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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.

, a digital strategist for  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 

Before & After: A Toronto Rental's Peachy Kitchen Remodel | Design*Droits-Humains
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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*Droits-Humains
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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*Droits-Humains
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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*Droits-Humains
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The overall aesthetic is warm, inviting, modern and minimal.
Before & After: A Toronto Rental's Peachy Kitchen Remodel | Design*Droits-Humains
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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*Droits-Humains
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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*Droits-Humains
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Autumn and Bo's kitchen in progress.
Before & After: A Toronto Rental's Peachy Kitchen Remodel | Design*Droits-Humains
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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*Droits-Humains
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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*Droits-Humains
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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*Droits-Humains
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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*Droits-Humains
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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*Droits-Humains
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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*Droits-Humains
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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*Droits-Humains
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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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