I received great feedback from the first Ikea kitchen a reader so kindly agreed to let me share here on House*Tweaking. Since then, more readers have sent me wonderful stories and images detailing their experiences with Ikea kitchens. I’d like to continue to feature these types of posts throughout the year so I hope you don’t mind if I sprinkle them in from time to time.
These posts won’t feature overly styled rooms or professional photography – although many of them are magazine worthy. They are meant to provide personal accounts of designing and installing Ikea kitchens…something I felt was lacking when we were considering Ikea for our own kitchen renovation. These are real stories from real people. I ask the owners to be as honest and candid as possible. I want the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. Personally, I get so much inspiration from seeing how other people incorporate Ikea products into their homes to meet their needs and style. I hope you find them inspiring as well.
This particular story comes to us by way of France. (!) Ariane is a journalist and was once a news anchor for a local French network. Her dream had always been to own and run a vacation guesthouse. To realize her dream, she and her husband bought a home with outbuildings on the property that they could eventually turn into guesthouses. They started the process of revamping an old barn very casually but when Ariane was laid off in 2012, it became her full-time job. Ariane still does some journalism work on the side but she finds running the guesthouse completely fulfilling.
The barn had great features to begin with – high ceilings, a stone wall, tons of natural light, open layout – but it was necessary to add a functional kitchen to the space without distracting from the overall vibe.
Ariane worked with an architect to come up with a general layout for the barn but she designed and sourced materials for the kitchen herself. And, surprise!, she tackled the installation mostly on her own as well.
I asked Ariane several questions about her kitchen renovation. You can read the interview and find “after” shots below.
Which items in your kitchen hail from Ikea?
The cabinets, doors, drawer fronts, hinges and hood are from Ikea. I must point out that this kitchen is located in a barn I just renovated. The barn is on our property and I run it as a rental guesthouse.
What made you decide to source these items from Ikea?
When I started planning this kitchen, I looked around to see if I could find better prices but I couldn’t. No one would beat Ikea prices! And the look is pretty great, too. It’s trendy but nothing that will be outdated in a couple of years. And it’s sturdy.
I hadn’t planned on buying Ikea kitchen appliances for the guesthouse. We bought new appliances for our house and put the old stuff in the barn. The fridge is three years old. I had a new dishwasher on hold. The only thing I needed was a hood. I scouted Le Bon Coin (our version of craigslist here in France) and outlet stores with no luck. The day I went to Ikea, I found the hood on sale for 80% off! It was meant to be.
This is actually the third full kitchen I have purchased from Ikea! The first one was for my dad’s home. The second one was for my first apartment. The house I live in now has awesome custom oak cabinets that we’re reusing but we did hang Ikea glass-front cabinets next to the fridge. And we’ve started a wall-to-wall TV stand and bookcases for the living room…all made with Ikea cabinets!
Who designed your kitchen? What aesthetic were you aiming for?
I hired an architect for the barn renovation and he planned the general layout (electricity, outlets, plumbing, etc.) so I started from there and worked with the Ikea design software. I took my design to the store and an employee helped me finalize the layout (and told me about the clearanced hood!). I located a bottle rack on the right side of the stove so the oven wouldn’t open next to the wall. The white version of the rack was 40€ and the stainless was 80€. I chose the white. In the “as-is” section, I found a stainless rack for 14€!! It made the trip home with me.
For the guesthouse, I needed a functional and low maintenance kitchen that would fit in with the general mood I wanted for the whole space. The kitchen is open to the dining area and living room. My first choice was based on an inspiration photo I had found on Ikea’s website – oak-colored doors for the lower cabinets and white cabinets on top. But once I saw them in real life, I didn’t like them so much. So I turned to a combination I had seen elsewhere. Your very own choice of black-brown for the lower doors and white for the top.
Did you assemble and install all Ikea kitchen components yourself? If not, what did you seek help with?
I assembled all the cabinets myself. At the time, my hubby was recovering from an appendectomy so he couldn’t help at all! But since the installation stretched over several months, he was able to help me hang the upper cabinets (even though I did almost everything else alone). I asked for help when I needed it. Since pros were working in the barn alongside me, I asked a carpenter to help me with a piece of wood that needed to be cut with a circular saw (which I don’t have). A friend of mine helped me with the back of the peninsula and the baseboards. My brother-in-law installed an under-cabinet light and the hood. Even my eight-year-old nephew tried his hand at the counter tiles!
How did you customize your Ikea kitchen to suit your needs and preferred aesthetic?
I knew I couldn’t buy counters from Ikea without renting a truck so I decided against it. (I live >2 hours away from the nearest store.) Besides, the barn’s crooked walls would have made it very difficult to perfectly cut a counter without proper tools and advanced skills. Instead, I decided to buy tile-able counters and tiles. I custom built the whole thing. I built a wood frame around the peninsula so it’s sturdy and doesn’t flip over. The wood (which is actually flooring!) on the back and side is nailed onto the frame like tongue and groove.
The day I went to Ikea to buy the kitchen, they were rearranging the hardware aisle and were out of stock on all the nice pulls. Instead of buying so-so pieces, I bought pulls I liked better at a big box store.
I had plumbers in for the barn remodel and they supplied the faucet. I bought the sink on sale. The plumbers installed both.
How long was it from design to finished kitchen?
I bought the kitchen in February 2013 and it was fully installed by the end of July 2013. I bought it early because sales were going on. I knew I wouldn’t start installation right away. The drywall wasn’t even up yet!
First, I focused on painting the spaces I had saved for myself. (The painter did all the ceilings and the walls that required scaffolding.) I got very bad tennis elbow which prevented me from working for a month. In the end, it took two months on and off to tackle the whole space.
How long have you lived with your kitchen? Have you encountered any problems?
I don’t “live” with my kitchen since it’s in the guesthouse. But tourists who have stayed here like it very much! They like the layout, the view from the window over the sink, the simplicity and the airy feel.
The only problem I’ve encountered was a broken dowel in one of the upper cabinets which loosened the tightness of the installation. My hubby helped me take the cabinet down and I changed the dowel (on both sides, you never know!) so it’s nice and secure now.
What is your favorite thing about your kitchen? Least favorite?
You mean besides the pride of having it done almost all by myself?! I like that in real life it’s exactly like it was on the Ikea software. The design software is reliable if you use it correctly. I also like that it’s open and light on the walls but grounded with darker lower cabinets. It ties in really well with the rest of the space.
I think my least favorite thing is the counter. I need to fix a crack that has appeared between two rows of tiles and I think it would have been nicer to have carpenters install a custom solid counter. But I couldn’t justify the cost of that in any way, especially since it’s not for personal use. It will have to do!
Would you recommend Ikea as a source for a kitchen remodel? If so, which items?
Yes, I would definitively recommend Ikea as a source for a kitchen remodel. I know that they have changed the Faktum line (it’s Metod now) so I’m not as familiar with it as I was with the previous one. I’ve purchased Ikea kitchens in 1997, 2003 and 2013. I’ve seen the line evolve and become sturdier and easier to install so I’m confident this new line will be as easy to use as the old one.
I’ve never bought appliances from Ikea (except for the hood) so I can’t vouch for them.
Would you consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel?
Yes, I would definitively consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel. Although, once in my lifetime it would be nice to experience a big project entirely taken care of by the pros!
Resources of note:
cabinets, doors, drawer fronts, hood – Ikea
counters, tiles, grout, sink – Brico Dépôt
faucet – Anchonetti
pulls, lights – Leroy Merlin
dishwasher, stove, clock – La Redoute
fridge – Darty
microwave, coffee maker – hand-me-downs
wood on the back of the peninsula – Chèze
accessories – Noz, Casa, thrift stores, yard sales
Thank you, Ariane, for sharing your experience and letting me feature your lovely guesthouse kitchen. I can’t get over that stone wall, the soaring ceilings and those steel framed windows! Congrats on turning your barn into a functional and profitable space. Kudos to you for chasing your dreams!!
UPDATE: If you are interested in staying at Ariane’s lovely guesthouse in France, you can find more information here and here.
Okay, readers, who suddenly feels the urge to renovate an old barn? Yeah, me too. Even though most of the items sourced in this kitchen aren’t available in the U.S., the story and ideas have my wheels turning. Please thank Ariane for sharing her
kitchen barn remodel. English isn’t her first language but she did wonderfully!
Do you have an Ikea kitchen (it doesn’t have to be 100% Ikea) you would like to share on House*Tweaking? If so, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration. Thank you in advance!
This winter has been brutal. Most of you already know this from first-hand experience. We’re in the midwest and have had record snowfall and cold temps. Part of our bedtime routine with the kids is sharing something we’re thankful for and every night this winter I’ve been thankful for shelter from the cold and snow. So many people don’t have basic necessities (shelter, coats, warm meals, etc.) during winter and I think it’s something easily taken for granted. I try to remind my kids how lucky we are to have a roof over heads, all decorating aside.
On a lighter note, I thought it might be helpful to share a few of my favorite winter essentials (non-shelter related) today. You know, since there’s a polar vortex right outside my door. Also, can I just say that persons in southern California should not be permitted to do winter essential roundups? That’s just ridiculous. But maybe Canadians feel the same way about midwesterners??
Anyway, here are six things that made this winter a tad more tolerable for me.
1 – organic, unrefined coconut oil I switched from regular body lotion to coconut oil last winter and I have nothing but good things to report. I picked up a jar at a local health food store and keep it in my bathroom vanity. I rub one to two teaspoonful into my skin right after showering to lock in moisture for days. My husband and kids use it as well. The oil is solid at room temp but melts to the touch. It might seem expensive but the nearly empty jar pictured here is the original jar I purchased last year. It’s lasted me that long! A little really goes a long way. I use it in the summer, too, but in the winter it is a godsend. Bonus: you can cook with it!
2 – easy-to-maintain houseplants In Ohio, everything goes dormant and turns brown for the winter but I need greenery around me. To me, houseplants are signs of life and warmer things to come. They purify indoor air and, since we spend most of our time inside during cold & flu season, they help to keep us healthy. I’ve been known to have a black thumb but I’ve had luck keeping jade and snake plants alive throughout winter.
3 – honest dryer cloths It’s so dry here in the winter that static cling is inevitable. I find it sooooo annoying. Typically, I don’t use dryer sheets but this winter I’ve had to. The static is that bad. I’m a big fan of The Honest Co. (This isn’t sponsored, btw.) I buy their products with my own money and usually receive an order from them every other month. You can easily customize your personal ship date by clicking a box online – no phone calls necessary. For the past few months, I’ve been ordering these dryer sheets. They are wet, plant-based cloths with no artificial fragrances or animal fats. Each sheet can be used twice. And best of all, they work!
4 – vitamin D3 About one month into winter, I wasn’t feeling like myself. I was drained – emotionally and physically. On a hunch (I’m a pharmacist by trade although I’m not practicing at this time), I picked up a bottle of vitamin D tablets at the grocery store to see if they would help. You guys, I noticed a difference within 24 hours of taking my first dose! I had more energy and felt more like myself. This might be a little TMI but…the vitamin D also helped regulate my out-of-whack menstrual cycle, too. My vitamins are a cheap-y version because I wanted to see if they made a difference before I invested in something pricier. When my current bottle is empty, I’m upgrading to a higher quality, organic softgel. FYI – Check with your physician regarding vitamin D deficiency and dosing.
5 – fekkai advanced brilliant glossing conditioner By far, the best conditioner I’ve ever used. Back to the static cling that drives me insane in the winter…it affects my hair, too. But when I use this conditioner, BAM!, no staticky flyaways. I use it year round and it’s worth every penny. One bottle usually lasts me a year (I use it once or twice a week on the bottom half of my hair after shampooing) so, like the coconut oil, a little goes a long way. Pssst – I tried using the coconut oil as a conditioner since I read it was great for hair but it was a total flop. Using a little resulted in oily hair for days.
6 – C.O. bigelow night balm Dry, cracked lips are no joke but I’m prone to them during winter months. My sister gifted me this balm for Christmas after raving about it. She was right. It’s the bomb. I apply just a little before bed every night and it’s enough to keep my lips supple for 24 hours.
I’d love to hear about your winter essentials! This list is mostly health and beauty related but a glass of red wine in the evenings always helps take the chill off for me, too. Mmmm…warm fuzzies.
image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
When I posted my workspace reveal, one item was missing from the original mood board. (Some of you noticed. Good eye!) It was the mini linen lamp. It was on backorder and didn’t arrive in time for the big reveal but it’s here now.
It’s just about the cutest lil’ lamp I’ve ever seen. It’s about 13″ tall and 9″ wide and it fits perfectly under the glass-front cabinets. The nubby linen gives it a cozy texture which feels really homey even though the silhouette is pretty modern. You know how I feel about cozy modern.
There was one downfall. The black electrical cord irked me. I don’t understand why companies go through all the trouble of producing beautiful lamps only to stick an ugly black cord on them. Why?! It’s like a handsome guy with no sense of humor. Deal breaker.
But I really LOVED the lamp and it was the ideal scale for my desk so I decided to do what I do best: tweak it. (Not to be confused with ‘twerk it.’)
I found some red sueded cording at JoAnn’s. I paid less than $2 (with a 40% off coupon) for three yards. I thought the red suede would make a fun cord cover. Here’s how I went about disguising the black cord eyesore…
1 – I used a small piece of double-sided adhesive tape and stuck it on the backside of the cord.
2 – I ran the sueded cording up the tape then wrapped it over on top of itself to secure the end.
3 – I continued wrapping the electrical cord with my sueded cording making sure to pull it taut for a snug fit.
4 – I wrapped the cord to the rotary line switch then used a drop of hot glue on the backside of the new red cord to secure the end. (It’s important not to apply the hot glue directly to the electrical cord.)
5 – I snipped off the excess sueded cording with fingernail clippers.
And that’s it! It took me all of 5 minutes. I only wrapped the cord to the rotary switch because I knew the rest of the cord would be hidden behind the wood cubby on my desk but you could easily wrap the full length. For reference, I wrapped ~13″ of electrical cord and I had ~9″ of the sueded cording leftover. Of course, that number will vary depending on the circumference of your electrical cord but three yards of cording for every foot of electrical cord seems like a good rough estimate.
This cute lamp just got a little cuter. Steve even noticed and he loves it! Funny. I can rearrange our living room and he doesn’t notice for days. But I slap some new cording on a teeny lamp and he catches it right away. I don’t get it.
The lamp isn’t totally necessary. We do have over- and under-cabinet lighting. But, I have to say, the soft glow of the little lamp is nice on overcast days or late at night when I don’t want to light up the entire kitchen.
I’ve always liked the idea of a lamp in the kitchen, too. It feels cozy, warm and casual.
I wish companies would pay more attention to lighting cord aesthetics. It kinda sucks that I had to spend $2 to make my $40 lamp look like a $40 lamp but I’m really happy with how it turned out.
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
That’s Everett. He’s five. He wants to do everything his big brother does including wash his hands at the kitchen sink even though he can’t reach the faucet. Instead of walking back to the bathroom, because you know it’s sooooo far, he climbs up on the counter and precariously balances on the edge of the sink. Obviously, it isn’t safe. I keep picturing him falling head first into the sink or backwards onto the floor. Plus, there’s no center support in the cabinet under the sink so I don’t really think it’s meant to hold the weight of five-year-olds.
Enter the Ikea BEKVÄM step stool. It’s $15, constructed of solid wood and sturdy. (We have one in the boys’ room so I can vouch for it.)
(I got a little carried away with laying out the unassembled pieces. Doesn’t it look like a graphic group cheerleading pose?)
Before assembly, I painted the legs and stained the steps. I walked into Sherwin Williams (I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket) and was immediately drawn to a fiery red-orange swatch. The paint color is called “stop”. I guess because that’s what you do when you see it. STOP! I like mostly neutrals in our house but I thought it would be fun to have a shot of color on the stool. Also, I seem to be on a red-orange kick lately. The paint guy said since it was in the red family I was to use a primer first. I didn’t. I’m such a rebel. I brushed on two thin coats in a semigloss finish and the coverage was great so I left it at that.
Ikea advises against painting the steps due to the risk of slipping. And since safer was my goal in the first place, I decided to stain the steps with one coat of Minwax special walnut. We had some leftover from previous projects so all I had to do was walk out in the garage and search for a half an hour through our own private paint department. Oh, wait!, first I used a coat of wood conditioner…then I stained. I always use a wood conditioner before staining. Okay, so that was one coat of wood conditioner then one coat of special walnut. I decided not to seal the steps because I like the raw, matte wood and I kinda love the idea of it getting beat up and taking on a patina over time.
Isn’t it spicy against the black cabinets?! HOT. With hints of orange and coral, it’s such a great modern red. I’m so happy I only did one coat of stain on the steps and left them unsealed. I love me some rustic-modern juxtaposition.
Now the lil’ man can wash his hands, no problem. Everett was so excited when I told him the stool was for him.
But there was a *slight* ulterior motive for this stool. I have a hard time reaching a cabinet above our microwave. I usually end up hoisting myself onto the counter or dragging over an extra tall stool from the island. No more.
When the stool isn’t in use, I’ve been stashing it next to the fridge. (Mabrey is all about climbing up and messing with the papers and magnets. One problem solved, another created.) Eventually, it will go live where the high chair is now in my workspace.
I am a little worried about the paint marking up the cabinets but I talked to Everett about it and so far he’s been really careful not to bump the stool against the cabinets. Like I said, he LOVES the fact that this is his stool and he’s taking it very seriously. Ha! I’m hoping the high quality paint won’t be prone to leaving marks. I also made sure to let the paint cure thoroughly before bringing the stool into the kitchen. So far, so good.
Isn’t it just the hottest lil’ thing? All of a sudden I’m craving a margarita and chips & salsa. Any takers?
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking