...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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!

chesapeake ikea kitchen before

This story hails from Chesapeake, Virginia. Kristen and her husband bought an outdated 1960′s brick rancher three years ago and have been slowly bringing it to life on a budget. The original kitchen was cramped and featured an awkward layout. (Hello dishwasher on the non-kitchen side of the peninsula!) Together, the young couple has created a bright, open kitchen with a more functional layout while working within the confines of the original space. I asked Kristen several questions about her kitchen remodeling experience. You can read her answers and find “after” shots below.

chesapeake ikea kitchen after 2

Which items in your kitchen hail from Ikea?

Almost everything. Our cabinets, countertop, cabinet doors, drawer fronts, hardware, sink, faucet, garbage disposal, free-standing island, pendant light over the sink and brackets for our open shelves.

What made you decide to source these items from Ikea?

We were impressed with the quality of the Ikea cabinets over all the places we looked – not to mention their quote came in well below the competition. Ikea also offered fun little extras such as multiple options for interior organizers, soft-close hardware and easy-to-remove snap-on door hinges. (That last feature saved us so much time during the renovation process!) The apron front sink, free-standing island, and the butcher block countertop were very inexpensive compared to other stores.

chesapeake ikea kitchen design

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

My husband and I designed the kitchen over a period of a few months using the Ikea kitchen planner tool. We experimented with countless designs and tried desperately to reuse our old cabinets but in the end we had to start afresh. Our kitchen was tricky. The old layout was too small and very awkward. It had narrow passage ways, limited counter space and the dishwasher actually opened up into the den instead of the kitchen. A low hanging window kept us from expanding into the adjoining den as well. Thankfully, we got some extremely helpful tips from one kitchen designer at Ikea who had lots of experience with installing Ikea kitchens.

As far as the aesthetic, we wanted something more functional and open. We didn’t need our kitchen to be huge or grand but we did want space to grow into since we’re planning on living in this house for many years. It needed to be bright because the kitchen / den area gets little natural light. Also, since our house was built in the 1960′s, we didn’t want to go too modern with the style and materials.

chesapeake ikea kitchen in progress

chesapeake ikea kitchen floors in progress

chesapeake ikea kitchen cabinet frames

chesapeake ikea kitchen cutting countertops

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

My husband and my dad installed every last piece from the cabinets and trim to the counters, appliances and backsplash. It was slow going at times because they had to work out all the little details and unanticipated obstacles that popped up.

chesapeake ikea kitchen trim

chesapeake ikea kitchen pantry

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

Working within the confines of the older kitchen required us to be creative at times. I really like the look of built-in cabinetry so we added trim to the upper cabinets which is quite tricky in an older unlevel home!

chesapeake ikea kitchen sink

I also insisted that the sink be centered under the window which left a space to the right of the sink that was too small for a standard sized cabinet. We created one using the smallest frame cut to size and a drawer front as a door. Surprisingly, Ikea doesn’t offer an upper blind corner cabinet so we created that with two overlapping upper cabinets and some leftover cover panel. We used extra cover panels and toe kicks to frame out the appliances.

chesapeake ikea kitchen dining work island

The kitchen island is from Ikea but we customized it by adding wheels so we can move it around if we need to. We mostly keep it in front of that pesky low hanging window. We also added open shelves to one wall for our frequently used dishes which contributes to the open feel.

How long was it from design to the final product?

This answer is kind of embarrassing – we take forever with projects. We took our time with the design phase, mulling it over and tweaking it over several months until we were ready and Ikea was running one of their kitchen specials. Next came the demo phase. We had to rip out the old cabinets, counter, appliances and floor. We ended up having a gap of a couple of weeks between the demo phase and installation phase (working around our schedule and that of our families) so we were without a kitchen for about a month and a half, I think. When it came time for installation my husband and I took a week off from work to get the majority of the kitchen installed so it would be at least functional. My dad ended up coming all day every day during that week to help us. The more functional our kitchen became the less momentum we had to finish the kitchen. The painting and trim we worked on slowly over the course of several months, just working on a part here and there when we felt like it. We only recently completed the ceiling and changed out the old lighting. There are still some final touches left to do!

chesapeake ikea kitchen organization

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

We’ve lived with our kitchen for a little over a year now. So far everything is holding up wonderfully. We’ve had no problems with the cabinets or hardware. The interior shelves and organizers still look great despite putting wet dishes straight from the dishwasher on them.

chesapeake ikea kitchen after 1

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

My favorite thing is how open and bright the kitchen is now. It feels so different from the old kitchen. I’m very happy with the layout. It’s not too small where you can’t have multiple people and a dog walking around yet it’s not too big to make it harder to keep clean. It is also a space into which we can grow. We actually have a couple of empty cabinets! My least favorite thing is the lack of natural light coming in. We’ve compensated by adding under cabinet task lighting that we purchased from Home Depot.

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

I would definitely recommend Ikea. We haven’t been disappointed with any of the Ikea components. The kitchen extras like the soft-close hardware come standard and all the doors and drawer fronts can be adjusted to make things look even and level.

Would you consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel?

Hands down, yes – especially if we lived closer. The closest Ikea is a little over three hours away so it was a little annoying if we forgot something. We had to go up there three times for returns / purchases on top of two visits during the design phase. Ikea also has limited selection for white cabinet doors that aren’t fiberboard. My husband wanted the door frames to be made of joined wood so Ramsjo in white was really our only option. But overall we had a very good experience and would definitely use Ikea again.

Resources of note:

cabinets / doors / drawer fronts – Ikea (Ramsjo in white)
paint – Sherwin Williams mint condition (for the walls); Sherwin Williams custom color match to Ramsjo white doors (for the cabinet trim)
flooring – Lumbar Liquidators (Mayflower prefinished red oak)
backsplash – Lowe’s for white subway tile, mortar and grout
appliances – Lowe’s…including refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher, stove
lighting – Ikea pendant over the sink; Home Depot for the semi-flush-mounted ceiling fixture and under-cabinet lighting
butcher block countertop – Ikea
cabinet trim – 84 Lumber for trim above the upper cabinets and pantry; Ikea for trim below upper cabinets
sink – Ikea’s Domsjo
faucet – Ikea’s Elverdam
shelving brackets – Ikea
free-standing island: Ikea’s Stenstorp customized with casters from Ikea
counter stools – West Elm

chesapeake ikea kitchen design vs final product

Thank you so much Kristen for sharing your kitchen remodel! It feels like a completely different space. I’m amazed by how much the real life final product looks like the design created with the planner tool. And the island on casters is brilliant! I love that it can be moved around to serve as either a dining or prep surface. Sometimes little hiccups (like low slung windows) produce clever solutions, no? Be sure to check out more of Kristen’s home here.

Do you have an Ikea kitchen (it need not be 100% Ikea) that you would be willing to share on House*Tweaking? If so, please contact me at housetweaking@gmail.com for consideration. Thank you in advance!

images: Kristen @ A Manor of Mischief


Congrats to Mike who also takes home the Best Husband of the Year Award with this win!

laundry hamper 1

Funny story.

Do you recall the double hamper from last week’s linen closet post? Well, when I originally placed my order for the hamper, it was on backorder. No problem. I could wait. I wasn’t in a hurry. A few weeks later, I received an email stating it was available and had shipped. Then two hampers arrived at my doorstep. Weird, right? I called up West Elm’s customer service and they checked into things. I wasn’t charged for the second hamper but they apologized for the mix-up and said to keep the extra hamper on their dime. That was nice and all but the thing is, I don’t need the extra hamper.

But I thought you might.

laundry hamper 3

As far as hampers go, it’s pretty handsome. Mine stays in a closet until laundry day but it’s so good-looking that you could stash it out in the open in a large bathroom or a corner of a bedroom if you wanted. I love that it’s made from eco-friendly materials: bamboo + recycled plastic. It’s a double hamper measuring 22″ w x 20″ d x 26″ h and there’s a side for darks and a side for lights.

laundry hamper 2

The whole thing folds up easily for transporting it to the laundry room. The fabric hamper can be removed from the wood base. If you don’t have a washer / dryer on site (or maybe you’re remodeling your laundry area?!), you can throw the “bag” in your car to take it to the laundromat or your folks’ house or wherever you’re doing your laundry these days.

Wanna try it for yourself? Great! Maybe you will win my extra. See entry details below.

PRIZE: one double bamboo laundry hamper from West Elm (retail value $59, now on sale for $47) Shipping’s on me.

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

TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this post proclaiming “HAMPER ME!”

DEADLINE: Enter before Sunday, March 23rd at 9:00 p.m. EST. One random winner will be announced Monday, March 24th.

Good luck! (And you’re welcome for the visual of laundry day at my house, sweatshirt and all. UPDATE: I am that short. But in my defense, the countertop is mounted above the height of the washer / dryer so it’s quite a bit higher than your standard countertop.) This post is not sponsored just thought I’d share my love of organization.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking


Congrats to Joanne (that lucky Irish girl!) and Corinne (yay for gluten-free snacks!). They each win a six-month subscription to NatureBox.

pantry 1

In our previous house we had a roomy, walk-in kitchen pantry. Here? Notsomuch. When we designed the kitchen, the plan was to use cabinet space for dried and packaged goods. We thought if worse came to worse we could always store pantry items in one of the wardrobes in the adjacent mudroom but, luckily, we haven’t had to.

Downsizing has changed our lives a lot – which we expected for the most part. But we’re surprised by how much it has affected our thoughts on food. It seems like in our previous house, we bought (and ate) way more packaged food because we had this huge pantry to stock. Here, there’s no pantry begging to be filled so we find ourselves buying (and eating) less boxed food. And we’re making the packaged foods we do eat count. We’re also better at keeping our fridge stocked with fresh produce.

So where exactly do we keep packaged foods and dry goods in this house?

pantry 2

We’ve designated a corner lazy susan as our “pantry.” It’s easily accessible and doesn’t take up much space.

pantry 3

Even though it’s probably a tenth of the size of our previous pantry, nobody goes hungry around here. If anything, we’re eating better. We’re more conscious of what we’re buying and eating since we only have so much room for food. The whole “quality over quantity” theme has even seeped into our grocery shopping and regular diets. I’m not saying we’re perfect (um, hello boxes of Girl Scout cookies) but our attitude towards in-house food has definitely changed. Plus, I can pull the “we don’t have room for it” card, guilt-free, anytime one of my kids asks for juice boxes at the grocery store.

The limited space makes for quick inventory checks, too. It’s easy to see what we’re running low on and what we have plenty of.

pantry collage

I think lazy susans are difficult to organize. Why can’t I find wedge-shaped bins to organize and optimize space in a lazy susan?! BAM. Someone should take that idea to Shark Tank. I did the best I could with some bins and baskets we already had on hand. (In fact, most of them once lived in our big, flashy pantry.) The cabinet contents are divvied up into categories: canned goods, snacks, pasta & rice, non-refrigerated produce, breakfast foods, baking ingredients, sweets, etc. I try to keep the items in each bin specific to a given category so I can simply pull out one basket to find what I need instead of bending over and spinning my way through everything just to find one item.

pantry 7

The basket system works really well for snacks. The kids can grab the snack basket to pick an item of their choice without my help. To keep things relatively healthy but also give the kids a sense of freedom, I control what goes into the basket but they choose what comes out. Win-win.

NatureBox recently sent my family some goodies to try and they made their way into the snack basket. With no high fructose corn syrup, no partially hydrogenated corn oils, no trans fats, no artificial sweeteners, no artificial flavors and no artificial colors, I’m happy to support NatureBox’s mission to help people discover better choices. Being a busy mom, I also appreciate that the monthly snack subscription includes free shipping anywhere in the continental U.S. Healthy snacks at your doorstep, people! Best of all, YOU CHOOSE which snacks show up at your doorstep.

pantry 5

To free up room in the corner cabinet, I do store a few things elsewhere in the kitchen. Cereal and oatmeal live in large glass canisters just above the “pantry.” We go through those two things so quickly there’s never any worry of them becoming stale before consumption.

pantry 6

I keep flour and various sugars in containers next to the stove. The stainless steel canisters have rubber-sealed lids with secure latches to keep contents fresh.

I’ve received SO. MANY. QUESTIONS. about where we keep food in our downsized house. I hope this post gives you some answers. (Doesn’t peeking into someone’s pantry feel extremely personal?) We’ve discovered that having less space for food isn’t necessarily a problem. For us, it’s motivation to make better choices. And better is always a step in the right direction.

pantry 8

Would you like to discover better snack options with the help of NatureBox? Great! See entry details below.

PRIZE: 6-month deluxe snacker subscription to NatureBox ($120 value). There will be TWO WINNERS!

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

TO ENTER: Browse the snacks NatureBox has to offer then leave a comment on this post stating which ones you’d like to try. (I fell hard for the oat bran dippin’ stix and dark cocoa almonds. YUM.)

DEADLINE: Enter before Sunday, March 16th at 9:00 p.m. EST. Two random winners will be announced Monday, March 17th.

BUT, WAIT!, THERE’S MORE: House*Tweaking readers receive an exclusive discount. Enter the code “HT50″ to score 50% off your first box of any size. Valid only on first month’s box, new customers only.

This post sponsored in part by NatureBox. All images and content by me. All crumbs by my kids. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

This is the fifth post in a series I’m devoting to all things closet at my house. (Snoop around in more of my closets here, here, here and here.) Today I’m giving you a peek at our linen closet. It’s not much but it works!

linen closet 1

We have one linen closet in our house. It’s located at the end of the hall leading to the bedrooms and bathrooms. As far as linen closets go, it’s actually a decent size. It’s about 36″ wide and 26″ deep and it’s more than enough room for our needs.

linen closet 2

The closet came to us with wood shelving already in place. We simply painted everything white and added organization.

linen closet 4

This closet is where I keep the boys’ laundry hamper. Their shared room is off to the right so it’s a convenient spot for them to dump their dirty clothes. (Mabrey has a laundry basket in her room. Steve and I have an organization system in our closet which includes two pull-out hampers.) Up until a month ago, I had a plain ol’ plastic laundry basket sitting on the floor of the closet to corral the boys’ clothes. But it couldn’t contain a week’s worth of dirty clothes and laundry was always spilling over.

I ordered this double hamper and couldn’t be happier with it. It’s the perfect size for our closet and has two deep partitions which keep clothes from erupting out onto the floor. The idea is to use one side for lights and the other for darks but, so far, my boys haven’t caught on. Honestly, I’m happy if their dirty clothes just make it into the hamper – separated or not. On laundry day, I carry the entire thing to the laundry nook. Easy.

The shelf above the hamper holds paper towels, toilet paper, bath mats, hand towels and washcloths. One of Everett’s chores is to keep the kitchen stocked with paper towels and the bathroom stocked with toilet paper. This shelf is easy for him to reach both the paper towels and toilet paper.

linen closet 5

The two uppermost shelves hold towels, toiletries and medicine. We don’t own a bunch of bath linens but we have enough for us plus guests. Not having a huge supply keeps me on top of laundry. When I switch out dirty towels for clean ones in the bathroom, I automatically throw the dirties in the wash. Eventually, I’d like to replace all of our traditional terrycloth towels with peshtemal towels. We made the switch last year but still have a few regular towels hanging around. The peshtemals take up less space and are more absorbent so they’re great for small spaces.

I try to keep stuff I don’t want the kids to have easy access to up high: medicine, razor blade replacements, fingernail polish, harsh cleaners, etc. On the top shelf, the basket on the left holds medicine. (The pharmacist in me wants to remind you NOT to keep your medicine in the bathroom!) On the right, an organizer with drawers holds health and beauty items, kids’ tattoos, hair accessories, first aid supplies, etc. There’s a small container devoted specifically to travel-size toiletries.

They aren’t visible but I keep a humidifier and hair trimmer kit on the top shelf behind the plastic bins. We don’t use them that often so they don’t get prime real estate.

linen closet 7

Everything is labeled so we can quickly find what we’re looking for. (I got cheeky with my label maker. Organization is FUN.) We also hang a pole in this closet for reaching the attic door and ladder. The attic access is located near the closet (as seen in the first two images of this post) so it made sense to keep the pole here. We always know where to find it. You can read more about our attic here if you’re curious.

linen closet 6

We optimized space on the back of the door with a hanging wire rack that I picked up at Home Depot. We hung it out of reach of little hands and it’s where I keep more things I don’t necessarily want the kids playing with: cleaners, fingernail polish remover, soap, sunscreen, shaving cream, etc. The toiletry bag is Steve’s. The hair dryer is mine. I rarely blow-dry my hair so the dryer goes in the closet versus the bathroom.

linen closet 3

There you have it – our one and only linen closet! I think once the kid / guest bathroom is finished I’ll spring for some new peshtemals but, for the most part, this is really all we need.

What about you? Where do you keep your supply of toilet paper and paper towels? Do your kids separate their laundry? Have you tried peshtemal towels? Do you keep your medicine in the bathroom? (The pharmacist in me is giving you the wagging no-no finger…in a non-judgmental sorta way, of course.) 

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking