...because home doesn't happen overnight.

It seems the consensus is that you guys would like to continue seeing and reading about Ikea kitchens regardless of which cabinet line – AKURUM (previous) or SEKTION (current) – is featured. For that reason, I will continue to share the best of the bunch that come my way. Thanks for reading!

Obligatory preamble rambling: When we were renovating our kitchen, I searched high and low for any information I could find on Ikea kitchens. The results were few and far between. We did end up with an Ikea kitchen (which we love) but I’d like to shed more light on Ikea kitchen renovations from the perspective of other real life homeowners. It’s something I wish we would have had access to when we were considering Ikea for our own kitchen remodel. Plus, it’s fun to see how others use Ikea to suit their personal style and needs in the kitchen. I hope you find these posts helpful and inspiring – whether you ultimately end up with an Ikea kitchen or not. Enjoy!

boston ikea kitchen before 1

boston ikea kitchen before 2

boston ikea kitchen before 3

Lauren, along with her husband and one-year-old daughter, moved from New Jersey to just outside of Boston in May of 2014. In the process, the family bought an older Cape Cod. Lauren admits the kitchen wasn’t horrible but it was dark and closed off from the rest of the first floor. Even though it boasted many cabinets, actual usable cabinet space was minimal. The young family craved more natural light, more countertop space and a layout more conducive to gathering and entertaining. To achieve their kitchen goals, they opted to remove walls (one of which was load-bearing) that separated the kitchen from the living and dining rooms and to utilize Ikea cabinetry from the new SEKTION line. Lauren was happy to share more about the renovation with me (shortly after giving birth to baby #2 no less!). Find her interview and the inspiring results below!

boston ikea kitchen

boston ikea kitchen

Which items in your kitchen hail from Ikea?

Our cabinet bases, drawer and door fronts, integrated dishwasher, vent hood and interior organizers are all from Ikea.

What made you decide to source these items from Ikea?

We had been eyeing Ikea’s kitchen options for almost a year after reading great reviews about them on blogs (like yours!) and interior design websites. We didn’t personally know anyone that had installed an Ikea kitchen but we were confident in the feedback we had read online and in the 25-year warranty. We looked into custom cabinetry but the price was far out of our budget. Plus, we really like the simple, modern aesthetic that Ikea offers with their modular system.

boston ikea kitchen progress 1

Who designed your kitchen? What aesthetic were you aiming for?

Our kitchen redesign was actually part of a larger project to open up the first floor of our home. The original layout was choppy with small, dark rooms. When we purchased our home, one of the first things we promised ourselves we would do was take down a large load-bearing wall that separated the kitchen from the living space.

boston ikea kitchen

Once we had a general idea of what we wanted, we turned to the online Ikea kitchen designer to plan out a few different layout options. Then we chose the layout we thought would work best for our lifestyle. I had a folder of photos for inspiration. Ultimately, we wanted a kitchen with clean lines, a minimalistic vibe and classic features that we would love for years to come.

boston ikea kitchen progress 2

boston ikea kitchen progress 3

boston ikea kitchen progress 4

Did you assemble and install all Ikea kitchen components yourself? If not, what did you seek help with?

My husband assembled all of the cabinets over the course of two weeks. Our entire basement was filled with Ikea boxes. At first sight it felt daunting but, once the first few cabinets were completed, the process went fairly quickly and smoothly. The actual cabinet installation was completed by my father and his business partner who are general contractors in New Hampshire. Although I like to tell people that I was the project manager, they truly spearheaded the entire renovation process from taking down the load-bearing wall and patching in the hardwood floors to all of the finish work that was done to give the kitchen a custom, built-in look.

boston ikea kitchen

How did you customize your Ikea kitchen to suit your needs and preferred aesthetic?

Our previous home had a tiny kitchen with hardly any counter space which never allowed us to use the area as a gathering space for holidays or parties. We knew that a large island would give us the extra space we wanted and we made it a top priority. We wanted a unique look for the island so we purchased shiplap pine boards and hand-distressed them with steel wool using a a mixture of coffee grounds and vinegar. Our garage smelled for a few days but the finished product came out better than we even imagined!

boston ikea kitchen

boston ikea kitchen

For the rest of the design, we chose a mix of high and low to achieve the aesthetic we wanted. We used honed marble for both the island and the back run of countertops. The drawer pulls and backsplash are off-the-shelf items from Home Depot. The wine racks integrated into the dining room pantry are from CB2. Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. has always been a favorite source of mine. Being able to purchase both the sink and dining fixtures from Schoolhouse was a dream come true and really brought all of the different areas within the open concept together. Lastly, my father recommended using wood (color-matched to the gray cabinets) for the toe kicks and filler pieces in place of the flimsy offerings from Ikea. He also sourced thick pieces of pine for the open shelving.

boston ikea kitchen

How long was it from design to the final product?

We started the design process back in November of 2014 based on the previous (now discontinued) AKURUM cabinet system. When we found out Ikea would be launching the new SEKTION system with some great upgrades in early 2015, we decided to wait it out. We purchased the cabinets in February 2015 during one of the kitchen sales. The kitchen was completed by mid-April of 2015.

boston ikea kitchen

boston ikea kitchen

How long have you lived with your Ikea kitchen? Have you encountered any problems?

It’s only been about six months but, so far, we love everything about our kitchen. It functions so much better than the old kitchen. Little things like the soft-closing hinges and spacious drawers (instead of cabinets) really make it feel high-end. Everyone who sees our kitchen can’t believe the cabinets are Ikea!

boston ikea kitchen

What is your favorite thing about your kitchen? Least favorite?

By far, my husband’s favorite feature is the large 7′ x 3′ island. It gives us so much space to spread out and entertain. I love the new open concept design but, most of all, I adore the white subway tiles with contrasting grout. They make me smile each morning when I see them and reflect an enormous amount of light into the space. We don’t really have a least favorite aspect but the drawer front on the trash pull-out doesn’t line up with the other drawer fronts when closed. It drives us crazy.

Would you recommend Ikea as a source for a kitchen remodel?

Absolutely! We got the exact look and feel we wanted for a fraction of the cost. Our kitchen still looks high-end to us even though it was budget-friendly, and cooking in it is so much more fun!

Would you consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel?

If we get the opportunity to renovate another kitchen, Ikea will definitely be tops on our list of sources.

Resources of note:

wall paint – almost gray by Benjamin Moore
flooring – Home Depot
cabinets, drawer fronts & doors, interior organization – Ikea
countertops – honed danby marble from Montes Marble & Granite
hardware – Home Depot
sink – blanco granite composite, Amazon
integrated dishwasher – Whirlpool, Ikea
range hood – Ikea
gas range – Samsung
refrigerator – Frigidaire
backsplash tile & grout – Home Depot
counter stools – Target
pendants over island – West Elm (spray painted black)
brass sink light – Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co.
dining room pendant – Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co.
faucet – Moen
soap dispenser – Kohler
wine racks – CB2

boston ikea kitchen

boston ikea kitchen

Thank you Lauren for sharing your kitchen! I love your style. I hope baby #2 is treating you well ;)

Okay readers, what are you taking away from this one? The mix of gray cabinetry, honed marble, subway tile and wood accents has such a natural, organic vibe. I love it! Knocking down walls (especially load-bearing ones) can be intimidating but I’m so glad Lauren and her husband were gutsy enough to do it here. It completely opened up the main living space to suit their casual lifestyle and gave them more possibilities when it came to reconfiguring the kitchen. Speaking of reconfiguring kitchens…did you notice the lack of upper cabinetry in the finished product? It gives the room a lighter feel and allows the tiled wall to take center stage. To make up for lost upper storage, the couple incorporated an island and pantry (in the adjacent dining area) with drawers and cabinets galore. (Psssst…the microwave is hidden in a pantry cabinet outfitted with an electrical outlet.) It’s such a good balance of form + function. My absolute favorite thing(s) about this kitchen are all the little DIY touches that keep it from feeling generic and falling flat. The spray painted globe lights, the vinegar + coffee-treated wood planks on the island (genius, btw!) and the pine shelves go a long way in adding interest to the space by providing warmth and breaking up matching materials. So inspiring!

Want more inspiration? Click the “See Real Ikea Kitchens” button in the sidebar to read about all of the kitchens featured in this series.

Do you have a project (big or small, Ikea or non-Ikea) that you would like to share with House*Tweaking readers? Email me at housetweaking (at) gmail (dot) com for consideration. Thanks in advance!

images: Lauren Santagate

53 Comments

04.November.2015

Looks great! Love the island and matching toekick. Do you know the grout color she used? I am looking for a grey that isn’t too dark, and this looks perfect!

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replied on November 5th, 2015

Hi there…it is laticrete permacolor grout in the natural gray color. It is a perfect gray, no blue undertones and isnt too dark or too light!

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replied on August 8th, 2016

Beautiful remodel. This is a great use of space by removing the wall and arches around the window. It really brought the kitchen into this millennium. The wrap on the island with the ship lap pine board. I love that you used coffee grounds and vinegar – brilliant idea.

Another Idea for accenting a custom ikea kitchen island

Beautiful!!!!

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replied on September 10th, 2016

Hi Scott, Thanks for your kind words. Our house was definitely stuck in the 80s but the reno certainly brought it into the “now.”

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I love this kitchen. I’m planning my own IKEA kitchen renovation soon. Am I missing something with the cabinet color options? I’ve seen a lot of two tone kitchens and now this gray kitchen with the shaker style cabinets I wanted, and all I’ve seen in store and online are white. Help!

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replied on November 4th, 2015

I believe these are the BODBYN fronts in gray.

http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50266040/

Hope that helps!

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replied on November 5th, 2015

Yes, they are the bodbyn gray cabinet doors/drawer fronts. We love them and they are a perfect “true” gray color!

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I absolutely love the choices they made. Every time I see a kitchen like this I think that I can do something just like it and really get an older home and renovate. I know however I have 0 handy friends or family so it wouldn’t be nearly as convenient!

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04.November.2015

Hey! I love it. We are about to redo outs in the same Ikea Sektion gray- can you share the color matching paint info?? I really want to use painted wood instead of IKEA’s stuff for fillers and toekicks myself as well. Thanks!! Love the design!

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replied on November 5th, 2015

Hi, we actually took a piece of plithe to a local paint store and he made a custom color to perfectly match. However, I do know that Home Depot now has a machine that can color match to pretty much anything.

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04.November.2015

LOVE the finished product! Can you give a review of your honed marble? We are in the midst of planning a kitchen remodel and I’ve always wanted marble. I think I’ve read every post there is to read about the positives/negatives of it, but am still slightly nervous. Yours looks just perfect! How have you handled the patina and/or staining?

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replied on November 5th, 2015

I can’t speak for the homeowner, but we installed honed marble in our kitchen almost 2 years ago. I absolutely love it, but it’s not for everyone. Acid etches the stone immediately (and yes, it’s sealed) so every little spray of lemon juice, plop of tomato sauce, drop of orange juice, etc leaves a little dull spot. But most aren’t visible to the casual observer (aka, everyone else). The worst spot is from a glass that was wet (likely with some sort of lemon juice) and left overnight. It’s an obvious ring that we might be able to have sanded out, but I haven’t investigated as it’s a good “see what can happen!” example.

As for stains, we haven’t had any, which I worried about the most. We drink red wine and it wipes up easily – I’m not even sure the acid etches the stone, but don’t quote me.

The tricky part is whether you choose to communicate all of this to your guests. I’m totally ok with the patina (and no, it doesn’t show up in pictures), but I do try to be diligent about coasters and make sure to wipe down the counters every night (even water can leave a stain/mark if left pooling overnight – doh!).

I hope this helps!!

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replied on November 6th, 2015

Thank you, Danielle!

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replied on November 5th, 2015

Hi, I am the homeowner :) We love the honed marble but as the reader above mentioned, it definitely etches pretty easily, and ours was sealed twice. We knew that it would etch going in though, and the first few marks definitely had us freaking out, but we are getting better with accepting it for what it is. Most people dont notice the marks (you really only see them when light hits a certain way), and after a few weeks a lot of the etches sort of just blend in with the rest of the slab. We haven’t had any problem with staining at all, and we have a messy 2 yr old who tends to spill things constantly. As for guests…we let them use it just like any other counter. We did have a recent incident where my husband walked in on my uncle about to cut a lime ON THE MARBLE- luckily we caught it in time and whipped out a cutting board for him. As a last note…different types of marble etch/stain easier than others. Ours is Danby Marble from VT…same type that Martha Stewart has in her kitchen. It is one of the most dense marbles, so supposedly it doesnt etch as easily as others.

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replied on November 5th, 2015

I’m so relieved to read this. We literally just had honed Imperial Danby countertops installed in our Kitchen and we haven’t started using them. I expect to have some etching from everything I’ve read, but I’ve been so terrified about staining. I’m so glad to read that hasn’t been an issue for you guys. Your kitchen is gorgeous and I obviously LOVE your taste in countertops. You can’t really go wrong with a Martha approved choice though, right? ;-)

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replied on November 10th, 2015

Thanks for all your feedback here, Lauren!

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04.November.2015

I noticed the lack of uppers right away and it makes it look so large and airy! Amazing work. I love it!

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04.November.2015

I really really really adore this kitchen! I could take this one home myself :) I chose the same tile for our backsplash (although white grout), similar counters, and open concept (adios load bearing walls!). I also have the same range – LOVE it. This couple has excellent taste, seriously love everything about it.

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replied on November 5th, 2015

Thank you! We love it, I never thought I would get to design my dream kitchen, but when I see it every morning it really does make me so happy!

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I love reading about IKEA kitchens! We’re just now getting some estimates on remodeling our kitchen (including taking out a load bearing wall like the one here). Some of the cabinet estimates are insane for such a small space! IKEA is creeping up to the top of our list with every estimate that comes back.

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05.November.2015

Love, love, love this kitchen. What a great mix of color, texture, and high/low finishes. My 1980’s kitchen (in my 1970’s disaster house) is in desperate need of renovation and although IKEA is not very highly regarded in my town I loved it while living in Europe. I have been toying with the high/low idea and am convinced that this is the way to go. I adore the marble countertops and would also be interested in how you feel they have worn. I have my heart set on Calacatta D’Oro along with white subway tile and some antique or brushed brass accents. Well done and thanks for bringing us yet another great IKEA kitchen.

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replied on November 5th, 2015

IKEA is not very highly regarded around us either…in fact my father (the contractor) was 100% against using IKEA cabinets because the bases are not real wood. But, I did months of research and the only negative reviews I found were from people who thought of IKEA as “cheap/poorly made. All actual IKEA kitchen owners seemed to love their kitchen and the choice they had made. I will say that after we finished, my dad did come around and said it all looked nice…better than he had expected. And most people cannot believe it is from IKEA when we tell them. We didnt have 40K lying around to upgrade our kitchen, so IKEA was the perfect choice and honestly, even if we did have 40K kicking around, we would probably choose Ikea again :)

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replied on November 5th, 2015

Lauren and Danielle,
Thanks for chiming in about the marble countertops. We were lucky enough to have lived in Europe for 6 years and I fell in love with all of the marble that was used in/on buildings both inside and out. The weathered marble steps were my favorite. I usually like patina and tend to feel that it adds beauty to the marble but I may feel differently when it is my own counter :) I’m also glad to hear that IKEA has managed to change the minds of family and some friends. We loved IKEA overseas and when I get “homesick” I make the drive to IKEA and feel like I’m back. I hear you about not having a huge kitchen reno budget. We knew we were in for at least 22K worth of up-front repairs when we bought our house last year but we more than tripled that on mechanicals and new windows alone. Our air con unit starting sparking and flaming on move-in day so our HVAC contractor was pulling it along with the dangerous furnace our while the moving van was unloading… The joys of a not-so-gently used home without maintenance are many and varied. I think I am sold on an IKEA kitchen. We’ll see if we can make believers out of a few people in my town!

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05.November.2015

I am so interested in hearing how they like the honed marble countertops after 6+ months of use! I really want honed marble, but everyone is trying to talk me out of them.

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replied on November 5th, 2015

Everyone tried to talk me out of them too, including my father who is a general contractor that builds custom homes for a living. BUT, we could not find the look we wanted with any other material (at a similar price point) and once we made peace with knowing it would etch here and there, it was a done deal. It sealed the deal for me when someone from the local stoneyard reminded me that in Italy/France/etc, banks, cafes, government buildings all have marble from hundreds of years ago and it is still just as beautiful as it was then!

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05.November.2015

They really made good use of that space. I love the rug!

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05.November.2015

I’m glad you are continuing to post Ikea kitchens. This kitchen is amazing!!! I wish I could order that and have it put in my house. I love it all…. the gray cabinets, black pulls, subway tile with gray grout, the treated wood added to the island… it’s just perfect.

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replied on November 5th, 2015

Thank you for the kind words…we think it is pretty perfect too :)

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05.November.2015

Very beautiful kitchen! Thanks for sharing! We did ours with Ikea and honed marble a few years back and even though it did etch we would definitely do it again. If fact we recently moved and are going to do just that after the first of the year.

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05.November.2015

I love the Ikea kitchen posts, and this kitchen is one of my favorites!

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06.November.2015

Yes! The rug! Where is it from?

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replied on November 11th, 2015

I found it at a flea market in Salisbury,Ma. Its one of my favorite second -hand finds!

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07.November.2015

it looks great! Will you please give more info on your coffee stain technique for the ship lap? It sounds really interesting.

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replied on November 11th, 2015

Hi! I randomly heard about this from a cafe I stopped at one day, it was really easy. We added coffee grounds and a large piece of steel wool into a glass jar full of vinegar and let it sit overnight/24 hours. Then take out the steel wool (I wore rubber gloves), and use it to “scrub”/ stain the wood with the vinegar mixture. I think this was two coats of it, with fully drying in between. Our garage did smell like vinegar for about a week, but once the vinegar dries on the wood the smell completely vanishes. It was exactly the look we wanted but for less than $100!

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replied on November 11th, 2015

Such an awesome DIY! Thanks for sharing.

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08.November.2015

I love it!! Where’s the rug from?

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replied on November 11th, 2015

Hi! I found it at a local flea market for a steal!

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09.November.2015

Very nice reno. I particularly love the color you achieved on the pine boards on your island. Can you share your vinegar and coffee grounds “recipe” and technique used. TY.

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replied on November 13th, 2015

Hi, I posted this info above on a similar question, but if you need more details please let me know!

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10.November.2015

I love everything about the kitchen!! Especially the island! Also where did you get the chairs in the living room?

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replied on November 11th, 2015

In the “as is” section of IKEA!! I couldn’t believe it when I saw them. They aren’t sold anymore, but they might be worth searching for on ebay- they are really comfy!

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10.November.2015

This is stunning! I love white walls and that wood island, OH MY!

As a side note, do people remove their window treatments for photos or do they really not have blinds/curtains? I’d love to do white in our living/dining area but we need window treatments and our rooms don’t get a lot of light. I’m afraid white would be a total fail…

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replied on November 11th, 2015

Our windows do have sun filtering shades on them but we never actually put them down. I prefer no window treatments because I love the light that pours in all day. Most of my family comments that we need some but I haven’t caved yet.

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replied on November 11th, 2015

Well, it looks beautiful with all the light. I so wish we could go no window treatments and tons of light, but our neighbors are just too close, haha

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11.November.2015

Please keep the Ikea kitchens posts coming, Dana! I love them! And Lauren, yours is just lovely. We did an Ikea reno this last year AND LOVE IT. Lots of similarities to this kitchen…..we have reclaimed wood, shaker inspired cabinets, white subway tile with grey grout, the industrial stools, a header that remains after a load bearing wall was taken down, etc. As soon as we have saved up money for our hardwood floors, I might just send a House*Tweaking a photo. My favorite part is when guests come in and say “this is an IKEA kitchen!?!”. Especially the snotty ones who think that if a kitchen didn’t cost you $50,000 and require a HELOC its not well done.

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replied on November 11th, 2015

I’d love to see it!

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15.November.2015

how did you attach the wooden shelves?. I don’t notice any brackets.. I want to do the same in my kitchen but want to make them very sturdy since my dishes are heavy.

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replied on November 28th, 2015

Hi Linda, we had custom made steel posts that we attached to a bracket that was screwed into the stud. The steel posts stuck out from the wall and we drilled holes in the wood so they slid on tightly. Our dishes are very heavy as well, but I was told each shelf could hold up to 100lbs. I’m not sure of the actual cost of the steel piece, but it definitely was not alot.

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20.November.2015

That was a lovely post & a great transformation. The kitchen is beautiful, my favourite part is the mix of materials on the island.

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22.June.2016

Hi! We are getting ready to do our (second) kitchen renovation using IKEA cabinets in the next couple months. I have been toying with doing a tuxedo kitchen but now I’m thinking I might use the grey based on this awesome kitchen! I do have a question about the integrated dishwasher….as I’m looking on IKEA’s website, I can’t find just the dishwasher panel. We want to use a Bosch dishwasher but put the Bodbyn cover on the front. How did this work for you?

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replied on September 10th, 2016

Hi, I am so sorry to have not responded when you posted. We purchased the dishwasher from ikea as well as the cover, I am not sure if you can use the cover with non/ikea dishwashers (but I would assume so?) By now I am sure you have this all figured out but if not, I would go to an IKEA and ask in the kitchen department. They were always very helpful.

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18.July.2016

Looks beautiful!! We are in the midst of installing our ikea kitchen now, and I’m considering adding stained pine boards to our bar area. I love how eclectic it makes the space feel. What size boards did you use? How did you attach them to the cabinets?

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replied on September 10th, 2016

Hi Diana, I believe it is 8 or 10″ pine boards. It is WHITE pine, not RED. We just had a friend try to replicate but purchased red, and the end result was a bit different. Warmer tones, versus the grays/browns we got. We attached them by building out on the side of each cabinet and then just attached to the island frame (which was 2×4’s.

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