...because home doesn't happen overnight.
12.15.14 / Made Me Smile

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We put up our tree last week. Cheetah was verrrry interested in it before we added lights and (unbreakable) ornaments. She disappeared into the tree once and we had to pull her out but, since adding the decorations, she seems to have lost interest other than batting around a few ornaments on the lowest branches. Just in case, we anchored the tree to the mantel with fishing line ;) WE ARE THOSE PEOPLE.

More happenings…

*Coolest open house ever.

*So much potential.

*DIY corner shelves. (Way to go, Alison!)

*A reader from Estonia contacted me this week. It piqued my interest and I did some reading up on the area. Now I want to visit! Have you ever been? This beach villa looks amazing and this old town home in Tallinn looks so cozy.

british standard kitchen via Remodelista

*Kitchen love.

*One mama’s thoughts.

*Someone gifted me an Amazon gift card for my birthday. I bought this book and have been devouring every word and image. I’m kind of sad I only have a few pages left to read.

Have a great one!

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Alexis Hamilton

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.*

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I’ve had a hard time with the boys’ room. Especially the recessed wall that the boys’ beds are pushed up against. It’s the perfect spot for the bunk but I’ve always felt like it needed something. After I brought in the vintage dresser, I was pretty sure that something should be a warm-toned wood wall. But I didn’t want it to feel rustic. I just wanted it to balance out the wood tones on the other side of the room.

After a lot of searching, I came across Stikwood. (Btw, this post is NOT sponsored but I did ask Stikwood if they would be interested in doing a giveaway for you guys. Spoiler alert: They said yes!) Have you heard of it? Essentially, it’s peel-and-stick solid wood planks meant to be used on walls. There’s no nailing, no finish work. You simply measure, cut, peel, stick. I ordered a bunch of samples and quickly settled on the caramelized bamboo. It had the same warm tones as the dresser. I measured the wall (roughly 8′ x 8′) and ordered accordingly.

Even though the wood planks are VOC free, upon arrival the boxes had a smell to them. I sat them in the garage for several weeks to off-gas since we were in no rush to install them.

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Once the smell had dissipated, I brought the boxes into the boys’ room to acclimate. Can you see them under the dresser? Last weekend we finally got around to installation.

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We pulled the beds into the center of the room and unloaded the wall. Steve used painter’s tape on the black wall to note the placement of the sconces and shelves. He took a few measurements and wrote them on the tape for reference later.

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We decided that Steve would be the measurer and installer; I would be the cutter. I hooked up our Ryobi flooring saw (the same one we used to cut and install all the flooring in the house) to the vacuum to keep the sawdust mess to a minimum.

stikwood collage

You can read how-to instructions and see a video here but I wanted to share a few in-progress shots of our own.

1 – It was important to us that there be a full plank at the ceiling (since it would be visible) so we worked from the top of the wall to the bottom. The first plank we installed was actually one row down in the middle of the wall. There are three peel-and-stick adhesive strips that run the length of each plank on the back. To install a measured and cut-to-size plank, you simply peel away two of the protectors, fold over a short section of the third protector, place and level the plank, then remove the remaining third protector with the plank in place. This allows some room for adjustment when placing the planks. We didn’t use any of the fancy installation tools that Stikwood offers but we did find a rubber mallet to be helpful to achieve a snug fit.

2 – Once the first plank was in place, things moved along swiftly. We were careful to vary the lengths and seam placement. It was the most uneventful project we’ve completed in a while. That might make for a boring blog post but it was super nice not having any unexpected problems arise.

3 – We had the wall knocked out (figuratively speaking) in one afternoon. Instant gratification! We lucked out and ended up with a full plank at the baseboard so I didn’t have to make any cuts length-wise and we only had to work around one outlet. The most difficult part of the entire project was rehanging the sconces and shelves but even that wasn’t too bad. We were worried that we might have to put up some type of trim in the corners but I brought my A-game to the flooring saw and made precise cuts so no trim!

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Everyone LOVES the wood wall. Steve thinks it makes the room look bigger. He says you can now tell that the wall is set back from the rest of the room. The boys say it feels like they’re sleeping in a cabin when the bed curtains are drawn at night. I heard the word “cozy” come out of Layne’s mouth. I think the wall is the perfect balance to the large wood dresser on the other side of the room. And I like the contrast between the warm wood and white beds. There’s probably some rule against two accent walls in one room but it’s a kids’ room. Who cares.

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I don’t know if it’s our age or the sheer exhaustion from being in (what has felt like) perpetual renovation mode for the last 2+ years or what, but Steve and I are slowly warming up to products that promise quick and easy results – even if they cost more. Stikwood is definitely quick & easy. It’s also made in the USA, high quality and eco-friendly. The only drawback is the cost, but you get what you pay for. To help ease the sticker shock, Stikwood is kindly offering up a gift card today. See entry details below.

PRIZE: one $280 gift card to Stikwood plus a complimentary samples set

RULES: You must be at least 18 years old and have a shipping address (no P.O. boxes please) within the U.S. One entry per email address.

TO ENTER: Sign up for Stikwood’s newsletter here then leave a comment on this post sharing which plank you would use and where. (The entire time we were installing the planks, I kept telling Steve “Wouldn’t this be great for a TV wall? Just picture it with a flatscreen and floating console.)

DEADLINE: Enter before 9:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, December 18th. One random winner will be announced Friday, December 19th.

Good luck!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

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!

gold coast ikea kitchen before 1

In February of this year, Jess and her partner, Tim, purchased their first house located in Queensland, Australia. The kitchen was closed off from the main living area and faced the back of the house. 90’s cabinets and laminate countertops did not reflect the couple’s impeccable style.

OLD FLOOR PLAN

house

NEW FLOOR PLAN

house2

gold coast ikea kitchen before 2

To improve the layout, the couple made plans to remove walls separating the kitchen from the living area and flip the kitchen so the peninsula would separate the kitchen from the living area. They used Ikea cabinetry to achieve a sleek, modern design. I asked Jess several questions about the remodel. Find her answers and the mind-blowing “afters” below.

gold coast ikea kitchen after 1

gold coast ikea kitchen after 2

Which items in your kitchen hail from Ikea?

We chose to purchase our FAKTUM cabinets, ABSTRAKT gloss white doors, drawers (and fronts), BLANKETT handles, RATIONELL drawer liners and cutlery organizers from Ikea. We also selected a few of our appliances – namely the MW6 combi oven, dishwasher and rangehood (discontinued hidden model).

What made you decide to source these items from Ikea?

I had a pretty solid Ikea bookcase constructing background as my first house was furnished with many of their inexpensive storage solutions. I knew that we could probably tackle the kitchen cupboard assembly without too many hiccups. Obviously, the price was also a huge deciding factor for us as we are renovating on a budget and committed to completing as much as we can ourselves.

I also spent hours and hours online reading reviews and comparing different kitchen systems. I found ikeafans.com (sadly, it’s no longer) to be an invaluable source of knowledge. If hundreds of other novices had attempted an Ikea kitchen and come out on the other side without a messy divorce, so could we!

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Who designed your kitchen?

We designed and redesigned several times using the online kitchen tool which we found to be very useful and, at times, a bit frustrating. It is amazing how much bigger your kitchen looks onscreen versus real life! I definitely suggest taping out the rough dimensions of your new cupboards before making any final decisions.

Once we were fairly set on our design, we made an appointment with an Ikea kitchen specialist who helped us to finalise additional items like cover panels and plinths.

In terms of aesthetic, we managed to combine our individual styles and also take inspiration from my favourite blogs – House*Tweaking, Manhattan Nest and Chezerbey. The end result is a Scandinavian / clean-lined / warm wood tone style that we both absolutely adore. All the pieces fit together better than we could have hoped!

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

With heaps of over-confidence and a passion for late night arguments, we tried our hand at everything over the course of our renovations. And we didn’t suck at it…especially the bickering, we excelled at that!

We knocked down the old wall between the kitchen and the lounge room, built a new wall to effectively reverse the kitchen, plastered and painted, and generally spent every weekend taking carloads to the tip.

I built all of our kitchen cupboards which took approximately 12-14 hours total. Tim & I installed the cabinets ourselves and we even tiled for the first time when we installed the marble splashback.

gold coast ikea kitchen after 4

gold coast ikea kitchen after 5

Unless you are a licensed electrician, it is illegal to undertake electrical work yourself in Australia. Fortunately, we have a great electrician who installed our new downlights and pendants and wired up our new appliances. We also outsourced the plumbing work and the Caesarstone bench top construction and installation.

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

To suit our style of mixed cold and warm elements, we chose a Caeserstone bench top in sleek concrete, sourced hexagonal carrara marble from ebay and utilised Tasmanian oak as trim on archways and above the cooktop.

We recycled cover panel offcuts to close a 7cm gap between the ceiling and top of the upper cabinets. We cut down a standard FAKTUM cupboard to create a usable storage space above the fridge pod.

gold coast ikea kitchen after 6

gold coast ikea kitchen after 7

Our kitchen features a few unique items that give it that little bit extra in our opinion: a black Franke techtonite sink, a clock purchased on an anniversary trip to Byron Bay and Tim’s dream induction cooktop which we managed to pick up for a song from an online auction house.

We also took the opportunity to install new flooring throughout our house which originally featured the cheapest bamboo laminate and old cracked tiles hidden under black linoleum. We chose Quickstep classic midnight oak brown which was extremely easy to install and perfectly complemented our kitchen choices.

How long was it from design to the final product?

Design has been happening since day one of viewing the house. We ordered our kitchen components in June and began renovating on weekends in August. The final kitchen reveal happened during the first week of October. I took three weeks holiday in September which allowed me to install new flooring and paint pretty much everything.

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

We have lived with the finished product for two months now and have only adjusted the push-to-open hardware on the top cupboards to ensure they close properly. I am very impressed with the quality of the Ikea cupboards and appliances, particularly the fact that we have a working dishwasher again!

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gold coast ikea kitchen after 15

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

This is a hard question! Tim’s favourite is the Electrolux 70cm induction cooktop, whereas mine is the actual layout which has opened up the main living area.

Our least favourite is, unfortunately, the pantry size. We didn’t realize that the 40cm cupboard actually means 30cm drawers so it was a bit of a downsize from our old kitchen. Luckily, we have ample spare cupboards to compensate.

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

Yes, absolutely. We are very happy with the quality of the cupboards and the endless options / configurations.

We would highly recommend the combi oven and love the soft-closing drawers. The gloss finish of the doors and drawer fronts is impeccable and seems to be very durable.

Would you consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel?

We would definitely use Ikea again. In fact, we are taking on the study / linen closet as one of our next projects and plan to use a combination of the Ikea FAKTUM cupboards and the PAX wardrobe system. Ikea provides both great service and an awesome result.

Resources of note:

wall paint – Dulux vivid white
flooring – Quickstep classic midnight oak brown
cupboards (cabinets) – FAKTUM, Ikea
handles – BLANKETT, Ikea
bench top (countertop) – Caesarstone sleek concrete (4003), Regency Stone
cooktop – Electrolux 70cm ceramic induction cooktop in black (EHD68210P), GraysOnline
rangehood – Luftig (BF570), Ikea
oven – Fisher & Paykel 60cm oven (OB60SL7DEX1), JB Hi Fi
microwave combi oven – Nutid (MWC6), Ikea
dishwasher – BESPARA integrated dishwasher, Ikea
fridge – Fisher & Paykel, already owned
splashback (backsplash) – 50mm hexagonal carrara marble mosiac, ebay
grout – Ardex magellan grey, Beaumont Tiles
sink – Franke tectonite kitchen sink in carbon black (SID110-50), Masters
tap – stainless steel with vegetable hose, ebay
wood trim – Tasmanian oak, Bunnings
clock – anniversary gift
pendants – Tadao 1 medium point top concrete pendants, Beacon Lighting
stools – Tolix in white, Outlet Homewares
Hahnii snake plant in grey pot – Masters

gold coast ikea kitchen after 19

gold coast ikea kitchen after 20

Jess & Tim, thank you for sharing the story of your kitchen remodel so candidly and so thoroughly! DIY novices? You could have fooled me.

OH MY WOW. I am having a hard time wrapping my head around this amazing renovation. I love that they had the forethought to knock down those walls and flip the kitchen’s layout. It completely opened up the space. The kitchen looks as if it’s been this way all along. Jess & Tim make it look easy, but committing to a minimal design and limited palette requires restraint. And the attention to detail is flawless: the DIY cabinet over the fridge, hexagonal backsplash, concrete pendants, concealed hood, fancy electrical outlets / switches, trimmed out space between the upper cabinets and ceiling. One of my favorite parts is the oak trim above the cooktop and in the doorways. They complement each other so nicely and provide the slightest touch of warmth at eye level. Not to mention, the oak-trimmed doorways are practical. Our drywalled corners have taken a beating from the kids!

As you can see, Jess & Tim’s stellar style doesn’t stop at the kitchen. I’m all over that sofa. It’s further proof that Aussie’s must have an innate sense of style that puts the rest of the world to shame. (No offense, world.) I’m just glad these two are kind enough to share theirs with us and I hope it’s contagious. You can follow Jess & Tim’s renovating adventures over on Jess’s blog here.

I’m off to practice my Aussie lingo (cupboards, bench top, splashback, lounge room – so adorable!) but if you’re in the mood for more Ikea kitchens, check out the rest of this series:

An Ikea Kitchen in Asheville

A (Mostly) Ikea Kitchen in Denver

An Ikea Kitchen in Rural Australia

An Ikea Kitchen in the SF Bay Area

An Ikea Kitchen in Northfield, Minnesota

An Ikea Kitchen in Brooklyn

An Ikea Kitchen in Orange County

An Ikea Kitchen in Texas Hill Country

An Ikea Kitchen in Chesapeake

An Ikea Kitchen in a Barn (in France!)

An Ikea Kitchen in Cape Cod

P.S. – The #HolidayHostess event continues this week with Kelly from Lily Pad Cottage. She recently painted her laundry room navy and it looks fab!

images: Agent Thirty Six

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Want in on a little secret? I decorated for Christmas before Halloween this year. Cue the record scratch.

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For two days in October I pretended it was December. Well, sort of. We normally do a live garland on the mantel and a live tree but those were nowhere to be found pre-Halloween. Mr. Fig was a somewhat believable stand-in. I rummaged through red and green totes in the attic. I saved empty boxes and wrapped fake presents pressies. (My apologies for misspelling the Aussie short form in my previous post. Google can’t be trusted.) I crafted paper dot garlands from glitter paper, a circle punch, hot glue and jute string. I found the cutest little cardboard Christmas tree at JoAnn’s. I rigged two of these paper star lights and one of these in the front window along with a few cheap & easy embroidery hoops turned 90º. Hint: Use fishing line. It’s strong and nearly invisible.

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I was simultaneously working on the kids’ Halloween costumes. My kids were baffled by my Christmas in October antics.

So why all the fuss? In short, Joss & Main asked me to be a part of their holiday campaign and I said yes. Deadlines were involved.

holiday hostess

The long answer? I’m only one of four bloggers participating in the #HolidayHostess campaign now through the end of the year. Each week a different blogger will be featured and you can shop their look via a flash sale. You also get an inside scoop on each blogger’s holiday traditions. Today is the first day of the campaign and I happen to be this week’s hostess. If you’re interested, you can check out the sale here and read about my holiday traditions here. There are some great pieces up for grabs. Act soon! The sale ends 12/9/14.

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In other news, we’re sticking with tradition and buying a live tree again this year. But I’m nervous! How does one go about keeping cute kitties out of Christmas trees?! You all were so helpful when we adopted Cheetah a few months ago. I’d love to hear your tips for surviving the holidays with a tree and kitty intact.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking