...because home doesn't happen overnight.

indiana renovation IG

It all started with this post. I mentioned my thoughts on Ikea missing the mark by not offering an unfinished wood cabinet door / drawer front that could be painted any color of the rainbow. I absolutely loved all the comments (read through them if you haven’t already) on that post. There was one in particular that grabbed my attention. Megan commented that her sister, Whitney, had used painted Ikea cabinets in a kitchen remodel and linked to an instagram photo of the results. I had to know more. What began as a quest to discover how the painted cabinets came to be and how they were holding up, turned into a full on house tour. Read Whitney’s narrative and see the before, in-progress and after photos below.

indiana kitchen after 1

I bought my house three years ago after falling in love with a street in Fort Wayne, Indiana. After studying the block, I noticed one particularly dilapidated / vacant home. When I asked the next door neighbor what the story was she told me that an elderly lady had passed away and the house had been vacant for some time. My soon-to-be new neighbor gave me the son’s information and the rest is now history.

indiana entry

This is my second home. I learned so much the first time around that I knew I wanted to put some of my newfound skills to work on a bigger project.

indiana living room before 1

indiana living room in progress

indiana living room after 1

It wasn’t the plan from the start but somehow we decided to remove all the plaster and lath from the walls – ALL the walls. In short, my one-hundred-year-old house was completely gutted down to the studs. My dad, sister, husband and I did almost all the demo ourselves.

indiana dining room before

indiana dining room in-progress

indiana dining - kitchen after 1

We removed the wall between the dining room and kitchen, closed in a kitchen window, had all the knob-and-tube electrical replaced, properly insulated the walls and, finally, drywalled. After pulling up five layers of linoleum in the kitchen we realized the original pine floors were too damaged to save. We removed all the pine and replaced the kitchen flooring with unfinished red oak to match the rest of the first floor and then sanded and stained both the new and original hardwood a dark walnut finish.

indiana kitchen before 1

indiana kitchen before 2

indiana kitchen before 3

indiana kitchen in-progress

indiana kitchen after 2

When it came to work on the kitchen cabinets, I knew I wanted them to be gray. It was difficult to find a company that carried a gray cabinet in their line that was still in my budget. I received quotes from Kraftmaid and Clique Studios versus having them custom made. The quotes were between $6K – $9K for my small kitchen. More than I was willing to spend. My sister suggested buying Ikea cabinets and having them professionally painted so I read the reviews, did the math and decided Ikea was the way to go. We chose the white ADEL (no longer available) style as our base, but as a pleasant surprise, when we got to Ikea we found a discontinued ADEL style in birch (not advertised online) that was 50% off.

indiana kitchen open shelving

Phenicie Restoration did all the painting for close to $1,500 – all the cabinet fronts, side panels, toe kicks, open shelving (which we bought at Lowe’s and cut ourselves) and eight corbels. In hindsight, I probably would have cut all the trim and side panels first before sending them off to be painted, but because it was going to take a few weeks I was anxious to get the painting started while we installed the boxes.

After the side panels were painted we cut them using a jig saw through delicate painter’s tape to prevent chipping and splintering. The brand of paint Phenicie Restoration used was Sherwin Williams and the color I chose was “Wet Pavement” by Valspar. I was so pleased with how the cabinets turned out. They looked like I bought them gray from the manufacturer. The painters gave me a little jar of paint for touch-ups, knowing they’d need to be made eventually. Two years later I still love them. I have needed to touch up the corners here and there but it blends perfectly.

All in all, buying from Ikea and having them painted was more work but worth it for the money I saved. One great lesson learned was to triple check all the quantities of pieces sent to the painter. It wasn’t until after we got everything back that we realized we still had three drawer fronts tucked away among other Ikea purchases. But I can’t say enough good things about Ikea quality.

indiana dining buffet before

dining buffet after

The island we built between the dining room and kitchen encroached on dining space. So the idea for the banquette along the wall came quite naturally. I love all the imperfections in the antique buffet I found in our garage. Incorporating it into the banquette worked wonderfully.

indiana kitchen chimney

My favorite detail about my kitchen is the brick chimney we painstakingly uncovered under thick plaster.

indiana kitchen chalkboard sign

indiana DIY kitchen shelf

indiana living room after 2

indiana living room mantel

This house is very much a DIY group effort by myself, my husband, my sister and my dad. My dad has been a woodworker for 50 years. Being raised by a man who is always building something around the house has put home improvement in my sister’s and my blood. And slowly but surely my artist husband, Nate, is becoming one of us. Working on this house with my family has truly been a labor of love. I am looking forward to many more projects.

Resources of note:

KITCHEN

kitchen cabinets – Ikea
cabinet and banquette paint – Sherwin Williams paint, color-matched to wet pavement by Valspar
marble countertops – Marble Uniques in Tipton, IN
apron front sink – Kohler, Lee Supply
kitchen cabinet hardware – Lowe’s
kitchen faucet – Wayfair
appliances – Samsung, Lowe’s
floral prints under cookbook shelf – Rifle Paper Co.

DINING ROOM

pine dining room table, pine & pipe cookbook shelf – DIY, materials from Lowe’s
black glass buffet handles – Hobby Lobby
floral prints above banquette – Little Low Studio
dining chairs – Overstock
barstools – thrifted

LIVING ROOM

living room rug – RugsUSA
bench, wooden vase, stair wall picture frames – Target
sofa, chairs, industrial light, side table base – thrifted
wall mirror, globe – estate sale
throw pillow – Ikea
floral mantel prints – Lulie Wallace
fireplace mirror, entry table – vintage, thrifted
wall art – Kelly Ventura, Oh Gosh Cindy, Lulie Wallace, Rifle Paper Co., Little Low Studio
glass cloche, side table top – Crate & Barrel

**********************************************************************************************************************

Whitney, thank you SO MUCH for sharing your house-to-home story! And thank you, Megan, for introducing me to your lovely sister. You two make quite a team. I can only imagine how much time, sweat and love went into this transformation.

Okay, readers, how blown away are you? Me? Mind. Blown. I can usually spot an Ikea kitchen from a mile away but this one might have fooled me had I not known about the painted cabinets already. The custom cabinet color, exposed chimney, open shelving and fitted moldings give it that extra oomph to take it from just updated to something special. I am so happy that Whitney respected the 100+ year history of her home by choosing finishes and materials that complement the house’s character. Rehabbing the old buffet into a built-in banquette was ingenious. Did you happen to notice the black window frames? I asked Whitney about those. She said they are the original wood frames but she painted them black to make them pop. The cost? $20. Bang for your buck, folks.

This is why I love blogging. I love hearing and seeing others’ renovation stories. Even when the end result isn’t something I could achieve in my own home, I’m always inspired. When the storytellers allow me to share their experiences here with you, it’s icing on the cake. Do you have a project – big or small – that you would like to share on House*Tweaking? Please send submissions for consideration to housetweaking (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks in advance for letting me peek into your homes and lives.

images: Whitney Clappe-Utesch

powder room before

Whenever a H*T reader wins a product or piece of furniture, I’m always curious to see where it ends up in their home. Most of the time I never receive a followup email with images included. I completely understand. These things take time and life is busy. Believe me, I get it. So when this happy lil’ powder room showed up in my inbox last week, I was giddy! Back in the fall of 2013, Chloe won a credit to purchase wallpaper via a giveaway I hosted. She chose Mountains Sunrise by MissPrint and lined the walls of a closet-turned-powder room. The results speak for themselves.

wallpaper powder room

wallpaper powder room

wallpaper powder room

wallpaper powder room

wallpaper powder room

So cute! I can only imagine what it must feel like to be a guest and open the door to the loo. Such a fun surprise! You can read more about Chloe’s powder room on her blog where she shares the DIY wallpaper installation and how to hang items without ruining wallpaper. Chloe, thank you so much for passing along photos of your wallpapered powder room.

Resources of note:

wallpaper – Mountains Sunrise by MissPrint
light fixture – Amazon
soap dish – gardenia soap dish by Signature Hardware, oil-rubbed bronze
towel hook – solid brass hook with porcelain knob by Signature Hardware, dark oil-rubbed bronze
mirror – HomeGoods
stool – DIY
basket – HomeGoods
acacia wooden tray – Target
plant (faux) – Target
art & frame– Ikea
candle – Salt & Sundry

P.S. – House*Tweaking is a finalist in the decorating category of Better Homes & Gardens blogger awards. If you want to, you can vote here through March 30th. If anything, at least go scout the other blogs. Such amazing talent! And, as always, thank you for taking time out of your busy day to read. Mwah.

images: Chloe Joy

Brittany and Greg bought their first home in 2012. It wasn’t the house of their dreams but it fit their budget and had potential. One of the biggest pitfalls was the kitchen situated between the dining room and a side entry.

view to kitchen from dining room

craigslist kitchen before 1

What little cabinetry there was was outdated and in disrepair. Doors and drawers didn’t open and close properly. The (emerald green laminate) countertops were perpetually cluttered due to lack of storage. An undercabinet radio hogged one of the rare outlets. Too few overhead lights didn’t provide enough lighting at night.

craigslist kitchen before 2

A freestanding stove blocked access to a nearby base cabinet and countertop. There was no exhaust fan. A shallow pantry was inadequate.

craigslist kitchen before 3

craigslist kitchen before 4

The location of the refrigerator was such that it jutted out into the already cramped room and impeded traffic flow to / from a side entrance.

