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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!

san diego ikea kitchen before

san diego ikea kitchen before

Beth and her family lived with a basic builder kitchen for over a year before they decided life was too short to tolerate a dark and boring kitchen any longer. Beth dreamed of a brighter space with custom touches that better reflected her style. Having successfully utilized IKEA cabinetry in the past, the family turned to IKEA once again for their most recent renovation. Initially, neighbors and contractors thought the family was crazy for wanting to update a kitchen that “wasn’t horrible” to begin with, but once they saw the transformation they were blown away by the results. I asked Beth several questions about her experience. See her answers and the stunning results below!

san diego ikea kitchen after 1

Which items in your kitchen hail from IKEA?

The cabinets, doors, drawer fronts and dishware organization are from IKEA.

What made you decide to source these items from IKEA?

We used IKEA cabinets (AKURUM) in our previous home when we remodeled an outdated 70s kitchen. When it came time to sell that house, it was only on the market for six days before we accepted an offer! We know the kitchen remodel was one of the reasons it sold so quickly. For our current kitchen, we had a budget to stick to and felt that IKEA (SEKTION) would be a great choice for its function and quality – both of which we appreciated in our last home. The kitchen was a builder grade kitchen. The cabinets were dark and matched the hardwood floors, but they did not match our aesthetic. We wanted to start fresh with a clean slate.

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

I designed both our previous and current kitchens. It was so much fun! I don’t have a design background, but I have always loved interior design. After the first kitchen remodel, I felt more confident about my design capabilities and gained experience with the 3D kitchen planner. The only blog I came across when I was tackling our first IKEA kitchen was yours, House*Tweaking! I remember feeling very lost and unsure since there weren’t many people talking about IKEA kitchens at the time, but I was reassured after reading about your experience and seeing your results. I did consult with the contractors who installed the cabinets in order to nail down little details that would help us achieve the look we were trying to accomplish. Ultimately, I knew I wanted white and bright because our kitchen doesn’t receive a ton of natural light. I wanted a clean and classic look with custom details.

san diego ikea kitchen

san diego ikea kitchen

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

We utilized a contractor (from our previous kitchen remodel) who specializes in IKEA cabinet installation. The crew was very professional and detail-oriented. I was on site every day during the installation so I could ensure things ran smoothly. This was helpful when questions regarding placement specifics came up or if adjustments were required.

san diego ikea kitchen after 8

san diego ikea kitchen after 7

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

Customization was a priority. We love IKEA kitchens; however, we don’t feel that everything in a kitchen should hail from IKEA. I love mixing and matching and incorporating non-IKEA elements. I ordered pretty chrome handles to give the cabinets a classic feel. We went with a timeless white subway tile and a beautiful quartz countertop that has gray tones to mimic the look of marble. We added a professional chef range hood and upgraded our appliances to add more features for cooking and baking. The stainless steel farmhouse apron sink and chrome faucet were must-have features for everyday chores like washing dishes. We raised the cabinet height and installed bulkheads and crown molding above the upper cabinets to give them a custom, built-in look. It draws the eye up and makes the off-the-shelf cabinets look less generic, more refined. We used glass doors with LED cabinet lighting on two of the upper cabinets (near the sink) and undermount LED lighting throughout. In addition, we changed every recessed light to a softer, warmer LED light which made a huge difference in the overall look of the kitchen.

san diego ikea kitchen after 9

From a functional standpoint, we tweaked some things to make the space work better for us. We relocated the microwave and created a custom IKEA cabinet to house it. We moved our island to accommodate seating for four adults as the previous island was not positioned properly to accommodate seating and did not have a countertop overhang. Moving the island and expanding the countertop made the working space/surface area larger which is great for cooking and baking. Making sure the island lined up properly with enough space on either side and space for seating was a little stressful and challenging, but it worked out perfectly.

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san diego ikea kitchen after 6

We also added a built-in cabinet to the nook in the adjacent dining area to optimize storage while keeping things cohesive with the kitchen. It’s our coffee station. The drawers hold brewing supplies and mugs among other things. It makes our morning coffee routine so much easier!!

How long was it from design to final product?

I utilized my summer break from teaching to take on the remodel. It took about six weeks to complete. The biggest hurdle was the backorder of some parts and cabinets due to the supply/demand issue with the 20% off sale. My husband and I had to call and drive down to IKEA several times to pick up backordered items. The back and forth got old very quickly! We didn’t experience that with our previous IKEA kitchen. It all worked out though with lots of patience. Coordinating contractors and dealing with appliance deliveries were other challenges that affected the timeline.

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

It’s been about six months and we haven’t had any problems. We lived with our previous IKEA kitchen for about a year without any issues. The only problem we ran into this time around was fitting our Thermador oven in the IKEA wall oven cabinet. I consulted with our contractor and the appliance installer to make adjustments for a proper fit.

san diego ikea kitchen after 4

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

One of my favorite things is the fact that I was able to design our kitchen exactly the way I wanted. For example, I added pullout drawers and lazy susans right where I need them. I love how functional the kitchen is now. The soft-closing drawers and doors are the absolute best! Especially for my little ones! The work flow and placement of everything worked out so well which can be tricky when moving items like a microwave or an island.

My least favorite is the cabinetry around the refrigerator. We tried our best to customize it but it was difficult. Ideally, I prefer a more streamlined fit, but I keep telling myself it’s a minor detail in the grand scheme of things.

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

Absolutely! I highly recommend IKEA cabinets. Be sure to take advantage of the 20% off sale events. You can pocket the money you save or use it to splurge on finishes or high-end appliances.

Would you consider IKEA for a future kitchen remodel?

Definitely! I helped design my mom’s IKEA kitchen which means I have completed three IKEA kitchen remodels in total, and I can’t say enough good things about the functionality and quality for the price point.

Resources of note:

cabinets – BODBYN in off-white, IKEA
hardware – sutton place pulls, Atlas Homewares
countertops – LG viatera quartz cirrus
subway tile – Daltile
sink – stainless steel farmhouse apron sink, Kraus
faucet – Grohe
cooktop – Thermador
wall oven – Thermador
range hood – Zephyr
pendant light – Crate & Barrel
counter stools – Target
roller shade – Smith & Noble

san diego ikea kitchen after 5

san diego ikea kitchen after 3

Thank you Beth for sharing your kitchen! It’s lovely. Your mom is one lucky lady to have you as her personal kitchen designer :)

Alright peanut gallery, what are you taking note of in this kitchen? The added bulkheads and molding really do give the kitchen a sense of grandeur. Everything fits so snugly. I totally agree with Beth’s thoughts on mixing and matching IKEA cabinets with other non-IKEA elements for a less generic result. Moving the microwave and reworking the island allow new focal points (hood, island, etc.) to take center stage. And as much as I love a good DIY reno, it’s fun to see how professional contractors take IKEA kitchens to a whole new level with little tweaks here and there. (That’s not to say DIY kitchens can’t look professional.) I think the biggest takeaway for me, though, is the fact that Beth went through with the renovation even after harsh criticism. Do you, people!

You can follow Beth over on her blog or on instagram @1111lightlane.

Want more inspiration? Click the “See Real IKEA Kitchens” button in the sidebar to read about all of the kitchens featured in this series.

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!

nebraska home

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!

ikea nebraska kitchen before 3

ikea nebraska kitchen before 2

ikea nebraska kitchen before 1

In 2013 Nicole, a maker of small batch home goods, and Adam, an engineer, bought a 1910 fixer-upper in a small town in Nebraska. Along with pulling up old carpet and cheap laminate, refinishing the original hardwood floors, painting the exterior (black!) and adding new landscaping, they completely overhauled the kitchen. Working with a limited budget, the couple retained the original floor plan and used IKEA cabinetry mixed with natural materials to achieve a look they describe as “rustic modern.” The couple recently sold their Nebraska house and made a cross-country move to Philadelphia for a job transfer, but Nicole was kind enough to share more about the renovation just before the big move. Read her thoughts and see the beautiful results below!

(FYI – Nicole and Adam’s kitchen was a finalist in the amateur category of the 2015 Remodelista Considered Design Awards. It’s even more inspiring when you know what the kitchen looked like before and how much work the homeowners put into the project!)

ikea nebraska kitchen after 1

ikea nebraska kitchen

ikea nebraska kitchen

Which items in your kitchen hail from IKEA?

The cabinets, door/drawer fronts, interior organizers and range hood are from IKEA.

What made you decide to source these items from IKEA?

We had some previous experience that we were able to rely on. This is the third IKEA kitchen we have installed! We knew we would be completing most of the work ourselves to stay within our budget. IKEA was a great choice since we could build everything ourselves, and the price point helped stretch our budget. We also found IKEA to be an ideal choice when it came to small town living. With limited local options, IKEA stood out because we could plan, select and order everything online then have it delivered.

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

I designed the kitchen aiming for a rustic modern aesthetic. Our home was built in 1910 so we wanted the kitchen to feel like it belonged to the rest of the house while still incorporating some fun, modern elements.

ikea nebraska kitchen progress

ikea nebraska kitchen progress

ikea nebraska kitchen

ikea nebraska kitchen progress

ikea nebraska kitchen progress

ikea nebraska kitchen progress

ikea nebraska kitchen progress

ikea nebraska kitchen

ikea nebraska kitchen progress

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

Yes, we assembled and installed all of the IKEA components ourselves. The assembly of the cabinets was pretty easy but the installation was dicey at times with our crumbly plaster walls and extremely unlevel floors. We built our own toe kick platforms to raise the countertops a little higher than average. (We are both tall and a friend of ours had done the same thing.) It was very tricky getting things to level out. Instead, I would definitely recommend using the legs or rails that IKEA offers.

ikea nebraska kitchen

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

We used the cabinets to set the foundation for the kitchen. One of the choices we made that we have been really happy with was incorporating lots of drawers into the cabinet design. We chose larger drawers over cupboards so that we could easily pull them out and have access to everything within the full 24” depth of the cabinet instead of rummaging around in the back of a cabinet. I would definitely do this again if I were to design another kitchen!

ikea nebraska kitchen

ikea nebraska kitchen progress

We have been working over the past few years to really pare down our belongings to the best and most special things. This drove our decision to give the open shelving concept a try. We sourced reclaimed barnwood from a Nebraska barn to provide a warm and rustic element against the black and white backdrop. I worked with my brother, a designer and fabricator in Oakland, California, to create brackets that mount behind the tile to give the effect of floating shelves.

ikea nebraska kitchen

For the countertops, we wanted something with a matte black finish. Soapstone was out of our price range. We found beautiful brushed granite that popped against the cabinets and subway tile and gave us the look we wanted.

We found a floor model Kenmore Elite integrated dishwasher at Sears for a steal right before we moved into the house so we were able to incorporate it into the design with a door panel from IKEA. We went with a smaller fridge which allowed for more counterspace.

ikea nebraska kitchen

To contrast with the traditional and rustic elements, we incorporated some modern pieces such as the brass hardware, West Elm wall sconces and clean-lined faucet.

How long was it from design to the final product?

I started designing the kitchen a few months before we moved into the house but, due to our work schedules, we didn’t start working on the kitchen for another six months after closing. We completed the demolition and cabinet and countertop install within a couple of months so we had enough of a functioning kitchen to get by. The remaining items such as the lighting, tile, shelving, painting and finish work took about a year for us to complete as we worked on it as time allowed.

ikea nebraska kitchen

How long have you lived with your IKEA kitchen? Have you encountered any problems? Explain.

It’s been a year since we completed the kitchen renovation. So far, so good! The open shelves are super efficient for quickly grabbing dishes and dry goods. The drawers…did I mention those drawers?!…they are the BEST.

ikea nebraska kitchen

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

Our favorite thing about our kitchen is that it is so comfortable for cooking. It’s compact size makes everything easily accessible. We’re in love with the finishes. Sometimes we just pet the countertops and gaze fondly at them, and our houseguests do, too. We love being in the room.

Our least favorite thing is that it is a separate room. It would have been nice to open up the kitchen to the rest of the house but it wasn’t in the budget.

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

Absolutely! The cabinets are great and they have some nice interior organizers. Some of my favorites include the pot lid organizer, the VARIERA door-mounted hanging storage and the baking sheet organizer. We have also used their exhaust hoods in more than one project. They always work well and look stylish. We didn’t use them for this project but I would also recommend their butcher block countertops. We have used them in other projects to top freestanding islands.

Would you consider IKEA for a future kitchen remodel?

Yes! We went with IKEA for this project because, historically, we’ve had success. The tradition continues! We hope to do another IKEA kitchen in the future.

Sources of note:

wall paint – rodeo by Benjamin Moore
door paint – onyx by Benjamin Moore
cabinets – AKURUM cabinets with LIDINGÖ fronts, IKEA
countertops – brushed black granite
subway tile – Menards
faucet – Delta trask pull-down kitchen faucet, Lowe’s
water filter faucet – Amazon
garbage disposal air switch – Amazon
gas range – Kenmore
fridge – Summit counter-depth, bottom freezer refrigerator, Home Depot
range hood – DÅTID exhaust hood, IKEA
ceiling fan – Amazon
wall sconces – West Elm (I painted the backplates matte black before installation.)
rolling butcher block – Goodwood Furniture in Virginia Beach years ago (It has moved with us several times.)
cabinet hardware – Liberty, Home Depot (discontinued)

ikea nebraska kitchen

ikea nebraska kitchen

Thank you Nicole for sharing your kitchen during such a hectic time in your lives! I hope the move went well and that you’re having fun working magic on your new old house in Philly. I can’t wait to see what you do with it.

So readers, what are you taking note of in this kitchen? I think this space is a great example of how you can make a dramatic change without removing walls or shuffling appliances around. Sometimes reconfiguring an entire kitchen just isn’t in the budget, but cosmetic changes can go a long way in bringing more function and style into a kitchen. Optimizing drawer space, incorporating a slim counter-depth refrigerator, paring down kitchen essentials, replacing overhead cabinetry with open shelving and bringing in a freestanding island make the space look and work larger without changing the room’s footprint. I love the black, white and rustic wood mix. The hidden mounting hardware for the open shelving was an ingenious solution. Sourcing veiny, matte granite over soapstone was a smart choice that fit the couple’s aesthetic and budget. And I had no idea the dishwasher cover panels from IKEA could work with non-IKEA appliances! Little DIY details like the black painted backplates of the sconces and the butterfly joinery in the wood shelves draw the eye in for a closer look. The entire space is the perfect backdrop for Nicole’s handmade woodwares. So special!

Be sure to check out Nicole’s shop, Vestige Home, for beautiful wood pieces. Follow her @vestigehome to watch the renovation of her new old home in Philly!

Want more inspiration? Click the “See Real IKEA Kitchens” button in the sidebar to read about all of the kitchens featured in this series.

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: Nicole Cole

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.*

Congrats to Chris who plans on using the cabinet fronts in a tiny guest home she’s currently building!

studio dry bar 3

It’s about time for a studio update, right? I could list a dozen valid (and another dozen invalid) reasons why I haven’t done this sooner but I won’t waste your time. The truth is I’m embarrassed. A few weeks turned into a month. A month turned into a few months. A few months turned into six. Now it’s December. Life is crazy like that.

Anyhow, the studio!

I think the last time I shared pictures the walls and ceiling had just received a few coats of white paint. I went with Sherwin Williams pure white (SW 7005). Since then, the drywall dust has been cleared (Oh my word! Such a mess!! Cleanup took me forever.) and the concrete floor has been painted.

studio floor paint 1

studio floor painted 2

The original concrete was in rough shape. There were cracks, stains and some spalling. I could literally sweep chunks away with a broom. The space is accessed via a loading dock so all kinds of dirt and grease are tracked in on a daily basis. I decided painting the floor a dirty gray was the way to go.

To select the perfect gray I spread out a bunch of color swatches on the floor then walked all over them and picked the one that hid my footprints best. Oh, if only picking a paint color was always so easy! The swatch that made the cut was Sherwin Williams dorian gray (SW 7017) and it’s actually a really great color, a warm muddy gray. I had it color-matched in Valspar’s latex porch and floor paint then rolled on three coats. (That makes it sound so quick and easy but, I assure you, painting a floor with kids underfoot is anything but quick or easy. I do not recommend it.)

studio radiator paint

Way back when, there was discussion about what to do with the grimy radiator. After giving it a good scrub, I ended up spray painting it white. I did not attempt to do this with kids around (which made finding time to do it even more difficult) and I tackled it before painting the floor. It took an insane amount of paint (eleven spray cans I think?) and I’m pretty sure I lost whatever brain cells I had left after baby #3 was born. Which explains why maybe this post isn’t the most bestest.

studio dry bar before 1

After everything was cleaned and painted, I got to work on the dry bar. (I also scored six Bentwood knockoffs at our local Habitat ReStore for $12 total!) I used cabinets from the SEKTION line at IKEA. I bought a pair of 36″ base cabinets with two drawers each and one 15″ base cabinet with three drawers. I chose the Ma drawer style and, since I planned on painting the fronts a dark color, I chose the wood effect brown frames which I so wish had been available when we were renovating our kitchen. (Our fronts are dark and slivers of the white frames peek out in a few places.)

studio dry bar progress 1

I built the cabinets and Steve helped me install them. Everything you’ve heard about assembling IKEA cabinets is true: Staring at all the boxes and pages of instructions is daunting but, after you’ve put one together, you can put together a hundred. We opted for steel legs instead of a toe kick since it is a warehouse after all.

studio dry bar progress 2

After that, the studio turned into a drawer graveyard. Layne offered to help. Start ’em young! Seriously. It’s so easy even a ten-year-old can do it. We had a drawer building race and he totally beat me.

I’d been itching to try Semihandmade for a long time so I ordered seven of the DIY slab drawer fronts with notched pulls and painted them using a 4″ foam roller. The MDF really soaked up the paint. It took three coats of Valspar Reserve latex. The color is Valspar sable evening in a satin finish and it’s one of those chameleon colors. Depending on the light, it can read charcoal or green-gray. I love it.

Semihandmade fronts come pre-drilled so I simply screwed the hardware (included with the IKEA drawers) into the proper holes and snapped the fronts onto the drawers.

studio dry bar drawer

Voilà! Super easy.

studio dry bar drawer 2

IKEA drawers have special mechanisms on them to tweak the fronts so they line up properly. I didn’t have to adjust them too much. The top drawers open by pulling on their bottoms via the notch below.

studio dry bar 1

Just as we did for our laundry nook, Steve built a wood top out of boards we found in our attic during renovation. Being the typical engineer, he fretted over the warped boards but I told him not to worry. That’s the beauty of the studio! Nothing has to be perfect! We sanded the wood but left it raw for a rustic look.

studio dry bar 4

Along with the drawer fronts, I also ordered a panel from Semihandmade to cover the exposed side of the end base cabinet. We cut it to size for a custom fit and I painted it the same color as the fronts.

studio dry bar shelf

The shelf is made from off-the-shelf brackets and more reclaimed lumber from our attic. Once again, Steve was worried because the wood was warped and the tone of the shelf didn’t match the bench top. I’m like, “It’s free! It doesn’t have to match!” One thing I don’t like is the spacing of the brackets but we didn’t have a choice. We had to tie in to the studs.

studio fridge

The kids’ favorite part of the studio is the mini fridge. I bought an inexpensive model and Steve made a platform using leftover plywood and IKEA legs to level it with the cabinets. Then he cut a piece of filler from scraps of the Semihandmade side panel to fill in the gap at the top. I painted everything to match.

studio dry bar 5

Overall, I’m super happy with how the dry bar came together. I’m impressed with the Semihandmade fronts. They have more weight to them than IKEA fronts and I like that there are more options for customization. I should note that the notched pulls are no longer an option. The notches had to be cut by hand and creating them became dangerous and time-consuming. I love the clean, modern look of the notches but reaching down to open the top drawers does feel a little awkward. If I were putting these fronts in my house, I would probably spray them or have them professionally sprayed for a perfect finish. The foam roller worked great but I would be pickier about the finish in a real kitchen.

I’ve had experience building cabinets from both the IKEA AKURUM and SEKTION lines and, in my opinion, the current SEKTION line has better hardware when it comes to assembly and stability. A few things that were plastic in the AKURUM line are now metal in the SEKTION line. I don’t know if or how that will effect longevity but it’s a difference I noticed.

I know this setup probably isn’t feasible for a house (um, no sink) but my hope is, even though I’m putting my spin on a workspace, someone out there might find something that translates to a living space. If you’ve been considering Semihandmade for a project (they do IKEA wardrobes and bathroom vanities too!) then you might want to check out entry details for the giveaway below. Hint, hint.

PRIZE: one $500 credit to Semihandmade (Offer is not redeemable for cash.)

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

TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this post proclaiming “SEMI ME!” Double your odds by liking this Instagram post.

DEADLINE: Enter before 9:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, December 20th. One random winner will be announced Monday, December 21st.

WHILE YOU’RE AT IT: Share what project you would tackle with the prize money. New kitchen? Bedroom wardrobe for clothing organization? Bathroom makeover? So many possibilities!

Good luck!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking