before and afterDIYInteriors

Before & After: A Toronto Rental’s Peachy Kitchen Remodel

by Lauren Chorpening

There are a lot of benefits to renting. A first and last month’s rent deposit is significantly less than any conventional down payment. Repairs, renovations and anything over general upkeep aren’t on you to finance and make time for. You can make plans to move at the end of the lease without worrying about losing money if the apartment doesn’t become occupied right away. It’s a great situation for a lot of people, even in the interior design community. Renting does come with several restrictions, of course, including minimal ability to change wall colors, much less to redesign the most expensive rooms in the place. But for Autumn Hachey, wishful thinking turned into a collaboration between her and her landlord to remodel the kitchen of her Toronto apartment.

Autumn, a digital strategist for Leon’s with a background in public relations and interior design, and her partner Bo, carpenter apprentice, took a risk right after college. Their jobs in the small town of Walkerton, Ontario weren’t fulfilling the couple so they saved enough money for a first and last month rental deposit and decided to move to Toronto. “Neither of us had jobs, or job leads. All we had was first and last month’s rent, a stack of resumes, and 30 days to either find jobs and stay, or pack up and go back home,” Autumn shares. They booked a hotel in Toronto and started touring potential apartments. “The first two were duds, so we were crossing our fingers we would like the third option — as we couldn’t afford to stay another night and this was kind of our ‘shot.’ Luckily, we really liked option #3 and without hesitation we signed the papers and moved in two weeks later.” The last-resort apartment turned out to be a great find with a massive backyard.

Autumn knew what it meant to sign a lease. She knew that there was little she could change other than furniture placement. But for an interior design enthusiast, it was hard to keep the desire to design at bay after five years in the same apartment. “For a long time, I felt like I wasn’t really living in my space. I often felt like I was living half in and half out of my place, not really ever putting any energy into making it feel homey,” Autumn says. “After five years of ‘temporary living,’ I decided enough was enough. I wanted to love the space I was in, and I was willing to put a little bit of my own money into the equation to improve my overall living experience.” The place that needed the most love? The kitchen. “It’s the first thing you see when you walk in the door to our place and the kitchen was very dated and cheap looking.” Shockingly, her desire to make her space more beautiful aligned with the landlord’s desire to increase rent for future tenants and the pair decided to split the cost of the $2,000 project. The kitchen designed and executed by Autumn brings light and energy to the basement apartment. Flip through the gallery for all the renovation details. –Lauren

Photography by Shawn Lovering

Before & After: A Toronto Rental's Peachy Kitchen Remodel | Design*Sponge
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Autumn and Bo's kitchen went from uninspired to bright and dreamy.
Before & After: A Toronto Rental's Peachy Kitchen Remodel | Design*Sponge
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"I wanted my kitchen to feel bright and playful," Autumn says. "Living in a basement can be a bit of a drag. Part of the purpose of this makeover was to really open up the space, make it feel fresh, and add some life!"
Before & After: A Toronto Rental's Peachy Kitchen Remodel | Design*Sponge
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"I think when they decided to make the basement into an apartment, the kitchen was an afterthought that was just thrown in as affordably as possible," Autumn explains. "The toe kick was chipped, the vent was all greasy and there was literally only like 10 inches of counter space on each side so we rarely prepared good meals. Also, because of the wacky pipe job under the sink, there was nowhere to put our garbage and our compost... so we kept it out on display, like art."
Before & After: A Toronto Rental's Peachy Kitchen Remodel | Design*Sponge
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The overall aesthetic is warm, inviting, modern and minimal.
Before & After: A Toronto Rental's Peachy Kitchen Remodel | Design*Sponge
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While Autumn was ecstatic to get to update her kitchen, she kept things cost effective for her and her landlord. She chose butcher block countertops and IKEA cabinets for the rental kitchen.
Before & After: A Toronto Rental's Peachy Kitchen Remodel | Design*Sponge
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"I think painting the wall pink was a bold decision -- even bolder considering the fact I did not do the proper design protocol and test patches. I literally carried a vintage plate into Home Depot and bought enough paint to cover the entire wall. I wanted to design a space based on what I thought was cool, and what I really loved today," Autumn says.
Before & After: A Toronto Rental's Peachy Kitchen Remodel | Design*Sponge
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Autumn and Bo's kitchen in progress.
Before & After: A Toronto Rental's Peachy Kitchen Remodel | Design*Sponge
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"This kitchen island might be one of the best purchases of our life. Before we had it, we literally had zero counter space to prep on. This island has changed the way we eat, because now we have space to prep and make meals. It’s changed our storage situation, as we now have tons of space below for all of our pots, pans, bowls, and sweet potatoes. It’s a spot for me to work on my laptop, or for Bo and I to meet for breakfast. It’s the new gathering spot for when we have friends over," Autumn shares.
Before & After: A Toronto Rental's Peachy Kitchen Remodel | Design*Sponge
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While Autumn and Bo were displaying their compost before, now they're showing off their favorite objects and glassware.
Before & After: A Toronto Rental's Peachy Kitchen Remodel | Design*Sponge
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To balance the white and light pink tones, Autumn chose a black matte faucet and black grout for the blacksplash.
Before & After: A Toronto Rental's Peachy Kitchen Remodel | Design*Sponge
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"I am thankful for space. I am thankful that it's much more open, functional, and makes us feel great. Both my and my partner's lives have drastically improved because of this makeover."
Before & After: A Toronto Rental's Peachy Kitchen Remodel | Design*Sponge
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"I remember telling close friends that I really wanted to redo my kitchen and I was met with the same faces and answers each time. For the most part, people didn’t really understand why I would spend money on a basement rental apartment, instead of saving for a house. Well, I’m going to have to go ahead and wholeheartedly disagree, as renovating my kitchen has been an absolute game-changer. I am not sure people fully understand the positive impact of great design. Not just aesthetically, but for the way your life works," Autumn advises.
Before & After: A Toronto Rental's Peachy Kitchen Remodel | Design*Sponge
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Bo and Autumn take turns writing each other messages on the felt board each week. This week's message: Make moves.
Before & After: A Toronto Rental's Peachy Kitchen Remodel | Design*Sponge
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"To say we are thrilled with how our kitchen turned out is an understatement. For our first fixer-upper project on a bootstrap budget, I would have to say we did a pretty decent job," Autumn shares.
Before & After: A Toronto Rental's Peachy Kitchen Remodel | Design*Sponge
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"I knew I wanted pink and I had a few chips but none of them were looking like what I wanted," Autumn shares. "So, I started snooping around my apartment to find something pink I liked to hold up and take pictures of against to the wall to see if it would look good. I really wanted to steer away from being too pink. I didn’t want it to look immature or like a nursery, so I knew I wanted to lean more towards a peachy pink instead of a pinky pink."