However, the kitchen did boast good natural lighting and new stainless steel appliances which Brittany and Greg took full advantage of when they overhauled the kitchen after living with it as-is for over a year.

craigslist kitchen layout

Working on a tight budget, the couple scored a set of custom cabinets via craigslist. The top of the line cabinetry typically sells for >$1,500 PER CABINET! Brittany and Greg negotiated a price of $1,000 for the entire set, including molding and side panels. Armed with mad math skills (they’re both engineers by trade), google Sketch-Up, a little imagination and a lot of DIY ambition, they created an open, functional kitchen that better suits their casual lifestyle. Spoiler alert: a game-changing wall was demo’d. I asked Brittany several questions about the remodel. Find her answers and the “afters” below!

craigslist kitchen after 8

craigslist kitchen after 3

craigslist kitchen after 5

What were the limitations of your original kitchen?

The biggest limitations included lack of storage and countertop space. With the limited counter space on each side of the sink and an awkward last minute spot for the stove, it was impossible to use the bottom cupboard. Having >2 people in the kitchen utilizing all of the appliances was next to impossible.

Aesthetically and functionally speaking, the biggest source of pain was cooking and entertaining. Anyone cooking was completely segregated from the rest of the house. Too many people standing in the way wasn’t helpful for preparing food either.

How long did you live with the original kitchen? Did you make any short-term improvements?

We lived with the kitchen for a year and a half, through our wedding planning and actual wedding. We were very lucky that the last owners installed new appliances about a year and a half before we moved in, so we did inherit three new beautiful and functional stainless steel appliances which helped aid any limited short-term improvements and allowed us to focus attention on other rooms in the house.

craigslist kitchen after 1

craigslist kitchen after 9

What were your goals for the remodel?

Our original goals for the kitchen remodel focused mainly on practicalities: <$5k, add resale value to our house, improve functionality. As our first home, we understood it may not be our forever home but it very well could be. Therefore, we tried to ensure it not only met our tastes now, but our needs in the future as well as others’.

We also knew that we wanted to get rid of the wall between the kitchen and dining room, leaving no header and no ledge on the floor. The consistent opening of the space would improve natural light and daily traffic flow throughout our house. Any perks of additional storage, counter space and efficiency would also be required seeing that we’re both engineers and functionality is our #1 priority by trade.

Where did you find inspiration for the remodel?

Inspiration for the kitchen really came from everywhere: blogs, Ikea, pinterest, Houzz, real life kitchens in our friends’ and neighbors’ homes. My husband needed visual pictures before he’d commit to something, so we’d share a photo stream just for our crazy ideas with notes on what we loved and where they would and wouldn’t work.

The ultimate layout of the cabinets was determined after many hours on google Sketch-Up and ultimately on graph paper. My husband was impressed by the fact that in a roughly 12′ x 12′ space we could fit in 40 sq.ft. of countertop, an eat-in bar, a pantry and a wide open space around the stove to prepare food. We were aiming for a flare of modern paired with a classic / vintage-y vibe.

craigslist kitchen after 2

Which came first: the design or the cabinets? And how in the world did you score those cabinets?!

Cabinets! After we put our offer in on the house we knew the kitchen wouldn’t last forever and that we’d have to remodel at some point. As we were putting in our offer, a co-worker recommended, if we weren’t in a hurry, to keep our eyes out on craigslist. Thinking that was a next to impossible feat, I did some quick searches and spotted the listing for the cabinets. The homeowners were remodeling and anxious to get their two Mercedes back in the 3-car garage where the “old” cabinets were camping out. Their contractor suggested they put the cabinets up for sale on craigslist as they were in great shape.

We ended up getting their entire kitchen worth of cabinets for $1,000. They also provided images and each cabinet’s size / layout attached from when they were originally installed by Wood Mode.

