Save on Pinterest

10 Ideas To Upgrade Your Apartment Kitchen Without Losing Your Deposit

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

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

small kitchen with wallpaperPernilla Hed/Getty Images

Install Removable Wallpaper

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 kitchenvia merchant

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.

Rolling carts work great in the bathroom, too.

LED string lights under a kitchen cabinetSerghei Starus/GETTY IMAGES

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 counterJulien Mcroberts/Getty Images

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 Rackvia merchant

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 Tablevia merchant

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.

Leather cabinet pull in a kitchenThank you for your assistant/Getty Images

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 gardenRhisang Alfarid/Getty Images

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.

Note: If you choose this option, you must fix any holes you make before you move out.

dinning room and small kitchen with modern hanging lightsMartin Deja/Getty Images

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 floorucpage/GETTY IMAGES

Lay a Rug

Ugly linoleum, begone! Cover up an unbecoming floor without losing your damage deposit by splurging on a rug.

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.

Katie Dohman
Katie Dohman is an award-winning freelance writer who has written about home, design, and lifestyle topics for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured in Artful Living, Midwest Home, Star Tribune, and Teen Vogue, among many others. She is currently living her own how-to story as she and her husband work through a complete gut remodel on their 1921 home—while parenting three tiny tots and dodging their dog and cat, who always seem to be underfoot.