sprucing up the kitchen with a mini makeover…

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i wanted to share a few photos of our little kitchen update we finally finished this past month.  when we moved into our tiny 2 bedroom new york city apartment, josh and i both fell in love with all the natural light each room received throughout the day… even if the kitchen was just so-so.  we saw a lot of potential though, and while we’re only renting, we still wanted to make the most of each room and really “move-in” and make the space one we loved (a plus of having great landlords!)  well, it’s been 2 years this month since we moved in (haha, we’re nothing if we aren’t incredibly speedy! ;-)  ) but we can check off “spruce up that old kitchen” from our to-do list finally!  we painted the cabinets back in may, put in a tile backsplash and new countertop last month and updated the kitchen faucet, too! a few simple changes, and i’m so pleased with how everything turned out! the kitchen space is even brighter than before (and dare i say it feels bigger?) while i’ll be totally honest and say i maybe dream from time to time of more counter space or a larger fridge to own someday, i’m so in love with our new york city life and apartment and am grateful to get to live here with the ones i love.

a few photos, if you’d like to see…

^^^our biggest thing was painting the cabinets.  they were really quite worn and were peeling and chipping along the ends and corners.  we bought a couple of cans of spray paint and went to town late one night. i originally wanted to paint all of the cabinets white, but since our dishwasher is black, i was nervous it’d become an awkward focal point as you walk into a white kitchen with a large black dishwasher staring you in the face. we debated for ages what to try to do to solve the problem, and finally agreed to try a darker grey color on the bottom cabinets to help it blend in more. i also covered that thing with a million magnet pictures which also helped. side note: i don’t want to sound like i’m complaining though about my black dishwasher, because you guys, i love that thing. we actually didn’t have any dishwasher when we first moved in, but thanks to our landlord for being awesome (and probably getting tired of my constant inquiring), they put one in for us when we renewed our lease! i’m so thankful for it. it’s a life saver.^^^

kitchen17 kitchen05

^^^after the first coat of spray paint. and side note: we probably did this wrong, so you probably shouldn’t use this as a tutorial. ;) because the spray paint was in aerosol cans, it would tend to create a mist of paint everywhere else. so you really have to cover every single surface in the remainder of your apartment if you ever use it. but it did stick really well (we sanded the cabinets first) and looks awesome!^^^


^^^oh hey, white haired old man! just kidding. but no really, that spray paint went everywhere!^^^


^^^with the help of our awesome friend thomas, we took out the laminate countertop (you can see what it looked like in a few photos above) and replaced it with a simple white counter, and we added a white subway tile backsplash behind the counter.  we kept the sink but updated the faucet with a pull-down faucet (oh has that spray faucet made my life complete!)^^^


^^^a close up of the tile backsplash…^^^

^^^like i mentioned a few paragraphs up about my dilemma with the black dishwasher, here’s an close up of all the sticky grams we covered it with. it’s been a fun spot for the kiddos to sit and hang out when we’re cooking in the kitchen as they like to look through all of the pictures and talk about some of the experiences they remember (and fortunately they are finally at an age where they aren’t ripping them off and throwing them everywhere! that happened for a hot second!)^^^


anyway, there’s our little spruced up new york city kitchen! also please note we are really moving up in the world as demonstrated by the fact that we finally have a real child’s safety lock on our cabinet under the sink! after our kids broke the first safety lock almost a year ago,  we started using one of josh’s old neck ties knotted around those cabinet handles instead. (you can see it in the before pictures.) we are super fancy like that over here at the davis house. ;)

  1. Carla

    how many cans of spray paint did it take?

  2. Lauren

    Landlords in NZ would never let tenants do things like that! I’m green with envy – I daydream about having a space to really make my own.
    Now I’m in the UK and I think it’s even more of a pipe dream.

    It looks beautiful! Got a baby name yet?

  3. it looks so, so much better!

  4. Christy H

    Looks amazing!! Would love to do something similar in our kitchen. Can you share what colors your used for the paint??

    Thank you!!


  5. Jess

    After working in a restaurant I’ve always wanted a pull down faucet, it’s soooo much easier to wash bigger pots and pans. Your landlord sounds amazing lol compared to a lot.

  6. skye

    those small changes made a huge difference…looks amazing!

  7. Melanie

    Lovely! Definitely is much brighter! I’m so fascinated by that fact that you’re allowed to ‘renovate’ to such a degree when you’re renting in the US. I’m from Australia and I think it’s very rare indeed for us to be allowed to change anything. But yay for you :)

  8. Your little anecdotes throughout this post = made my life. Such a funny pair, the two of you. I am loving the spruced up kitchen. Definitely such a big change with a few clever ideas and some elbow grease. Good on ya!

