‘Rental Redo’ Reveals How To Renovate a Whole Kitchen for Only $3K

Keyanna Bowen of "Rental Redo"

Magnolia Network

On “Rental Redo,” a new show airing on Chip and Joanna GainesMagnolia Network, designer Keyanna Bowen helps renters make over their spaces. And on the latest episode, she shows some clever upgrades for the many renters who are working from home, too.

In “The Dumpling Kitchen,” Bowen helps Meaghan Dunn and her daughter, Nari, who are renting a small condo in Newtown, PA. The problem is that ever since Dunn’s dumpling business took off, the space is just not functional enough for her to easily make the 400 dumplings per hour she needs to fulfill all her orders.

“Because Meaghan is using the space for her business, my design plan has to accomplish not only the aesthetic, but the functionality, too,” says Bowen, who feels her pain, since she and her husband rent and work from home, too.

Bowen estimates that the renovations will cost about $6,500—and with a little finessing, the landlords have offered to put up $3,500 of it, so Dunn has to spend only $3,000 out of pocket.

“They are so supportive of my new business,” Dunn says of the landlords. “They’re really on board with updates, just to make it easier for us.”

If only all landlords were that fabulous! But even if not, this home makeover contains many pearls of wisdom that might inspire some cheap yet effective changes around your own abode, too.

White makes a small space feel bigger

Small kitchen before
Small kitchen before

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“When dealing with a small space, there are always things you can do to make it feel bigger and make it function better,” says Bowen. “Like using white as your primary color palette. Lighter colors will open up a cramped space to give the illusion of a larger area.”

Bowen has the old brown wood cabinets painted white, and that alone makes the very small kitchen look larger and lovely.

White paint seems to expand the kitchen
White paint seems to expand the kitchen.

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Open shelving can be practical

Open shelving makes ingredients instantly accessible
Open shelving makes ingredients instantly accessible.

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Open shelving in kitchens is a hot trend because it looks cool, but for someone who cooks every day like Dunn, it’s functional, too.

“I’m thinking of doing open shelving that will allow you to see all your goods, things that you need, and easily be able to grab them and access them,” says Bowen.

For Dunn, having the common ingredients she uses within arms’ reach without having to open a cupboard door to locate them is extremely convenient. Plus, she can take the shelves with her if she moves.

Get a dining table that can also function as a work surface

A dining room table that can double as a work space
A dining table that can double as a workspace

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The Dunns don’t have much room for a table and chairs, but they really need more counter space. So Bowen suggests getting a dining table with benches, which take up less space than high-backed chairs. This diminutive table is nonetheless large enough to work for family dinners, dumpling processing, homework, and more.

Craft a magnetic chalkboard wall

Homemade magnetic chalkboard
Homemade magnetic chalkboard

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Dunn needs both a chalkboard and a magnet board for orders, menus, recipes, shopping lists, etc. Bowen finds a way to inexpensively kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. She gets a big piece of sheet metal and paints it with black chalkboard paint.

“So you can write notes on it with chalk, and also use magnets to hold your orders on it,” she explains.

It takes about three coats, but the chalkboard paint costs only $25.

“To purchase a magnetic chalkboard would have cost a lot more money,” says Bowen.

Put in light fixtures that you can take with you

Portable light fixtures
Portable light fixtures

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There are dreaded fluorescent lights on the ceiling in both the kitchen and the dining room, which does no favors for the people or the food being illuminated.

Bowen finds beautiful but inexpensive light fixtures that Dunn can take with her when she moves to a new home. She’ll save the old ones and replace them before she goes.

“It helps update the space and make it feel a little bit more like you,” says Bowen.

How does this rental redo turn out?

Dunn and her daughter are thrilled with their new kitchen, which feels less cramped and a lot more functional to run their dumpling business.

“It’s amazing—thank you so much,” says Dunn. “It looks gorgeous. I love it!”

“Meaghan was making 400 dumplings per hour in that old kitchen,” says Bowen. “Now that she has this new space, I know that she’s going to be able to accomplish even more for her business.”

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