...because home doesn't happen overnight.
The nursery we weren’t expecting…
The before: not a lot to say here. Questionable green carpet, peeling paint, disintegrating baseboards but, LOOK!, a new window! This is the smallest of the three bedrooms (it’s not even 10′ x 10′) but it faces south and receives a good amount of natural light. When we bought the house, we had planned on this being Everett’s room. But a week before we sold our previous house, we discovered we were unexpectedly expecting. Surprise! In an instant, this room became the nursery. Well, not really in an instant. Mabrey was five months old by the time the room resembled anything remotely close to a nursery.
I don’t know about you but my number one goal for a nursery is to make it conducive to sleeping – the more, the better. I chose a deep blue-gray for the walls and Steve thought I was insane. (I was extremely sleep-deprived at the time so it wasn’t much of a stretch.) Once the paint was up on the walls, though, he came around. Somehow, the moody walls made the teeny space feel larger. There’s so much depth to the color, it’s as if the walls recede. It continues to be one of my favorite paint colors in the house.
Along with a good amount of natural light, I used lots of white to brighten the space. I love the contrast. I chose pinks and corals as accents. In keeping with the vibe of the rest of the house, I added hits of texture with layered rugs, a woven shade and seagrass baskets. Since the room is so small, I chose a simple (and inexpensive!) crib that can be converted into a toddler bed. Two years later, I have nothing but good things to say about it. The quilt is a family heirloom. My great-grandmother made it. It was my dad’s when he was a baby then mine. I’ve used it with all three of my kids. It’s starting to show some wear but I think that only adds to its beauty.
I created the art above the crib using an old mirror frame, leftover tongue and groove planks (from our mudroom renovation) and paint. It’s reminiscent of a sunset. It’s secured to the wall with drywall anchors and 3M adhesive strips. Mabrey has never shown an interest in playing with the art but it’s nice to know it’s not going anywhere if she decides to make it her toy. (I know it looks substantial but it weighs less than three pounds.)
The room wouldn’t accommodate an oversized rocker so I chose one with a small footprint. A lumbar pillow and floor pouf (which now lives in the living room) made late night feedings comfortable enough. Luckily, Mabrey was a fast eater so I never spent more than 15-20 minutes in the rocker at a time. Today, it’s where we sit to read nap time and bedtime stories. We’ve made a lot of good memories in that rocker.
A trio of floating shelves holds books, baskets and decorative items without taking up precious floor space. Two fabric bins on the floor corral toys for easy access and cleanup.
A makeshift changing table sits opposite the crib. We’ve had the horizontal bookcase for several years and it has served as a living room console, playroom storage and media stand in our previous residences. It’s so versatile! I added a contoured changing pad, toiletry basket and lamp to give it a completely different function in the nursery. The bins and baskets hold the majority of Mabrey’s clothes and diapers.
Just like in the other bedrooms, I removed the closet door. The door to the room opens up right in front of the closet and it was cumbersome having so many doors (if you can consider two doors “so many”) in such a small space. I hung a curtain panel from a tension rod in the door frame and called it a day.
The closet is super tiny. I put a standing utility shelf in it for extra storage. The closet primarily holds a few hanging items (like dresses, coats and jackets) that are currently in rotation along with hand-me-downs that don’t fit just yet. I keep a laundry basket in the closet and throw in things that are too small as Mabrey outgrows them. When the basket is full, I donate them. It’s a good system. The basket on the floor next to the changing table acts as a hamper.
The curtains framing the window match the one hanging in the closet. The woven shade is mounted outside the window frame while a room-darkening roller shade is mounted out of sight, inside the window frame. The trunk under the window was a wedding gift from my mom. I tweaked an off-the-shelf dollhouse (it originally featured blue and orange accents) because I’m crazy like that. Sometimes we bring it out to the living room to play.
I caught quite a bit of flack in the online world for creating a dark nursery but I don’t regret it one iota. It’s actually a very happy place to play and sleep. I’m pretty sentimental about this room. I never thought we’d have a little girl in our family (and I was content with that) so I’m really grateful for this space and the amazing little person in it. She’s quite the firecracker and I can’t imagine life without her. Also, I’m already brainstorming ideas for a “big girl” room. It probably won’t happen for a year or so but, be warned, it’s coming. And then, technically, I won’t be able to call it a nursery anymore and I will sob. The end.
Resources of note:
wall paint – Benjamin Moore dark pewter
trim paint – Benjamin Moore white dove
flooring – Jasper engineered hardwood handscraped birch in Texas brown via Build Direct
ceiling light – Ikea, discontinued
curtains – West Elm, discontinued
curtain rod – Target
woven shade – petite rustique from Overstock
room-darkening roller shade – Levolor from Lowe’s
dollhouse – Plan Toys terrace dollhouse
trunk – gift
area rug – jute chenille herringbone from West Elm
sheepskin rug – Ikea
floor lamp – gift
crib – GULLIVER from Ikea
organic mattress pad – Amazon
crib sheet – Amazon
crib bumper – Amazon (white version unavailable)
artwork above crib – DIY
quilt – vintage
striped crib pillow – West Elm, discontinued
rocker – Amazon
lumbar pillow – etsy
floating shelves – Ikea
wire book bins – Kroger
various seagrass baskets – Ikea, Kroger
fabric toy bins – Target
resin deer head – White Faux Taxidermy
fabric garland – DIY
wall mirror – Ikea
table lamp – Morten table lamp from West Elm
extra long, contoured changing pad – Amazon
changing table – EXPEDIT from Ikea, discontinued
striped bins – Ikea, discontinued
doll stroller – Land of Nod
In case you haven’t seen enough of this itty bitty room, here are a bunch of links documenting its evolution:
FURNITURE, DECOR & ORGANIZATION
*BONUS* – Mabrey’s birth story.
You can access this nursery 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
Did you happen to see this streamlined family home in the most recent issue of Dwell magazine? The article struck a chord with me. The <700 square foot space belongs to a young family of three – soon to be four. It’s the result of a four-month-long renovation which brought more light and storage and better function and design into the apartment. The use of sliding doors, ample windows and Murphy beds go a long way in making the space feel bright and airy. The execution of a stowaway bunk bed in the children’s room is particularly captivating.
In embracing small space living, the family spent the last year and a half selling off most of their books, furniture and decorative objects.
“It really made us scrutinize what’s important and what we can do without. Rather than being a burden, that has been liberating. We don’t feel weighed down by stuff we don’t need or use.” – David Friedlander, resident
“People usually try to fit their old furnishings into a new space. We fit ourselves into the space.” – Jacqueline Schmidt, resident
In addition to being small, the apartment was also in less-than-perfect condition upon purchase. The poor condition yielded a low price tag which meant the family could afford a complete remodel and a few splurge-worthy materials like wide-planked oak floors.
The kitchen is the perfect marriage of high and low: Ikea cabinets + marble countertops and backsplash.
The bathroom boasts marble tile and a floating vanity. Natural light streams in through the shower window.
You can see more of the family home here. I find it so encouraging! It’s a wonderful example of how living with less can actually be a luxury. Even though our home is about twice the size and we’ve done a fair amount of purging already, I am motivated to edit our belongings even further. Having downsized ourselves, I have to agree: living with less is freeing on so many levels.
Have you ever been inspired to go through your closets after seeing or visiting a smaller home? What one drawer / shelf / closet / room in your home needs a good purge session right now? Our junk drawer and the boys’ closet are calling my name…
images: Matthew Williams for Dwell
Last week I didn’t publish a Made Me Smile post. My grandmother passed away and my heart wasn’t up to the task. So this installment includes two weeks’ worth of smile-worthy links. I hope you find something that inspires you in some way!
*Did you listen to NPR’s TED radio hour, Growing Up, last week? I loved it.
*SHE FOUND HIM.
*Terrible real estate agent photos + hilarious captions = a good way to waste time.
*Be still my organizing, laundry-loving heart.
*My favorite hand soap in bulk refills!
*Such a great mix of old + new in a home with a family history. (The home is also featured in the current family issue of Anthology magazine. So good!)
*A smart and stylish galley kitchen. (Don’t let the initial 30-second ad turn you off. You won’t be disappointed!)
*I’m usually one of the last people to try new apps and tech-y things but the issuu clip is right up my alley. Clipping and pinning directly from the pages of a magazine? Yesssss.
*Patrick Dempsey’s thoughts on being a caretaker of a home (not just an owner) make him even hotter. Trust me, it’s possible.
*Tips for creating a bright kitchen in a basement apartment.
*A house inspired by Tom and Jerry cartoons. Needless to say, it’s a giant indoor playground – for kids and adults!
*It’s National Book Lovers Day! A few on my wish list: Clutterfree with Kids, Tiny House Living, You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap).
What are you up to this weekend? We’re laying low and gearing up for the start of another school year. Here’s to backpacks, jackets, lunch boxes, books and homework overtaking the mudroom once again!
images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Ensemble Architecture
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