  9. hanna

    I love all the sticky grams. Cute idea! –Hanna Lei

  10. Rosely

    It’s amazing how a few details here and there can change a room completely. Your kitchen looks awesome.

  11. Shannon

    Love it! And super impressive that you guys did that with two littles. What a project.

  12. Allie

    LOVEEE the 2 tone kitchen!!! The grey and white combo is so sleek. Makes the whole kitchen look so much brighter! Did you have to sand down the cabinets first??

    • TAZA

      thank you! yes, we sanded all the cabinets down beforehand!

  13. the updates look marvellous! oh the magic of colours!

  14. Wow! It looks so much better and modern. I like it so much.

  15. Sinead

    Wow it looks great! I love that colour for the cabinets. We actually have the same white brick tiles in our kitchen :-)

  16. Fanny

    Looks better, congratulations for your great work !!!

  17. Aude

    I know it can be difficult to pull the trigger on a mini renovation in a rented apartment. Even if the landlord agrees to let you do the work it’s sometimes tough to commit money to a place that is ultimately not yours. But that’s no way to live. It’s all about the present. So I always encourage friends to personalise and improve their rented flats as much as they’re able to. It’s money spent on feeling at home somewhere and nothing is more important! Well done on the renovation as it looks gorgeous. Your landlord is lucky!

    Aude -www.quintessentiallyfrench.com

  18. Fantastic Update! I love what you did to the dishwasher. It’s a more updated modern way to display family photos (as opposed to the old fridge magnet option). Do you think you’ll need to put some sort of seal on it in order to prevent peeling?


  19. teryn

    this looks AMAZING. we will be moving into a 3bed NYC apartment in the spring and i’ve been eagerly browsing apartments online; none have the best kitchens. we will definitely be renting so i’m curious if most landlords would be down for this or if you just got a really nice one haha! it would kind of suck a little bit to pour the money into it only to move after awhile but i guess that’s the downside to renting. did all of the design choices need landlords approval or did they give you free reign since you were paying? it REALLY looks awesome. so excited for you guys!

  20. Alexis m

    What color are the bottom cabinets? I love them!

  21. Rachel

    What a cute kitchen makeover!! It looks lovely!


  22. Paige

    You have super nice landlords for letting you do that! I hope they gave you a break on rent since you did all that work! And don’t feel bad… there is currently a hair tie keeping our cabinets under the sink closed… we never even had a real one to get broken in the first place!


  23. Vanessa

    It looks AMAZING! Totally want to steal your sticky gram dishwasher idea!

  24. Vanessa

    Great post! Thanks for sharing! I just moved into a new apartment and I’m not big on my kitchen… sadly, it’s newer so I don’t think I’ll be able to make too many changes to it!

  25. Naomi,

    Where did yall get your pots/pan shelf & hanger? I love it! I think this would declutter my life and my kitchen!! :)


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  28. Addie

    what did you use for the countertops? thinking of doing the same thing in my kitchen and exploring options. Thank you!

    • TAZA

      the countertop is from Ikea! it’s not granite or anything fancy but it definitely looks a million times better and was only $69!

  29. Brianna

    Absolutely love the redesign of the kitchen, and especially the dishwasher! About how many of the magnets did you need to cover yours? We’re interested in doing something similar to our place.

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  31. I LOVE IT!!!!!!!! Totally inspired to redo our kitchen now, “Mike! I have an idea!!!!” LOL ;)

  32. You have inspired me to spruce up our kitchen. It is in desperate need for it! x

  33. I’m so inspired by your kitchen makeover and also very jealous of your understanding landlord – ours would be having none of this! Might have to go for a slightly less radical update though.

  34. melissa

    great call on the white upper and grey lower cabinet! Beautiful redo, i love it! so bright and lovely :)

  35. Hi Naomi ,

    Love this idea – trying to persuade my parents to spray their kitchen and will send them this has proof it works !

    Looking to spruce up our rental kitchen and this has inspired me!

    Lex from London,


  36. Mara

    Looks completely different and just perfect! :)

  37. Absolutely love the original idea of the sticky grams!! It looks amazing and multi-tasks!

  38. Madison Olla

    Hey! Saw you spray painted it…. Now that you have done it was it worth it? Was thinking about doing this instead of painting but wanted ur opinion???? Thoughts

  39. Evoke

    Nice upgrade, you guys did a great job!

  40. Julia S

    I love the makeover! Very inspiring for my own little NYC pad xx


  41. Morgan

    where did you get your cute fish sponge holder?

  42. Casie B.

    Saw your makeover on apartment therapy today, congrats on being featured! Would love to know what color grey you used on your base cabinets, and did you use gloss paint for those as well? Thanks!