...because home doesn't happen overnight.
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!
Isadora has lived in cities all over the world (i.e., New York, Paris, London, Rome, Sydney and LA to name a few) but one of her biggest adventures has been gutting an old house and turning it into her young family’s dream home. When it came to the 1953 kitchen, Isadora and her husband made gutsy structural changes for a big impact. After receiving disappointing results with cabinet refacing and mid-grade custom cabinetry in two previous homes, Isadora chose Ikea cabinetry for her current kitchen. I asked Isadora several questions about the remodel. Find her answers and the “that can’t be Ikea!” kitchen below.
Which items in your kitchen hail from Ikea?
When designing our kitchen, I decided fairly early on that I wanted as many elements from Ikea so we could maximize the savings during their 20% off sale. We bought our cabinets, doors, drawer fronts, countertops and drawer organizers from Ikea. I considered getting the appliances there as well but they had discontinued their 36” professional style range. So, I bought my appliances elsewhere.
What made you decide to source these items from Ikea?
In our first house we had our cabinets refaced, which was the cheapest option, but was still not as cheap as you might think. In our last house we did a kitchen remodel and had mid-grade custom cabinetry. After a few years, you could really see the wear and tear. I decided then and there that our next kitchen would be an Ikea kitchen. My thought was I could easily freshen it up by just going down to the store, getting new doors and changing them out ourselves since all of the sizes are standard.
Who designed your kitchen?
I planned out the kitchen using the Ikea kitchen planner software and spent many evenings working out how to best optimize the space. Going against the advice of our realtor and contractor, I removed the window above the original sink. For the way we live, wall storage took precedence over the window.
To compensate for the loss of the window, we removed a wall which brought in lots of natural light from adjacent rooms.
I reviewed the design in-store and made a few changes based on the employees’ knowledge of the cabinets. The one frustration I had was the corner next to the glass front cabinets. There were no good options for an upper corner cabinet. I didn’t want an angled corner; I wanted a square corner. Ultimately, I had to override Ikea’s recommendations and go with a blind corner to get the glass front cabinets and square corner that I wanted.
Did you assemble and install all Ikea kitchen components yourself? If not, what did you seek help with?
We had a crew of workers at the house already working on every room of the house since the house had been taken down to the studs. We had the crew assemble the cabinets. That being said, if we had only been working on the kitchen, we would have put the cabinets together ourselves. Over the years, we have built countless Ikea units and assembling kitchen cabinets is manageable. I’ve found that the key is to take your time with the instructions the first time around, then subsequent cabinets are a breeze. Installing countertops is another matter and under no circumstance would we have attempted something like that on our own.
How did you customize your Ikea kitchen to suit your needs and preferred aesthetic?
The profile of the door we chose is a little more traditional than I would have normally chosen for a mid-century house. But I really wanted an all wood door and this door was the only one that came in all wood at the time of purchase. Having had experiences with foil finishes buckling and veneers peeling, I knew this was something I wanted to avoid in such a high traffic area. An all wood door resolved those issues for me.
To personalize the design, I chose the bridge faucet from the Hansgrohe Axor Montreux collection and paired it with Hickory Hardware’s Cottage Collection knobs and pulls. The countertop was the nougat quartz from Ikea so I wanted the backsplash to be special. If I could have afforded a Calcutta marble mosaic I would have done that but that material is so expensive! In the end, I went with an Arabescato marble which is warmer than your standard Carrara marble and, in my opinion, the extra warmth works better with the nougat quartz.
Customizing the glass front cabinets with mirrored backs has also made a huge difference since we closed up a window in that spot. Everyone who comes to the house always tells me how much they love the mirrors in the cabinets. It’s a simple customization that made a big impact.
How long was it from design to the final product?
I don’t really have a good answer to this question since the kitchen was just one aspect of the overall remodel. I ordered the cabinets during the sale but they sat in storage until we were ready to install. I wanted to take full advantage of the sale!
How long have you lived with your Ikea kitchen? Have you encountered any problems?
We’ve had our kitchen for a year and love it. So far, the only problem we’ve encountered is the amount (lack) of storage. Though our kitchen is not small, it is actually not that big – roughly 11’ x 13’. Finding places to fit everything has been a challenge. But that probably means we should have less stuff.
What is your favorite thing about your kitchen? Least favorite?
I love how much counter space we have. It’s perfect for having the kids next to me, helping to prepare their favorite cookies. As for my least favorite thing…I wasn’t able to incorporate a good place for spices so the spice arrangement could definitely be better. I’m still looking for a good solution.
Would you recommend Ikea as a source for a kitchen remodel? If so, which items?
Absolutely! This was our first Ikea kitchen and we have not been disappointed. However, I can’t speak for Ikea appliances since we don’t own any.
Would you consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel?
Definitely! In fact, we used Ikea kitchen cabinets in our laundry room and it turned out great.
Resources of note:
backsplash – 1” x 3” arabescato stacked honed mosaic
faucet – HansGrohe Axor Montreux
pendants – industrial globe light from Shades of Light
range – Verona 5 burner
fridge – LG counter depth French door fridge
dishwasher – LG (all appliances were bought during a Thanksgiving sale to save money)
Thank you, Isadora, for sharing your kitchen remodel!
What a transformation, right?! I love that Isadora went with her gut on the window removal to create a space that works best for her family. By taking down a wall, hanging glass front cabinets and using reflective mirrors, Isadora managed to amplify the natural light in the room. (Fun fact: the mirrors came from the home’s lower level which once housed a dance studio. How resourceful!) High end appliances and special features – like the marble backsplash, bridge faucet and mirrored cabinets – give this Ikea kitchen an elegant and timeless look. You can read more about Isadora’s kitchen right here and see all of the family’s remodeling adventures over on her blog.
If you’re in the mood for more Ikea kitchens, check out the rest of this series:
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
And if you have an Ikea kitchen (it doesn’t have to be 100% Ikea) that you would be willing to share on House*Tweaking, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
P.S. – Thanks to everyone who has already submitted an Ikea kitchen. I really, really, REALLY appreciate the time and effort you’ve put into bringing these posts to fruition. I have a slew of Ikea kitchens sitting in my inbox waiting to be featured. I apologize for the lapse in time between submission and the post going live. I’m buried in Ikea kitchens – in a good way! Keep ‘em comin’!
images: Re:Located Living
It’s been over two months since I shared my childhood clubhouse and my plans for perking it up for my kids and their cousins. It took several sporadic weekends, a lot of elbow grease and numerous car loads but the clubhouse is finished! For now.
You can see the “before” here but this post is all “after”, baby. My apologies in advance for the massive photo onslaught you are about to endure. It was a sentimental project and I had a hard time choosing my favorites. Enjoy!
I didn’t do much of anything to the exterior. Some people probably think I went about this bass ackwards but I’d rather wait and see how much the kids use the clubhouse before I invest in luxuries like windows, a legit door, exterior stain, etc. I could easily sink a grand into this structure but I’m trying to be somewhat practical here. (It isn’t easy.) So a pair of hammock chair swings it is!
My dad suggested hanging them from old springs he had so I did that. You can bounce or swing or…swounce? And once you get in, you don’t want to get out. They cradle you like a baby. Btw, that’s my niece, Lillian. She lives in Texas but was visiting for the month of July so she got to help me work on the clubhouse. She was so excited!
Steve geeked out and put his engineering skills to work by rigging up a dumbwaiter. It was a hit with the kids. It also came in handy when I was loading the clubhouse. The cots wouldn’t fit through the trap door so I hooked them to the dumbwaiter and lifted them over the porch railing.
I didn’t even bother to paint the scrap boards supporting the pulley. It’s just a clubhouse, right?
The clubhouse is all about nature. You’re surrounded by nothing but trees and sky. So inside, I kept things really simple to keep the focus on the outdoors. My initial instinct was to paint the interior white. But once I started cleaning up to prep for paint, it became evident pretty quickly that something closer to the color of dirt would work better. I chose a gray-green hue and never looked back. I really liked the weathered patina of the ceiling so I left it untouched.
Everett and my sister, Alina, helped me paint the first coat. I got a little emotional thinking about the three of us working together to revive a place my sister and I had once played in. I may have said something sappy about things coming full circle. I think too much when I paint.
I repurposed a closet shelf from our own home’s renovation. Steve cut it down and installed three brackets to support it under the window. I didn’t bother to paint it. Again, it’s just a clubhouse, right? I kinda like the scuffed up paint anyway.
The shelf is a makeshift nightstand of sorts. It’s perfect for books, nature journals and a pair of solar-powered cone lamps. I created a tic tac toe board out of washi tape and wood craft letters.