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Comments

  • This space was completely transformed- it looks amazing. I really enjoy floating shelves in kitchens; they force you to keep your dishes organized and it reduces the need for home decor.

  • I never understand people’s reluctance in investing in a
    rental. (unless its very short term). I live in Toronto as well
    and fortunately have one of the best kept secrets in the
    city. I love my apartment (right on the lake) and do not
    ever plan to leave. I have put thousands of dollars into this
    apartment. I’m also very fortunate that the landlord does not
    give a whit about what I do. grasscloth down the
    hallway, check. Wallpapered bathroom, check. Gold-leaf
    the inside of the front door, check. paint treatments in
    every room, check. silver leaf ceiling in the kitchen, check.
    every penny was worth it. I think I’m in the minority though!
    (when my landlord came in after the grasscloth went up in
    the hallway he said: “wow, it looks like a cruiseship in here”.
    I hope that was a compliment!!)

  • “After five years of ‘temporary living,’ I decided enough was enough. I wanted to love the space I was in, and I was willing to put a little bit of my own money into the equation to improve my overall living experience.”

    Maybe this has to do with living in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country, but the likelihood is that I will never own, no matter how long I save my pennies. I still want a comfortable, welcoming home that makes me feel good. I wholeheartedly agree that sometimes the investment in improving a rental is absolutely worth it. You did an amazing job with this kitchen, Autumn!

  • Wholeheartedly agree with making even a rental a fantastic space to be. I have had people look at me like I am insane for painting walls in rental spaces, but I think they’re the insane ones – takes a few hours to do and if you really have to paint it white/cream again, only a few hours to undo. Weighing this up against years of looking at ugly beige walls, I think it’s worth the investment many times over.

  • Amazing job on your beautiful kitchen, Autumn! I, too, am embarking on a major kitchen reno, and love to see others’ progress. I especially appreciated your comment about people not always understanding how great design and beautiful living/working spaces can transform your life. I’m sure you walk into your new kitchen and it just puts you in a great mood!

  • A very brave choice to go with a pink wall in the kitchen but it is only a small section of wall, at least from what I can tell from the photos. It looks good! Great job with only $2,000 to spend!

  • That open style shelving looks cute after it’s intalled. After months of gathering layers of kitchen oil and dust, it doesn’t look nearly as cute. Of course, you can still get the look if you don’t mind washing every single plate or pan you grasp from the shelves prior to using.

    • Helene

      I have open shelves and have never had that sort of problem with ours. We keep things minimal though, so we don’t have to worry about dust piling up. But grease and kitchen oil have never been a huge issue…

      Grace

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