rental house: kitchen & dining room

if you are new here, we moved out of what i might have called our “dream home” last month and into a rental house.  after 9 years of living in a beautiful home we built and raised our 3 kids in, we decided to sell with the end goal of building again and having more land to run wild on.  there are definitely still days when i wonder, “WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?!” but for the most part i feel great about our decision.

we’ve been living in our rental house for about 5 weeks now, and have been feeling settled for about the last 3 weeks at least.  thankfully, we were able to get settled quickly into this home, due mostly to the fact that this home is really big!  it really is such a blessing to move into a house that feels luxurious (space-wise).  we were used to 3 bedrooms in our main home (not including the loft) and this house has 4 bedrooms.  the kids were so so excited to have their own rooms, and we have a second living space/playroom/game room/workout space that is gigantic.

while we have been settled for a bit now, i have been hesitant to take any pictures for my blog because it just doesn’t photograph well.  my old house i could shoot a pile of dirty dishes in my sink and it could look pretty because of the white subway tile, the pretty faucet, and the grey caesarstone counters.  but i have decided that this can actually be a fun challenge:  to love the house i’m in, make it a home for my family, and be content.  the last part is the hardest for me, if i’m being honest.


here is the “before” of the dining room.  not bad – decent floors, french doors opening to a big deck outside, good light.


here is the “before” of the kitchen.  it has obviously been redone in recent years.  the cabinets are nice, and they could be oh so much worse!  the counters… i am so so so happy that they are a solid surface!  no grout or tiles to battle!  i have yet to find a color that looks good with both the cabinets and the countertop, so i have limited my kitchen decor/supplies to the colorless realm: black, white, grey, wood.


except my stools.  they are green, because i am not changing their color and they are just so cute!  we used the island in our last home so often and i knew we needed to keep stools here, even though it makes the passage a bit tighter.  the kids sit here more often than at the table for breakfast and lunch.  and snacks.  and to chat. and to draw.  and to watch me wipe down the counters for the 20th time that day.


here is where we are currently at.  i really wanted to wait to post until i had the kitchen finished like i really want it, but i haven’t quite figured that out, and i am fan of keeping things real.  while i love the red letter words canvas on the wall, the color there bugs me, so i may swap out something a bit more neutral.


lily gets her baking station here as well.  she bakes something nearly every day and these cabinets are a little higher here, making it harder for her to get her main ingredients out so often.  sugar and flour are pretty neutral, so they made the cut ;)  we have also missed our butcher block island, but my dad gave me this old breadboard that was in my childhood kitchen (they just did a major remodel), and it works great!


i do have little pops of color on those corner shelves, which i’m still undecided on.


there is actually a good amount of counter space for food prep, and the storage in the cabinets is good.  i didn’t even bother unpacking my mismatched floral china plates or my in-law’s wedding china, or most of our bigger serving platters and dishes.  those will have to wait until the next home.  there’s no pantry in the kitchen (we use the lazy susan in the corner under the counter for snacks/cereal/tea) but there’s a closet in the hall just around the corner where we have our basic party items, liked canned goods and brownie mix.  you know, the essentials.


the appliances are relatively new (fridge is brand new as we had to buy it).  i’m not used to having small appliances out in the open, like the microwave and the coffee maker, as we had tucked away storage for them, but the deep unusable corner works perfectly for the microwave.  and that hood vent is awesome!  funny thing: we never installed a vent over the stove in our last house.  it was one of those “we need to do this” things that always got pushed to the end of the list.  having a vent is so nice to suck away cooking smells and steam.  and smoke when food drips in the oven *ahem*.


the landlord just replaced the sink faucet for us.  the water here is much harder than it was in our house across town, and it causes fixtures to corrode much faster.  the hard water buildup was so thick around the faucet base that the counters were solid grey – no speckles.  after several applications of vinegar/baking soda/dawn solutions, it finally softened enough for me to scrape most of it off with a pastry scraper – yuck!  i still need to do the bathroom sinks next, but i don’t look at them nearly as much as i do in the kitchen.  and i am so thankful we have a dishwasher!  we have lived in a few places without and its rough!


this room gets great light and has a really pretty view from the kitchen sink.  it looks way out over farmland and is the dreamiest when the train is rolling through and winding out of the hills and along the farms.  i would just like to thin out the neighbor’s trees a bit to widen the view ;)   { 3-tier wire basket }


we use these little colanders all the time, usually filled with cherry tomatoes or berries.  i just added a white one to cut out the color, and at $2 each from world market, its an easily justifiable purchase.


i love having a coffee station.  while our coffee maker had a little garage it lived in in our last kitchen, we still had a tray of our goodies on it, so we weren’t digging in cabinets every day.  our coffee cups and travel mugs and whole beans are stored in the cabinet just above.


on to the dining room.  this room is a work in progress.  i am mostly happy with the wall collage, but then again, it just feels really, really busy.  i am finding that in my mind i am craving more simplicity in my home, but when i go to decorate, i grab the same usual items and put them back up.  i have lots of fun treasures that i have collected over the years and i am finding a desire lately to let them go, simplify my wall decor a bit, and give the eye a place to rest.  i’m pretty sure i am going to take this all down and put up a gigantic old pull down school map that i was given.  we’ll see…

the table is also quite large.  we have to push it against the wall in order to walk past it.  when we have other families over for dinner its so awkward and funny how hard it is to function in there!  i am hoping my dad and i can start soon on building a new table for this space that would eventually become the homeschool room table in our next house.  we’d keep this behemoth in the playroom and add a pingpong net (its just shy of regulation size!).  i just added that runner from world market and am not sure on it yet.  without anything there its just a huge black box.  maybe just adding a vase of flowers, a plant, something… would help fill it up a bit, while still trying to keep things clean and simple.  see how easy it is to fall into old habits of displaying all the cute things!


this is my mini command center/office.  we have our calendar and chore charts here, all from paperworks.  we also regularly use the shopping lists and notes from paperworks, but they are in another spot.  {sidetone: that is an affiliate link for paperworks – you get a $5 discount, i get $5 credit.  but i do use their products everyday and love that they make daily tasks more beautiful!}  i have one (very full) hanging file holder with all my bills, etc to be filed.  the file cabinet is in the opposite corner of the room, on the same wall as the collage, with the printer on top.  in my silly attempt to hide all that, i stuck a plant on top.  good enough!  { trash can  //  curtains }


rather than homeschooling downstairs in the playroom, i am trying to do it up here where the light is better.  can you tell i have a thing for light?  i hate being in poorly lit spaces – they make me sad and i feel like i can’t see well.  bright light all the time for me!  we have been using this “homeschool cart” for awhile (cart from ikea) and its working out pretty well.  it holds lots of our basic art and writing supplies on top, like markers, colored pencils, scissors, erasers, pencils, glue, rulers and pencil sharpeners.  the middle shelf holds 2 plastic containers – one for basic craft supplies like wash tape, hot glue gun, wire, string… and the other hold basic office supplies like tape, envelopes, stamps, stapler, white out, etc.  the bottom shelf hold a variety of papers mostly for school: printer paper, card stock, college ruled lined paper, wide ruled lined paper, and graph paper.

so there’s the first bit of a house tour!  i’m hoping to show more as i can squeeze in the time and have good lighting (its hard to photograph when its gloomy and raining out).  each of these spaces are still a work in progress and we’ll fiddle and wiggle things here and there to adjust them to work best for how our family really uses these spaces.  moving has always been something i love (i know, i’m weird), and i enjoy the challenge of a home that is not how i’d think to design it.  i love problem solving and making things work as best as possible!


  1. 1

    I really like how your kitchen turned out – and I love the splashes of Color on your shelves! It always amazes me what a Little decoration here and there can do! I totally understand that you miss your old home and Keep comaring it to the Situation now, but don’t forget that this is only temporary and a better home will be yours once you get going! xxx

  2. 3

    I really like it! I know change can be hard and it can take a lot of time to get used to. But remember, it’s the people inside the house that make it a home!

    Christina :: Simple and Delish

  3. 5
    Veronica U says:

    My husband and I have lived in 5 rental homes in the last 4 years. Trust me, you are fortunate to have found a rental home in such good condition! While we are always our worst critics, I think you have made this into a beautiful home, temporary though it may be :)

    • 6

      thanks veronica! i agree, i feel very fortunate! we have lived with 4 of us in a 700 sq ft home 80 year old home, so i know this is a good thing!

  4. 7

    I really like the kitchen, you have done a great job. I am going to steal some of your ideas I like the coffee area and I like the baking area with the sugar out in the big glass containers. Thanks for sharing.

  5. 9

    You are doing such a great job. I love that red letter print too, but wonder if something green that nods to your stools would look even better? I recently made a huge magnolia wreath from 2 garlands and a grapevine wreath form from Hobby Lobby and can picture it in that spot. Joanna Gaines sells a similar one on her site for $95….that was out of my budget for the room so I opted for a DIY. I know what you mean about 1 large item instead of many small. I’ve been coming to that conclusion at our house too. Your gallery wall is super cute ;). The nester has some great ideas about living in a rental on her blog. They didn’t hesitate to change out light fixtures that bothered them. They saved the old ones in a safe place and when it was time to move, put them back up and took their cute fixtures with them.

    • 10

      i love the nester! fabulous ideas found there! thanks for the tip about the wreath, and i agree – i think green could look great there!

  6. 11

    Such a cute area! Love the way you decorate! Are the stools a green or mint green color?

  7. 13

    You have done great work with the space you have!!! So, here is my question for you….
    My children are 2, 5, and 7 years old and we live in a rental also (smaller home than we were in, and 100 years old). I feel like my house looks like a preschool. It is nice to have their things where they can play/engage with their items and they don’t need my help all the time. But it is making me feel like I would like to Throw all their toys away and have at least part of the house look “adult.” : ). OR do I just accept the fact that this is just a stage and it won’t be like this forever : )
    Would love any advice you have!

    • 14

      great question! when my kids were that little we had a playroom, so their toys were either in the playroom or their bedrooms. well, thats not true – their toys were supposed to be stored in those rooms but ended up strewn throughout the house! if you don’t have a separate play space (and my kids played all through the house, not just the playroom), then consider 2 things: having less toys (or less toys out, rotate a stock of toys out to the garage, then back in after awhile), and also have “adult” storage for the toys, like wicker baskets with lids, or bins that match your house decor and aren’t necessarily kid colors. we also used furniture creatively, like had a dresser in our entryway that held art supplies and train tracks and wrapping supplies, or an ottoman with stage underneath held our board games. hope that helps!

  8. 15

    You have done so well! I enjoy reading about your dilemmas and how you problem solve in a very sinple, ordinary but made to be “home” just for you, for now…thank you for bringing us in to normal spaces that most of us can relate to and sharing with us on how to make it look fresh, even in a picture. Can’t wait to see more:)

  9. 17

    I have been following your blog for a couple of years. I so appreciate the creativity, individuality, and beauty that I find on so many blogs. I was excited to get a peek into your rental house and am also excited to follow along as y’all begin your next building adventure. But, when I scrolled through your post, it saddened me that you felt the need to apologize for the redness of the floors or the bad lighting and even the speckled granite – although you did say you were thankful for the solid surface countertops. It saddened me because here I sit in my 50 year old 1500sq. ft. brick ranch that I share with my husband and three teens, and your apologies only make my home issues feel/look 10x worse.
    My 30 year old peeling linoleum is u.g.l.y., but it is clean; the faux butcher block is peeking through on my “stone-look” painted countertops; my appliances (all original except the dishwasher) have certainly seen better days; the Berber carpet in the sunroom is permanently stained after a carpet steamer malfunctioned while I was just trying to make it look cleaner/better; the exterior laundry/storage room – don’t get me started; the wood doors and drawers to my kitchen cabinets are warped and don’t close or open correctly; the list could go on and on… I apologize if I sound harsh, and I realize you may not post this comment, but you have this amazing platform in which you can edify and encourage or shame, and I did not think this post was representative of you.
    You have so much to be thankful for. My husband owns a business that is going under. We are devastated. We have no way of changing our circumstances or our home right now – unless the Lord sends a miracle. And, with the economy being what it is, I am surely not alone in this situation. I look to blogs like yours as an opportunity to take a quick visit to a friend’s home to fellowship. As a homeschooling mom, I don’t get those opportunities very often, and this time, I left the home defeated and down-hearted.

    • 18

      I think you have to look at her perspective as well. Designing and decorating homes is her passion. She has a very particular way of how she wants things to look, because that’s what she does. She is being very real and vulnerable in this posting…and even admits that maybe her attitude isn’t where it should be (the part of calling herself a brat). But I believe she is thankful for her rental home, but it’s not how she would have designed the home. And her blog is mostly about her designs. She is pointing out that these things aren’t her typical style.

      I would encourage you to not compare where you are right now with other people and their blogs, because comparison with discontent/jealousy doesn’t help you or other people. Everyone is in a different season of life, and you walked away feeling bad because it sounds like you are not content with your home, and you responded unkindly to her.

    • 19

      I wholeheartedly agree with you, Erin. We have the same floors (that we CHOSE just 4 years ago and LOVE) that she picked apart. The tone that came across to me was very ‘bratty’, to use her words.

      • 20

        I agree with you Erin and Lynn. I was surprised by this posting as it seemed a little bratty and uncomfortable to read. This was someone’s last home and I know it’s a rental but there are a lot people living in similar homes and I think some of the comments unnecessary about the countertops and floors and faucets. I applaud you for speaking your mind.

        • 21

          i am sorry for offending you as well with this post. that was not my intention. about 1/10 of my post mentions the 3 things i would change in my home, and they rubbed you the wrong way, not what i wanted. the only thing i said about the countertops is that they are not my favorite. from a design perspective (which is what my blog is mostly about) the countertops are hard to work with aesthetically. yes, i did say i don’t like the color or texture of the floor, but love having them hard surface and not carpet. i did not complain about the faucets, other than saying we have hard water that has corroded them and i am working on fixing them. no complaints about how they look.
          i get it that when someone says something whiney it can be annoying, and i think thats what i did to you. but please also see from my perspective – i am trying to be real, that i am having some struggles, that i’m trying to find solutions. i try to be candid in my posts and will do a better job of editing next time.
          again, i apologize for making you uncomfortable.

      • 22

        i apologize for offending you, lynn. my point was not to pick apart your choices you made for your home, but to share the reasons why i didn’t love a few things about our home, and what i was doing to take the focus from the things i didn’t like to other areas. i was trying to be real with my situation. again, i am sorry.

    • 23

      i am so sorry to hear about your husband’s business. i know first hand the real struggle and pain it is to own your own business and for it to collapse under a bad economy. several years ago we were “this” close to doing the same, which was why i started working while homeschooling with 3 kids 5 and under, and my husband took a second job, often traveling several days a week just to barely make ends meet. so i truly am sorry that you are going through this time. it is overwhelming and takes over so many areas of your life.
      second, i would like to apologize for the offense that i caused to you in writing this post. my goal was to show solutions to common problems, and share what we have done to make this place our own. i can see how this was offensive and i’m sorry. i wanted to mention the things that were not my favorite, and show my solutions for making my aesthetic work with our homes’ aesthetic. but i do want to point out that i was not apologizing for the way our house looks. in fact, i mentioned at least twice as many things that i love about this home than i said of the few things i don’t like.
      i completely understand the need to find hospitality online if you can’t find it in real life, and that you were disappointed when you “came to my house”. but i do feel like a big part of hospitality is also being real. i really am so happy here, but i am also struggling with missing our old home. yep, thats discontentment, but thats also real.
      i also appreciate you sharing your feelings with me. thanks for opening up.

  10. 24

    the rental home is nice! I’m sure the new home you’re building will be bigger and better. Sounds like this was a good move in the interim. Congrats!

  11. 25

    I think you’ve done a fantastic job so far! You are just a natural. I am the opposite of natural… just call me the awkward decorator ;)

  12. 27

    I need that cart lol! I am going crazy with art supplies scattered around the house. Could you share where you purchased it?

  13. 28

    sorry, re-read your post and see it is from Ikea!

  14. 29

    Great job on the kitchen!!! I’m sure it is hard to leave a house that worked well for your family. Keep your eye on the prize :) I love the 3 tier wire basket. Thanks for sharing the link. I need something like that in my kitchen.

  15. 30

    I think you have done a great job turning it into your families home even though it’s temporary.

  16. 31

    I have to agree with some of the other commenters who said they thought this came off as a rather spoiled approach to renting. First of all, you know it’s not forever, so suck it up, buttercup! We all understand that a rental isn’t the same as having your very own house. I would rather hear how you’re happy to have a home, and then how you’re dealing with things you dislike – this came off a s a post on how this house isn’t as good as your last. If that’s the case, why leave?

    Maybe instead, focus on the positive things, show the things you do like, and honestly, be happy. This isn’t that bad. There are a LOT of people who are much less fortunate, so to hear you complain (and yes, this was complaining) about what you don’t like is not the point.

    If you are, indeed, a home blogger (and not just a “What I Wore” blogger, like it’s seems) then your job is to show home updates and to show how-tos. NOT to complain because you don’t like your house. When you get your new home it will be amazing and it will be you. This is a season you’re going through and you need to realize that this is not forever.

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