...because home doesn't happen overnight.

hallway before 1

I need ideas for our hallway! But first, a story.

A few weeks ago I was introduced to FilterEasy. I hadn’t heard of the company before. FilterEasy is a subscription air filter delivery service. When you sign up, you simply select the number of filters needed, the individual sizes, your preferred level of allergen protection and how often you want to switch them out. FilterEasy does the rest and when it’s time to change, your filter order shows up at your doorstep. No more marking calendars. No more forgetting your filter’s size. No more nasty filters. It’s an ingenious concept.

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When was the last time you changed your air filter? You’re not alone. We’ve changed ours maybe three times in the last three years. Which brings me to this…

In the middle of the night last week our furnace suddenly started making a high-pitched screeching sound. It was not pleasant. Steve took a look at it (as much as someone can “take a look” half asleep at 3 a.m. with a flashlight running on nearly dead batteries) and guessed it was a bad bearing on the fan motor. The next morning we had a local HVAC company come out to confirm his initial diagnosis. Just for kicks, we asked for a quote for the repair. They quoted us >$600! Gulp. Luckily, Steve was able to find the part elsewhere and replace it himself for <$100 in just a few minutes. Whew.

Still, we got to thinking about our furnace. It’s 14 years old and we’d really like to have it around for a while longer. I can think of a million other things I’d rather spend my money on than a new furnace. (Wallpaper for the hallway? Hint, hint.) So we jumped on the FilterEasy bandwagon. Obviously, we haven’t been doing our furnace, our lungs or the environment any favors by skimping on air filters. Steve and I were pleasantly surprised to discover that the cost of the subscription service is actually CHEAPER than buying direct from our local home improvement store. And the filters are made right here in the U.S. by the same manufacturer that provides filters to hospitals and NASA. Really, it’s a no-brainer, folks. Act fast! The first 100 readers to sign up here will receive their first order for FREE!

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filtereasy 3

Now we have no excuse not to change our filter on time, every time. It’s as simple as opening a box and replacing the old with the new. (Is it just me or am I the only one who is overly excited to see where all the bloggers’ furnaces are? It seems like such a personal thing. It’s like getting a peek at their closet or something.)

hallway before 2

So, back to the hallway. The new, clean air filter is the most exciting thing here. Just look at how bored Cheetah is. She can’t even keep her eyes open. It’s a complete snooze fest and I’m ready to do something about it.

hallway before 3

The hallway is narrow and riddled with doors. A short hall jaunts off to the left at the bottom of the image. You can see the door to a small linen closet and at the end of the tangent hall is the main bathroom. My biggest problem with the main hallway is that it dead-ends into a closet door. Boo. In an effort to spruce up the space, I’m considering wallpaper.

Usually, I’m not a wallpaper person. (I thought I wasn’t a cat person either and we all know what happened there.) But I kinda want to go for it. It’s just a hallway, right? It’s not an entire room. And it might be just the oomph! this hallway needs.

hallway brainstorm

I’ve been scouring wallpaper sources, and I’ve fallen hard for this Eskayel grayscale pattern but I’m not sure about the scale. The kids said it looks like “grandma wallpaper.”

hygge & west pajarito

I’m also digging this Hygge & West pattern.

Beware the Moon

And I’ve admired this ostrich motif for years.

To tone down the busyness (and save money on wallpaper), I’m thinking of DIYing a wainscoting but I can’t decide if that would be appropriate for our house and / or if it will only chop up the hallway even more. I go back and forth. As far as the dead-end door goes, I’m hoping the wallpaper will distract the eye. If not, I’ve considered painting the door black or hanging coat hooks on it.

Anyway, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts! Sometimes it helps to have an outsider’s eye. What would you do if this were your hallway? Wallpaper? Wainscoting? Gallery display? Any wallpaper sources you’d like to pass along?

Thanks in advance and don’t forget to show your furnace some FREE love!

*This post sponsored in part by FilterEasy. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog! FilterEasy offers any size custom or 4” filter if necessary. Just email hello@filtereasy.com and mention HOUSETWEAKING.

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!

LA Ikea kitchen before 1

LA ikea kitchen before 2

Two years ago Eden and her husband purchased an outdated ranch in Los Angeles and immediately set to work making it their own. The original kitchen featured nondescript cabinetry in a cramped “U” layout and tiled countertops. A bank of upper cabinets suspended above a peninsula closed off the kitchen even more and blocked sight lines into the adjoining dining space. On a tight budget and an even tighter schedule, the new homeowners used Ikea cabinets to transform the kitchen into a bright, open space. I asked Eden several questions about the remodel. Find her answers and the happy “afters” below.

LA ikea kitchen after 1

Which items in your kitchen hail from Ikea?

All of the cabinetry and the farmhouse sink are from Ikea.

What made you decide to source these items from Ikea?

When we bought our home there was so much work to do that we had to stick within a pretty reasonable budget on the kitchen remodel. We had heard that Ikea’s cabinets were surprisingly good quality and the hinges and hardware are some of the best.

LA ikea kitchen after 2

Who designed your kitchen?

We had a contractor help us design our kitchen using the Ikea layout software they have in the store. I was going for a very clean and open café aesthetic. I knew I didn’t want upper cabinets because you wouldn’t see those in a café. Forgoing them also made the space light and airy rather than closed in. I wanted a good mix of masculine and feminine, so I went with brushed metal hardware.

LA ikea kitchen progress

LA ikea kitchen progress

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 himself and then we had our contractor install them. It was his first time putting in an Ikea kitchen so it was a learning process for all of us. As expected, we had to make some adjustments to compensate for our old, uneven floors.

LA ikea kitchen after 6

LA ikea kitchen after 5

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

I feel like with everything in life a mix of high and low quality is always good and works well. I knew I would need to spend a little extra on knobs and pulls to dress up the Ikea cabinets so I ordered them from Restoration Hardware. The lights above the island are from RH as well. For the countertops, I chose a honed marble in a natural beige color. The wall behind the range is tiled with subway tile, which is actually pretty inexpensive and looks beautiful. We also bought all of our appliances from Sears. The GE café range is my favorite!

LA ikea kitchen after 8

How long was it from design to the final product?

After we closed on our house we had one month to stay in our apartment and remodel the house. We had to do all of the floors throughout the house which entailed leveling out the kitchen and dining area flooring. We also smoothed out every inch of the walls and ceilings because they were covered in thick, textured plaster from the 80’s! And then we started on the kitchen. So it was about 6 weeks from start to finish.

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

It will be two years this June that we’ve had our Ikea kitchen and it’s actually been great! For the price and everything we really don’t have many complaints. There are small issues like the Lazy Susan being incredibly squeaky (I think that’s due to the flour bags I put on it) and a little chipping on the bottom molding. Other than that we’re super happy!

LA ikea kitchen after 7

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

I love the open and clean feel and how white it is. I always wanted a white kitchen. That way I can add color and décor through furniture and accents. I also adore the layout of our kitchen. There is easy access from the sink, to the stove, then to the fridge which is nice. I can’t think of a least favorite!

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

Yes, I would! I think Ikea is a wonderful option for those looking to revamp their kitchen on a budget. Our 80’s kitchen had to go. We worked with the budget we had but still managed to make a dramatic change. I would highly recommend the farm sink too. It was only $200 and it’s big and beautiful with amazing quality!

Would you consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel?

I definitely would. I’ve also heard about a company, Semihandmade, that creates doors, panels and drawer fronts to attach to Ikea cabinets. I didn’t know about them at the time we did the remodel, but I would consider using them in conjunction with Ikea frames.

