10 Modern Apartment Kitchen Ideas to Upgrade Your Place

Updated: May 18, 2024

Try these apartment kitchen ideas to take that small space from standard to standout without upsetting your landlord.

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small kitchen with wallpaper
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Install Removable Wallpaper

When it comes to adding personality to a space, wallpaper might seem like one of the easier options. But in a rental, your apartment kitchen ideas need to be easy to undo at move out. Regular wallpaper? Forget it. But removable wallpaper? Now we’re onto something.

Nearly as simple as peeling the backing and sticking it to the wall, removable wallpaper has come a long way in a short time. And, for that matter, so has the design. You can even score über-stylish brand Scalamandré designs through WallPop’s NuWallpaper. It sticks like pasted wallpaper but removes with ease.

Install on a statement wall, as a backsplash accent or throughout the kitchen for a guilt-free maximalist look. When it’s time to move, pull the paper off the wall and you’re good to go.

 Rolling Cart in kitchen
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Add a Rolling Cart

If you lack an island or cabinet space, or want a portable bar, get a rolling cart. If you need a recommendation, IKEA’s Raskog is a perennial favorite.

Apartment dwellers love IKEA furnishings because of their European profiles — slim, compact and efficient for small spaces. Plus, the style and price can’t be beat! Roll out this cart when you need it, tuck it into a corner when you don’t. Super simple, stylish storage for less than $50.

LED string lights under a kitchen cabinet
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LED Strip Lights

Want to add ambient, mood or accent lighting? LED strip lights are one of the cheapest and easiest options. A breeze to install, they offer various colors to set the mood without drawing a ton of energy. Most importantly, when you take them down, they leave no trace.

lazy susan with olive oil and spices on the counter
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Use a Lazy Susan

Add flexibility to the inside of a cupboard or keep your countertop clutter-free with a lazy Susan. These rotating disks help you organize and find things easily in a tight space. Some are tiered, increasing their storage capability.

You’ll find clear acrylic lazy Susans, perfect for inside a cabinet, sometimes for less than $10! More stylish countertop versions are made of wood, metal or bamboo. When it’s time to move, pack up your lazy Susan for your next kitchen.

Spice Rack
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Consider Magnetic Storage

Not allowed to drill into walls but need more storage space? Or just have an enviable spice collection? A magnetic spice rack can solve those problems and elevate your kitchen from galley to glammy.

Also, if your refrigerator isn’t metal and there’s a door nearby, try an over the door rack. Just hang it from the door and secure it with the included suction cups.

Drop Leaf Table
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Splurge on a Drop-Leaf Table

A good-looking, multitasking piece of furniture can create a focal point and draw eyes away from your limited space. In the kitchen, a compact table can be especially useful. Consider a drop-leaf style table for two or four that folds back up when not in use. Save space and add a work surface, all in one. It’s one of our favorite apartment kitchen ideas because it can double duty.

Leather cabinet pull in a kitchen
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Temporarily Replace Cabinet Pulls

There’s a reason interior designers call drawer pulls (along with lighting) the “jewelry” of a home. If your apartment kitchen has out-of-date or painfully ordinary cabinet hardware, it’s pretty easy to swap it out.

Choose carefully and buy something that covers up the marks left from the original hardware. Make sure the holes you’ll need for the new match those for the existing hardware. When your lease is up, remove the new hardware and replace it with the original.

Indoor plant growing vertical garden
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Add an Herb Garden

Many times, apartment kitchens feel dark and cookie-cutter. One quick and easy way to add life is to actually add life! Get your green thumb going and add a vertical herb garden to your wall.

The bright greenery is cheery, and the yummy herbal scent irresistible. Plus, an indoor herb garden livens up your cooking while covering an unsightly wall. Online options abound, or you could make your own. You can still have an indoor garden if you live in an apartment.

dinning room and small kitchen with modern hanging lights
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Swap a Light Fixture Globe

Builder’s standard light fixtures are always basic and bland. But your landlord won’t know if you carefully swap out the glass globe for another.

Carefully store the first globe and reinstall it before final checkout. Make sure the new globe has the exact same opening diameter as the original.

Another simple, easy-to-remove option: LED strip lights.

close up of a throw rug in a kitchen with white cabinets and a wood floor

Lay a Rug

Ugly linoleum, begone! Cover up an unbecoming floor without losing your damage deposit by splurging on a rug. This is one of the easiest apartment kitchen ideas we have.

Vintage kilim and oriental rugs are still hugely popular, and they come in a rainbow of colors, designs and dimensions. If you’re going for a sleek modern look, or prefer customizable design and dimension options with a green bent, check out Flor.com.