Renter Solution for Hideous Cabinets

I HAVE DONE IT! While not perfect by any means I have finally come up with an acceptable renter solution for hideous cabinets!!! Gold star me please. If you have been following the blog for a little while, I am sure you have read my grumbles about the ugliest kitchen cabinets ever. “Why move into an apartment if you hate something sooo much?” you ask. (I have barely even touched on the bathroom with it’s “pick and steal” tile or the Katie Perry shower (It’s hot then it’s cold, yes then it’s no… everytime I shower). Finding an acceptable and affordable in Chicago (and I imagine any other major city) is HARD! We wanted to stay by the hip and trendy neighborhood (Wicker Park-ish) while my partner refused to move the the new hip and trendy (Logan Square) and we also need  enough space to hide from each other (we both need our own “offices”).

We were spoiled in our last apartment to have a 2 floor TWO BATHROOM coach house (oh, how I miss both of those bathrooms). We I scoured Craigslist and every other type of apartment listing service and found our current place. It is a third floor apartment with a fourth floor bedroom and BONUS STORAGE SPACE! It’s huge! And in our budget and close enough to the “right” neighborhood (and even closer to downtown). I knew from the listing it had awful cabinets (and didn’t really pay attention to the bathroom on the tour). We didn’t even GET TO SEE THE WHOLE APARTMENT because the current tenant was sleeping in our future bedroom. But it was good enough for us and since all the apartments we I made appointment to see were rented before we even got the chance to peek we “taco pizza’d” (code for give them the security deposit and rent this sucker stat) and found our new home. Home with these bad boys:

kitchen 1

From far away, it doesn’t look so bad. Up close:



Good thing I love a good home decor challenge!

I knew I needed to hide this. Per the agreement of my lease I am not supposed to paint. If it were me, I would disregard this but my partner really wants his security deposit back. You may remember my super simple DIY solution of the washi tape treatment. I have tried a few other things, which I will share later in this post. the washi tape looked like this:


I even washi taped the diswasher and my knife holder

Eventually I got tired of the washi tape. I tried to take some of it down. It was an ok fix.

I call this minimal washi

I call this minimal washi

Then I thought I could be creative and use shelf liner on the outside of the cabinets. Because I was afraid of peeling off all of that *lovely* already peeling white(ish) you see, I tried a wrapping technique and quickly realized it just wasn’t working (this is after I ordered 4 rolls of chalkboard contact paper).


Doesn’t look any better… Maybe looks worse? WTF…

So I tried just wrapping the edges… Still looks like cat excrement…


I called it quits for the day… Left it at:

DIY solution fail

Not bad from far away but not good at all

After a few days of shaking my head in disgust I got an email from about a sale or something. After some perusing, I found a lovely dark organic eco-twill in “Charcoal.” It was a little more expensive than I wanted, but it was the only canvas fabric that was the color I wanted. I knew that my house is already very patterned and very colorful, and I wanted a neutral-ish color to balance things out. I also knew I wanted fabric that was a little more durable.  So I waited for it to come and last night I heard my neighbor leave the box outside my door! Hooray! So I got to work!

ALWAYS GET YOURSELF MORE FABRIC THAN YOU THINK YOU WILL NEED! I got four yards (and it was enough!). I want to say it was 54″ wide. In DIY project land, more is always better (custom mixed paint, fabric, extra cans of spray paint…).

Don't let this ruler fool you. I eyeballed everything

Don’t let this ruler fool you. I eyeballed everything

I set up shop on my kitchen floor. I did the entire project door by door. I could have cut all the pieces at once but I didn’t. By some miracle I only cut one piece short but I was able to use that piece in the cabinets over the stove. I did however iron each piece…

Look ma! I'm ironing.

Look ma! I’m ironing.

SO here it is, my renter solution for hideous cabinets. This is how it all went down. First I removed the knobs. Then I draped each panel over the door. I used a staple gun to staple it in place. NOTE! My staples are only 1/4″ so I was sure that they wouldn’t poke all the way through the door. Also, because these *lovely* cabinets that I am not allowed to paint are in such terrible condition, I know that a few holes on the interior won’t get in the way of my deposit return.

Not bad! If only I could keep that cats from helping me and laying in my fabric!

Not bad! If only I could keep that cats from helping me and laying in my fabric!

Please note. To get the knobs back on, I used my exacto knife to first poke a hole from the exterior of the door. (I found the exisiting hole with the fabric with my finger.) I knew that in order to prevent the fabric from getting a run I needed a big enough hole so the screw wouldn’t puncture the fabric when I inserted it from behind. Luckily, I don’t mind the brushed nickel knobs! (I may at some point find some cheap ones to spray paint and replace for the fun of it, but this hardware works for now!).

A little progress!

A little progress!

And then:


Voila! My Renter Solution for Kitchen Cabinets!

Art school is helping me now. Good thing I learned how to stretch canvas, right? Please note, I used the original edge of the fabric (the one that is glued/seamed/not frayed) and lined that up on the hinge side. (Lazy me didn’t want to take the doors off the hinges). In some places there is a sliver of cabinet showing, and maybe in the future I will find a way to adhere this edge. For now, I am ok with this. With this said, to cut my panels I used the exterior edges of the fabric. I have around 2 yards of the interior left.

(Sorry from the switches between filters and non-filtered images. I hate to admit it but I intend to return to my vintage photo ap. Now that I have discovered the high resolution option, I have to go with it. Sorry I’m not sorry). I will accept a nice camera from Sony however, if they want to prove me wrong. Or Polaroid for that matter. I love Polaroid).

I am still working on that horizontal piece (It is hard to staple) but I am sooooo happy with this solution! We’ll see how it holds up! It was an easy enough DIY project that cost less than 40$ (and I have plenty of Charcoal fabric left for other projects!). While I would love to use some simi-gloss and paint these bad boys, my fabric wrapped Renter Solution for Hideous Cabinets is working for now!

xoxo- Nikki


4 thoughts on “Renter Solution for Hideous Cabinets

    1. nikkiproctor Post author

      Jersey might work if you were to take the doors off (I was extremely lazy and did not)… Although I think a stiffer/less stretchy fabric will hold up better over time… (We’ll see how long I can keep em clean!) :)

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