Reversible Rental kitchen remodel on a budget

DIY, Kitchen

Think you’re stuck with your rental kitchen the way it is and that you can’t do anything to change it? This rental kitchen remodel will change your mind! I had a $500 budget to inject some fun and personality into this generic white and grey kitchen and to make it more functional to prepare meals.

The star of this kitchen makeover? The peel and stick VINTAGE smart tiles in AZUR – they are full of life and color, and perfectly match the fun, eclectic sense of style of the renters: Shaina, Tessa and Waffles the dog. I was able to install the peel and stick smart tiles right over the existing subway tiles so this project was quick, easy and mess free, with stunning results. I used the tiles as inspiration for the rest of the makeover, including the rustic window cornice/valance I made with some scrap wood, and the IKEA kitchen cart revamping that I did: I gave it new wheel, a new top and made it even more functional by incorporating a space rack. It’s not the hub of the kitchen and with the beautiful blue stain I chose for the top, it looks right at home with the tiles.

The entire kitchen remodel, including the plants came in under budget at $446 and by doing it as soon as they moved into the house, Shaina, Tessa and Waffles the dog will get to enjoy their new kitchen for the next 3 years while they live in the house and work on their LA-based tiny house business, the LATCH collective, making the investment well worth it.

Here’s a cost breakdown for the makeover:

Total cost: $446

Backsplash: $368

VINTAGE Azur Smart Tiles –  46 tiles @ $8 each 

Window Cornice: $10

$6 wood and corner brackets

$4 paint (custom color)

IKEA BEKVAM kitchen cart hack/revamp: $48

2 ½” casters w/ brakes: $14

Wood: $15

Stain: $8

Plants: $20

Click here for the tutorial on how I revamped the IKEA kitchen cart and for more rental kitchen decorating ideas, you can watch how I gave a makeover to my LA apartment kitchen in this video.

** This video was sponsored by Smart Tiles – all thoughts and opinions are my own **


  1. Susan Pizzollo-Behring

    Looking forward to new videos.

    • Isabelle LaRue

      Thanks Susan, working on it!

  2. Laurii

    What a wonderful project. Thank you so much for this video. The back splash is a great improvement and modern updated look to a plain white kitchen. It has inspired me to update my kitchen.

    • Isabelle LaRue

      Glad to hear that Lauril! Hope you’ll share pics of the transformation!

  3. Nancy

    are those ‘peel & stick’ tiles easily removed (like when you are leaving the landlord isn’t mad!)

    • Isabelle LaRue

      You can easily remove the tiles by using a hair dryer – they come off cleanly when used over existing tiles like in this project, but if they are installed on painted drywall, they make take off some paint so that’s something to keep in mind if you’re a renter.

  4. Evelyn Schulz

    what are those blue tiles that were used in the small kitchen I would like to find out where I can get them for my extremely small kitchen. I also have absolutely no counter place.

    • Isabelle LaRue

      They are called Smart Tiles and they are peel and stick – you can get them on amazon:

  5. Patricia L Wilson

    Can this method be used over formica backsplash and countertop.

    • Isabelle LaRue

      I don’t see why it wouldn’t work on a formica backsplash but Smart Tiles aren’t designed to be used in counter tops.


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