My Kitchen Makeover

Finding an apartment to rent in Amsterdam can be a very long and difficult process. Before moving here from the US, we were strongly advised not to sign a lease for an apartment without seeing it in person. So we arrived with our 9 suitcases, having several apartment showings scheduled and only the first two nights booked at a hotel. We were very hopeful that the first apartment were seeing, a few hours after landing, would be the one and we’d be able to move in immediately. This was not the case.

After almost two weeks of countless apartment showings, we finally found the one. We were only looking at fully furnished apartments since we moved from the US without any furniture or household items. As we were getting ready to sign the lease and make it official, the landlord informed us that there had been a mistake and the apartment would not be furnished. I wanted to look for a different apartment but Mickey thought an unfurnished place would be a fun project. So we signed the lease.

What initially seemed very daunting, turned out to be an immense blessing. This apartment is our blank canvas. It was empty, with white walls and tons of potential. Filling this space has been a gradual process, and while we’re far from finished, it’s completely ours. We’re able to fill it exactly how we want, in whatever way makes us feel cozy and inspired.

The Kitchen

The kitchen is the most important room in the house. I love to cook, I spend lots of my time in the kitchen. I also like being social in the kitchen, gossiping and dancing with my friends. So naturally my first project in our apartment was to give the kitchen a makeover. One of the reasons we loved this apartment was because of the kitchen. We didn’t find many other kitchens of this size, and certainly not with the same appliances. We have, what they referred to as, an “American fridge” and a gas stove. Most kitchens we saw had very small fridge/freezer and an electric stove. It also has plenty of counter space.

The Makeover

There were a few things about the kitchen that I initially disliked or wanted to change. Although we are only renting this apartment for a few years, we want to make it a place were happy to live. So we’re finding less expensive ways to improve it.

This is what the kitchen looked like when we moved in. The countertops were this ugly, beige speckled laminate. I knew that had to go. There was lots of white wall space that I wanted to do something with. For a few months after moving in, we had very minimal decor in the kitchen and it felt so bare. I wanted to bring the kitchen to life.

kitchen with marble counter tops and black shelving

This is what we’ve done so far. We used €8 peel and stick marble contact paper to cover the countertops. The contact paper comes in rolls, and we cut it to fit each section of the counter. It was kind of a tedious process but nothing too difficult and it turned out very well. Those who have seen it say they didn’t know it was contact paper until we told them. It’s very easy to clean and doesn’t stain. When we want to remove it, we will simply just peel it off, leaving no harm to the original countertop underneath.

The black shelves on the wall are from Ikea. I installed them myself. They are very sturdy and hold a decent amount of weight. Everything that is displayed on the shelves was thrifted. Amsterdam has a great selection of thrift stores and antique shops, so I often stop in to find little goodies. We’ve even added a few new items to the shelves since this photo was taken.

Underneath the shelves lies my prized possession: the espresso machine. I have been wanting one of these for years. We were spending a lot of money when we first moved in and these machines are very expensive, but I didn’t want to wait. So we found this machine on Marktplaats, the Dutch equivalent to Facebook Marketplace. It was a little less than a year old and barely used. We even ended up becoming friends with the couple we bought it from!

Most everything else you see is from Amazon as well. The Dutch Amazon has slim pickings but I’ve been able to find some gems. I also like to fill my kitchen with lots of greenery. We always have fresh herbs for cooking and fresh flowers from the market. Candles are a must as well.

What’s Next

There are still several things about the kitchen that I’d like to change. But I’ve found that taking it slow has paid off. We are using this time to figure out what works and what doesn’t. What we like and what we don’t like. And who knows what I might find in the antique stores.

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