written by:
September 30, 2014
Originally published in Modern Views
as
Rental Case
While renters might not be able to rip out cabinets or excise egregious countertops, there are practical fixes that needn’t last longer than your lease. Deb Perelman, author of the food blog Smitten Kitchen, has encountered her share of cook space conundrums in the 14 years she’s been a New York City renter—insufficient storage, unsightly counters, and one kitchen that was a mere 42 square feet. Despite those challenges, she’s been able to make do with a few effective, affordable, and temporary solutions. “I look for things I can take with me to the next apartment,” she says. Here, Perelman shares her tips.
Moveable kitchen island by CB2

Perelman tells us: “My movable kitchen island provides me with additional counter space." She purchased hers from Wayfair.com. We're partial to the Mise en Place kitchen cart by Ceci Thompson for CB2 ($399). In more than one of her rentals, Perelman suffered from a dearth of kitchen drawers. We like this piece for its sturdy iron frame, three shelves (two of which are mesh—a good option for produce storage), chrome hooks, pull-out drawer, and removable ash-wood top that doubles as a serving tray.

1 / 12
Walnut cutting board

"Very ugly countertops are common," Perelman says. "I've mostly gone in the grin and bear it camp, but at the same time I think investing in a beautiful cutting board will make you feel much better about your kitchen. I bought a beautiful black maple cutting board and I'll always have it. You could probably get one the size of your counter. The whole idea is you can take it with you."

This 12-by-20-inch walnut board is available from Jewett Farms Workshop for $46.

2 / 12
Hanging pot rack

“Get a hanging pot rack. It frees up more than one cabinet’s worth of space,” Perelman advises. The Enclume Contemporary Oval Pot Rack is available from Williams Sonoma ($700). For a more affordable option, consider this forest green rack by Old Dutch International ($80).

3 / 12
Black chalkboard pegboard by Margaret Oomen

"A pegboard is a good way to hack a rental kitchen without spending much money," Perelman says. "Julia Child hung her pots and pans and utensils on one. Even if you can’t take that physical pegboard with you—they're really inexpensive—you can set all the pegs up in another kitchen.”

We like this DIY design by Margaret Oomen. She put a couple of coats of black chalkboard paint on a standard peg board purchased from Home Depot to create a display for her collection of vintage wood spoons.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in DIY Black Chalkboard Pegboard by Margaret Oomen
4 / 12
Cast iron skillet

We queried Perelman about her essential kitchen tools and one of the most versatile for her is a cast iron skillet. Lodge manufactures its wares in the USA and they're easy on the wallet. This 12-inch option is $37. "You can use it as a roasting pan and you can use it as a frying pan to cook anything on the stove," she says. "Mine cost $20 full price. If you take care of it, you could hand it to your grandkids. Cast iron pans are great, especially if you're feeling broke and it's your first kitchen."

5 / 12
Dutch oven cast-iron pot

"I think a dutch oven is a great thing to have, somewhere between five and seven quarts," Perelman says. This six-quart cast-iron pot, also from Lodge, is $59. "An eight-quart dutch oven is good if you feel like you want to cook for crowds. Five quarts is great for like everyday meals for 4-6 people, but a bigger one will cover more things on the big side. I'm not saying you have to buy a Le Creuset; you'll be fine with whatever brand is in your budget. I would say that, though, if you have loving and adorable family members, for Christmas gifts it's a great time to ask for one. They're not usually break the bank on the gift scale. If a couple of people can get together it's a great present. With a skillet and a dutch oven, you can do a whole lot. After that, for me, the next essential tool is a good wooden spoon."

6 / 12
Thin metal spatula for cooking fish

"I don't like traditional spatulas very much," Perelman says. "I always find them a little thick and cumbersome, but I love using what's called a flexible fish spatula and there's no reason just to use it for fish; I use it for everything. It's a thinner metal spatula that's a bit bendy. It's like razor thin so you can slide it under anything really easily. I use it to loosen cakes from pans and to get them off a springform base. I've gotten rid of pretty much every metal or bent spatula for this instead."

Sur La Table sells stainless-steel versions for $9–$17.

7 / 12
Metal tongs

"I love metal tongs," Perelman says. "I've had my pair for about 15 years and I'm going to cry when they break because you can't buy them anymore. You can open and close it with one hand. You can flip your wrist back and it locks. and you can flip it down and it opens. This is my hand in the kitchen. I use it for everything. Flipping sausages and meat and on the grill too. I've used it even to flip pancakes—they're sturdy enough."

Provisions, the retail side of Food 52, has a handsome version with wood handles for $38.

8 / 12
modern kitchen and bath rental fixes and improvements include bathroom accessories by sabi

Geared to multigenerational users, the 13-piece line of bathroom or kitchen accessories by MAP Project Office for Sabi includes mirrors, hooks, a towel bar, caddies, and shelves. Each item comes with a handy installation kit and can be mounted with high-strength, removable adhesive tape—save for the grab bar, which must be screwed in to meet safety requirements.

9 / 12
modern kitchen and bath rental fixes and improvements include squares squared wallpaper by chasing paper

Mounting traditional wallpaper and undertaking painting projects can be laborious affairs. Consider using self-adhesive coverings, like the Squares Squared wallpaper by Chasing Paper ($30 per four-by-two-foot panel) to swathe backsplashes, cabinets, and walls for a face-lift that will be easy to remove when your tastes change or you upgrade to a nicer pad.

10 / 12
modern kitchen and bath rental fixes and improvements include stugvik hook with suction cup by ikea

Designed to stick to common kitchen and bath materials such as tile and glass, the Stugvik hook by IKEA (two for $10) offers a way to hang objects—think bulky towels, squeegees, loofahs, and scrub brushes—weighing up to two pounds. Reserve heavier items for screwed- or nailed-in hooks. 

11 / 12
modern kitchen and bath rental fixes and improvements include hexagon smart tiles by qhinco & Cie

Suitable for applications on vertical surfaces, Smart Tiles by Quinco & Cie Inc. provide a DIY solution for unsightly backsplashes or walls. The adhesive tiles can be installed without special tools. Though heat- and humidity-resistant, they should not be used in showers. Smart Tiles also offers multicolor options. 

12 / 12
Moveable kitchen island by CB2

Perelman tells us: “My movable kitchen island provides me with additional counter space." She purchased hers from Wayfair.com. We're partial to the Mise en Place kitchen cart by Ceci Thompson for CB2 ($399). In more than one of her rentals, Perelman suffered from a dearth of kitchen drawers. We like this piece for its sturdy iron frame, three shelves (two of which are mesh—a good option for produce storage), chrome hooks, pull-out drawer, and removable ash-wood top that doubles as a serving tray.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016