How to Fake a Backsplash in a Rental

And still keep your security deposit.

Pink and White Kitchen
Photography by Eric Wolfinger

If there is one thing renters can collectively agree on, it's that we tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to revamping the kitchen. Aside from the handful of superficial cosmetic changes one can make—painting the cabinets, replacing the pulls, or investing in viable countertop storage solutions, to name a few—there's hardly much else to do, sans risking the security deposit. 

Taking that into consideration, it's all about making manageable changes and simple swaps that will result in a statement-worthy finish with major decorative impact. One such change comes by way of the kitchen backsplash—a modern-day luxury and rarity for most city-dwellers and renters. And because investing in an expensive ceramic tile or marble slab is not the most viable option, we set out to uncover the easy and affordable ways you can fake a chic backsplash for your rental. Take a look.

Photography by Nina Holst for Stylizimo 

Paint Some Plywood

Want to recreate that coveted wooden finish sans the hefty price tag? This ultra clever DIY is what your life was missing. See how the clever blogger behind Stylizimo did just that by simply pairing a slab of plywood with a trendy splash of paint. 

BOTKYRKA Wall shelf, Ikea, $29.99 Photography by ikea

Embrace Shelf Power

Sure, it may not be a backsplash alternative in the traditional sense but, think of this as a solid option if the space between your shelves and counters are relatively limited. Aside from inspiring an element of interest to an otherwise bare wall, it also works double duty as a solid storage solution for all your culinary essentials. And that is something we can definitely get behind. 

This streamlined shelf is ideal for the small space that lacks upper cabinet storage or shelving. The versatile piece can be easily stacked (as pictured) or displayed in a more linear scheme. 

White Bar
Photography by Michael Wiltbank

Mirror It

Small-space dwellers, this one is for you. Adhere a set of acrylic mirrors in between the counters and cabinets to create a reflective display that will visually expand a compact area. Be mindful of the fact that size is key here—in lieu of the standard, mini mosaic tiles, opt for larger sheets that will cover a greater surface area, resulting in greater impact. Feeling bold? Opt for a set that comes in a saturated hue, to really make your space pop. (And yes, while your space may not be as grand as this one, you get the idea...)

Buy: 12" x 24" 1/8" Acrylic Mirror Sheet

Orange and Red Kitchen
Photography by Brittany Ambridge

Paint It

When all else fails, never underestimate the impact a fresh coat of paint can have. Aside from establishing a bold and refreshed feel, it will undoubtedly instill your kitchen with a renewed element. And if you're craving the addition of a dynamic layer, consider stenciling in a fun patterned detail to really make a statement. 

Photography by Biz Jones for Food52

Hang One Up

One would be hard-pressed to guess that this geometric moment is comprised of a set of ceramic tiles affixed to a cut of plywood, which is then conveniently hung on the wall. Yep, really. Get the how-to for this ultra-clever DIY on Food52

Clockwise from top left: Self-Adhesive Mosaic Tile Backsplash (48 Tiles), Food52, $78 | Peel and Stick Black Marble Shades 6 in. x 3 in. Glass Wall Tile, Overstock, starting at $4.99 | Aspect Peel and Stick Stone Overlay Kitchen Backsplash, Amazon, $14.98 | Mexican Indigo Diamond Vinyl Tile Sticker Pack, Etsy, $39.95 Photography by x

Peel n' Stick Tiles

Get the sleek and streamlined tile look for a whole lot less, courtesy of the ingeniousness that is peel-and-stick tiles. Don't feel confined to the standard subway or mosaic design though—here's your chance to adopt an out-of-the-box look you would otherwise be unable to embrace. Here are a few prints and patterns we can't stop swooning over!


Discover more ways to make the most of your rental:
How to Make Your Rental the Envy of All Your Friends
Inside the Colorful Home Kitchen Renovation of Aww Sam
An NYC Rental That Looks Straight Out of LA

Published on April 18, 2018 - 5:30am EDT

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