Two folding cots flank the shelf. They’re comfortable for cots, I guess. The kids LOVE them. They fold up so I can stash them in a corner away from the elements when we aren’t using them. In the winter, I’ll store them elsewhere.
Net canopies are my attempt at preventing mosquitos from eating my children and nieces. They were super easy to assemble and hang. The ring at the top is flexible plastic – not wood – which allowed it to be packaged efficiently. Genius.
Rocks and wildflowers from our nature walks are on display. I found the Ball jar in my dad’s barn. It reminds me of my mom canning beans from our garden in the summer when I was a kid. Once you hear the whistle of a pressure cooker, you never forget it!
I had fun with with paint on the other side of the room.
I upcycled a large canvas that once lived in Everett’s nursery in our previous house. I had originally painted a leaf motif on it for the nursery but I wanted something bold and simple that would pop against the gray-green walls of the clubhouse. I had a flashback of sitting on the living room floor and watching M*A*S*H reruns with my dad on our boxy console TV. The red cross spoke to me so I painted one on the canvas using leftover paint.
I stole some linens and pillows from the boys’ bedroom (don’t worry, I replaced them with something else) for the cots. The army drab blankets are another nod to the clubhouse-meets-M*A*S*H theme. They’re surprisingly soft – not itchy at all. When we aren’t visiting, I stash the bedding in a plastic tote.
The kids had fun scouring the woods for the perfect walking sticks. I painted a few bands of color around them then propped them in the corner. They feel more like art than hiking gear. The boys think they’re way cool.
Near the entrance I painted a sliver of wall in chalkboard paint to encourage graffiti. You might remember seeing my sisters’ and their friends’ original graffiti in the “befores”. Most of it was inappropriate (Everett asked me several times what a jackass was while we were painting) but I didn’t have the heart to wipe it out completely so I left one harmless message uncovered. A small tin bucket holds chalk.
A soft cooler hangs from a hook on the other side of the doorway. It’s great for snacks and bottles of water.
A few more candid shots…
I moved them for some of the shots but there are plastic storage totes under each cot.
They hold games, books, journals, etc. Many of the books were Steve’s or his dad’s when they were little. I’m kicking myself for not getting a shot of the kids playing Monopoly on the floor. There’s plenty of room between the two beds for playing or laying out a sleeping bag.
I told Everett to “act completely normal.” You guys, THIS IS HIS NORMAL. He is hilarious.
My bookworm. Layne zones out when he’s reading. I bet he didn’t even know I took this picture.
Funny story. I started taking pictures for the reveal and didn’t realize until about halfway through that Everett had written “butt cheeks” on the chalkboard wall. I had to erase it and start all over. I told you he was hilarious.
Some reactions to the finished clubhouse:
Lillian: I like that there aren’t a bunch of decorations and that it’s not just for little kids or boys.
Layne: I think it needs a generator and a mini fridge.
Everett: Butt cheeks.
Mabrey: (Nada. Too busy eating chalk.)
my dad: Looks nice. Reminds me of M*A*S*H. (No joke. That was totally unprompted.)
Personally, I kinda want to move in. And if the kids use it enough, I might be tempted to give the exterior more attention.
I’d love to know what you think of the clubhouse. Any playhouse projects going on at your place? Any M*A*S*H fans out there?
Resources of note:
hammock chairs – Wayfair*
pulley, bucket, rope, tie-off – Ace Hardware
wall paint – Martha Stewart flagstone mixed in Glidden exterior paint, semigloss
shelf brackets – Home Depot
washi tape, wood letters – JoAnn’s
solar-powered lamps – Ikea
steel folding cots – Wayfair*
mosquito net canopies – Overstock
army blankets – ebay
wall hook – Home Depot
soft cooler – Wayfair*
*This project was completed in collaboration with Wayfair. Items denoted with an asterisk were kindly donated to the project. You can see side-by-side before-and-afters right here. All images, content and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.*
Congrats to Jessica who isn’t a jewelry girl, per se, but loves the skylight disc pendant!
Do you display your jewelry at home?
I have a porcelain egg crate on my nightstand. I use it to corral my favorite pieces.
It also makes a great dumping zone for my everyday studs, wedding band and hair elastic at the end of the day when I’m crawling into bed.
I recently added a jewelry tree to the top of the dresser. I love the simple, modern design. (It was an etsy find.) I had been stashing the majority of my jewelry in plastic sandwich bags in a drawer and, as a result, it wasn’t getting much wear time. I’m hoping that by displaying everything in plain sight maybe I’ll be more inclined to wear pieces I haven’t worn in years.
The top tier is perfect for watches, bracelets and dangly earrings. The bottom tier holds necklaces galore. I was a little worried about the display looking too busy (I tend to like things uncluttered) but I think it looks so pretty!
A trio of wood dot hooks is another fun way to display jewelry. I hung these in Mabrey’s room just this week. At two years old, she’s a little young for jewelry yet, but maybe she’ll use these to display her baubles some day. (For now, I hang her towel, sleep sack and favorite tutu from the hooks.)
My jewelry is a mix of high and low. The red triangle choker was a flea market find. It’s very Wilma Flintstone, no? In general, I’m drawn to beaded necklaces and bracelets with a few special pieces thrown in.
Speaking of special pieces…Gemvara sent me this skylight disc gem pendant to share. A small black diamond eclipses the gold disc and it’s just about the cutest thing ever. This is going to sound far-fetched and cliché but the pendant makes me think that no matter how big our problems (the black diamond) might seem, in the grand scheme of things (the gold disc) they’re just a blip. I like that this necklace can be dressed up or down. It’s perfect for day or night.
For years, I swore off gold jewelry but I’m having a big love affair with it at the moment. If black diamonds and gold metal aren’t your thing, no worries. Gemvara jewelry is customizable in over 20 different natural gemstones and 9 precious metals. (You just click on your preferred gemstone and metal then the site generates an image of your selections so you know exactly what to expect.) There’s no inventory. Each piece is handcrafted in the U.S.A. and shipping is always free. If something doesn’t fit (or she says no – AH!), you have 101 days to return all items – even engraved pieces.
Does all this talk about jewelry have you itching to get your bling on? Yes? Then keep reading because Gemvara is giving away a $1,000 credit to their site! See more dazzling pieces and find the giveaway entry details below.
gemstones by the yard stud earrings // zoe band // roxanne band // cecelia ring // emerald isle ring // gemstones by the yard solitaire necklace // gem wire earrings
PRIZE: one $1,000 credit to Gemvara
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: Click here, sign up for email, then link to your favorite Gemvara piece in the comments section below.
DEADLINE: Enter before Thursday, August 7th at 9:00 p.m. EST. One random winner will be announced Saturday, August 9th.
BUT, WAIT!, THERE’S MORE: Score 15% off your Gemvara purchase over the next 72 hours by clicking here. (The discount will automatically apply. No promo code is necessary. Easy!)
Good luck! I hope you win something special.
*This post is sponsored in part by Gemvara. All content and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
Once upon a time our bedroom was a very scary place.
From what we can discern, the previous owner used it as a painting studio. The room was home to dozens of canvases and numerous dressers holding art supplies when we first toured the house. The green shag carpet was horribly stained. One corner of the room showed signs of water damage. (We later learned from neighbors that a tree fell and damaged that corner of the house when Hurricane Ike barreled through in 2008.)
The room faces northeast and receives the least amount of natural light of all the rooms in the house. In the summer (shown here and in the “afters” below), the room takes on an eerie green glow.
An adjoining bathroom – albeit small – was the only thing this room had going for it. Please notice the dark trail from the hallway to the bathroom. (!) I don’t even want to know. Let’s hope it was paint.
We added foam insulation to the exterior walls, ripped up the carpet, sprung for new windows, laid engineered hardwood flooring, installed chunky new baseboards and had the electrical upgraded to include a ceiling fixture. Among other things. Choosing a paint color for this room proved difficult. Before moving in, we painted it the same color as the main living space but the light hue looked very dingy in this room. I repainted the walls a warm gray with green-blue undertones that play nicely in the dim light. Sometimes it looks gray. Sometimes it looks green. Sometimes it looks blue. But it always feels calm and soothing – even under artificial lighting at night.
Placing the bed under the eastern window was our only viable option in this room. I initially bought a curved headboard but the lines were all wrong under the squarish window. I switched it out for the straight, upholstered one seen here.
In each of the bedrooms, we ditched the closet doors in favor of curtain panels hung high and wide. For us, it’s easier to access the closet contents this way. The panels make it feel a little like a dressing experience, too, if that makes any sense. Most of the time, I stand inside the closet to dress. Hanging the curtains outside of the frame gave us a good 6″ of extra closet depth. All of Steve’s and my clothing is in this modest closet. Everything is organized with off-the-shelf wire racks and drawers. We were even able to incorporate two pull-out hampers (one for darks, one for lights) in the closet design. Shoes currently not in rotation are stored in the slim wall cabinet to the right of the closet.
We’ve been pleasantly surprised by how wonderful it is to have a pared down closet. Steve and I both enjoy expressing our styles via our wardrobes and, before living in this house, we were accustomed to large, walk-in closets. What we’ve found though is that we are much more focused on quality vs. quantity when it comes to buying clothing now. We’re spending less money on clothing by buying more long-haul pieces. Since space is limited (we have a set number of hangers and shelves) we subscribe to the “one thing in, one thing out” policy. And the closet is always tidy! Don’t let anyone fool you into believing you need a walk-in closet to be happy.
Matching sconces and nightstands flank the bed. Framed prints bridge the gap between the sconces and the top of the nightstands. We don’t keep too much bedside but I love having greenery (I clip it from the backyard) and a stack of books nearby.
For cohesion, we hung the same woven shades found throughout the house. For privacy, we installed blackout roller shades within each window frame. They aren’t visible until we pull them down at night. A nubby jute rug picks up on the woven blinds.
I tried to keep the bedding gender neutral with a striped duvet and embroidered hemp pillow. IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: I like stripes and natural textures.
A vintage dresser sits opposite the bed. I think it’s my favorite craigslist find of all time. The black and white abstract art was painted by the previous owner. I leaned it against the wall to “try it out” nearly two years ago and liked the casual look so much I left it that way.
We rigged the top dresser drawer so that it’s hinged and can be used as a keyboard pull-out. It’s lined with cork so no mouse pad is needed. The “dresker” is the perfect place for Steve to take evening conference calls or work from home when necessary. I keep a wool blanket in the second drawer for freezing winter nights but the bottom two drawers are empty!
This is the view looking into the bedroom from the doorway. You can barely see the door frame to the bathroom on the left. The large canvas was a controversial DIY. (You can read more about it via a link near the end of this post. There’s an interesting discussion in the comments section.) I love it nonetheless.
It took us every bit of two years to get our bedroom just right. I can still remember the nights of insomnia staring at the ceiling contemplating this room. My goal was to create a peaceful place to retreat at the end of every busy day. I can’t say I won’t tweak things in here ever again but it does offer the calming respite I was hoping for. We sleep well.
Resources of note:
wall paint – Benjamin Moore half moon crest
trim paint – Benjamin Moore white dove
flooring – Jasper engineered hardwood handscraped birch in Texas brown via Build Direct
ceiling fixture – Robert Abbey axis aged brass ceiling light
woven shades – petite rustique from Overstock
blackout roller shades – Levolor from Lowe’s
curtain panels – Ikea
curtain rods – Target
closet organization – ClosetMaid
bed – West Elm (discontinued)
headboard – West Elm nailhead upholstered headboard in brushed heather cotton, gray haze
duvet – DwellStudio draper stripe
white blanket – Target
embroidered pillow – OrientalTribe11 on etsy
sconces – House of Troy addison swing arm lamp in antique brass
nightstands – Vilas one-drawer nightstand from Overstock (I spray painted the knobs gold.)
wood frames – Target
art prints – printwork on etsy
yarn-wrapped gazelle – Target
Barcelona bench – Rove Concepts in palermo caramel leather
sheepskin – Ikea
9′ x 12′ jute rug – Overstock
shoe cabinet – Ikea (I spray painted the knobs gold.)
mirror – RSI from Wayfair
desk chair – West Elm saddle office chair
kilim pillow – Sukan on etsy
chevron art – DIY
dresser – vintage Willett via craigslist
lamp – Robert Abbey delta table lamp
black and white abstract art – estate sale
faux antlers – One Kings Lane
driftwood sculpture – thrifted
If you’re interested in seeing how this room evolved, here are a slew of bedroom-related links:
You can access this master bedroom tour (along with a general house tour and individual room tours) under the “See My House” tab in the side bar. I’ll be adding more rooms in the weeks to come. Thanks for reading!
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking