Rehabbing a rental property kitchen for $1000

The plan for the kitchen of the “Pink Disaster” house was fairly simple.  I wanted to save the existing cabinetry but update the room with other features to keep it from looking dated.  I also wanted to remove the existing flooring and refinish the wall tile to get rid of the pink.  Though it had very little storage, the room was actually a decent size so I wanted to bring more storage in as inexpensively as possible. The goal as a rental property was to create a simple, yet attractive space at a low price.

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The kitchen was truly disgusting at first.  Before painting, the walls and cabinets needed to be scrubbed due to years of cooking grease building up on the surfaces.  The cabinets had extremely bad buildup around the pulls that needed to be scraped off.  While this work is gross, the benefits outweigh the costs of buying new cabinets.  The base was built circa 1950 and is very solid construction.


I then went to work fixing the broken wall tiles.  Luckily (as this home had a single owner since 1950) I was able to find spare tiles tucked in the back of one of the drawers.  There wasn’t a replacement for every piece but it ended up looking much better.


It was then time to get a layer of primer on everything.  I decided to try spray paint for both the cabinets and tile as this option offers more lacquer-like options that I thought might stand up to more abuse over time.  I taped off the black tiles and windows which were covered with bags but didn’t worry about overspray on the floors as we would be getting rid of those.

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We then switched out the old pink counter top with a new HD laminate and got a second-hand stainless sink for $20.  The plaster part of the walls were painted a pale beige like the rest of the house.

The floors became the next big job as there were 3 layers of vinyl tile and glue along with 2 layers of paint in some parts!


Removing the glue was labor intensive and involved a lot of flammable chemicals.  There were several times I considered giving up and putting new vinyl back down over the hardwood but I owe it to my husband and father in law for helping and keeping the dream of saving the kitchen hardwood alive!  After all the glue was gone, it was time to sand down the old paint and get to the bare wood again.

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Since the rest of the house had dark wood, we stained the kitchen floors to match.  We ended up going with “Dark Walnut” by Rustoleum.  I put 4 coats of water based polyurethane designed for floors.  The water based version has very little odor compared to the oil based counterpart.


After the floors were finished.  We added appliances purchased at a second hand appliance store and a few used (but in great shape) cabinets that we scored for $150. I then changed the old cabinet knobs to new, chrome ones.  While the kitchen is not show stopping, it is appropriate for a rental property in this market and only cost about $1000 total.   Half of that total covered the appliances ($530).  With a lot of hard work and a little effort in tracking down used items, its easy to inexpensively pull together a rental property kitchen.

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