homesense | Rug by door- Vintage | Black Prep Set | Slate Utensils | Dusen Dusen Line Dress | Knot Necklace | Brass Soap Dispenser- Homesense | Planter on counter- West Elm | Marble/Wood Cutting Board- Homsense | Almost all of my plants are from Home Depot