...because home doesn't happen overnight.
09.18.15 / Post #1,000!


I sat down to write a more technical post and happened to look at my WordPress dashboard (which I never do because I hate thinking about the blog in numbers). The published post count read 999. WTF?! That just doesn’t even seem possible. I mean, I know I’ve been at this for almost six years but 1,000 posts feels a little monumental. So I ditched the technical post (i.e., saved it for another time) and decided to write something more personal. I spontaneously jotted down the first ten things about myself that came to mind. Fair warning: they’re pretty random. (AND THERE ARE A LOT OF PARENTHESIS.) (And some curse words.)

1. Audio alerts drive me crazy. Beeping microwaves, dinging washers, buzzing dryers, ringing & pinging phones. It’s sensory overload. (TVs and movie theaters always seem extremely loud to me, too.) I set everything to silent mode if it has the option.

2. I love tennis. Like, LOVE IT. I played two decades ago in high school and picked it up again last fall. I didn’t play much over the summer but have started playing more regularly in recent weeks. I play 3-5 times a week with an awesome group of ladies and it is so much fun. I like everything about it: the geometry of the court, the friendly but aggressive competition, the sound of a ball hitting a racket just right, the clothes, the exercise, the mental game, the net game, Roger Federer. If I had to choose between loving only houses or loving only tennis, I don’t think I could choose just one.

3. I’m running my first 5K tomorrow. I hate running. Not to be confused with running after a tennis ball. No, I’m talking about plain ol’ running. I ran track in high school, briefly. After passing out at the finish line several times, I was demoted to statistician. (math > running) I had always felt heart palpitations but I thought they were normal. Your heart is supposed to beat faster when you’re running, right? Years later after I had my first baby, the palpitations became so frequent and so severe even when not physically active that I finally saw a cardiologist and was diagnosed with PSVT. The arrhythmia was successfully treated via cardiac ablation in 2006, but a fear of running has been plaguing me ever since. Then Steve went and organized a 5K to benefit autism and I couldn’t not run (such a good cause, I want to support my husband, yadda yadda) so I’m running my first 5K tomorrow. Eek! My goal is to not pass out.

4. The last thing I binge-watched on Netflix was Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Summer. (The TV series, not the movie.) It’s hilariously stupid, if that’s your thing. (It’s my thing.)

5. I’ve only taken one bath in the tub we tricked out with a wood cradle base. It was glorious. It needs to happen again. Maybe after the 5K?

6. Things have been a little rough since Everett’s accidentPhysically, he’s fine but there are some lingering PTSD symptoms affecting both him and me. (So many acronyms in this post!) I don’t want to delve into details because he deserves some privacy, but, honestly, it has been extremely difficult watching him opt out of everyday activities due to fear. Ironically, none of them have to do with riding a scooter or bike. It’s also very hard to get anything accomplished when he so obviously needs my attention. The start of a new school year has brought even more challenges. This week was better than last week and I hope I can say the same next week.

7. The last thing I bought for our house was hand soap. Mrs. Meyer’s rosemary liquid hand soap, to be exact. It’s perfectly lovely but I am very promiscuous when it comes to hand soap. I’m a hand soap whore. I can’t commit! So many hand soaps, so little time.

8. The last thing I bought for myself was a vintage Mexican skirt on eBay. (see above) I’m crunchy like that. It was $29 and it’s going to be my fall staple. Fashion week, shmashion week.

9. Going from two to three kids did me in. There was a lot going on then. We were living in an interim apartment and renovating. I quit my day job. Mabrey was awful colicky and didn’t sleep more than a few hours at time for almost a year. I was running on fumes. Even if things had been more stable, the jump from two kids to three threw off our cushy 1:1 adult to kid ratio and I feel like we’ve been driving on a metaphorical flat tire ever since. People with more than three kids should automatically get $1,000,000.

I’ll never forget telling other parents of three that we were unexpectedly expecting a third child. They smiled the biggest smiles and kept telling us how “awesome” and “fun” it was. “It’s such a great dynamic,” they would say. Either we’re doing something wrong or it was complete bullshit. In reality, I think they were quietly celebrating, “Yes! They’re coming to the dark side!” I seriously can’t remember what life was like before three kids. That being said, I wouldn’t change it for anything. Mabrey is still my favorite surprise. And sometimes it is awesome and fun but most of the time it’s loud and frenzied.


10. The best book I read this summer was Euphoria by Lily King. It’s a must-read!

*BONUS* I eat french fries two at time. They have to be similar in size.

Whew. I bet you’re glad this won’t happen again for another 1,000 posts.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

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

09.13.15 / Liked & Linked


studio bentwood

studio cabinetry

We got a taste of fall this weekend and it was delicious. Crisp air, crunchy leaves, golden light and bonfires. It’s my favorite time of year. My only wish is that it lasted longer. We spent most of the weekend outside enjoying the milder weather but were able to squeeze in some projects at the studio, too. Slowly but surely it’s coming together. It’s been so nice having a creative space outside of the house to make messes and I can’t wait to take full advantage of it. I’m waiting on a few basics to arrive then I’ll share an update. Hang tight ;)

A few things…

*DIY or buy? When it came to a clothesline for the backyard, we bought. Specifically, this one. It’s highly rated, durable, practical and perfect for not-so-tall people like me and not-so-big backyards like ours. It came with a zippered cover to protect it when not in use during the warmer months. For more extreme weather, the umbrella lifts up out of the sunken base and can be stored elsewhere. A cap covers the base and sits flush with the ground so it isn’t a tripping / mowing hazard.

*Hang a balloon to visualize the scale and height of pendant lighting before buying and installing. Genius!

*Hoping to snag a pair of these bronze and copper beauties for the studio.

edgy + cozy

*I know this house tour happened a month ago but I can’t stop thinking about it. Such a good mix of edgy + cozy.

*Post-renovation, I’m living vicariously through other bloggers’ projects. Lauren’s new place = Young House Love’s house on steroids.

*Speaking of YHL, have you listened to John & Sherry’s recent podcast? They discuss their thoughts on quitting the blog, what they’re up to now and their new book. Several readers have asked my opinion on the whole YHL thing and all I can say is that I would never ever judge anyone for doing what is right for their well-being and their family.

*We walked through this amazing house Friday night. Pictures don’t do it justice.

Happy almost autumn!

images: 1-3) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 4) Tessa Neustadt