...because home doesn't happen overnight.

MCM spa bath 7

Last year my friends, James and Kristina, graciously allowed me to share the renovation of their midcentury modern family home. (You can see it here and here.) They recently remodeled their master bathroom and, when I saw the results, I just had to share it too. Keep reading to see the transformation!

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The bathroom is en-suite to the master bedroom and, even though it doesn’t boast a tub, the homeowners consider it their master bathroom. The original finishes included a mix of mismatched blue floor & wall tile. A boxy brown vanity supported a pink laminate countertop and a teeny oval sink. The corner shower stall was dark and dank. Just before demo, the couple let their kids draw on the walls for fun.

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By tackling all of the work themselves, the couple was able to completely revamp the space for <$5,000. To save money they kept the room’s original layout but chose modern materials that both brightened and warmed up the space. They discovered mold in a shower wall which was mostly remedied with bleach and a mold-inhibiting spray. Still, some framing had to be replaced. To bring more natural light into the shower, the homeowners devised a plan to add sidelight windows on either side of the stall.

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The couple was aiming for a midcentury spa vibe that felt warm and natural. Sticking to a palette of white, gray and wood was key. Material selections were based on design and budget. Wavy wall tiles in a high gloss finish catch light from a south-facing window and bounce it around the small room. The rippled texture lends an organic vibe while the horizontally stacked pattern feels modern.

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A frameless glass door and sidelights allow light to flow freely into the once dark shower. A wall niche for toiletries and an overhead rain shower head were space-saving measures that also feel luxurious. Marble mosaic was used in the shower niche and on the shower floor for contrast. Using the marble sparingly was an intentional, budget-friendly choice.

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Running the tiger wood flooring onto the vanity wall is a defining design element that punctuates the sink area and brings added warmth to the nook. A pair of cylindrical glass mosaic pendants flank the mirror.

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A floating Ikea vanity frees up visual and floor space, providing the perfect spot for stashing slippers and a scale. The vanity is somewhat of an Ikea hack. The nook is 45″ wide and the off-the-shelf vanity is slightly narrower at 39″ wide. James improvised and ripped down leftover floor boards to stand in as filler pieces on either side of the vanity.

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Likewise, the 47″ wide Ikea sink top had to be modified to fit the space. Using a grinder + a spray bottle filled with water, James cut 1″ off each side for a custom fit.

Resources of note:

wall paint – granite boulder, Behr Ultra (Home Depot)
trim paint – satin white, Behr Ultra (Home Depot)
wood flooring – ½” tiger wood bamboo (discontinued), Build Direct
wall tile – Allen + Roth wavecrest white gloss 4″ x 12″ ceramic tile, Lowe’s
accent tile – anatolia carrera marble mosaic, Lowe’s
shower head – 12″ Hudson Reed, Amazon
shower handle – Delta, Amazon
shower door – Coastal Shower Doors, Amazon
inserts for sidelights – ¼” tempered glass from local glass shop
toilet – American Standard cadet 4, Home Depot
toilet paper holder – Amazon
towel bars – Amazon
pendants – Lamps Plus
mirror – SKOGSVÄG, Ikea
vanity – GODMORGON, Ikea
sink – ODENSVIK, Ikea
sink faucet – Moen, Amazon
accessories – Marshalls

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Thanks again, James and Kristina, for sharing your home with me and the internet!

I have many favorite things about this bathroom starting with the color palette. I love the tile choices mixed with the tiger wood on the floor and sink wall. The sidelights in the shower are so clever! I know the tiger wood filler on the vanity was primarily a means to an end but I love the result. It’s a detail that instantly de-Ikeafies (yep, I’m making up words) the floating cabinet and gives it a high-end look. Overall, the new bathroom design is purposefully spa-like but it doesn’t stray too far from the rest of the midcentury home’s decor. That’s not always easy to pull off!

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What is your favorite part? Can you even believe this is the same bathroom?!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

(It’s not all bad news. I promise.)

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How do you clean your living room rug?

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me that I’d have a lot of dollars. And I’d probably spend them all on books or Trader Joe’s cookie butter. Or hand soap.

In all seriousness though, up until a few weeks ago the only cleaning our living room rug had seen was frequent vacuuming – maybe once or twice per week – and spot cleaning over the last 2+ years. I’ve always used this vacuum and vacuumed the shag rug with the roller brush turned OFF. We don’t wear shoes in the house and only allow water and popcorn in the living room for family movie nights. Keeping shoes, food and drinks off the rug helped us avoid major spills. (Except for that one time I floundered a glass of rosé. Oops. Luckily, it came right up with vinegar + water.)

However, I was terrible at rotating the rug regularly and, eventually, there was a noticeable difference in appearance between the part of the rug near the kitchen and the part hidden under the sofa. On the rare occasions when we would pull out the sofa to look for a lost library book, we were struck by the pure whiteness of the untouched area under the sofa. It completely called out our family’s filth and made the rest of the rug look dingy. When it was covered up, no one was the wiser. So I left it covered up.

But I kept getting that question.

How do you clean your living room rug? Cha-ching. Kidding.

I started to become a little self-conscious. Was I supposed to be cleaning the rug? According to Martha Stewart, no. The rug was two and a half years old; I had two and a half years of vacuuming and spot cleaning left to go. It really didn’t look bad unless you saw the virgin part under the sofa. But curiosity got the best of me. I called a few local rug cleaners for quotes. Prices ranged from $2-$2.50 per square foot. For our 8′ x 10′ rug, I was looking at $160-$200 for a cleaning. Having only paid $270 for the rug to begin with, a $200 cleaning seemed pricey. But I had already been bitten by the rug cleaning bug and started researching a way to DIY the cleaning to save money.

(It’s worth noting that we had a horrible experience with a reputable big brand carpet cleaning service several years ago. They came in and cleaned the carpet in our first home and told me their methods were “safe” for kids and pets. An hour after they left, our dog had an anaphylactic reaction to whatever “safe” chemicals had been used. She spent an entire weekend in triage loaded up on epinephrine, steroids and antihistamines. We didn’t know if she was going to live and, if she did, if she would be able to come home to our “safe” carpet. Long story short, I don’t trust carpet cleaners.)

I assume you can predict where this is going.

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I made up a solution of water + vinegar + OxiClean and poured some into a spray bottle.

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1 – I dragged the rug outside to the deck, a feat in itself. I turned it upside down and vacuumed the backside several times.

2 – I turned the rug right side up and vacuumed it several more times. (You can see how dingy the rug really was!)

3 – Working from the middle to the edges, I saturated the rug with my homemade cleaning solution and let it sit for 10-15 minutes then rinsed it well with the hose. My plan was working! The rug looked brighter and whiter.

4 – I rolled the rug towards the yard end of the deck to squeeze out excess water. Easier said than done. The rug was so SO heavy. I had to put my back into it. I was sweating.

5 – I unrolled the rug and used a wet/dry Shop-Vac to suck up more water (plus miniscule Legos, Play-Doh crumbs and leaf bits). It was slow going. The rug was soaked and I took my time dragging the attachment tool slowly to get up as much water as possible. I had to empty the Shop-Vac canister twice. I got to a point at which the rug felt slightly damp and less slushy. I stopped vacuuming.

6 – I snipped loose threads and used a hairdryer to help dry things a little more. Basically, I groomed and styled that shag. I was happy with how the rug was looking!

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I pulled the rug up and over the outdoor dining table to finish drying. This required more muscles than I anticipated. I rubbed my knuckles raw pulling on the heavy rug and dropped a few f-bombs under my breath. But the rug looked so much better! I patted myself on the back for saving a few hundred dollars. The forecast predicted mild temps, low humidity and plenty of sunshine so I left the rug outside for a few days to allow it to dry completely.


But after 3 days it smelled like a big, wet dog. I tried to salvage the rug by hanging it over sawhorses in the garage with a box fan blowing under it. I did a great job of making our garage smell like a big, wet dog.

After several more days, it was apparent that there was no way the rug was coming back in the house. In retrospect, I think I did a pretty decent job of cleaning the rug but a horrible job of drying it. The smell was most likely due to mildew from not drying it quickly or thoroughly enough.

I felt awful. I loved that rug. As bad as I felt about ruining the rug, I felt worse about sending it off to a landfill. Ugh. I promise I don’t hate you earth. I should have listened to Martha’s rug guru.

Having lived with the durable but scratchy sisal rug in the living room for a week while I “cleaned” the shag rug, we discovered just how much our living room’s cozy factor rode on the shag rug. Without it, we found ourselves spending less time in the space and what time we did spend there wasn’t as comfortable as it had once been. Needless to say, the entire family was stoked to discover that the rug is still available from RugsUSA. A 75% off coupon code sealed the deal. We didn’t think twice about buying the rug…again. This time it cost us $280…$10 more than what we paid two and a half years ago…and about $80-$100 more than what it would have cost us to have the old one cleaned.

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The rug arrived last week. Our cozy living room is back! We’re completely smitten with the new rug. It doesn’t smell like wet dog. It’s plush and clean and barely sheds. Most likely, it’s better than whatever results a professional cleaner could have achieved with the old rug.

Surprisingly, there are some other differences, too, even though the rugs are technically the same. The pile of the new rug is slightly shorter. (I wish I had measured the previous one for comparison.) While I really LOVED the look of the longer pile on the previous rug, it would get caught in the roller brush of the vacuum which is why I had to turn it off while vacuuming. It made hunting for lost Legos nearly impossible. It’s also the reason why I was leery of using a powered carpet cleaner on the previous rug. I had read that long shags don’t do well with agitation. It can lead to knotting, fraying and unraveling. With the shorter pile of the new rug, I’m able to vacuum it with the roller brush on, no problem! I’m hoping this means I’ll be able to clean it with a powered carpet cleaner in the future. You know, to save money ;)

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Another subtle difference lies in the zig-zag pattern. The zig-zags are slightly narrower with more brown in them. The older rug’s zig-zags were more taupe/gray in color. The difference in color isn’t a deal breaker at all – just something we noticed. In case you’re wondering, the light background is pretty spot on when compared to the previous version. Overall, we’re impressed with the new version. It’s already proven to be more family- and user-friendly. I’m calling it a happy accident.

A few things I’m taking away from this whole rug cleaning experience:

*I need to do a better job of rotating the living room rug.

*Extremely shaggy rugs aren’t the most family-friendly rugs.

*Water + white vinegar + OxiClean does a decent job of cleaning grimy rugs.

*Wet rugs are super heavy.

*Sometimes I have really bad ideas.

*I love having no carpet in the house. After seeing what came out of the old rug, I like being able to remove our floor coverings for thorough cleanings (or, um, replacements).

*DIY isn’t always better or cheaper.

*Having a cozy rug in our living room makes a world of difference.

*My kids are horrible at picking up their Legos.

*I like my knuckles best when they have skin on them.

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I’ll let you know how things go with the new rug in, oh, two years or so ;) Until then, I’ll be vacuuming and spot cleaning away!

Pssst…if you’ve ever considered using the same rug in your home, it’s on sale through 10/12! #notsponsored

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

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!

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Weslie and Kristina bought their 1970s fixer upper in early 2014. Right away, they set to work bringing improved functionality to the kitchen. The original layout was cramped and closed off from the rest of the house. The location of the dishwasher made it nearly impossible to stand at the kitchen sink with the dishwasher door open. (Which pretty much defeats the purpose, right?) A small doorway leading to the dining room was the only means of entry / exit. A pair of awkwardly placed pass-throughs provided limited views to the adjacent living area and left a lot to be desired.

In an effort to improve traffic flow & sight lines, add function and incorporate Kristina’s Finnish heritage, the couple created a new floor plan for the space (bye, bye pass-through wall!) and utilized Ikea cabinets. Weslie was kind enough to answer several questions about the renovation. (Kristina was off doing important things like giving birth to baby #2!) Find his answers and images of the cheerful space below.

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Which items in your kitchen hail from Ikea?

Cabinets, sink, vent hood, shelf brackets, perimeter countertop, step stool, drawer organizers, lighting, curtain rods, storage containers, bookends, shelf liners and dish drain.

What made you decide to source these items from Ikea?

Aesthetics, durability, price and ease of DIY.

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

We created a fairly detailed design and then utilized Modern Family Kitchens which was completely worth the relatively small designer fee. One of the greatest benefits of using the outsourced design service is that they know all of the little spacing tricks and, perhaps most importantly, upload the entire design to Ikea with a pick list for the employees. Because of their knowledge, our conversation with the employee in the Ikea kitchen department was about 30 minutes. Compare that to another poor soul who sat down at the same time as us with a different employee with a list of ideas. She may still be there a year and a half later!

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The aesthetic we were aiming for is probably something like Scandinavian modern. Kristina is from Finland. Our kitchen looks like the average kitchen there. Though I’m a pastor now, my undergrad studies were in design and photography. Our kitchen design was a complete collaboration. One goal was to add touches from Kristina’s home in Finland into our north Texas home. For example, the long runner in the kitchen is a handmade vintage piece which was a gift from our sister-in-law in Finland. These are very typical in Finland and most Nordic countries.

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Likewise, the curtains (the biggest block of color in the kitchen!) were a gift from both of our parents. The pattern is the iconic Unikko design from Marimekko, one of Finland’s most well-known design exports. The fabric was a gift from Kristina’s parents. My mother, Sylvia, sewed everything to perfection. The little painting of lemons is from my dear great aunt, Edith, whom our daughter is named after. We love collecting vintage pieces as well which is evident throughout the kitchen.

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

We did everything. My parents were in town for the demo and helped with that and watching our daughter, Edith. They also helped greatly by bringing their big truck! We live a little over two hours away from the closest Ikea, so we took the truck down to the Dallas metroplex and spent the night with a friend. The next morning we rented a large U-Haul trailer for the cabinets. We also picked up approximately 750 sq. ft. of flooring the same morning, drove everything white-knuckled back that evening and unloaded everything in the garage late into the night. All of the demo, electrical, gas, plumbing, carpentry, sheetrock, painting, trimming, flooring, countertop laminating (for the peninsula), and tile work (completed with consultation from a friend) was done by us!

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

The main goal was functionality. Our old kitchen didn’t function well. It was the original one from 1970 and included a small wall oven that always ran 50 degrees too hot. Our first itch was to deal with that, but a new wall oven that would have fit the space (24″) would have been more expensive than our current stainless steel, five burner convection oven! If we were to go with a regular stove, we would have had to figure out what to do with the hole in the wall left by the nonexistent wall oven. Secondly, when the dishwasher was open you couldn’t reach the sink. It needed to be moved. Lastly, good access to the backyard was high on our wish list. This led us to decide on a complete gut and wall removal. We expanded the original entrance to the kitchen as well. We cook and bake a lot, so we wanted the kitchen to function well for us. Since our funds were limited, we decided to keep the plumbing and gas lines in the same place though we did add and move electrical.

How long was it from design to the final product?

We closed on the house on Valentine’s Day in 2014 and started designing immediately after. It took about six weeks from the day we started gutting until the kitchen was usable again. That includes flooring throughout the house except the bedrooms. I didn’t take a day off work but worked on the kitchen every spare hour of the day. Kristina, who is a stay-at-home mom, worked as much as she was able to during the days. She assembled nearly all of the cabinets herself. It took 18 months to completely finish the kitchen, including crown molding and trim. The long timeframe was due to laziness on my part! Once the kitchen was usable and decent-looking, we were so exhausted that the finishing touches were put on the back burner.

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

We’ve lived with it for ~16 months. It was a complete DIY and some things were harder to do than we had imagined. I laminated the countertops using materials from Home Depot, but the result on the perimeter cabinets was not as good as we had hoped for. Rather than trying to fix them, we ended up switching them out for one of the newer Ikea countertop options. We kept the countertop I made for the peninsula, and we are really happy with that decision.

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

We love the openness to the living and dining rooms now and the functionality of the drawers and pantry. Our least favorite aspect is probably the fact that the white doors are a little hard to keep clean.

Would you recommend Ikea as a source for a kitchen remodel? If so, which items?

Yes, absolutely! The cabinets are as high of quality as you can find without paying tens of thousands of dollars for 100% wood cabinets. In fact, after we completed our work we visited some dear cousins in Austin who had just finished their own kitchen remodel with very beautiful, all wood cabinets. Their kitchen looks amazing but we’re just as satisfied with ours – no regrets. We’re also very pleased with the perimeter countertops we decided to buy. The texture on the laminate is a nice touch.

Would you consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel?

Yes, without a doubt.

Resources of note:

paint – Lowe’s Olympic gray beige (light color) and eiffel tower (darker color)
cabinets – AKURUM, Ikea. (We did not use Ikea trim because it was rounded. We found 8′ sections of door jamb trim at our local Habitat Restore for $1! We simply turned it around, cut it down, painted it and used it as under-cabinet trim and upper cabinet spacers. The upper spacers give the crown molding something to rest on.)
shelf brackets – Ikea
perimeter countertops – SÄLJAN, Ikea. (We’re very pleased with them.)
peninsula countertop – textured slate laminate, special order via Lowe’s
flooring – Lamton Madagascar oak laminate (discontinued), Build Direct (They’re 12mm thick, commercial grade and we’re very happy with them. The nice thing about Build Direct for us – besides the price – is that they have no sales tax and are located somewhat near our local Ikea.)
subway tile – Home Depot
grout – pearl gray, Home Depot
sink – BOHOLMEN, from the “as-is” section of Ikea! One of our great victories! They had just taken it off of the floor. It was about $85, a steal!
faucet – Kraus, eFaucets with a coupon
dishwasher – GE, Home Depot return inventory
stove – Frigidaire Gallery, Best Buy
microwave – GE
refrigerator – Kenmore Elite, a generous gift from friends
vent hood – NUTID, from the “as-is” section of Ikea! Another great victory! It, too, had just been taken off the floor and was marked half off.
kitchen timer (on hood) – Moomin Mamma from the well-known Finnish stories of Tove Jansson
pendant lights – RANARP, Ikea
ceiling light – ALÄNG, Ikea
LED light above sink – Lowe’s
curtain rods – Ikea
curtains – Unniko fabric design by Marimekko, DIY
runner – vintage
counter stools – J. Persing Arborline stools, Craigslist

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Thank you Weslie and Kristina for sharing your kitchen! I love the new layout and all the Finnish-inspired touches. And to think you did it all yourselves?! Kudos. For the record, putting off finishing touches like trim and molding is par for the course in my book. After seeing your kitchen transformation, “lazy” is the last word that comes to mind. Congrats on your newest (human) addition! Hope all is well. I can’t thank you enough for taking time out of your busy lives to help bring this feature to fruition.

Okay readers, what ideas are you stealing from this remodel? I love the overall happy, cheery vibe. Before I even read Weslie’s answers, I was thinking Scandinavian. The mix of black, white and wood tones is classic while meaningful touches like the vintage runner, handmade curtains, baking ingredients labeled in Swedish and heirloom art create a homey atmosphere. The end result feels personal not sterile like some Nordic kitchens. FYI: socker = sugar and matsoda = baking soda. Don’t say you’ve never learned anything from this blog. Ha!

By removing the kitchen-living room wall and widening the doorway to the dining room, the homeowners were able to create a workable layout with improved traffic flow, loads of natural light, better access to adjacent rooms and direct access to the backyard via nearby sliders. I’m always amazed by the impact of wall removal. You can see more behind the scenes action of this remodel over on the homeowners’ blog right here.

Another possible takeaway for those of you considering an Ikea kitchen is enlisting the help of Modern Family Kitchens. Honestly, I had never heard of them before but taking advantage of their knowledge of the ins and outs of Ikea kitchens sounds like a wonderful thing. Paying a few hundred dollars to have full confidence in your kitchen design (regardless of whether you plan to DIY or hire out the installation) seems pretty reasonable to me. Has anyone else worked with them? I’d love to know more.

Want more kitchen inspiration? I finally created a banner in the side bar that will take you directly to the Ikea kitchen series. Just click “See Real Ikea Kitchens” and all the posts will pop up. I’m working on creating a simplified landing page for the series but, for now, you have to scroll through the posts. Sorry fingers.

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: Weslie Odom