How do I update the kitchen cabinets in a rental apartment?

Written by julie eger
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How do I update the kitchen cabinets in a rental apartment?
Temporarily change the look of kitchen cabinet doors in your rented apartment by covering them with fabric. (colourful fabric patterns image by Andrejs Pidjass from

Renters often compromise personal style and hesitate to change the look of their rented apartment because changes can jeopardise their security deposit. But one inexpensive temporary solution can change the look of a kitchen. Using fabric to cover cabinet doors allows to you use colours that suit your personal style.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Tape measure
  • Fabric
  • Iron
  • Phillips/flathead screwdriver
  • Chalk
  • Yardstick
  • Scissors
  • Clear painter's tape

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  1. 1

    Choose the cabinet doors you wish to cover with fabric. Number each cabinet door in an inconspicuous spot, using a pencil.

  2. 2

    List the door numbers on a sheet of paper. Measure the length and width of each door you wish to cover, using a tape measure. Write down the measurements and add 2 inches to the length and 2 inches to the width to allow for extra material to wrap around the edges.

  3. 3

    Take the list with you when you are ready to purchase the fabric. Ask the clerk for help with measurements, as the amount of fabric you will need can be affected by the pattern you choose and the width of the fabric on the bolt. The clerk can help determine the correct amount you will need for your project, based on your fabric choice.

  4. 4

    Iron the fabric to smooth out wrinkles. Spread the fabric out, wrong side up, over a large work area.

  5. 5

    Remove the cabinet door hardware, using a screwdriver. Hold each door securely with one hand so the door doesn't fall as you unscrew the hinge screws. Remove the doors and set them aside.

  6. 6

    Place a cabinet door face down on the fabric and trace around the outside edge of the door, using chalk. Add an extra inch on each side to allow for overlap, using a yardstick as a guide. Cut the fabric along the resulting lines, using scissors.

  7. 7

    Pull each corner of fabric over each corner of the door and secure with tape. Fold the fabric under near the hinge so it doesn't cover the hinge and secure the fold with tape. Wrap the fabric around the sides of the door. Pull the material taut and secure it with tape. Wrap the fabric around the top and botom of the door. Pull the material taut and secure it with tape

  8. 8

    Repeat the tracing, cutting and fabric-application process with each door. Use the numbers on the doors to help you fit each door to the correct cabinet opening. Reattach the doors to the cabinets.

  9. 9

    Use your finger to locate holes for screws that attach the hardware. Snip the fabric to make a tiny hole for each screw to fit through, using the tip of the scissors. Reattach the hardware. Repeat with all the doors.

Tips and warnings

  • Sometimes covering the doors of the upper cabinets is all it takes to give the kitchen a whole new look.
  • You will use less fabric if you choose a small print instead of a plaid or a large repeating print.
  • A solid fabric or a small print will be easier to work with than a large pattern.
  • Remove the tape and fabric from the cabinet doors when you are ready to move out of the rental unit.
  • Securing the fabric to cabinet doors with tacks will make holes in the cabinet doors and could compromise your security deposit.

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