Fashion content creator and self-described semi interior designer Madelynn Furlong Hudson shares how she upleveled the kitchen in her NYC rental to flatter her refined yet playful aesthetic.
When Madelynn Furlong Hudson moved from LA to New York, she had a simple plan: get an apartment, find her husband, and renovate the kitchen in the aforementioned apartment. We’re glad to report she successfully did all three in less than two years. An inspiration!
For renters, renovating your space can feel a little like a fool’s errand. You might not know exactly what you’re allowed to change, or how much time and money is worth investing. We zoomed Madelynn to hear more about the path to her new kitchen and how it’s inspired her to tackle more home renovations upstate.
Tell us a little about yourself and where you live.
I would say that I’m a Fashion Content Creator and Semi-Interior Designer. I’m living with my dog (she’s eight-months-old!) and husband (not eight-months-old!) in New York City. Even though we’re renting an apartment in the West Village — which I love — we both actually have two separate properties upstate that we own and are currently renovating, so there’s definitely a lot of back-and-forth.
Essentially, we come into the City when we need to escape the renovation mess, and go back upstate when we’re ready to get our hands dirty.
What’s it like to have two places under renovation?
Luckily, the renovations have been in succession vs. simultaneous. Imagine?? Nick (my husband) got his home first, and then I purchased my home in September.
Oops! Sorry. I had a craving for cookies, so I have to get mine out of the oven.
Wait…what kind of cookies are you having?
Very standard, classic chocolate chip. They stayed pretty chunky. I probably was supposed to flatten them. Hey! Don’t touch!!! (Madelynn’s talking to her dog, not us!)
What motivated you to renovate your apartment kitchen?
I moved to NYC in February of 2021 and spent the first two months making it pretty. The kitchen was ugly and falling apart. It wasn’t upkept well over the years, and it looked like it was on its last legs. (Some of the upper cabinets were literally falling off the walls).
Otherwise, the project has been more of a cosmetic fix-up than anything. The rest of it just needed a little bit more aesthetic appeal: shelving, paint, etc. Basically I asked myself, “What can I do for my rental kitchen under, say, $1000, to make it pretty?” and proceeded from there.
What made you move from LA to NYC?
Like many people, I moved because of the pandemic. I just felt like I needed a change and had this weird draw to upstate New York. I like to tease my husband that I was living in LA and got a download that he was waiting for me upstate.
Not to mention, the market in California is just too hard for aspiring / beginner homeowners to get into. I just felt like buying upstate was a better fit for me and really wanted something I could make my own through renovation and a total redesign.
How would you describe your personal design aesthetic?
I don’t know that I have one word that would describe it. I like to focus on neutral color ways with a really big mix of patterns and material contrasts. I really love to layer a ton of visual complements to draw the eye in and add interest to a space.
There’s a handful of refinements in the things I do: playful but still refined, masculine, kind of darker and moodier. I like to play with mood, era, texture, and pattern-clashing.
What are 3-5 things you did in your renovation?
I took down the upper cabinets and replaced that area with tons of shelving. Then, I painted the remaining cabinets. I also added a resin top / faux marble top on the counter because it used to be just a white laminate.
Also, I replaced the fridge!
A lot of people with a rental wouldn’t necessarily do that, but I found this amazing faux retro fridge at Lowe’s for $500, and it felt totally worth it to have something that felt a little bit more fashionable in the kitchen.
What are some quick n’ easy tips you would give to someone looking to renovate their kitchen?
I would say small tweaks lead to the biggest impact.
Look at painting or replacing cabinet hardware as your first bet. It’s super easy and cheap, and can totally change the vibe of the space.
Also look into changing things like sinks, sink hardware, or even an older, outdated fridge (if your landlord is willing to chip in). Home Depot has literally become my favorite place in the world.
Tell us about those Caraway pans we see over your stove!
This is actually my second Caraway set! My other set got moved upstate. I cook everything with them!
I love the bakeware set. I just made lasagna in the big pan. Otherwise, I love making pasta sauces, curries, eggs, and pan toast on the pans.
I’ve always hung them above the stove because my kitchen is so tiny; I only have one drawer and three cabinets. They’re such pretty pans, and having them on display is so nice.
Generally speaking, I’ve always left my cookware out in this fashion because it saves cabinet space, and it forces you to buy attractive cookware. Cookware is such a huge part of your kitchen; it makes your kitchen look lived in and used.
How long should you live in a space before renovating?
A lot of people don’t spend any time living in their new space before renovating. I definitely like to get to know a space for a few months before making any decisions.
For my upstate home, the kitchen is the last space I’m renovating. I really want to make sure to get it right, and have it fit the entire ethos of the space. I’m still making last-minute decisions about it in a good way. The longer you live in a home, the better you know it.
Where do you find design inspiration?
Social media, Pinterest, Instagram, and old design books. A lot of 1950s designers really inspire me often.
When it comes to home decor, what has Instagram fooled you into thinking?
Sometimes, Instagram can push you to make last-minute decisions. But when I design a space, not a ton actually changes throughout the renovation. As you start to renovate, you get to know the construction process and the home a bit more.
I’ve been able to make last-minute decisions based on tactical logistics, causing me to make an entirely different design choice that is more inspired by the tangible process vs. seeing what someone else has done on social media.
- Favorite kitchen from a movie/TV show: Omg. Weirdly the first one that comes to mind is Full House, but it’s not even my favorite. I feel like half the show takes place in the kitchen.
- Pasta you most want to see on a menu: Just a simple pomodoro. I like the classics.
- Country where you dream of retiring: Portugal.
- Favorite aisle in Home Depot: The lighting.
- Caraway — cabinets or countertops? Wall! But if I had the space for the countertop, I’d do that.
- Next big renovation project: Currently the kitchen upstate and then it’ll probably be some fun exterior project like a hot tub / pool situation.
- Favorite color to see on a plate: Green.
- Preferred wine glass shape and size: I don’t mind the shape or size. I like smaller, but I’m very picky about the thickness. I prefer thin!
- Kitchen sound that feels most like home: For me, it’s just doing dishes.