...because home doesn't happen overnight.
01.18.16 / Liked & Linked

snow day tent

winter light

After a slow start and unseasonably mild weather, winter hit hard and fast last week. It’s too cold to do much of anything outside besides retrieve the mail and take out the trash. Even those tasks are done with a sense of urgency to avoid being chilled to the core. I’ve lived in the midwest my entire life and I feel like I’ve seen enough snow to last a lifetime, but there are some aspects of winter I do enjoy: cozying up with a book, cleaning out closets, tackling little projects, planning a summer vacation, cuddling with my littles (human & furry), watching the kids collaborate out of boredom to build blanket forts and play games. Oh, and the light! Our usually dark bedroom gets the best light in the winter when the sun is low and its rays are bouncing off the snow.

A few things helping to ward off cabin fever…

*A cute cardigan.

*Creamy, non-drying lipstick. My winter favorite!

*15 things to do for yourself this year.

*A braided bob tempting me to go shorter.

just the basics entry

just the basics kitchen

*A new (to me) source of interior eye candy. And, as a result, a new shelter book on my wish list.

*A cozy TV nook.

*What it’s really like to live on the road as a family.

*I finally created a landing page for all of the IKEA kitchens I’ve featured over the years. You can access it by clicking the ‘See Real IKEA Kitchens’ icon in the side bar. More to come!

*How many days from the past month do you remember? (I love this mindset.)

Stay warm, friends!

images: 1 & 2) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 3) Jonas Berg 4) Anders Bergstedt

IKEA studio organization 1

I’ve been working to add more function and organization to the studio. The space is essentially one big room with no closets or closed storage. Thinking outside the box, I built a dry bar and made over a large armoire to create hidden storage. When it came time to load the drawers and shelves, I knew I wanted to incorporate a slew of baskets and bins along with other organizational accessories.

IKEA is one of my go-to sources for affordable and versatile small storage items. I have a mix of fabric and woven baskets from IKEA in Mabrey’s room and various boxes, bins, letter trays and magazine files (all from IKEA) in the kitchen office. Our kitchen is outfitted with many IKEA pieces as well.

It just so happened in the midst of making my shopping list for the studio, I was asked if I would be interested in becoming an IKEA brand ambassadör. Seeing as how I’ve been regaling you all with my fondness for the Swedish company for, oh, six years or so, I was very interested. To make a short story even shorter, I happily signed on to be an IKEA brand ambassadör. I liken it to the marriage of Brad and Angelina. IKEA and I have been living together happily for many years. Why not just make it official? It’s official! Not much will change on my end. I will still only share IKEA products that I would use regardless of a partnership, but the difference is I am being compensated to share those products. I just thought you should know.

My role as an ambassadör actually began a few months ago when I participated in an online program to learn more about the history and mission of IKEA. It was so interesting! Did you know that IKEA is an acronym (Ingvar Kamprad, Elmtaryd, Agunnaryd) incorporating the founder’s name + the name of his family’s farm + the name of a nearby Swedish village? Or that Mr. Kamprad was passionate about life at home and would often visit other people’s homes and open their closets and drawers for inspiration? Or that the flat pack concept started when a designer took the legs off a table to fit it in her car? Or that a product design always starts with a price tag?

There are all these little backstories that have influenced the company in many ways, but the mission has always remained the same: to create a better everyday life for the many people. IKEA enforces this philosophy of democratic design by focusing on five key elements: form, function, quality, price and sustainability. Who knew so much thought went into a lamp or basket?!

Anyhow, let’s get back to organizing. Isn’t that what everyone does in January?

I finished my shopping list and made a quick trip to IKEA. (I strongly suggest making a shopping list before going to IKEA. Otherwise, you will be distracted. You will be tempted. Stay strong. Make a list and stick to it.) My local store is ~25 minutes away by minivan. It’s a blessing and a curse.

IKEA studio organization 3

IKEA studio organization 2

I grabbed two VARIERA flatware trays for some of the smaller drawers in the dry bar. They fit like a glove. I use one to corral kitchen paraphernalia (think break room > kitchen) and the other holds frequently used DIY supplies. Steve gifted me a portable tool box and a bunch of tools. I can’t tell you how convenient it is to have my own tools. Before, I was lugging stuff back and forth from our garage to the studio in paper bags.

IKEA studio organization 5

I grabbed a MAXIMERA drawer divider for each of the 36″ drawers. The drawers are deep and roomy. The dividers provide separation and keep loose items from sliding around. I used a variety of VARIERA boxes in recycled plastic and sustainable bamboo to corral everything from snacks to office supplies to toilet paper. The top drawer near the mini fridge holds kitchen items like paper plates, dried fruit and dish towels. There’s no water supply in the studio but there is a shared sink down the hall. When I need to wash dirty dishes, I grab the dishwashing box with dish soap, dish towels and sponges, place dishes in the empty bamboo box and go. I keep a few snacks on hand for me and the kids. We haven’t had any issues with mice in the warehouse and I’d like to keep it that way, so open food goes in TILLSLUTA bins with lids.

IKEA studio organization 4

The other top drawer holds cleaning and office supplies. I keep extra toilet paper on hand because no one likes being stranded in a stall with no toilet paper. The little bamboo box in the bottom right-hand corner is the designated “restroom box.” It holds a roll of toilet paper, hand soap and hand towel. (The shared restroom in the warehouse sometimes has soap but often times does not. I like to be prepared.) It has a nifty little handle which makes it easy to carry down the hall and back. The larger bamboo box in the upper right-hand corner holds notebooks, note pads, pencils, rubber bands, post-its, tape and other office supplies.

IKEA studio organization 6

The bottom drawers are mostly empty except for a few vases and pots which are kept in check by the drawer divider. I like having room to breathe and grow. I’d love to share the studio with other creatives.

IKEA studio organization 8

Speaking of vases and pots, they’re also items I particularly like scooping up at IKEA to hold greenery, fresh flowers and even crayons. The SINNERLIG pitcher is great for watering plants or serving drinks.

IKEA studio organization 9

I thrifted the brass bowl for 99¢ and plopped a vase of flowers inside for a layered look. The teeny wood bowl was another 99¢ thrift find that serves as a drop zone for keys.

IKEA studio organization 10

With the dry bar in working order, I turned my attention to the entry. I brought in a SORTERA recycling bin, and the space was in dire need of hanging storage for a broom, dust pan, coats and bags. I picked up ten BJÄRNUM hooks, spray painted them satin black then mounted them to a piece of timber salvaged from our home renovation. I made two hook racks consisting of five hooks each and hung them at adult and kid heights on a sliver of wall between the door and a concrete column. After they were finished, I realized I should have staggered the hooks on the bottom rack. Live and learn.

IKEA studio organization 12

I sanded down the boards but didn’t stain or seal them. I used wood screws to attach the hooks to the boards. I thought about disguising the stainless steel crews with black paint but ultimately decided I like the contrast. It is a warehouse so metal accents and raw wood feel right at home here. Even so, I could totally envision these hook racks in a living space.

IKEA studio organization 11

Each hook actually features two hooks so items can be hung in front of or behind one another to double the hanging capacity. One neighboring studio rehabs mopeds; the other is a rotating art gallery. Inevitably, grease, grime, paint and sawdust migrate into the space. It’s so great to finally have a place for hanging everyday items and keeping them off the floor.

IKEA studio organization 14

I love how the storage armoire turned out. To make it more functional, I loaded it up with a ton of baskets and bins.

armoire organization

The bottom serves as a mini garage of sorts and houses leftover paint, a tool box, a few battery-powered tools, a bucket, my sewing machine and looms.

IKEA studio organization 13

The upper portion holds crafting and sewing supplies along with paint and fabric samples. I left the lids off the KUGGIS boxes so they can hold even more. They’re 21″ long which means they extend to the back of the armoire and minimize wasted space. They’re made of recycled PET plastic, an added bonus. The SKOGSTA box is made from renewable acacia and is beautiful. It’s great for grabbing supplies from the cabinet and carrying them elsewhere to work on projects. The MÅLA paper holder and watercolor paints keep Mabrey occupied for hours. (Cheaper than a babysitter!) I love the texture of the MAGGA seagrass baskets against the black cabinet. Again, there’s plenty of room to grow as I take on more projects. I can easily move things around as needed for maximum efficiency.

IKEA studio organization 15

I wanted to hang a noticeboard of some kind on the interior side of one of the doors, but everything I found was too deep or too wide and would have interfered with the door closing properly. When I spotted the AVSKILD cork placemats ($4 for a 4-pack), they sparked an idea. I used wood glue to glue two placemats together, front to back. The result is a pair of noticeboards thick enough to push a tack through yet thin enough for the doors to close properly. Problem solved! I used damage-free hanging strips to attach the noticeboards to the door. They’re perfect for displaying photos, to-do lists and project ideas. I used an adhesive hook to hang a calendar on the inside of the other door (seen in the gif above).

IKEA studio organization 16

The new storage zones ensure that there’s a place for everything. With portable baskets and bins, nothing is permanent so I can easily switch things up or move things around if necessary. Everything is so functional! Finally!

What are some of your favorite pragmatic items from IKEA? We use the BEKVÄM step stool on a daily basis. I use it to reach items in cabinets above the microwave and fridge. Steve has used it as a stand-in step ladder for home projects. The younger kids use it to help out in the kitchen. Sometimes Mabrey even sits on the bottom step and uses the top step as a “table” to eat her lunch. Cheetah likes to nap on it next to the humming refrigerator.

*I am a brand ambassadör for IKEA. This post sponsored in part by IKEA. I received product and payment for this collaboration. IKEA is a registered trademark of Inter IKEA Systems B.V. and is used with permission. The views, ideas and opinions expressed here are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

IKEA studio organization 14

After building a dry bar in the studio to store items you would normally find in a break room or desk drawer, I was still in need of closed storage for craft and DIY supplies, basic tools, fabric samples and paint swatches. Essentially, I needed a freestanding closet. I spent a few weeks searching Craigslist for large armoires. I was looking for something solid and sturdy with clean lines and a cheap price tag that I could tweak with paint and new hardware.

armoire tweak 1

Enter this beast. I scored it for $100. It’s difficult to visualize the scale in photos, but, believe me, it’s BIG. And heavy. When Steve and I unloaded it, Mabrey promptly claimed it as her “room.” She fits inside easily. Tiny house living? Kidding.

armoire tweak 2

In its previous life the armoire was used as an entertainment cabinet, but the solid wood construction, cavernous interior and adjustable shelving made it a perfect candidate for storage, too.

armoire tweak 3

The wood finish wasn’t all that bad but in the context of the space (there were so many different wood tones in the studio already) I knew I would like it better painted. I imagined it as a tall, dark and handsome cabinet. So I removed the hardware, doors and shelves, scuffed the surface with a medium grit sanding block, wiped it clean and gave it a few coats of Valspar Reserve latex primer + paint color-matched to Sherwin-Williams tricorn black. (We used this paint color on the front door of our previous home. It’s moody with blue undertones.) I used a 6″ foam roller and angled trim brush to apply the paint. I opted not to paint the adjustable shelves because I figured they would get scratched up anyway. Plus, I really like when warm wood and dark paint play together.

armoire tweak 4

I reassembled everything and replaced the original scroll-like knobs with these sexy leather pulls. I probably could have DIY’d something similar with a belt, but I’m so glad I splurged on the pre-made version. The pulls are thick and robust and I really like the simple stainless steel hardware. The honey leather looks so rich and dreamy against the black paint. I did have to trim the length of the included screws for a proper fit but that was the only real work involved. It’s pretty much guaranteed that anything I would’ve whipped up would have been waaaaaaaay subpar compared to these.

armoire tweak 6

As you can see, I left the brass hinges as is. Mixing metal finishes is okay! Even on the same piece of furniture! The paint is semi-gloss which makes it easy to wipe down and ideal for furniture.

I’ll be sharing photos of the armoire’s interior in an organization post later this week. In the meantime, let’s talk more about Mr. Tall, Dark & Handsome. I would gladly put him in my house if I had room. Have I mentioned how sexy those leather pulls are? They remind me of this kitchen.

People! There are so many entertainment armoires out there waiting to be repurposed. As flat screen TVs become more and more mainstream and boxy tube TVs fall by the wayside, large secondhand media cabinets like this one are in high supply. Instead of using them to hide media components, I could totally see them housing toys, books, craft/office supplies and clothing in nurseries, playrooms, craft rooms, offices, dens, family rooms and bedrooms. Get creative with interior organization: hanging rods for clothes, baskets for toys/diapers, labeled clear plastic bins for craft supplies, a pull-out shelf for a printer or laptop, etc. The possibilities are endless. #savetheentertainmentarmoire

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking