...because home doesn't happen overnight.

california-beach-house-portait

That handsome man is Orlando (pronounced or-LON-doh) Soria and he’s quickly climbing to the top of my favorite designers list. I’ve been a fan of Orlando’s for years and I was super excited when he took on the role of West Coast Creative Director at Homepolish last fall. Orlando and the rest of the Homepolish team are doing revolutionary things in the field of interior design!

So about a month ago when the peeps at Homepolish contacted me about a possible collaboration, I didn’t hesitate in saying yes. YES! I had the pleasure of interviewing Orlando and he’s just about the sweetest thing ever. I still can’t believe he took the time to read my questions – let alone answer them. Find my interview with Orlando below then keep reading for details on a giveaway you won’t want to miss.

beach-house-9

There must be some amazing story or unusual meaning behind your name. Do tell.

My mom was reading the Virginia Woolf novel Orlando when she was pregnant with me so I’m kind of named for that character. I have Spanish / Mexican lineage on my father’s side so my parents wanted us to have Hispanic-sounding names so Orlando kind of went with that, too. My middle name is Dumond which is French so I basically have the most racially ambiguous name in the whole world.

rumi-19

Where did you grow up? Can you tell us a little about your childhood? Perhaps something that influences your work today?

I grew up in Yosemite Village which is a community of about 800 people inside Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California. I didn’t really appreciate it growing up but it was pretty much the most incredible place to grow up. Through the window in my childhood bedroom you can see Yosemite Falls which is the tallest waterfall in the U.S. It used to shake and rattle my windowpanes at night.

Growing up where I did made me fall in love with California. My grandparents (on both sides of the family) lived in Steinbeck country (on the outskirts of Salinas, towards Monterey) so I grew up going to Big Sur and Santa Cruz and the central coast all the time. When I moved East for college, grad school, and New York City I missed California incredibly. After ten years I finally moved back and I think a lot of my design sense comes from the romance I had for California while I lived away. I like interiors to feel natural and casual yet beautiful. Kind of like California.

Your dimples…do you use them for good or evil?

LOL! I use them for good. Mostly.

rumi-22

As a designer you’re challenged to cater to clients’ needs and wants but what is your signature “Orlando” touch? Is there an element you include in every project?

I like to have at least one piece in every project that is handmade and unique. This can be art, a hand-painted dresser or some kind of wall treatment. My hope for every client is that they have something no one else has, something that is inspired by their personality.

Dining_Room_004

Is there one rule you like to break when designing a space?

One thing I like to do is break clients from the idea that things need to “match.” My pet peeve is people being like “oh that wood is a different color than the wood over here.” While of course it’s nice to match wood tones, fabrics and other finishes for some projects (i.e. ones that are more streamlined and conceptual) most homes look better with a collection of furnishings that are more real, natural. Thus, it’s fine to mix types of wood, etc. as long as it’s done intentionally.

lahabradip1

You’re the West Coast Creative Director at Homepolish. (YAY!) Can you describe Homepolish’s mission for those folks who haven’t heard of it?

I fell in love with Homepolish the minute I heard about it because it’s striving to change the interior design industry from within. We’ve been around for about two years now and we’ve already revolutionized the markets we’re in. Basically, the goal of Homepolish is to take away the hidden costs and confusion normally associated with interior design and make the whole process more transparent. We don’t up-charge on furniture. We have a program called “swatch” which allows us to share exclusive discounts with clients and all our fees are upfront so there’s no confusion on what things are going to cost. There’s no incentive for designers to recommend super expensive furnishings so they are free to design specifically to the taste of the client. We have a huge range of clients – from small budgets to enormous ones – and they all seem to appreciate that we are most interested in meeting their needs and giving them the space they want, not upselling them on overpriced furniture.

There’s also a huge advantage for the designers who work with Homepolish. We take away the annoying parts of their job (billing, collecting taxes, etc.) and allow them to concentrate fully on designing. Also, we’re helping pair them with great clients and helping them build their portfolios. So not only is our company helping clients attain beautiful homes and enjoy their spaces more, it’s also giving young, well-accomplished designers the tools they need to finally have access to clients and thrive in their design practices.

Homepolish has a presence in more than a dozen major U.S. cities. Are there plans to expand? (Ohio needs you.)

YES! We want to be in EVERY CITY as soon as possible. Since we are getting so much press and doing so well in all the cities we’re already in, we are balancing the need to be responsible with the desire to help as many clients as we can. Eventually we will be a truly nationwide service but for now we are expanding as quickly as we can. Starting up in a new city takes some time because we have an intense (and ridiculously competitive) selection process for our designers to make sure we only have the best talent. So, in short, yes we will be to Ohio as soon as we can!

6ff6ef7a06c27947-unnamed-1

What has been your favorite Homepolish project to date? Why?

Well, the answer to this question changes every day. Right now my favorite project is The Beach House because it’s so different than anything I’ve ever done. (Fact: designers actually like designing for clients that have a style totally different than their own.) I’m sure if you ask me this in a month I will have a different answer. I am working on Kelly Oxford‘s new house right now and when that’s done it’s going to be disgusting(ly amazing).

In design, we’re told everything is better in 3′s. Please respond to the following:

3 things on your bucket list

1. Learn a language other than English. Preferably Spanish because it would be super useful to me in southern California.

2. Buy and renovate a house in California before the whole state falls into the ocean.

3. Own a brownstone in Chelsea before New York falls into the ocean.

3 things every room needs

1. Art. By real people not Urban Outfitters.

2. Rugs. Ever notice that if there’s a rug in a room everyone is hanging out where the rug is and no one wants to be where there is no rug? There’s a reason for that.

3. Lamps. Even if you don’t have anywhere to sit, you need light. Or you’ll get depressed and sad.

3 things you can’t live without

1. Avocados. If a day goes by where I don’t have at least a little serving of avocado I feel like life is not worth living.

2. Knowing where the coast is. It’s true, if I don’t know which direction the ocean is I get disoriented. For this reason, I have never not lived in a coastal state.

3. Light. I have window treatments in my bedroom but they’re just for looks. I never close them because I love having light shining in my windows at all times. When it gets dark and gloomy in the winter, I want to stab myself with a sword.

3 things you like to do outside of interior design

1. California road trips. Ojai, Joshua Tree, Palm Springs, Yosemite, San Francisco, Sonoma County. I love just getting in the car and driving somewhere, just to stare at it and be in love. Living in a car city has its disadvantages but the advantage to having a car is that you can just wake up on Saturday and be like “I’m going to Santa Barbara!” and it’s super easy. We live in a beautiful country, so much to explore. I think our wild areas, our beautiful cities and our amazing parks are our greatest national treasure. Oh my god that’s so cheesy but I totally believe it. Sorry.

2. Art. I paint and make drawings. It’s what I studied in school and I still love it. I also love ogling other people’s art. My favorite place to do this is LACMA, which in my opinion is the most beautiful, relaxing art museum in America.

3. Outdoor movies / concerts / picnics / events. I am down for anything if it’s outside, whether it’s Coachella, Tchaikovsky at the Hollywood Bowl or The Addams Family screening at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. If there’s food, friends, and some kind of entertainment, sign me up!

3 places you’re dying to visit

1. Soria, Spain, where my last name comes from and from where, apparently, our Jewish ancestors fled during the Inquisition.

2. Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Mexico City (I’ve been a huge fan of hers since childhood.)

3. Berlin. Just because it sounds cheap, gross and kind of scary.

3 jobs you’ve held

1. Indie music publicist (first year out of school in New York).

2. Graphic designer (for a great stationery company in Los Angles, Jonathan Wright and Company)

3. Production designer (I worked on a lot of small / indie movies and music videos and photo shoots)

3 traits of a perfect client

1. Decisive. (Because slow decision making is what always leads to lagging projects.)

2. Realistic. (I’m a designer, not a magician. As much as I like to make my clients happy, there are limits to what a certain budget / space can do.)

3. Humble. (I’m down to earth and pretty self-deprecating so I don’t do well with pompous, entitled people).

3 adjectives to describe your personal style

Colorful, artistic, handmade.

chinoiserie-bedroom

Thank you so much Orlando and Homepolish!

Orlando’s answers only make me adore him that much more. I love his reply to three things every room needs. How cool is it that he grew up with a waterfall right outside his bedroom window?! And who knew a SAHM in Ohio could have anything in common with a legit designer in LA? I, too, am a lover of avocados, living in a fish bowl and outdoor shenanigans.

Now about that awesome giveaway…head over to Homepolish to enter to win a pair of brass swing lamps from One Forty Three! Coincidentally, they’re the same lamps flanking Orlando’s bed above. I’ve long admired OFT’s workmanship. Good stuff and good luck, friends!

images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7) Tessa Neustadt 5, 8) Zeke Ruelas 6) Bethany Nauert

07.10.14 / The Kitchen

Ohhhhh, the kitchen.

kitchen before

The original kitchen was walled off from the living and dining rooms.

kitchen before 2

kitchen before 4

If the cabinets had been in better shape, we might have tried to work with them but, sadly, they were rotted and the doors / drawers didn’t open or close properly. The odd layout assigned the refrigerator to a lone corner with no storage or counter space nearby. There was no dishwasher.

kitchen before 3

One thing we liked about the kitchen was the window above the sink which looks out onto the backyard. It was one of the few windows that had been replaced by the previous owner.

kitchen after

kitchen after 3

To enlarge the kitchen and create a more functional layout without altering the house’s original footprint, we removed walls separating the kitchen, living and dining rooms. We aren’t formal people so the small dining room was relocated to allow for a large island. The dining room window was replaced with french doors to connect the kitchen to the backyard. A vaulted ceiling and skylights flood the north-facing space with natural light. It’s a far cry from the dark, soffit-heavy room we started with.

kitchen after 2

We had our plumber run new water and gas lines to accommodate the current layout. A counter-depth refrigerator stands where the stove once lived. A freestanding range occupies the site where a wall used to separate the kitchen from the original dining room. A new dishwasher is located to the right of the sink. It’s hidden behind a cover panel that matches the base cabinetry. When the house came to us, a microwave sat in a corner eating up precious counter space. We added a shelf next to the refrigerator to house the microwave and a few cookbooks which freed up counter space for a coffeemaker, toaster and shelf of drinking glasses.

kitchen after 6

kitchen after 17

One thing we didn’t change was the location of the sink. I like that I am able to look out the window when I’m washing dishes to admire the greenery or watch the kids playing.

kitchen after 7

We opted for solid surface countertops around the perimeter of the kitchen for easy maintenance. An extra deep, under-mounted, single basin sink makes cleanup a breeze.

kitchen after 5

The nine-foot-long island is the hub of the house. It sees as much Play-doh, crafting and homework as it does meal prep, entertaining and casual dining. We topped it with a walnut slab to give it the feel of a wood table since we eat most of our meals here. It’s a warm contrast to the granite in the rest of the room. Guests always comment on the island and wood top saying they feel like they’re at a bar. We take it as a compliment.

We suspended a trio of pendants above the island. I wanted something that would punctuate the island but not impede the view of the kitchen from the adjoining living space. Clear globe lights were an ideal choice. I especially like the black cloth cords. The pendants are on a dimmer so we can have bright light for food prep or low light for dining and ambiance.

I chose durable metal counter stools to stand up to the kids and their inevitable messes. I wipe them down with a wet cloth and they look brand new. To keep the view from the living room to the kitchen uninterrupted, the stools are backless. This feature also makes it easy to turn around to talk with someone in the living room. Initially, I had some reservations about using backless stool with kids but it hasn’t been an issue.

kitchen after 11

We kept the back wall free of upper cabinetry and installed reclaimed wood shelves. A sleek range hood and minimal backsplash add to the open feel. It’s nice to look over from the living room and not be bombarded with a slew of wall cabinets or an entire wall of tile. I really wanted the kitchen to feel like an extension of the living space instead of a kitchen thrown into a living room. To achieve this, we continued the engineered hardwood flooring into the kitchen. The wood flooring, walnut island top and reclaimed wood shelving help bring warmth to an innately utilitarian room.

The cabinetry is Ikea. From the get-go, I had my heart set on a tuxedo kitchen: dark lowers, white uppers. I wanted dark base cabinets to ground the kitchen in such an open space. I wanted white wall cabinets to keep things light. A mix of black and white just made sense.

We fell hard for the Ramsjö black-brown base cabinets but were disappointed with the slightly pink tone of the coordinating white wall cabinets. In the end, we used three different door styles. (Ramsjö black-brown, solid front for the bases and Lidingö white, solid and glass-front for the uppers.) I was a little worried about the mix on paper but in real life I think it goes a long way in helping the kitchen feel less generic.

kitchen after 12

One end of the kitchen is devoted to paying bills, making grocery lists, creating meal plans and all the other secretarial tasks that go along with running a household. It’s also where I do the majority of writing and photo editing for the blog. Essentially, it’s a home office. Base cabinets hold a printer, office supplies and the kids’ crafting supplies. Upper, glass-front cabinets provide pretty storage. I use an assortment of baskets, bins and boxes to corral vitamins, batteries, camera accessories, receipts, crayons and a bunch of other miscellaneous. The planked backsplash is a repeated element also found on the ceiling and TV wall.

kitchen after 16

To give the kitchen space a cozy vibe, I added greenery, artwork, vintage rugs, an upholstered desk stool and a linen-covered lamp. It feels lived. It is lived in.

kitchen after 9

kitchen after 10

kitchen after 8

kitchen after 15

kitchen after 13

kitchen after 14

There are a few tweaks yet to be made in the kitchen. (We need to add a trim piece next to an upper cabinet in the corner near the microwave and I’m brainstorming an interactive side panel for the refrigerator.) But I’m very lucky to be able to spend the majority of my time in this bright and airy space. In the evening when the kitchen is tidy after dinner and the dishwasher is humming away, I pour myself a glass of wine and golden light glows through the skylights. It’s my happy place.

Resources of note:

wall paint – Benjamin Moore tapestry beige
trim, ceiling, planked backsplash paint – Benjamin Moore white dove
french door paint – Glidden trim & door oil paint, extra high gloss in deepest black
flooring – Jasper engineered hardwood handscraped birch in Texas brown via Build Direct
base cabinets – Ikea, Ramsjö black-brown
wall cabinets – Ikea, Lidingö white
perimeter countertop – kashmir white granite via Stone Design
walnut countertop – Hardwood Lumber Company
island corbels – The Home Depot
hardware – Ikea (Värde handles sans rosettes)
refrigerator, dishwasher, gas range, range hood – Ikea
microwave – LG
sink – Kraus 32″ undermount single bowl
faucet – VIGO stainless steel pull-out
backsplash tile – imperial bianco gloss 2″ x 12″ via The Tile Shop
backsplash grout – Laticrete epoxy grout in natural grey
globe pendant lights – West Elm
counter stools – Overstock
wall sconce above sink – Barn Light Electric
house artwork near sink – gift
spice rack – Ikea
glass storage containers – Wal-mart
kitchen towels – Crate & Barrel
step stool – Ikea, painted & stained
rug near sink – ebay (seller was manhattanrugs)
open shelving - DIY using Ikea brackets and reclaimed wood
oil & vinegar drizzlers – Amazon (These are the best!)
stainless steel containers – Target
antlers – etsy
black & white planter – vintage
rug near desk – etsy
desk stool – Blu Dot knicker stool
laptop bag – STM
blue & white planter – JoAnn’s
letter tray - Ikea
magazine files – Ikea
linen lamp – Crate & Barrel
wood cubby – Kalon Studios
highchair – Ikea
art above highchair – Clare Elsaesser
mat & frame – Utrecht art supplies
tongue & groove planks – Home Emporium
skylights – Velux

In case you’re interested in seeing how this space came together over time, a slew of kitchen-related links:

KITCHEN RENOVATION

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2011/08/30/a-few-new-things

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2011/10/25/light-skies/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/05/22/finishing-the-walnut-butcher-block/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/05/24/installing-the-walnut-butcher-block/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/05/25/countertops-are-in/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/11/01/kitchen-backsplash-tweaked-shelves/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/03/11/our-pantry-a-tasty-giveaway/

IKEA KITCHEN

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2011/06/03/an-ikea-kitchen-in-the-making/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2011/06/15/an-after-dinner-ikea-run/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/06/29/ikea-appliance-reviews/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/07/09/designing-our-ikea-kitchen/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/07/12/purchasing-our-ikea-kitchen/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/07/20/installing-our-ikea-kitchen/

DECOR

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2011/08/21/kitchen-island-pendants/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/08/06/those-stools/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/08/22/our-kitchen-cabinets-color-matched/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/10/05/ill-take-it/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/03/14/a-new-desk-rug/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/08/11/what-happened-to-the-wall-planter/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/09/30/a-kitchen-rug/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/12/01/sink-hole-quick-fix/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/02/04/the-cheapest-most-loved-fiddle-leaf-fig/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/04/11/how-im-not-killing-my-fiddle-leaf-fig/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/02/24/i-call-it-the-stop-stool/

KITCHEN DESK

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/09/27/organizing-the-kitchen-desk/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/12/12/kitchen-desk-backsplash/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/12/16/the-kitchen-desk-backsplash-painted/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/03/04/baby-steps-in-the-unfinished-bathroom/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/02/16/my-home-workspace/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/02/26/diy-sueded-cord-cover/

For ease, you can access this kitchen tour under the “See My House” tab in the side bar along with a general house tour and the living room tour. I’ll be adding more rooms in the weeks to come. Thanks for reading!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

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!

ikea kitchen MN 1

ikea kitchen MN 2

ikea kitchen MN 3

After renting for nearly a decade, Annie and Greg bought their first home in 2011. Since then, they’ve slowly been updating the 1950′s  house located in southern Minnesota. With a job relocation to Seattle on the horizon, they decided to tackle the kitchen to get the most bang for their buck when they list the house in a few months. They considered making do with the original cabinets but realized a few coats of paint wouldn’t address the need for a better functioning layout and more counter space. Keeping their small budget and future resale in mind, they opted to source most of their kitchen components from Ikea. I asked Annie several questions about their experience. Find her answers and images of the newly remodeled kitchen below.

budget-friendly ikea kitchen via House*Tweaking

Which items in your kitchen hail from Ikea?

The cabinets, doors, drawer fronts and toe kick are all from Ikea.

What made you decide to source these items from Ikea?

We never considered going elsewhere for those items due to our numerous trips to the Twin Cities Ikea where we’d snoop through their kitchen displays and dream. My husband, Greg, is a design and process engineer with a construction background and I’m a stickler for good design as well. Quality, design and function are important to us. Ikea delivered those aspects and fit our small budget. You can’t beat the hinges and door dampers on the soft-closing cabinets. We outfitted most of our 9′ x 10′ galley kitchen for ~$2,600. People don’t believe us unless they’ve also researched and / or created an Ikea kitchen.

ikea kitchen MN 4

ikea kitchen MN 5

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

The design was our own. We wanted to increase the amount of storage while not overwhelming the small space. We’re putting the house on the market in a few months to move to Seattle for my husband’s career. We’re trying to keep the same feel from room to room. Every bit of our house has been updated or renovated and the kitchen was the last room to finish on the main floor. I think it flows very well which goes to show Ikea’s versatility.

ikea kitchen MN assembly

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

The two of us assembled and installed the cabinets. We read that putting the cabinets and drawers together was a pain but we didn’t have a problem. Once assembled, we stored the cabinets in the master bedroom to keep them away from our dogs and my accident-prone ways.

ikea kitchen MN 13

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

The original plan was to keep the old cabinets and paint them then add a new sink, faucet and countertop. One side of the 1952 kitchen had the stove and refrigerator next to one another with no counter space whatsoever which bothered us quite a bit. I’m short and the shelves in the old cabinets were hard for me to reach – even with a step stool. Once we started looking at the facts and what it would take to update the old cabinets, we realized it wouldn’t look or function any better. We said, nope, let’s go to Ikea. Let’s start fresh.

After that I started designing the space with the Ikea kitchen planner online. I took a few afternoons scattered over a few weeks to go over layout options with all the measurements. Then we took a Sunday to revise it together and arrive at the final design.

ikea kitchen MN 14

I pictured the new cabinets going nearly to the top of the 9′ ceiling to bring the eye up and make the space look larger. (That was one thing I liked about the old cabinets.) I wanted to make it look more custom with crown molding. The trash and recycling also have their own place inside of a pull-out base cabinet which we love. We definitely wanted a better layout and more storage. It’s odd that we have more storage now – I still have empty drawers and shelves actually! – even though we omitted upper cabinets by the stove in the new design. Less cabinets and more storage is pretty awesome.

ikea kitchen MN 11

The fridge took some work because it is not counter-depth. We had to shorten the door opening by 7” to get a built-in look after removing a pocket door and widening the doorway. Today, the doorway goes with the scale of the house and makes the kitchen and dining room feel more like one space. Carpet is not my friend and it was in the dining room. Gag. We installed hardwood flooring in both rooms for added cohesion.

ikea kitchen MN 12

There were a few kitchens on my Pinterest board I was obsessed with which lead me to the hardware, the butcher block countertop and a single basin sink. My original idea for the countertops was soapstone but butcher block is more affordable and more forgiving. We work with wood furniture in our design / refurbishing business so it’s not a big deal for us to repair it. The more it ages, the better it looks to me. We didn’t install a backsplash because I think it’s a personal decision better left to the next owner…who I hope sends me a picture. I did consider a few backsplash options. We have subway tile in both bathrooms, marble in one bathroom and various of shades of gray throughout the house which were all tile options that caught my attention.

I wanted high contrast between the off-white ÄDEL cabinets and accessories so we used an almost matte black, oil-rubbed bronze in the details. The hardware has modern lines but the warm wood countertops and classic schoolhouse lights keep the room from leaning too contemporary. My taste tends to be modern rustic.

ikea kitchen MN 9

How long was it from design to the final product?

We did very little to the kitchen until October of 2012 when we removed the laundry chute the previous owner had in the kitchen. I ran into the chute cabinet at least three times a day. The two of us removed the pocket door and opened the doorway to a nice 55” from the 26” it had been. We didn’t start the real work until March of this year.

The Ikea kitchen sale started late February which was right after we finished renovating a bathroom. Mid-way into the sale we went to Ikea with our design, logged into our kitchen planner account and asked the kitchen specialists a ton of questions. A specialist printed off our list, added what was needed (an important step since not everything is correct or included on the list) and we had our total in about five minutes. $2,634 didn’t even qualify for the discount which was fine with us. At that time, Ikea had everything we needed in stock but since we were not purchasing that day we had to call ahead to inquire about availability – especially because of the ongoing kitchen sale.

We nailed down our finances a few weeks later then returned to Ikea to order our kitchen. It was only $99 to deliver to our home a little more than 30 minutes away.

Everything was in stock and could have been delivered a few days after ordering but we requested a later delivery to accommodate our schedules. The delivery company called on a Tuesday to say they would be in our area the following day. I called back and scheduled the drop-off which fell into a 5PM to 9PM time slot when we’d both be home from work. Wednesday rolled around and the delivery company left a voicemail at 2PM saying they would be at our house in 40 minutes and that if we couldn’t be there we’d have to reschedule. This was our only unhappy moment. (Ikea hires the delivery out so it’s not really much of a reflection on them.) Luckily, Greg was able to leave work early and arrive home just before the delivery truck. Nothing was damaged upon arrival and we signed off with the delivery company. Simple and fast.

I immediately checked the list. Everything was accounted for. We started putting the cabinets together that night for a few hours. It took three weekday evenings and a total of six hours to assemble most of the components. Having years of experience in his family’s construction business, Greg wanted to do the rest on installation day. He’s an engineer and was impressed with the assembly method. If you pour out the box contents correctly it practically puts itself together. A screw gun is handy, too.

ikea kitchen MN install

Installation was easy and we spread it out over two weekends. The suspension rail was simple to use and helped a lot since it was just the two of us. The problems we did encounter were part of the kitchen structure itself: uneven walls and ceiling. You know, stuff that goes along with older houses.

ikea kitchen MN 16

Custom framing came into play for the cabinet above the fridge and the tall pantry cabinet. Otherwise, the process was pretty straightforward.

ikea kitchen MN floor install

The flooring installation was aggravating compared to the cabinets. It took us a few weekday evenings in a row to knock it out. We were a tiny bit shy of toe kick in the end and we damaged a set of shelves at some point during installation. A trip to Ikea and $20 solved those issues.

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

The new kitchen has existed for about a month. Out of habit, we still find ourselves walking into the dining room looking for the fridge because that’s where we kept it during the reno. There haven’t been any concerns or problems. With our rambunctious pups, the floor has been scratched even though we use rugs. The cabinets are fine. I accidentally ram my step stool into them on a daily basis and they stand strong. I love this space now.

ikea kitchen MN 6

ikea kitchen MN 8

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

I love the flow and storage. And, although we kept resale in mind, there is still a lot of us in the design. We lived in nine rentals over the course of ten years before buying this house and nothing was even close to feeling like us. I’m also a food blogger on top of a DIY / home improvement blogger so the kitchen is the room in which I could spend all day and be happy. It’s my meal prep space, where I catch up with my husband over a glass of wine, where I break out in song and dance on the new hardwood floor and where the designer in me geeks out. Honestly, my least favorite thing is that we’re moving soon and that we waited so long to tackle the kitchen. I’m also bummed about not having found the items to display on my counters yet.

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

That’s a big yes. We recommend Ikea to anyone who will listen. If you create a design that truly fits your needs, seek advice from the kitchen specialists, prepare and organize your lists (I make a lot of lists) and materials, dedicate time to assembly and installation, accept that some problems might arise but that you will face them and all will be well, you can have a beautiful, quality Ikea kitchen. If things aren’t going together easily that means you are probably doing something wrong and need to take a step back. For example, we first put the base plate of the hinges on backwards.

Would you consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel?

In our next (Seattle) house, kitchen renovations will come first and Ikea will be a big part of it.

Resources of note:

cabinet frames, cabinet doors, drawer fronts, toe kick – Ikea, ÄDEL off-white
trim, molding – Menards
wall paint – Benjamin Moore rockport gray
trim paint – color-matched to Ikea ÄDEL off-white and Benjamin Moore decorators white
hardware – myknobs.com
kilim rug – ebay, vintage
butcher block countertop – builder outlet store
butcher block finish – dark raw tung oil + citrus solvent (waterproof, food-safe, all natural)
sink – build.com
faucet – Signature hardware
water filtration faucet – Amazon
range hood – <$200 at Rakuten.com
dishwasher – craigslist, $60
refrigerator and stove – already owned
lighting – Home Depot, Lowe’s
blinds – JCPenney
flooring – American Carpet Wholesalers
dining room pendant – Overstock

ikea kitchen MN 15

Thank you so much Annie for sharing the details of your kitchen renovation!

How amazing is it that less cabinetry actually resulted in more storage?! This small kitchen is an example of thoughtful design at its best. I love Annie’s choice of hardware and lighting alongside the white cabinets and wood countertops. And don’t get me started on that vintage rug. Inevitably, making the decision to spend a little more on the kitchen reno to gain counter space and storage was a smart choice. The new layout and classic design are sure to be advantages over comps when the couple lists the home in the near future. You can follow the couple’s home improvement adventures over on their blog and you can see what Annie’s whipping up in the new kitchen on her food blog. (Pssst…the bathroom renovations are equally inspiring!)

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

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 housetweaking@gmail.com 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: Annie at The Wits

07.02.14 / The Living Room

Thank you for all of the wonderful comments and encouraging words on the house tour! Seeing the before-and-after images next to each other was a little surreal even for us. Like, whoa, we actually bought that dump?! But mostly we feel happy about how much light and life are in this lil’ house now. Hopefully, you have a better understanding of the major renovations. I’d like to feature individual rooms and discuss them in more detail. First up, the living room!

HouseTweaking living room before 2

HouseTweaking living room before 1

It came to us dirty and dated but we liked the large, south-facing window and the orientation of the fireplace.

living room 2014-1

We had the aluminum window replaced with a better insulated vinyl one but we were adamant about retaining the look of the original. The center pane is fixed and the two outer panes are sliders. Whenever weather allows, the sliders are open. We salvaged the original slate windowsills throughout the home. I love the way this window frames the view behind the couch. It’s almost like a work of art and it brings in so much natural light. Plus, we enjoy watching the world go by.

For window treatments, we hung woven shades and gray linen curtains. I have a thing for natural textures so that’s where the woven shades come in and I read somewhere about hanging non-white curtains to distract from a less-than-perfect view. Just across the street is a nondescript shed painted hunter green soooo…yeah, gray curtains. The shades and curtains are functional but we leave them open 99.9% of the time. We don’t mind living in a fish bowl.

living room 2014-4

We replaced the orange shag carpet with engineered hardwood. (We’re on a concrete slab.) Installing the floors nearly did us in. We had to glue each and every plank to its neighbors and we did it all ourselves…while I was seven months pregnant. It was awful but we saved a ton of money by DIYing the install and we’re happy with the results. Although, next time (ha!) I think we’ll opt for something that’s easier to install.

We tried living with the red brick fireplace surround for over a year but we ended up painting it out in white. It really lightens up the space and it’s much easier to clean now, too. We don’t regret painting it one bit but we do feel better knowing we gave the red brick a try. We had the wood-burning fireplace converted to gas with an affordable insert we bought via craigslist.

The TV was quite the conundrum. I was all for giving it up but Steve enjoys it…along with (what I think are) unsightly surround sound speakers. The TV / surround sound setup was a complete compromise. I don’t particularly care for TV’s mounted above fireplaces but, since we removed the wall separating the living room from the kitchen, we didn’t have much of a choice. Our solution was to run the TV and speaker wires up and over to the adjacent wall and house the media components in a small cabinet. (You can see the wires via related links at the end of this post.)

living room 2014-13

To make the TV less ominous, we DIY’d a planked bump-out above the mantel that reaches all the way to the vaulted ceiling, recessed the TV within and painted the planks to match the fireplace surround. The bottom plank is removable in case we ever need to service / replace the TV. This setup appeases Steve and me. He has his fancy TV and speaker system but the wires are hidden and the TV isn’t too obnoxious. It also makes for a great architectural feature. That was a happy accident.

living room 2014-9

I’ve tried disguising the dreaded “boob speakers” with decorative mirrors hung on either side of the TV. They’ve been up for over a year but I haven’t decided if they work. We’ve tossed around ideas to make this wall even more of a focal point. Contrasting paint? Grasscloth wallpaper? Who knows what it will look like in a year!

I designed a wood box that slips over an ugly subwoofer on the floor next to the media cabinet. Are you sensing a theme?

living room 2014-7

I played around with a few different furniture arrangements before settling on the one you see. We discovered that placing the sofa in front of the window gave us more open floor space and encouraged casual conversation. Someone sitting on the sofa can easily converse with someone in the kitchen and vice versa. And the scale of the sofa fits the window so well. (I strongly suggest moving around your furniture until it feels right. No harm, no foul and it’s free!) We also switched out a large, round coffee table for a slimmer, rectangular one to better suit the space.

living room 2014-5

With such a major piece shoved up against the window / wall, it was important to “float” other pieces within the room. I positioned an oversized chair perpendicular to the sofa. Not only does this close off the conversation area, it also helps to separate the entry from the living room.

A shag rug layered over sisal defines the living room part of the main living space and gives the kids a soft place to romp. Bringing in the cloud-like rug upped the comfort factor 1000%. It’s where everyone wants to be.

entry 2014

We don’t have a true entryway or foyer. The front door opens up into the living room. The small area behind the chair acts as our “entry.” Peg hooks give guests a place to hang their coats and the bench is a great spot for stashing deliveries until we open them.

living room 2014-3

The front door is original but it was in sad shape when we bought the house. The previous homeowner had added numerous locks and light-blocking, privacy screens to ward off strangers. The only problem was it warded off everyone. In fact, we couldn’t use the front door (we normally enter through the garage or mudroom) for over a year after our move-in date. Our UPS man made deliveries through the window! Eventually, we rebuilt the door jam and rehabbed the door.

The old door was in such disrepair that at one point we considered getting rid of it and starting from scratch. We’re so glad we didn’t! It’s one of our favorite original features – albeit all gussied up.

living room 2014-8

To bring down the height of the wall near the entry and balance out the TV wall on the opposite side of the living room, we installed simple DIY shelving. I display decorative items on the higher shelves safe from our toddler’s reach and use kid-friendly baskets on the bottom shelf for easy storage. And, bonus!, this shelving unit hides yet another pair of surround sound speakers.

So that’s the gist of the inner workings of the living room. As far as aesthetics, I really wanted this room to ooze comfort and coziness. We hang out here. We watch movies here. We read here. The kids play and wrestle here. We have family dance parties here. We entertain here. A lot of life happens here so the room didn’t need to be brightly colored or overly patterned. I feel like the room gets enough personality from its inhabitants. Did I mention we have three rowdy kids? This isn’t one of those look-don’t-touch living rooms. (I detest those.)

living room 2014-12

living room 2014-10

living room 2014-6

living room 2014-11

I’m drawn to neutrals, cozy textures, a mix of wood tones, leather upholstery, vintage & tribal patterns and hits of black and gold so those run rampant. But everything is kid-friendly. On movie night, the kids use the zig zag poufs as bean bags and they’re never without a stockpile of pillows and blankets.

I hope you enjoyed this BIG tour of our little living room ;)

Resources of note:

wall paint – Benjamin Moore tapestry beige
trim, ceiling, fireplace, TV wall, interior door paint – Benjamin Moore white dove
exterior door paint – Behr evening hush
flooring – Jasper engineered hardwood handscraped birch in Texas Brown via Build Direct
entryset – Emtek
peg hooks – West Elm
woven bench – Target
black & white bull photography print – Minted
string art – DIY
tripod floor lamp – Target, spray painted gold
wall shelves – Lowe’s, DIY
sisal rug in entry – NaturalAreaRugs
gold clip-on lamp – Land of Nod
wood sculptures – Ballard Designs
woven baskets – HomeGoods
porcelain glove form – vintage
black & white vase – HomeGoods
vintage kantha on back of chair – ebay
oversized chair – Thrive Furniture’s Taylor chair in expectation grey, blonde stain
large sisal with gray border – Overstock
Keno Moroccan shag rug – RugsUSA
basket next to chair – Target
scalloped wood side table – Grandin Road outlet
patterned pillow on chair – Crate & Barrel
leather pouf – Joss & Main
leather sofa – Soho leather sofa by Elements Fine Home Furnishings (google for the best price)
fringed blankets – Target
sheepskin – Ikea
kilim pillow covers – vintage, etsy (try Sheepsroad or YASTK shops)
light gray squiggle pillow – HomeGoods
slat bench / coffee table – Overstock
gray curtains – West Elm
curtain rod – Amazon
curtain rings – Meijer
woven shades – petite rustique from Overstock
wood bowl on coffee table – Target
shed antler – ebay
various decor books – Amazon
brass-bottomed vase – Target (it’s actually a toothbrush holder)
zig zag floor poufs – West Elm
media cabinet – West Elm (I added vintage brass knobs)
gold task lamp – Target
“Generations” photography print – Steven L. Miller photography (custom gold frame from JoAnn’s)
faux roe deer antlers – One Kings Lane
gas fireplace insert – craigslist
tongue and groove planks – Home Emporium
Monrovian star mirrors – Joss & Main
ceiling fans – Barn Light Electric Co.

In case you’re interested in seeing how this room has evolved, a few living room-related posts:

FURNITURE

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/02/13/she-loves-me-she-loves-me-not-hey-girl/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/04/23/rearranging/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/11/06/media-cabinet-switcharoo/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/03/19/its-just-a-really-awesome-chair/

DECOR

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/03/27/one-coffee-table-three-ways/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/05/13/puppies-rainbows/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/10/10/layers-in-the-living-room/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/10/11/a-light-for-the-living-room-shelves/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/12/18/steven-l-miller-photography/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/12/23/a-little-bit-of-christmas/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/03/25/diy-undercover-subwoofer/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/04/08/diy-brass-string-hanging-art/

DIY SHELVES

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/08/01/library-day/

TV WALL

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/08/20/honest-mondays-surround-sound/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/11/26/planking-the-tv-wall/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/12/09/the-tv-wall-is-built/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/12/19/tv-wall-afters/

ENTRY

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/11/01/front-door-update/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/04/24/my-front-entry-part-i/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/04/25/my-front-entry-part-ii/

Thanks for reading!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking