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

blowing out the candles

What day is it? Ha! I feel like the past week was a total time warp. We returned from vacation to a snow-covered house, continued working on the bathroom, celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary, cheered Everett on in a musical performance (he got to speak into a microphone and now that’s all he wants for Christmas…a microphone) and celebrated my birthday, too. Steve and the kids shooed me out of the house on my birthday. They did the grocery shopping and when I came home dinner was in the oven and a big fat chocolate mousse cake was in the fridge. They gave me handmade cards and sang “Happy Birthday.” It was the best. Really, any day that involves chocolate mousse is the best. Am I right?

More good things…

*Someone in Cincinnati just scored this MCM gem. (Because I know someone will ask, it wasn’t us.)

*I grew up living in a barn house. Inside, it looked like a typical house but the exterior was very much a barn complete with red metal siding and a metal roof. So I’m always intrigued when I come across family homes that resemble barns. Case in point.

*Seeing other homeowners’ freshly painted cabinets never gets old.

*Why minimalist interiors are good for you.

austin home tour

*This house in Austin is my jam.

*A herringbone ceiling.

*550 square feet of whoa! (Totally worth the 13 minutes if you have them to waste.)

Have a good one! I will be sharing details of our vacation along with house-related gift guides over the next week or so. I hope you all have plans to spend time with your friends and family this week!

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Sarah Natsumi

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!

kitchen before 2

Kitchen before

Jon and Jen bought a 1922 bungalow in Asheville, North Carolina, over three years ago. The kitchen was outdated and the layout was jumbled. A refrigerator and washing machine occupied one wall. A freestanding stove occupied another wall. A single wall of cabinetry didn’t provide enough storage. The placement of the dishwasher was inefficient. When opened, it blocked a doorway. In an effort to simplify and streamline the kitchen’s layout without adding square footage, the couple dreamed up a well-appointed galley kitchen. Taking cost, aesthetics and the need for more storage into consideration, they sprung for Ikea cabinetry in a style that works well with the home’s innate character. I asked Jen several questions about the renovation. Find her answers and the cheery “afters” below.



Which items in your kitchen hail from Ikea?

The cabinets, doors, drawer fronts and most of our dishes are all from Ikea. We went with RAMSJÖ doors and drawer fronts in white. They aren’t a solid white. They have more of a white-washed finish. We really like the look in the context of our bungalow.

What made you decide to source these items from Ikea?

My brother and his wife installed an Ikea kitchen in their home about 7 years ago. We watched them go through the entire process and then put it to a daily test – with four kids! When they moved last year, the kitchen still looked new and they didn’t have a single complaint! That was a huge endorsement. My husband (a general contractor) has also had many designers praise Ikea for functionality, price and aesthetics. Finally, we couldn’t beat the price which was really important since we were renovating the entire home and had lots of other places to allocate our savings.

kitchen gutted

kitchen gutted 2

kitchen progress drywall


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

My husband planned the layout and I chose the components. We gutted the kitchen down to the studs and raised the windows so we could fit a row of cabinets and a sink underneath. We also opened up two walls, added a mudroom and relocated a doorway to achieve a galley layout. Jon recessed the full-sized refrigerator a few inches into the wall so it reads counter-depth. We were hoping to achieve a classic cottage / bungalow style that would fit in with our 1922 bungalow home while keeping the original footprint of 10′ x 13′.

ikea boxes assembled

ikea kitchen cabinets up 2

ikea kitchen cabinets up 1

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

My husband and his brother assembled and installed everything with relative ease. They didn’t use the Ikea base cabinet levelers but really liked the wall mounting strips for the upper cabinets.



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

We chose Vermont granite from a local stone fabricator and installed classic subway tile with contrasting grout for the backsplash. The cabinetry hardware, sink, faucet, pendant and appliances are non-Ikea. I think they keep the kitchen from looking like an Ikea display. We painted the kitchen the same color as the rest of the house since each room flows to the next.

How long was it from design to the final product?

Our kitchen was gutted over the 4th of July weekend and done by Labor Day weekend. It was part of a full-time larger scale renovation that also included the only bathroom in the house. Six weeks seems like a very long time when you’re living through it and showering on the back porch. :)

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

Nearly 3 years and not a single issue or complaint so far! We love it!



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

Jon loves the hinges and the drawer slides. He claims they’re even better than many custom cabinets he’s encountered in his line of work. I love that we have TONS of storage in a relatively small space. A close second are the glass front cabinets on the same wall as the double window. Together, they make the kitchen feel light and bright.

Jon has no complaints about the kitchen. The only complaint I have doesn’t concern Ikea. The knobs and pulls (from Pottery Barn) are not aging well at all! The finish started coming off about eight weeks after installation. I tried returning them but I didn’t have the original boxes so it was a no-go. We’re living with them for now.

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

Absolutely! Definitely the cabinets, drawers and door fronts.

Would you consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel?

Yes! In fact, we installed an Ikea kitchen in the apartment we just built over a detached garage behind our house. The apartment is a furnished vacation rental so we definitely wanted an Ikea kitchen to stand up to lots of use.

Resources of note:

cabinets – Ikea
wall paint – Benjamin Moore thundercloud gray
countertop – Vermont granite
backsplash tile – basic white subway tile with pewter grout, both from Lowe’s
sink – Overstock
faucet – Costco
cabinetry hardware – Pottery Barn
appliances – Kenmore dishwasher, microwave, gas range / oven; Samsung french door refrigerator with bottom freezer
recessed can lights – Home Depot
pendant – Allen & Roth, Lowe’s
rugs – RugsUSA



Jon and Jen, thank you for sharing your kitchen renovation story with me and for providing such thorough images of the process!

What a bright and happy lil’ kitchen! It was a huge undertaking, but repositioning and widening the doorways on either side of the kitchen was a game-changer. The galley layout suits the home well, don’t you think? I love the sight lines giving peeks in to the dining room and mudroom. Streamlining the space and painting it the same color as the rest of the main floor created a good flow. And that bit about recessing the fridge? Genius. I ain’t mad at those rugs either. See Jen’s blog for the full house tour. (These two have been busy!)

*BONUS* – Check out Jon and Jen’s newly finished apartment above their detached garage! It includes a tidy Ikea kitchen and is available for rent here. It’s only a $5 Uber ride to downtown Asheville which I hear boasts lots and lots of beer, so there’s that. ;)

If you’re in the mood for more Ikea kitchens, check out the rest of this series:

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

images: Jen Woodward


Congrats to Holly who has her eye on the cozy Harper!

Let’s start this one off with a bit of eye candy, shall we? Feast your eyes on the Asher sectional

Interior Define asher display



When I was sourcing furniture for our home, I did a ton of shopping online. Buying online is really convenient for me because I don’t have to worry about my kids messing up displays, pretending to be ninjas, needing restroom breaks, wandering off or generally wreaking havoc in a store. I like that I can browse and compare prices from the comfort of my own home, on my own time. However, buying a big ticket item sight unseen can be daunting. Some online sources are really good at showcasing their inventory in true to life images and offering upholstery swatches to look over in person. Others are not so great and their images can be misleading. One company that is taking the fear and guesswork out of shopping for furniture online is Interior Define.

interior define

The company offers realistic imagery, complimentary swatches, customizable furniture and quality craftsmanship…all at a price point generally 30%-40% less than comparable retailers. To suit your individual needs and preferred aesthetic, you can choose the size, configuration, material, cushion fill and legs on almost every piece. Most pieces are available in 40-60 different fabrics! You can place custom orders online, via phone or in person at the flagship showroom in Chicago.

interior define giveaway 3

interior define giveaway 4

interior define giveaway 2

When you order swatches, you also receive a product card for each item you’re considering. The front of the card includes an image of the item and the back lists pertinent info such as measurements and design details.

interior define giveaway 1

The swatches and cards come bound together so you can stash them in your bag for reference when you’re out shopping for coordinating accent furniture and accessories in brick and mortar stores. When I’m piecing together a room I find it helpful to carry a small tape measure, pen, notepad and my phone (for pictures of the space I’m working on and potential items).

interior define pillows

Interior Define mainly focuses on sofas and sectionals but be sure to check out their chair and pillow selections as well. They sent me pillow samples to photograph in real life so you could see how the online store images compare. Spot on! And they are super soft to boot.

I’m not in need of any furniture at the moment but I couldn’t stop myself from dreaming up an imaginary living room inspired by some of Interior Define’s pieces. I haven’t shared a mood board in ages so I thought it might be fun to share one today. I was inspired to create a simple, scaled back living room with modern lines, natural wood tones and a comfy vibe. Take a look!

interior define living room


Sources: ceiling light // artwork // Walters sectional in navy // gray linen pillow // wide stripe pillow // kilim pillow // stitch stripe pillow // floor lamp // coffee table // vase // rug // accent table // sconce // chair (currently unavailable) // hanging planter // blanket

Are you inspired to create a look around one of Interior Define’s pieces? How about a store credit to bring your vision to life? Interior Define is offering up $1,000 in store credit! Find entry details below.

If you’re interested in knowing my favorites, I curated a collection of Interior Define pieces right here.

PRIZE: one $1,000 online credit to Interior Define. Credit must be used by 5/1/15 on the purchase of a sofa, sectional or chair in a single purchase. (Sorry, you can’t buy a truckload of pillows. I know. It’s a travesty.) Any returns will be refunded as store credit minus any applicable restocking fee.

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

TO ENTER: Visit Interior Define here and register your email address. Browse the selection then leave a comment on this post linking to your favorite item(s).

DEADLINE: Enter before 9:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, November 27th. One random winner will be announced Friday, November 28th.

BUT, WAIT!, THERE’S MORE: Receive $100 off any order over $1,500 by using the discount code HT100. Offer expires 12/1/14.

Best of luck!

images: 1-3) Interior Define 4-9) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

11.02.14 / Made Me Smile

sunday fun day

Hi all. How was your week / weekend? Did you do any trick-or-treating? Our Halloween was blustery and rainy but it didn’t stop us from partaking in beggar’s night for a few hours. We were shivering and soaked to the core by the time we got home but wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Layne was always one house ahead letting us know what each house was serving. Like we were at a restaurant and he was reading the menu.

“You guys, this house is serving full-sized Snickers!” It was so funny.

Don’t tell anyone but I think Everett was a little scared. It got dark early and he kept asking if he could hold my hand. I didn’t mind ;)

It was Mabrey’s first time trick-or-treating but you would have never known. She caught on quickly. I could see the wheels turning in her head after the first house. So, I walk up to some stranger’s house, ring the doorbell, say trick-or-treat and they give me CANDY? I’m so in. By the end of the night, she had it down to a science. She discovered early on that if she lingered, smiling for an extra 10 seconds after the initial handout, she would score a second handful of loot. Girl is smart.

I’ll never forget my very first beggar’s night as a parent. Layne was about the same age as Mabrey. I gave him the gist (ring doorbell, trick-or-treat, candy, thank you) and we approached the first house. Layne rang the doorbell. A man opened the door. Layne said “trick-or-treat” then walked right in liked he owned the place! The homeowner was like, “Come on in!” We were all dying. I guess I forgot to mention to Layne that we don’t actually go in the houses.

More good stuff…

*A clean closet makes everything better.

*So does a tidy nook.

*A metal roof like no other.

*Tiny houses are a big thing.

*I think I pinned every room in this house.

organic midcentury kitchen

*Love the organic vibe and clever DIY’s in this midcentury remodel.

*A slew of stunning kitchen makeovers. Instant gratification FTW.

*When the weather turns cold, I live vicariously through bloggers in warmer climates. I’m loving Honey and Fizz right now. Especially the fun marquee in the kitchen. Such a cheerful and homey space!

*Busted out my trusty fleece-lined leggings this weekend.

Have a good one! I’m stealing the kids’ chocolate and trying to ignore the time change.

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Kikuko Usuyama