Resources of note:

wall paint – mirage white, Behr
cabinets – AKURUM frames and ADEL doors & fronts, Ikea
sink – Ikea
countertops – honed marble in earthy beige
hardware – Lugarno in oil-rubbed bronze, Restoration Hardware
pendant lights above island – Restoration Hardware
floors – real oak hardwood, Early American stain
range – GE café range

LA ikea kitchen after 11

LA ikea kitchen after 9

Thank you Eden for sharing your kitchen! I can’t believe the difference between the “befores” and “afters.” And in only six weeks?! Bravo.

Okay readers, what caught your eye? I’m digging the airy vibe. Ripping out the peninsula and view-blocking upper cabinets completely opened up the space. The view from the kitchen to the dining room is amazing. Did you notice the doorway to the living room (near the range) was moved over to provide wall space for the refrigerator, pantry and additional countertop space? That was such a smart move. Losing most of the upper cabinets and tiling the range wall floor-to-ceiling are in line with Eden’s preferred café aesthetic. But my favorite? I absolutely love the little sitting area between the kitchen and dining room. The leather aviator chairs, open shelving and vintage stools feel so homey and inviting. I can just picture guests gathering and lingering there when Eden entertains. Little details like that make the space feel less clinical, more cozy. Be sure to check out Eden’s blog, Sugar and Charm, for all things charming!

Want more kitchen inspiration? See more Ikea kitchens right here:

An Ikea Kitchen on Australia’s Gold Coast

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

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: Eden Passante

exterior spring 2014

We’ve touched nearly every inch of this house and the biggest projects are behind us. Still, there are several projects left on our to-do list. Here they are in no particular order:

THD attic

*spruce up the hallway. I’ve always wanted this hallway to be more than just a pass-through. It’s narrow and riddled with doors, but I have a few ideas.

*create an interactive side panel on the exposed side of the refrigerator. I don’t know if we have enough room to do this, but it would be great to disguise the side of the fridge in a useful way.

*create a wrapping station. I keep a few boxes and rolls of paper in a cabinet at the kitchen desk but it would be nice to have a designated area for quick wrapping sessions.

toddler transition 2

*transition the nursery to a big kid room. I’m in no rush to do this, but eventually I will need to reassess our needs in Mabrey’s room. A trundle for extra sleeping space is a must.

*replace the mailbox. The door doesn’t shut properly and the post has seen better days. I’ve had my eye on these midcentury-inspired ones ever since they were in the Kickstarter phase.

*install a discreet clothesline. I love hanging clothes and linens outside to dry but I need more space! Currently, I have a single drying rack and that just isn’t cutting it.

*organize the garage. It’s a mess from standing in as our workshop over the last 3 years.

*build a screen / vertical garden to hide the electric meter on the back of the house. I’ve been wanting an excuse to try these.

*build a screen to hide the outdoor trash / recycling bins. We like the look of this one.

dining patio

*install a trio of overlapping shade sails to shade the backyard deck and patios. We had a local company come out last summer to give us an estimate for this project. The quote was more than we were willing to spend. We think we’ll do some of the work ourselves to save money. We like the vibe of this outdoor space.

*plant a tree in the front yard. To make up for all the dead ones we removed.

*build a raised bed garden or two. Alison is my green thumb hero.

*incorporate a rain barrel. And use it.

*start composting. This tutorial for a tumbling composter doesn’t look too terribly difficult. Any tips for someone new to composting?

driveway after 1

This is a random pipe dream and one that might not ever make it to fruition just because we aren’t sold on it. It isn’t entirely necessary and we aren’t sure it’s worth investing in for this property but…

*build a sizable outbuilding at the end of the driveway and convert the attached garage to a flex / rec room. Like I said, pipe dream. We may decide to save our time and money for something else that makes more sense for our family.

That’s all I can think of at the moment! We don’t have deadlines for any these (some of them won’t happen this year) but it would be nice to tackle some of the outdoor projects this spring / summer while the weather is nice. If not, we have to wait a whole ‘nother year. We’d love to knock out the shade sails so we can enjoy them. And it would be nice to park at least one car in the garage. I’ll keep you posted.

What projects are on your never-ending to-do list?

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking