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Wood bead garlands have been popping up in interiors for years. I think I first noticed them styled in Scandinavian vignettes. Then they became pretty popular as holiday garland on trees and mantels. More recently I’ve spotted them casually gracing tabletops in interiors with a natural, organic vibe. (Lauren Liess’s coffee table and Anissa’s dining room table come to mind.) I love how effortless they look. Oh, this ol’ thing I just tossed on my table?

A few weeks ago when cabin fever hit hard, I was itching to make something. Putting my spin on the famed wood bead garland sounded fun so I gave it a whirl. Obviously, I’m not reinventing the wheel here but it was nice busying my hands and tweaking little details to my liking. Here’s what I did…

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I knew I wanted a pretty substantial strand with a longer length and chunkier profile (no measly little necklace of wood “pearls”) but when I started gathering my supplies I quickly discovered that pre-drilled wood beads are expensive! And I needed quite a few. To save money, I ended up buying wood balls in various sizes and drilling the holes myself. I bought three bags of 1″, two bags of 1¼” and one bag of 1½” wood balls along with four yards of leather cording. I raided the garage and found some heavy duty grip pliers to stabilize the balls during drilling.

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One by one, I placed each ball on top of a scrap piece of wood, secured the ball with the pliers in one hand and drilled a hole through the center with my other hand using a 3/16″ drill bit. (I’m a lefty so if you’re a righty flop the image above for a better visual.) You can drill whatever size hole you want. The key is to drill a hole at least slightly larger than your preferred stringing material: rope, string, jute, yarn, etc. Keep a firm grip on the pliers!

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Drilling through the ball into the wood scrap below prevents splintering and produces a clean cut. Ideally, this would be an outdoor project but below-zero temps kept me indoors. I kept the vacuum nearby and swept up sawdust as I went along.

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After all the holes were drilled, I wasn’t digging the cool grayish tones of the unfinished maple. I busted out my trusty beeswax + orange oil wood conditioner (previously seen here) and applied it with a soft cloth.

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This was about halfway through the waxing process. The beads on the left are unfinished. The beads on the right are waxed. I love how the beeswax warms up the wood tone and emphasizes the graining. Instant patina!

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Once waxing was complete, I strung the beads onto the leather cording.

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I decided to string the largest beads near the center of the garland and the smallest beads near the ends for a graduated effect.

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After all the beads were strung, I went back through and spaced them out a little so the garland wasn’t too stiff and had some play in it. I wanted the garland to drape easily. I knotted the ends and cut the excess cording. Done! (You could also tie the ends together to create a circular garland.)

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The end result is so pretty in a natural, unfussy way. I love that you can see little indentations from the pliers. Living proof that they were touched by hands – not just a machine. There’s really no wrong way to style them. They kinda just do their own thing and go with everything. They’re the J. Crew of home accessories. I’ve already had a heyday trying them out all over the house.

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As a cat-friendly centerpiece on the dining room table.

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Spilling out of a thrifted bowl on the media cabinet.

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Curled up in a large bowl on the coffee table.

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Dangling from a hook on a sliver of wall.

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Draped over a pile of books on my dresser.

They’re so versatile. I keep moving them around. Who knows where they’ll end up. I’m going to start a new blogger game called Where Are the Wood Beads? Should be a good time.

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!

san diego ikea kitchen before

san diego ikea kitchen before

Beth and her family lived with a basic builder kitchen for over a year before they decided life was too short to tolerate a dark and boring kitchen any longer. Beth dreamed of a brighter space with custom touches that better reflected her style. Having successfully utilized IKEA cabinetry in the past, the family turned to IKEA once again for their most recent renovation. Initially, neighbors and contractors thought the family was crazy for wanting to update a kitchen that “wasn’t horrible” to begin with, but once they saw the transformation they were blown away by the results. I asked Beth several questions about her experience. See her answers and the stunning results below!

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Which items in your kitchen hail from IKEA?

The cabinets, doors, drawer fronts and dishware organization are from IKEA.

What made you decide to source these items from IKEA?

We used IKEA cabinets (AKURUM) in our previous home when we remodeled an outdated 70s kitchen. When it came time to sell that house, it was only on the market for six days before we accepted an offer! We know the kitchen remodel was one of the reasons it sold so quickly. For our current kitchen, we had a budget to stick to and felt that IKEA (SEKTION) would be a great choice for its function and quality – both of which we appreciated in our last home. The kitchen was a builder grade kitchen. The cabinets were dark and matched the hardwood floors, but they did not match our aesthetic. We wanted to start fresh with a clean slate.

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

I designed both our previous and current kitchens. It was so much fun! I don’t have a design background, but I have always loved interior design. After the first kitchen remodel, I felt more confident about my design capabilities and gained experience with the 3D kitchen planner. The only blog I came across when I was tackling our first IKEA kitchen was yours, House*Tweaking! I remember feeling very lost and unsure since there weren’t many people talking about IKEA kitchens at the time, but I was reassured after reading about your experience and seeing your results. I did consult with the contractors who installed the cabinets in order to nail down little details that would help us achieve the look we were trying to accomplish. Ultimately, I knew I wanted white and bright because our kitchen doesn’t receive a ton of natural light. I wanted a clean and classic look with custom details.

san diego ikea kitchen

san diego ikea kitchen

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

We utilized a contractor (from our previous kitchen remodel) who specializes in IKEA cabinet installation. The crew was very professional and detail-oriented. I was on site every day during the installation so I could ensure things ran smoothly. This was helpful when questions regarding placement specifics came up or if adjustments were required.

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san diego ikea kitchen after 7

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

Customization was a priority. We love IKEA kitchens; however, we don’t feel that everything in a kitchen should hail from IKEA. I love mixing and matching and incorporating non-IKEA elements. I ordered pretty chrome handles to give the cabinets a classic feel. We went with a timeless white subway tile and a beautiful quartz countertop that has gray tones to mimic the look of marble. We added a professional chef range hood and upgraded our appliances to add more features for cooking and baking. The stainless steel farmhouse apron sink and chrome faucet were must-have features for everyday chores like washing dishes. We raised the cabinet height and installed bulkheads and crown molding above the upper cabinets to give them a custom, built-in look. It draws the eye up and makes the off-the-shelf cabinets look less generic, more refined. We used glass doors with LED cabinet lighting on two of the upper cabinets (near the sink) and undermount LED lighting throughout. In addition, we changed every recessed light to a softer, warmer LED light which made a huge difference in the overall look of the kitchen.

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From a functional standpoint, we tweaked some things to make the space work better for us. We relocated the microwave and created a custom IKEA cabinet to house it. We moved our island to accommodate seating for four adults as the previous island was not positioned properly to accommodate seating and did not have a countertop overhang. Moving the island and expanding the countertop made the working space/surface area larger which is great for cooking and baking. Making sure the island lined up properly with enough space on either side and space for seating was a little stressful and challenging, but it worked out perfectly.

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We also added a built-in cabinet to the nook in the adjacent dining area to optimize storage while keeping things cohesive with the kitchen. It’s our coffee station. The drawers hold brewing supplies and mugs among other things. It makes our morning coffee routine so much easier!!

How long was it from design to final product?

I utilized my summer break from teaching to take on the remodel. It took about six weeks to complete. The biggest hurdle was the backorder of some parts and cabinets due to the supply/demand issue with the 20% off sale. My husband and I had to call and drive down to IKEA several times to pick up backordered items. The back and forth got old very quickly! We didn’t experience that with our previous IKEA kitchen. It all worked out though with lots of patience. Coordinating contractors and dealing with appliance deliveries were other challenges that affected the timeline.

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

It’s been about six months and we haven’t had any problems. We lived with our previous IKEA kitchen for about a year without any issues. The only problem we ran into this time around was fitting our Thermador oven in the IKEA wall oven cabinet. I consulted with our contractor and the appliance installer to make adjustments for a proper fit.

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

One of my favorite things is the fact that I was able to design our kitchen exactly the way I wanted. For example, I added pullout drawers and lazy susans right where I need them. I love how functional the kitchen is now. The soft-closing drawers and doors are the absolute best! Especially for my little ones! The work flow and placement of everything worked out so well which can be tricky when moving items like a microwave or an island.

My least favorite is the cabinetry around the refrigerator. We tried our best to customize it but it was difficult. Ideally, I prefer a more streamlined fit, but I keep telling myself it’s a minor detail in the grand scheme of things.

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

Absolutely! I highly recommend IKEA cabinets. Be sure to take advantage of the 20% off sale events. You can pocket the money you save or use it to splurge on finishes or high-end appliances.

Would you consider IKEA for a future kitchen remodel?

Definitely! I helped design my mom’s IKEA kitchen which means I have completed three IKEA kitchen remodels in total, and I can’t say enough good things about the functionality and quality for the price point.

Resources of note:

cabinets – BODBYN in off-white, IKEA
hardware – sutton place pulls, Atlas Homewares
countertops – LG viatera quartz cirrus
subway tile – Daltile
sink – stainless steel farmhouse apron sink, Kraus
faucet – Grohe
cooktop – Thermador
wall oven – Thermador
range hood – Zephyr
pendant light – Crate & Barrel
counter stools – Target
roller shade – Smith & Noble

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san diego ikea kitchen after 3

Thank you Beth for sharing your kitchen! It’s lovely. Your mom is one lucky lady to have you as her personal kitchen designer :)

Alright peanut gallery, what are you taking note of in this kitchen? The added bulkheads and molding really do give the kitchen a sense of grandeur. Everything fits so snugly. I totally agree with Beth’s thoughts on mixing and matching IKEA cabinets with other non-IKEA elements for a less generic result. Moving the microwave and reworking the island allow new focal points (hood, island, etc.) to take center stage. And as much as I love a good DIY reno, it’s fun to see how professional contractors take IKEA kitchens to a whole new level with little tweaks here and there. (That’s not to say DIY kitchens can’t look professional.) I think the biggest takeaway for me, though, is the fact that Beth went through with the renovation even after harsh criticism. Do you, people!

You can follow Beth over on her blog or on instagram @1111lightlane.

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!

humidifier 2

If you live somewhere that experiences colder weather or dry air, chances are you know first-hand the detriments of low humidity: itchy skin, chapped lips, cracked knuckles, staticky clothes, bloody noses, parched throats, increased vulnerability to respiratory illnesses, etc. Here in Ohio, humidifiers are almost a necessity during the winter months.

In our previous home, we installed a whole house humidifier right onto the upflow furnace unit in the basement to combat dry air. Our current house sits on a slab with a downflow furnace blowing heated air through ductwork that runs through the slab. (There’s no crawl space or basement.) Installing whole house humidifiers onto downflow furnaces isn’t impossible, but our current setup won’t facilitate it. There’s just not enough room. Additionally, we often use the gas fireplace in the living room to heat the house during the day which keeps the furnace from kicking on so, even if installation wasn’t tricky, a whole house humidifier still might not be the best choice for us.

We lived through our first winter in this house sans humidifier and we felt it. Someone was always sick. We all had cracked knuckles. I experienced nosebleeds. There was so much static we were afraid to touch each other and folding laundry was almost painful. The following winter I purchased a standalone humidifier and we’ve been using it during colder months ever since. It makes such a difference!

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After doing some research, I bought a Honeywell cool moisture console unit. (If there’s one thing I learned in pharmacy school, it’s that you should always use a cool mist humidifier. Warm units are breeding grounds for bacteria.) This is the third year we’ve used it and we’re extremely happy with it. It has a small footprint (~20″ x 12″) and can provide moisture for up to 1,900 square feet making it ideal for our 1,600-square-foot home.

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The humidifier must be placed on a flat, hard, water-resistant surface at least 6″ from any wall. I place it on the tile floor in the Everything Room. (You can add Humidifier Room to the running list of purposes that room serves.) It plugs in to an outlet hidden within the fauxdenza.

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The unit is relatively quiet. You can hear it running from the living room but it’s definitely not loud enough to disrupt conversation or TV watching. Every once in a while we hear a little glug-glug as water is released into the base but even that is miniscule. It doesn’t rattle or vibrate. I keep the fan speed on low and the humidity level somewhere between the two lowest settings depending on the day. Once the dials are set, the unit automatically turns on/off as needed to maintain the desired humidity level. It shuts off when the water tanks are empty. In contrast to traditional humidifiers, this unit is evaporative meaning you don’t see a visible mist or get water droplets on surrounding surfaces.

Standalone units do require some attention. The water tanks must be refilled periodically with tap water. Typically, I refill the tanks 1-3 times per week during the winter but, right now with outside temps barely in the double digits, I’m refilling the tanks every 1-2 days. The tanks and base must be cleaned regularly as well. I use the ProTec tank cleaning cartridges to extend the time between cleanings. I usually clean the unit at the beginning of the winter before the first use, once or twice during the winter and once at the end of winter. I flip the filter with every other water refill and replace it annually. When not in use, I keep the humidifier in its original box up in the attic.

I brought the humidifier down from the attic last week and set it up. Right away, I noticed a difference – not only in my skin (no more chapping and cracking!) and eyes (no more stinging!) but also in my houseplants. They were looking pretty droopy and sad but perked right up. We’ve also noticed that the humidifier helps prevent extreme shrinkage in our wood floors. Before, a gap would develop at the entrance to our bedroom (probably due to the leak we don’t speak of) in the winter, but it’s been nonexistent ever since we starting using the humidifier.

humidifier 1

Low humidity negatively affects so many things: people, pets, plants, wood floors and even furniture. If you’re looking for a small, effective standalone whole house humidifier that is easy to operate and maintain, I would recommend this one! (not sponsored, just sharing what has worked for us) I tried explaining the basics above, but the manual is easy to follow and gives more details on proper setup, maintenance, operation and storage.

Do you use a whole house humidifier? What about a hygrometer to monitor indoor humidity levels? Maybe it’s not necessary for your location or method of heating. I can remember my dad placing a pan of water on top of the wood stove in the house I grew up in to increase humidity. I’ve always wondered if homeowners with steam radiators or radiant floor heating need humidifiers. Anyone?

P.S. – Our biggest renovation regret. My winter essentials.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking