...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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!

boston ikea kitchen before 1

boston ikea kitchen before 2

boston ikea kitchen before 3

Lauren, along with her husband and one-year-old daughter, moved from New Jersey to just outside of Boston in May of 2014. In the process, the family bought an older Cape Cod. Lauren admits the kitchen wasn’t horrible but it was dark and closed off from the rest of the first floor. Even though it boasted many cabinets, actual usable cabinet space was minimal. The young family craved more natural light, more countertop space and a layout more conducive to gathering and entertaining. To achieve their kitchen goals, they opted to remove walls (one of which was load-bearing) that separated the kitchen from the living and dining rooms and to utilize Ikea cabinetry from the new SEKTION line. Lauren was happy to share more about the renovation with me (shortly after giving birth to baby #2 no less!). Find her interview and the inspiring results below!

boston ikea kitchen

boston ikea kitchen

Which items in your kitchen hail from Ikea?

Our cabinet bases, drawer and door fronts, integrated dishwasher, vent hood and interior organizers are all from Ikea.

What made you decide to source these items from Ikea?

We had been eyeing Ikea’s kitchen options for almost a year after reading great reviews about them on blogs (like yours!) and interior design websites. We didn’t personally know anyone that had installed an Ikea kitchen but we were confident in the feedback we had read online and in the 25-year warranty. We looked into custom cabinetry but the price was far out of our budget. Plus, we really like the simple, modern aesthetic that Ikea offers with their modular system.

boston ikea kitchen progress 1

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

Our kitchen redesign was actually part of a larger project to open up the first floor of our home. The original layout was choppy with small, dark rooms. When we purchased our home, one of the first things we promised ourselves we would do was take down a large load-bearing wall that separated the kitchen from the living space.

boston ikea kitchen

Once we had a general idea of what we wanted, we turned to the online Ikea kitchen designer to plan out a few different layout options. Then we chose the layout we thought would work best for our lifestyle. I had a folder of photos for inspiration. Ultimately, we wanted a kitchen with clean lines, a minimalistic vibe and classic features that we would love for years to come.

boston ikea kitchen progress 2

boston ikea kitchen progress 3

boston ikea kitchen progress 4

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 over the course of two weeks. Our entire basement was filled with Ikea boxes. At first sight it felt daunting but, once the first few cabinets were completed, the process went fairly quickly and smoothly. The actual cabinet installation was completed by my father and his business partner who are general contractors in New Hampshire. Although I like to tell people that I was the project manager, they truly spearheaded the entire renovation process from taking down the load-bearing wall and patching in the hardwood floors to all of the finish work that was done to give the kitchen a custom, built-in look.

boston ikea kitchen

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

Our previous home had a tiny kitchen with hardly any counter space which never allowed us to use the area as a gathering space for holidays or parties. We knew that a large island would give us the extra space we wanted and we made it a top priority. We wanted a unique look for the island so we purchased shiplap pine boards and hand-distressed them with steel wool using a a mixture of coffee grounds and vinegar. Our garage smelled for a few days but the finished product came out better than we even imagined!

boston ikea kitchen

boston ikea kitchen

For the rest of the design, we chose a mix of high and low to achieve the aesthetic we wanted. We used honed marble for both the island and the back run of countertops. The drawer pulls and backsplash are off-the-shelf items from Home Depot. The wine racks integrated into the dining room pantry are from CB2. Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. has always been a favorite source of mine. Being able to purchase both the sink and dining fixtures from Schoolhouse was a dream come true and really brought all of the different areas within the open concept together. Lastly, my father recommended using wood (color-matched to the gray cabinets) for the toe kicks and filler pieces in place of the flimsy offerings from Ikea. He also sourced thick pieces of pine for the open shelving.

boston ikea kitchen

How long was it from design to the final product?

We started the design process back in November of 2014 based on the previous (now discontinued) AKURUM cabinet system. When we found out Ikea would be launching the new SEKTION system with some great upgrades in early 2015, we decided to wait it out. We purchased the cabinets in February 2015 during one of the kitchen sales. The kitchen was completed by mid-April of 2015.

boston ikea kitchen

boston ikea kitchen

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

It’s only been about six months but, so far, we love everything about our kitchen. It functions so much better than the old kitchen. Little things like the soft-closing hinges and spacious drawers (instead of cabinets) really make it feel high-end. Everyone who sees our kitchen can’t believe the cabinets are Ikea!

boston ikea kitchen

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

By far, my husband’s favorite feature is the large 7′ x 3′ island. It gives us so much space to spread out and entertain. I love the new open concept design but, most of all, I adore the white subway tiles with contrasting grout. They make me smile each morning when I see them and reflect an enormous amount of light into the space. We don’t really have a least favorite aspect but the drawer front on the trash pull-out doesn’t line up with the other drawer fronts when closed. It drives us crazy.

Would you recommend Ikea as a source for a kitchen remodel?

Absolutely! We got the exact look and feel we wanted for a fraction of the cost. Our kitchen still looks high-end to us even though it was budget-friendly, and cooking in it is so much more fun!

Would you consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel?

If we get the opportunity to renovate another kitchen, Ikea will definitely be tops on our list of sources.

Resources of note:

wall paint – almost gray by Benjamin Moore
flooring – Home Depot
cabinets, drawer fronts & doors, interior organization – Ikea
countertops – honed danby marble from Montes Marble & Granite
hardware – Home Depot
sink – blanco granite composite, Amazon
integrated dishwasher – Whirlpool, Ikea
range hood – Ikea
gas range – Samsung
refrigerator – Frigidaire
backsplash tile & grout – Home Depot
counter stools – Target
pendants over island – West Elm (spray painted black)
brass sink light – Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co.
dining room pendant – Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co.
faucet – Moen
soap dispenser – Kohler
wine racks – CB2

boston ikea kitchen

boston ikea kitchen

Thank you Lauren for sharing your kitchen! I love your style. I hope baby #2 is treating you well ;)

Okay readers, what are you taking away from this one? The mix of gray cabinetry, honed marble, subway tile and wood accents has such a natural, organic vibe. I love it! Knocking down walls (especially load-bearing ones) can be intimidating but I’m so glad Lauren and her husband were gutsy enough to do it here. It completely opened up the main living space to suit their casual lifestyle and gave them more possibilities when it came to reconfiguring the kitchen. Speaking of reconfiguring kitchens…did you notice the lack of upper cabinetry in the finished product? It gives the room a lighter feel and allows the tiled wall to take center stage. To make up for lost upper storage, the couple incorporated an island and pantry (in the adjacent dining area) with drawers and cabinets galore. (Psssst…the microwave is hidden in a pantry cabinet outfitted with an electrical outlet.) It’s such a good balance of form + function. My absolute favorite thing(s) about this kitchen are all the little DIY touches that keep it from feeling generic and falling flat. The spray painted globe lights, the vinegar + coffee-treated wood planks on the island (genius, btw!) and the pine shelves go a long way in adding interest to the space by providing warmth and breaking up matching materials. So inspiring!

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!

images: Lauren Santagate

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!

MCM family master bath before 1

MCM family master bath before 2

MCM family master bath before 4

MCM family master bath before 3

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.

MCM family master bath progress 1

MCM family master bath progress 2

MCM family master bath progress 3

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.

MCM spa bath 1

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.

MCM spa bath 3

MCM spa bath 2

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.

MCM spa bath 5

MCM spa bath 9

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.

MCM spa bath 8

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.

MCM spa bath 6

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

MCM spa bath 10

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!

MCM spa bath 4

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.)

epic rug fail 11

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.

epic rug fail 4

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

epic rug fail collage

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!

epic rug fail 7

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.

epic rug fail 13

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 ;)

epic rug fail 9

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.

epic rug fail 10

epic rug fail 14

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