...because home doesn't happen overnight.

It seems the consensus is that you guys would like to continue seeing and reading about Ikea kitchens regardless of which cabinet line – AKURUM (previous) or SEKTION (current) – is featured. For that reason, I will continue to share the best of the bunch that come my way. Thanks for reading!

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!

ohio ikea kitchen before 1

ohio ikea kitchen before 2

ohio ikea kitchen before 3

Mike and Mallory are professional construction managers by day and DIY warriors by night (and on weekends). So it should come as no surprise to hear that they’ve been working magic on their 1920s colonial home over the past several years.

The original kitchen featured dark laminate cabinets, embossed wallpaper and an impractical layout chopped up by numerous windows and doors. During phase 1 of the renovation, Mallory set a $100 budget to brighten the space and make it feel less depressing while the couple saved pennies and waited for a full-on renovation down the road. She painted the cabinets, wallpaper & countertops, updated the cabinet hinges, and moved the knobs to a more pleasing location on the cabinet doors…all for $89!

After living with Phase 1 in the kitchen for several years and tackling other projects around the house, the couple was finally able to focus on a complete kitchen overhaul in 2013. They chose to source their cabinets from Ikea. I asked Mallory several questions about their experience. Find her answers and the jaw-dropping “afters” below!

ohio ikea kitchen after 2

ohio ikea kitchen after 3

Which items in your kitchen hail from Ikea?

The cabinets, doors, drawer fronts and dishwasher are from Ikea.

What made you decide to source these items from Ikea?

I really wanted a two-tone look, with white uppers and black or dark lowers. After getting quotes from cabinet makers, I was surprised that this type of design would cost more. I started looking at Ikea as an option after many blogs I follow (including House*Tweaking) used them. I liked the fact that I could mix-n-match and customize without a large hike in price.

ohio ikea kitchen plan 2

ohio ikea kitchen plan 1

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

I designed our kitchen using the Ikea kitchen planner. Our house was built in 1927. We were striving for a slightly modern aesthetic but with traditional elements. We didn’t want it to feel out of place in the house.

ohio ikea kitchen prorgess 2

ohio ikea kitchen progress 3

ohio ikea kitchen progress 5

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

We assembled and installed everything ourselves!

ohio ikea kitchen after 6

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

While removing the wall allowed us to gain space, we had a lot of architectural details to work around: windows, doors, openings. I used the kitchen planner to design the most efficient use of the space. To work within these parameters, I had to use a few filler pieces in a couple of places but it turned out for the best. For example, the filler needed next to the dishwasher added about 4” which is enough space to stand between the open dishwasher and the peninsula when unloading clean dishes.

ohio ikea kitchen after 11

After living in our house for three years, there were also things that I knew I had to incorporate into the new space, like concealed trash storage. Likewise, there was always a shoe “issue” at the back door since it’s our main entry and opens up into the kitchen. I thought about stopping the base cabinets short and building a simple rack next to the door but realized I could use a base cabinet with wire baskets for closed shoe storage!

ohio ikea kitchen after 8

ohio ikea kitchen after 12

For aesthetics, we topped the 39” wall cabinets with custom crown molding and painted it to match for a built-in look. We also added side panels to frame in the counter-depth refrigerator. We used non-Ikea items such as hardware, tile, lighting and countertops to get the modern-meets-traditional look we wanted.

ohio ikea kitchen after 9

ohio ikea kitchen after 10

How long was it from design to the final product?

You could say we’ve been working towards this project for 3+ years since a large component of our design included removing the wall between the dining room and kitchen. The chimney for the old furnace ran through the wall. We removed it in stages over the last couple of years while we remodeled the rest of the house. But from the start of demo (which left us kitchen-less) to utilizing the new space, it took about three months. We are weeknight and weekend warriors who have lived in a state of renovation for years. We tend to jump in before all the details are finalized. We had to do a lot of demo (removing the wall) and remodeling behind the walls (updating electric/plumbing/HVAC) before we even started putting the kitchen back together.

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

We’ve lived with our kitchen for a year and a half now and we haven’t had any issues with the Ikea components. I feel like I babied the lower cabinets for a while after they were installed because I worried any nick or scratch would be very noticeable, but they’ve held up considerably well. We don’t think twice about showing them some abuse!

ohio ikea kitchen after 13

ohio ikea kitchen after 4

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

We almost doubled our working space, so that’s got to be my favorite! I’m also really happy I was able to convince my husband to trust me on the two-tone look. Pairing dark lower cabinets with lighter upper cabinets that reach all the way to the ceiling makes the space feel even bigger.

My only issue with the cabinets is that the white AKURUM frames are pretty noticeable behind the lower RAMSJÖ black-brown doors, especially where we had to use filler pieces. We ended up purchasing edge banding to match the doors and used it on the most troublesome areas. I’m happy to see the new SEKTION system has a dark frame option.

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

After living with our kitchen for well over a year, we’ve been very satisfied with the quality of our cabinets and dishwasher. I would definitely recommend Ikea. Actually, I’ve already recommended it to all my friends and family who are thinking of remodeling!

Would you consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel?

I love our kitchen and enjoyed the process, so I would consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel. When I asked my husband this question he was less enthusiastic. (I don’t think he wants to think about remodeling another kitchen for a while!) He did say as the memory of assembling the cabinets fades, he really is impressed with the quality and all the customizations available from Ikea.

Resources of note:

cabinets – Ikea (uppers – ADEL off-white, lowers – RAMSJÖ black-brown)
countertops – Corian in rain cloud, Home Depot
wall paint – Sherwin-Williams pediment
floor tile & epoxy grout – Lowe’s
backsplash tile & fusion grout – Home Depot
refrigerator, range, microwave – Frigidaire Gallery, Lowe’s
dishwasher – Ikea
sink, faucet – Kraus from FaucetDirect
cabinet hardware – Lowe’s
lights – LED from Lighting Wholesale
peninsula pendants – etsy
sink pendant – Lowe’s
dining table & chairs – World Market
dining cabinet – Ikea
countertop tray – Target
bamboo blind – Home Depot
curtains – Target
stools – Target
kitchen rug – eBay
dining room rug – Flor tiles, Suit Yourself in linen

ohio ikea kitchen after 7

ohio ikea kitchen after 1

Thank you Mallory and Mike for sharing your kitchen! The transformation is amazing. I can’t believe how much function and storage you squeezed into the space. It’s almost as if you guys do this for a living ;)

Okay readers, pick your jaw up from the floor and tell me what’s your favorite part. You know the tuxedo design had me at hello, and I’m all over the hits of black – especially the painted door and pendants. I’m sorta crazy for that floor tile, too. The oversize scale doesn’t compete with the backsplash tile while the herringbone pattern adds interest. I love how the kitchen opens up to the dining area now. It flows so naturally, like it was always that way. Personal details like the shoe cabinet and humorous chalkboard art show that real (smart and funny) people live here. I would feel right at home sitting at the peninsula or dining table while Mallory whips up drinks. I have to agree with Mike. Building and installing an Ikea kitchen isn’t all that different from giving birth. You forget the pain over time. Haha! Be sure to check out Mallory’s blog, Danks and Honey, for a cost breakdown, more pictures and loads of Ikea kitchen tips. It’s a gold mine!

Want more kitchen inspiration? See more Ikea kitchens right here:

An Ikea Kitchen in Los Angeles

An Ikea Kitchen on Australia’s Gold Coast

An Ikea Kitchen in Asheville

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

Do you have a project (big or small; Ikea or non-Ikea) that you would like to share with House*Tweaking readers? Email me at housetweaking (at) gmail (dot) com for consideration. Thanks in advance!

images: Mallory Danks

bunker 1

It’s no secret that I’m slightly obsessed with tiny houses. There’s something about fitting life into a tiny, tidy dwelling that appeals to me. I love the way it encourages creative space planning, minimal possessions, intentional choices, practical organization, financial responsibility, eco-friendly features and a reliance on community. We are a family of five living in ~1,600 square feet and I often dream of living in a smaller home. So when a long-time reader and her husband offered to share their tiny house story, I was all ears (and eyes). I’m happy to share their story with you today. I found it so inspiring and I think you will too.

bunker 17

LeAnne and Derek bought a foreclosed fixer-upper shortly after graduating college and getting married. The original plan was to DIY the house into a modern cabin. But after a few grueling months of renovating and living in an apartment off-site, they made a conscientious choice to turn a small, detached garage into their living space. Find out more about their 350-square-foot tiny home (affectionately named “Bunker”) below. Plenty of photos included!

bunker 14

bunker 15

bunker 18

What prompted you to convert your detached garage into living space?

When we purchased the foreclosed property in January 2014, we immediately started on the house which was a wreck. After a couple of months of renovating and an impending apartment lease coming to an end, we knew we needed to either resign a year lease or come up with a better option.  At the time, we were living in a 550 sq. ft. studio apartment in downtown Indianapolis, so living in a garage didn’t seem too far-fetched! Before Bunker was Bunker, she was the garage that was holding all of our tools, leftover doors, windows, and anything else we thought we may want to save. I specifically remember standing in that little garage crammed full of stuff and trying to imagine all of Derek’s ideas. He really was and is the visionary behind this project.

In April 2014, we officially switched our focus from Longshot (the house) to Bunker (the garage). Our original goal was to be moved into Bunker by June, but a stop work order hanging from our door two weeks before the move kept that from happening. We ended up going through the whole inspection process and moved into Bunker October 1st, 2014.

bunker 2

bunker 3

bunker 8

What were your must-haves for the space?

His? Tall countertops. Mine? A closet. We actually ended up with both! Our kitchen is Ikea but we did the countertops ourselves. Ikea has a variety of legs to choose from, so adding height wasn’t a problem.

bunker 10

bunker 11

The closets are Ikea wardrobes. We put two separate units together to create a closet space and to break up the “box” feeling of Bunker. We didn’t come up with the closet idea until three weeks before moving in. I was getting a little nervous about how we were going to store things!

bunker 16

bunker 4

How did you make the utilitarian space feel cozy and livable? (i.e., How did you make the space feel less like a garage and more like a home?)

Our style has morphed into comfortably modern with an industrial cabin twist. Is that a style?! Every piece or detail in Bunker has been chosen just for her. Decorating a small space has been great because it forces me to be very intentional with what I buy. If I don’t have a quiet squeal moment in the store, I won’t buy it. My favorite pieces that add to the cozy factor is our DIY painted (blue!) refrigerator, our orange Ikea couch (which is also a full sleeper), and the cedar accents throughout the house.

bunker 12

What is the hardest thing about living in 350 sq ft? The easiest?

The hardest part is keeping it clean. The easiest part also happens to be keeping it clean. With such a small area, when mail is sitting on the kitchen table, the whole place looks cluttered! The good news is that cleaning up takes barely any time at all. I try to straighten it up every morning before I leave for work. Then when I get home, I can swing open the double doors and don’t have to worry about it looking like a disaster. I would not describe myself as a clean freak, so our home has forced me to be more organized.

bunker 5

What is your favorite Bunker project to date? Least favorite?

My favorite is the cedar siding wall we created to cover up the backs of the closets. It was a Sunday afternoon and I had mentioned that I would LOVE to get something to cover up the closets and shoes. We headed to Home Depot and strolled through the aisles. We came across packs of cedar siding and I quietly squealed. The project was so simple. The cedar planks were already the exact length of our closets. We just lined them up and screwed them in! Within an hour, we had a great accent wall for under $50.

bunker 9

My least favorite would have to be the DIY steel & wire railing in the loft. I absolutely love the way it turned out in the end but it took a while to dream up, assemble and finish. In the meantime, I was sleeping in a loft with no railing to keep me from falling. The railing was Derek’s baby. We bounced around a lot of ideas. (We went months without any railing.) Eventually, we settled on steel frames with a single wire roped through a pulley system. The black portion of the railing is leftover metal roofing material, trimmed out in leftover cedar. My husband completely geeked out during this project and I love the way it came together.

Are you motivated to start work on the house now that you’ve conquered Bunker? Or are you content living in Bunker for a while?

This is a constant topic of discussion between the two of us. At this point, we are planning on being in Bunker for a few more years. We really enjoy what we have made, the convenience, and how much money we’re saving. (Our mortgage is 85% less than what we were paying in rent.) Longshot is currently being used as a workshop. We aren’t necessarily committed to any one thing and are keeping our options open.

bunker 6

What is your next project?

As you can see from some of the pictures, we are still working on finishing touches. Most of the trim has yet to be completed. I have been avoiding some painting projects, and we would like to work on the outdoor patio area and landscaping.

bunker 19

I have never been a flower girl since I prefer to eat plants instead of smell them. Therefore, we opted to do edible landscaping this year. We tilled up some beds around the house and grew kale, cabbage, tomatoes, onions and lots of herbs. We also had our first ever garden which keeps me on my toes! Next year, I would like to trim out the beds and mulch. One thing at a time. As with most homes, there are ALWAYS projects!

bunker 7

Are there any other tangent stories or details you’d like to share?

We like to keep it real in the Lavender household so you must know that living in a tiny home isn’t always glamorous. When we first moved in, we were essentially taking over the space from spiders, mice and, the worst creatures of all, crickets. There was a point where we were literally up several nights in a row at 3:00 a.m. desperately trying to find the crickets that were chatting with each other. One of my favorite memories is my husband standing on the kitchen countertop sporting a head lamp with shop-vac in hand, trying to vacuum up a cricket when it would peek out of a crack in the concrete. There were many sleepless nights…which made us realize we are NOT ready for children ;)

bunker layout

On a final note, Bunker was a complete DIY project except for the electrical work (which Derek did do, but when we got busted by the county, they made us tear it out and hire an electrician) and the water line.

bunker 13

Thank you, LeAnne and Derek, for sharing a big peek at your tiny life!

You can see more of LeAnne and Derek’s tiny house on their blog. I have to say, I’m so envious of the couple’s mindfulness at such a young age. We could all stand to learn a thing or two from them: living within your means, choosing patience over instant gratification, making the most of what you have, being resourceful with DIY and having the courage to resist the (expensive!) norm. As for Bunker, she’s quite the cutie. I love the mix of homey accents (warm wood tones, sputnik chandelier, greenery, etc.) and practical elements (concrete floors, freestanding wardrobes, double screen doors, etc.).

Would you ever consider living in a tiny house? What would be on your must-have list? I don’t think I could live happily without a washer + dryer.

If you’re interested in reading more about tiny houses, I’d highly recommend Tiny House Living and The Big Tiny. And I really enjoy seeing how one growing family is making their tiny house work for them.

images: LeAnne Lavender


Congrats to Mary Ann and Kelly! I have already emailed you two with more info about your prizes. Thanks!

studio kitchenette 2

My kids are on summer break which means they are either bored or hungry until mid-August. Ha! (I’m half joking.) I signed the boys up for a free camp program that our local park district offers three mornings per week, and they are taking a tennis class twice a week in the evenings. Mabrey takes a gymnastics class with her cousin (same age) once a week. Other than those activities we have the library, a pool pass and the studio to keep us busy this summer.

studio kitchenette 6

The kids have been good sports about hanging out in the empty studio while I clean, take measurements, check in on progress, paint and make plans. In fact, they’re usually excited to go and that makes me happy. (It could have something to do with the NatureBox snacks.) I’ve always envisioned them playing, crafting, messing next to me at the studio. I want it to be a creative haven for them, too. But a few changes need to be made in order for that to happen.

For one, I need a large work table. I’ve been stalking an old dining table on ebay that would fit the bill, but I want to add casters to make it portable. It’s located here in Ohio. I could avoid shipping costs by picking it up myself. I haven’t pulled the trigger just yet only because I’m working on painting the floors. The table has been up for auction numerous times and keeps getting relisted when it doesn’t sell. With the floors almost done, I think I’m pulling the trigger this week!

studio whiteout 2

The other must-have is storage. Originally, I had planned on bringing in a wardrobe or armoire for storage, but with the kids in tow I’m leaning toward adding a few cabinets with drawers. I’ve rolled the idea around in my head over and over and I think a simple dry bar setup would work best. The space doesn’t have plumbing and there’s a cleanup sink just down the hall. I’m thinking a small bank of base cabinets, a mini fridge and a simple open shelf would suffice for housing the kids’  art supplies, snacks and packed lunches. The entry wall (shown above) would be the perfect location.

I busted out a very rudimentary sketch of what I have in mind. On graph paper…because that’s where the magic happens for me.

studio dry bar

As far as aesthetic, I’ve been writing down words that come to mind when I think of how I want the studio to look and feel: industrial, modern, farmhouse, imperfect, casual, durable, versatile, informal, functional, ever-changing, simple, inspiring. That list is pushing me toward Ikea cabinet frames paired with notched, flat panel drawer fronts similar to these.

studio dry bar 2

Lately, I’ve been drawn to cabinets painted in earthy greens. If I can make it work with the painted concrete floors, I’d love to use the DIY slab-style drawer fronts from Semihandmade and paint them a shade of green. I’ve always wanted to try Semihandmade drawer fronts / doors and this seems like the perfect excuse to do so. Even though there is a cleanup sink down the hall, the water isn’t drinkable as-is. Hence, the mini fridge so I can utilize a water filter.

One of the cabinets will be designated the snack cabinet. My kids are huge NatureBox fans. The monthly snack subscription is great for busy (summer!) months when we’re traveling back and forth to the pool, the library, the park, the studio, etc. They make great snacks for longer trips, too. I’m able to select which snacks are delivered to my doorstep. With over 100 options and no high fructose corn syrup, no partially hydrogenated oils, no artificial colors, it’s easy to find delicious snack options everyone loves. Each bag contains 3-5 servings so one bag feeds my crew. The salt & pepper lentil loops, antioxidant boost and granny smith apples are their favorites.

studio kitchenette 1

Does NatureBox sound like something your family would like to try this summer? Maybe you have a vacation coming up? Today NatureBox is offering TWO free 6-month subscriptions. See entry details below.

PRIZE: Two H*T readers will win a 6-month subscription to NatureBox.

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: Browse NatureBox’s snack selection here then leave a comment on this post sharing which snack(s) you’d like to try.

DEADLINE: Enter before 9:00 p.m. EST Tuesday, June 23rd. Two random winners will be announced Wednesday, June 24th.

BUT, WAIT!, THERE’S MORE: Join NatureBox today and get a FREE sample box of some of their fan favorites. Click here to get started.

Good luck!

*This post sponsored in part by NatureBox, a product and service I use personally. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog.

images: 1-4 & 6) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 5) (clockwise from top left) Lincoln Barbour for Jessica Helgerson Interior Design; The Urban Farmhouse; Mazen Studio; Laure Joliet for Remodelista