Moving Woes Part III: Kitchen Reno on a Budget

Sunday, December 22, 2013

When you're renting on a budget, there are a few things that you know you're going to have to accept. Not only are things in your apartment going to be profoundly ugly, but there is this handy thing called a lease that prevents you from making basic improvements (like painting). For me, those few things I had to accept were all in my kitchen. Let's go over the problems: 

1. Heinous McDonald's red brick tile flooring. Seriously. I know this brownstone was converted to apartments in 1979, but what was the contractor thinking? Impossible to clean, I spent hours in May de-funkifying the floor with Comet and a combination of weapons - toothbrush, sponge, paper towels and a scrubber brush. To complete my effort, I threw two jute throw rugs down and said, "to hell with this." 

Old, rehashed picture. Sorry, y'all.

2. The most horrendous fixtures known to man. Oxidation doesn't lie. In their former life, these fixtures were shiny, smooth and, confusingly, stylish. Merely sharing this before and after with you makes me cringe...

How has nobody done this until now? Because nobody with pride lived here before me. That's the only explanation. Super cheap upgrade (fixture was $1.97 from Lowe's, Scratch Cover tale, below). 

Now, for the larger cabinets, I couldn't find fixtures to match the existing holes. Merely removing the weird decorative fixtures immediately made the room look less sad and offensive, so they remain nude for now. Problems I face in remedying this: the holes from the ugly fixtures are too close together and to fix this, I'm going to have to buy wood putty to fill in the odd holes and buy (and by buy, I do mean probably end up borrowing) a drill to create holes for the super sleek new fixtures that I've yet to buy but will look awesome. Consider this a two-parter. 

Wait, it's not 1999, it's nearly 2014. I'm a realist. 2014? Not yet. Not in this kitchen. 

3. Offensive cabinets. For reference, glance above. Diss-gusting (see what I did there?)! Ugh. For my neighborhood (nice), my perks (Private roof deck! Gigantic closet! Original hardwoods!) and rent (dirt cheap), the cabinets make sense. You make some compromises. Or  eventually, you give in and do something you've been planning on doing for MONTHS - douse those puppies in the Old English miracle product, Scratch Cover. For wizardry buying purposes, look for this at stores:

This product is messy, but simply genius. Again, before and after pictures, people. Amazing!

4. Ugly window. Pretty sure this window may be original to the building. It can't be cleaned, produces its own sweat (it can be a humidity-free, beautiful day and moisture magically appears in/on the glass) and is in general, ugly. To solve this problem, I bought a tension rod from Target (under $4),a tea towel from Ikea ($.79) and prayed the tea towel would look better than kitchen curtains (cows, chickens and other potenial dinner victims - including fruit and veggies - belong nowhere in decor). Voilà! Not horrible!

Believe me, this kitchen has a looooong way to go, but doing just a few things (which, sidenote, took about three hours and required consumption of two Excedrin Migraine caplets to deal with cleaning product/Scratch Cover fumage) made a huge difference! I will post pictures when my renter's renovation is complete! 

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