Saturday, November 20, 2010

Embracing Your Rental's Flaws

Our house was built in the late 1970s, and let’s just say that the finishes haven’t really been updated since then. I’m talking mauve and colonial blue tiles in our foyer, weird roman wood accents on the walls, and light fixtures that would make your grandma who lives in Florida proud. As renters, we aren’t really willing to put the money into changing these fixtures, and we’re also not really sure our landlord would approve of many changes.



The kitchen in our house is closed off from the rest of the house. Because the décor from other rooms isn’t really visible from the kitchen, we wanted to add a little flare to the room to make it feel like home. Kitchens can be a fun place to embrace retro elements, so rather than attempt to disguise ours’, we decided to embrace them.

I started with kitchen table and chairs, which were originally from Ikea, but I picked them up for about $50 on Craigslist (I bought the set along with a dresser for $100 total). The table is a good neutral piece, and I liked that the chairs were metal and straw rather than a matching wood tone. The chairs are a dark charcoal grey that matches the grout color and pattern color in our very vintage tiled kitchen floor.

Inspired by the Petersik’s use of wine bottles in their home, I arranged recycled wine bottles that I collected from our house and my next-door neighbors’ recycling bin on our kitchen table. The green in the bottles picks up on the green in the oh-so-dated but a little bit charming light fixture. They also look amazing in the morning and early afternoon when the back of our house is flooded with sunlight.

My favorite part of this room is the wall display. The artwork is made up of three cardboard cutouts that would’ve been used in an old, traditional diner. I bought the cardboard cutouts for $2.50 each at the Georgetown Flea Market from a man who sells a variety of vintage advertisements. I put the cutouts in $10 black Ribba frames from Ikea and used cream-colored scrap booking paper from Michael’s behind the cutouts.

The chalkboard is a wall decal that I picked up at Home Goods for $15. Chalkboards are fun way for renters to add an element to their home that can constantly change. It’s also a way to personalize your place, which can be tough to do with three or four people living together.

After hanging the pictures and putting up the chalkboard, I decided that the display needed a little something else. I bought the letters to spell out “Menu” from Michael’s for about $2.5 each, and spray painted them with high gloss dark red paint that I already owned. The letters are attached to the wall with removable wall adhesive strips. I hung the letters so that they overlap slightly on the chalkboard decal. The letters are painted red to pick up on a number of other red elements in the room, including our fun trash can (about $13 from Walmart), the placemats, and a lot of our bake ware. Mad props to whoever can name what the “menu” is from.

The similar colors in the chairs, chalkboard, tile, and picture frames link the different elements together. I have to admit that this was not at all intentional, but I’m very happy with the result. For about $110, the breakfast nook side of our kitchen embraces our retro finishes and adds some character to our otherwise dated room.

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