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. I want to paint my cabinets white! You used spray paint? Any tips on sanding the cabinets first? How long did it take? I have absolutely no DIY skills, so I need tons of advice!

  2. Liz

    Love it! Looks great! :)

  3. Meg G

    We just installed the same faucet when we made over our kitchen (in May too!) and I LOVE IT! I wasn’t sure of it at first but I love it more every time I use it. Your kitchen looks great! It’s always amazing what a little paint can do.

  4. Chelsea

    It looks so good! Lots of great natural light and looks clean and not to fussy! I really need to do a little kitchen update also, and I’ve never had a dishwasher:( we live in a big old farm house and the poor thing just can’t handle it. It would be my dream come true though! Anyway, love the new space, well done!

  5. Amy

    Love love LOVE the darker cabinets along the bottom, and those glorious subway tiles…aaah! Beautiful job :)

  6. You’re so blessed to have a landlord who lets you do updates like this! Looks great!

  7. Stephanie

    Looks great!! Super nice landlord to boot :)

  8. Meghan

    Naomi, you have inspired me with your kitchen update! It looks amazing and you and Josh make it look so easy. I have been putting off a kitchen update mainly bc it seems daunting, especially with our little babe now in the house. I love the idea of the spray paint, although, I am thinking I will take the doors off the cabinets so I can avoid fumes in the house. The pics looks great and I love the color combo! Enjoy the little things that make our day!

  9. Jen

    It looks amazing! Love that clean white backsplash. Would you feel comfortable sharing the cost of the new counter and backsplash?

  10. grace

    Gorgeous! What did you guys use for your countertop? We’re looking to replace ours and I love the look of yours.

  11. I love the new kitchen!! It’s so cute!

  12. Marcey

    This is great! I’m trying to help a friend with a narrow kitchen look for ways to open up the space, I’ve been suggesting darker on the bottom and white on top from day one, I’ll be showing her this example. I’ve also suggested that she go with a stove that is a bit smaller, which it looks like you have here. Have you found that it works for you and you have sufficient cooking space? I’d love to know how from someone with a similar NYC kitchen. Thanks in advance for responding.

  13. looks SO great! white subway tile backsplash is seriously the best looking AND cheapest way to go. my mom did her backsplash in her also-tiny kitchen for less than $100. and the thought of dark cabinets on the bottom might sound like it would darken the room to some people thinking about it, but yours is proof that it does NOT darken the room, and in fact makes it look SO nice and bright!


  14. nanette

    i love it! love the tile back splash and the two color cabinets. it looks so airy!

  15. Lake

    Wow, looks great! That stickygram idea is so cute,

  16. How creative!! It looks amazing. I love white kitchens.

  17. It looks fantastic! I really love the combination between white and dark grey. And the idea of covering the dishwasher (I wish I had one!) is fantastic! Great job!! Would you like to come to our house and fo a Little work on our kitchen? ;)

  18. Tara

    Gorgeous! Well done!

  19. Kate

    I love it!!! The colours are so modern and clean, plus the dishwasher is adorable!! Definitely a great update and I’m sure you’re enjoying the new look!


  20. jemima

    Wow, what a difference that makes! Great moves, guys. Hopefully is a much more pleasant spcae for you all to spend time in now. I am not a fan of our cupboards but am renting and not sure if the ‘rules’ are the same over in the states but we’re not really supposed to change the look of the place at all, which is very annoying!

    I love the dark charcoal grey colour, it looks fantastic.

    Congrats on the new kitchen look!

    jemima x


  21. Subway tiles are perfection and you can’t go wrong with them! As my husband and I renew our lease, I’m feeling a bit of inquiry is needed for sprucing up our place. At times I do feel intimidated about asking landlords for things, but hey, why not?! Love the brightness and color contrasts. It’s really lovely!


  22. Steph Penny

    Hi(; did you sand or treat the cabinets in any way before you spray painted them? Thanks!

  23. Teresa

    I LOVE what you’ve done with the kitchen. It’s so colorful and practical and it even looks bigger with the new color!

  24. Alexa

    it looks beautiful! amazing what a coat of paint can do to open up a space.

  25. Sarah

    Well…that was incredibly inspirational, your kitchen looks awesome! I also have a tiny little kitchen in my Chicago apartment that could use some updating of it’s own. I may just have to follow your lead. Thank you for sharing!

  26. A little bit of paint can make a big difference!

  27. Beth H.

    It looks fantastic!! I am dying to paint our kitchen cabinets white, gotta get our landlord on board with it first, but I’m holding out for them!! It just makes a world of difference and everything just automatically looks so much fresher, cleaner, and lovelier! :)

  28. zaby

    Your Kitchen looks amazing

  29. Your kitchen looks gorgeous! Amazing what simple changes can do. And I love the photo magnet idea!

  30. Evanda

    Looks so good!

  31. Margot

    Naomi, what a gorgeous makeover! The white makes your upper cabinets melt into the wall giving the illusion of a lot more space! The dark grey is one of my favorite colors. Enjoy cooking in your “new” space!

  32. Hannah

    I love it, Naomi! It looks like a totally different kitchen. I’m all about subway tile, too. Major upgrade :)

  33. gina

    It looks great !!!

  34. Janis

    Wow, it looks great! Good job! :)

  35. Katie

    It looks so good! I bet you’re glad to have it finally finished!

  36. Rinda Romney

    Wow, it looks amazing! I’ve been having a battle with my landlord about our horrible kitchen. How did you talk yours into remodeling? Did you just basically offer to pay for it and do all the labor and they OK’d it?

  37. You guys, the kitchen looks unbelievably rad. Good for you for making your rental your own. We did the same thing and it’s totally worth it. Gorgeous, gorgeous!! xoxo

  38. kristin

    lovely! the gray + white cabinets look so fresh.

  39. Emily

    I love your kitchen makeover!!! Believe it or not, we have even less counter space than you guys, but we also have a dishwasher so I’m not complaining (much)! We’re starting a family in our one bedroom NYC apartment and I love that you expose our unique (tiny!) urban lifestyle to the rest of the world. What I wouldn’t give for a driveway and a backyard though sometimes! ;)

  40. Taylor

    This is such a cute and awesome kitchen update! You can tell what a little bit of paint and a new faucet can really do! You guys did a fantastic job.


  41. Well done! It looks amazing and kudos to you guys for going bold and brave and painting your cabinets black. How cool!




  42. R.S. Grey

    I love the mix of cabinet colors. Grey on bottom and white on top definitely makes the room feel bigger! :)

  43. giedre

    cute! Love how classy the black cabinets look!!

  44. thea

    Your kitchen definitely does look bigger! You have such great style and taste, Naomi! Great job! :)

  45. Caitlin

    Love the cabinet pulls! From where did you purchase them? Thanks!

  46. Saba

    Great job! it looks beautiful! :) xx

  47. Effie

    This makeover looks great! Love the colors and backsplash. And yes, don’t use this as a tutorial (only inspiration) because spray paint was the wrong way to go. My husband and I flip houses and diy most of our flips. I can tell you that the spray paint will wear pretty quickly and it’s a really cheap way to go. And you should NEVER spray paint inside, it’s so toxic and you guys could have gotten really ill. I just want to share this with your readers, no shade throw! It does look great, you have fantastic taste, just want to inform your readers (and you) about future projects.

  48. Cherisa

    This is making me want to do this now. Are your cabinets solid wood or laminate? We just re did our backsplash with white subway tile too and it makes ALL the difference!

  49. bri

    it looks so good! definitely brighter and lighter. i looove the idea of stickygrams on the dishwasher. i might have to steal it. we have ours on the fridge but it’s taking forever to fill it all up! i think we have enough to do the dishwasher already though! ours is an ugly tiny white one. it gets dirty so quickly, those cute magnets would definitely spruce it up!

  50. I absolutely love what you did with your space! I wish I had a window in my tiny kitchen </3 haha! I love the before and after! Hope you can do more home tours in the future xoxo

  51. amanda

    you did a seriously impressive job- it looks awesome! some days i feel like i’d trade out my space/newness for all the character and charm those city apartments hold. so fun!!!

  52. Emily Holliday

    This looks amazing! Very modern and fresh!

  53. Sarah

    @taza, what material are the counters? Thanks!

  54. yoreney

    nicely done. i wonder though, about renovating (be it small or big) a rented place. does the budget came from you? but when you move out, what do you get in return?

  55. arielle

    awww, I love it. those cupboards actually have really nice lines and you notice them so much more with a fresh can of paint! and I love your stickygram collage..what a cute and personal idea.

    love, arielle
    a simple elegance

  56. marie

    Looks good! I love to stick my son’s art pieces all over my fridge and oven. Adds that special homely touch to our kitchen ;)


  57. Sarah

    Brilliant! I’m loving that natural light xx


  58. Trisha

    Love it! HUGE difference in how bright the kitchen is.
    And love that your kids don’t rip off the pictures anymore- hopefully I’m outta that stage soon myself. :)

  59. Your kitchen looks AMAZING!! I love it! I especially love the dishwasher covered in sticky grams..genius!

  60. Ruth

    So cute! I love the white and dark gray cabinets! What color and brand is the gray? I love DIY projects and seeing the before and after pics! Nice job!

  61. allison

    oh gosh, I love it!! I’ve got the same (old) cabinets, and after 5 years, my winter project is to spray them white. I heard paint + paint gun works wonders. my bestie painted hers the same grey, so unexpected but absolute perfection; there’s just about nothing I love more than a white and grey kitchen

  62. We have a tiny 2 bed apartment too! Your kitchen has given me inspiration for ours!

    It’s full of light and colour!

    Love your style.

  63. Oh I love it! It’s so pretty. I’ve been wanting to makeover my kitchen for a long time, I love the simple white worktops, they’re lovely and really brighten things up!

  64. Eva

    You guys did a great job! That’s a great kitchen, and it’s big, even though it’s in Manhattan. I love the white and black cabinet combo, and the subway tile is one of my favorite tiles. But, my real favorite change is the cabin baby proofing :-) (joking)

  65. Caitlin

    I’d love to do something like this in our Chicago kitchen (EVERYTHING IS WHITE)…how did you get around making such permanent changes as renters?

  66. love it, naomi! your kitchen is beautiful!!

  67. Katie F.

    Looks fab–great job! Are your cabinets real wood or laminate? They look like real wood and are a lot nicer than our laminate ones. We have sanding/repainting/maybe replacing cabinet doors on our to-do list, and I wonder how the sanded laminate will take paint. I like how you left the top row white and bottom gray. Thanks for the inspiration!

  68. lucinda

    very clean and modern, love the new look! it really brightens up the space. and i love the stickygram idea – it’s a delightfully IDEAL distraction for the kiddos while you’re in the kitchen!

  69. Allison

    That looks so great! We have been wanting to do similar things in our place too, we aren’t too speedy either ;) We painted a wall in our apartment and added a chalkboard paint to the back of our front door and to a coffee table. I would love to change up the kitchen too! Thanks for sharing!
    xoxo Allison

  70. Maria

    I love how doable this is while, at the same time, making a huge impact! I love the color combination, and the sticky grams add such a whimsical element to it all.

  71. Catherine

    Looks so great! That is the best nesting project checked off for sure and you are right you have amazing landlords. Way to make the place your own.

  72. Cat

    Holy cow, what a difference! It looks so much more fresh and clean now. I would love to do something similar with my also so-so, small kitchen, but your options are limited as a renter. I did paint the ceiling blue, though :)


  73. fanny

    Hello Naomie!
    You made a good job with the kitchen. White is the secret to make rooms bigger. I live in a 2 bedrooms appartement too and I have two toddlers too. I was thinking of this little baby who is coming, will you stay in your appartement? I feel crazy sometimes in my tiny one !

    Fanny from France

  74. A

    It’s a lovely renovation! What did you do yourself, and what did you contract out (ie installing faucet, tile work, counter fabrication)?

  75. Emily

    I love your new kitchen! I can’t imagine undertaking a big project like that with two little ones! It looks beautiful though. I always love seeing what your family is up to! God bless :)

  76. The grey and white was a great decision. The subway tile is also very timeless and looks nice a clean!

  77. it looks great! i always love dark and white kitchens, the gray is such an awesome color. great job!
    xo, cheyenne

  78. AM

    this looks so amazing! i love the idea of the cabinets being different colors.. and that gray is beautiful!! great work!


  79. cait

    gorgeous! i love the grey & white combo, especially love the pics on the dishwasher :)

    p.s. completely admire the spray painting technique- seems a lot faster than removing everything!

  80. Alison

    This turned out so beautiful!!! I’m moving in to my first apartment in a couple of weeks and this was so inspiring to look at. Congrats on the fresh clean space!

  81. Laureen

    Great makeover!! I love the two-tone cabinets especially. Good work. :)

  82. Absolutely GORGEOUS! You guys did a fabulous job. Loving how open and bright it looks.

  83. AGATA

    Hi Naomi!
    It looks awesome and just like you said the kitchen looks bigger and fresher. I think it is painted the bottom cabinets in grey was a good idea, because it is very fashionable = bright top, dark bottom so good job!

    Tile backsplash, great, great, great idea!

    and at the end of what I like the most is your dishwasher with all the sticky grams, ooh just love it.



  84. Abi S

    Wow! What a transformation! Such hard work which has really paid off! I bet you love it now! Amazing! Abi :) myw0rldmyview.blogspot.co.uk

  85. Sara

    Did your landlord pay for all the supplies? Seems like a lot of work for a rental. Don’t get me wrong though. Looks amazing! Great job.

  86. Lindsay

    A little bit of kitchen inspiration in the middle of the day! I live in an apartment that is pretty strict about remodeling, so the only structural thing I’ve changed so far has been the showerhead. Now, I’m thinking about figuring out how to change the faucets because that spray faucet looks AMAZING and might make me a bit less reluctant to wash the dishes.

  87. Bekah

    So cute!!! I love the contrast of the dark and light cupboards!

  88. Marian

    Isn’t it amazing what a difference such a simple make-over like this can have! I love how fresh and clean your kitchenette looks now, lovely! Great job guys. xox

  89. These are the same cabinet color (for top and bottom) we picked, the same handles, and the same tile. To a T. it looks wonderful!

  90. Heather T.

    Amazing! I’m impressed with what huge changes you were able to make in such a small space. Made a big difference!

  91. Laura

    Wow – it’s amazing how a few extra touches and a slick of paint can open up and brighten a room!
    amazing work, guys!