While we were happy to stumble upon them, the biggest challenges were storing them for a year and a half and coming up with a functional design that incorporated them. We have <8′ ceilings and the uppers we acquired were 44″ tall. That left <12″ between the countertop and upper cabinetry. Standard work height is at least 18″. Therefore, we ended up having to modify some of the cabinets and, once we learned additional uppers would be ~$1,200 each, we agreed open shelving was the best option for us. In addition, one window is on a brick exterior wall and is not counter height. It posed a challenge when coming up with a layout.

FYI – We’re deciding whether to retrofit the upper cabinets, extra base cabinets & pantry into a hutch for the sunroom or use them for custom built-ins in the basement family room.

craigslist kitchen progress 2

craigslist kitchen progress 1

craigslist kitchen progress progress 3

craigslist kitchen progress 4

craigslist kitchen progress 5

Did you do all the work yourselves? What help, if any, did you hire out? What was the most difficult project you tackled?

We conquered almost every project ourselves with help from volunteer family & friends. From demo to electrical, to drywall, to support beam, to 1.5″ wood floor installation, to cabinet install, tile work, plumbing and sink hook-up, cabinet modifications & shelving and paint and aesthetic styling. Youtube and DIY blogs were definitely our friends during that time…and necessary!

As first-time home buyers of a 1950’s house and learning DIYers, it seemed each task came with its own set of challenges. For example, deciding on flooring left me mailing off a sample of our VCT floor for asbestos testing just in case. And the electrical wiring that we thought would take two weeks actually took 4-6 weeks due to two wires being cut during demo that provided power to the rest of the house. It’s worth noting while we were generous with our original schedule, we forgot we’d occasionally want a project-free night or day of rest.

We hired out:

*ceiling plaster repair – We had attempted this before and got a great recommendation of what I would call a plaster “artist” who seamlessly patched all of our damaged spots. After ceiling paint, no one is the wiser as to where the holes or wall used to be. I would hire this out again anytime in the future! Worth. every. penny.

*gas line moving – I hired this out thinking it would be a more complex task to move 4′ of piping for the stove. However, after seeing them run to the store and move it with flexible pipe, we wish we would have saved our money and done it ourselves.

*load bearing calculations & approval – Despite my husband & I both being mechanical engineers, we brought in a PE (professional engineer) just to confirm our thoughts and calculations on the load bearing aspect of our wall removal. Nothing surprising, but worth the extra insurance.

How long did it take from design to completion?

We started Labor Day 2013, used the long weekend for demo, and worked mainly on weekends and weeknights when necessary. The final project as it looks today was probably completed Labor Day 2014. We are both working engineering & management professionals with long weekday business hours and frequent weeks of business travel. A majority of the work was left for the remaining weekends.

However, we had cabinets installed by Christmas 2013. Countertops arrived a month later in early January. The finishing touches were completed somewhere between then and Labor day. Once the kitchen was functional in January, we tried to return to a normal life and complete smaller tasks each weekend to bring it up to its new identity as seen today.

craigslist kitchen after 10

craigslist kitchen after 7

What is your favorite aspect of your new kitchen? Least favorite?

Overall, we both love the improved flow and functionality. Separately, I think we both love some of the smaller and finer details as our blood, sweat and tears are in almost every corner. For example, I love the open shelves for ease of cooking and cleaning, in addition to having the ability to display all of our wonderful wedding gifts. And my husband loves the USB outlets for charging devices, the instant hot water heater (makes oatmeal and tea in the morning super easy), and the tiled wall and the wood floors (where most of his tears were shed).

On the flip slide, we each have small flaws that bug us. Mine being the missing topcoat of paint on the end of the peninsula, and his being a few imperfect marks on the open shelves. But we’re the only ones who notice, and we have to remind ourselves of that every now and then. My least favorite thing (but not my husband’s – ha!) is that I didn’t take the half wall opening near the stove all the way back to the stove hood wall. *I think* the extra 2′ would have opened up the space even more and resulted in better sight lines while adding an extra few inches of counterspace. But, by the time I thought about it, the electrical and drywall were done. My husband just laughed because there was absolutely no turning back.

Resources of note:

cabinets – Wood Mode hallmark cabinetry in winter white oak
wall paint – Benjamin Moore northern cliffs mixed in Behr Ultra
trim paint – Benjamin Moore simply white mixed in Behr Ultra
flooring – 1.5″ solid oak from a local supplier called National Lumber. It was finished in Golden Oak to match the original flooring throughout the house. (We LOVE the seamless transition.)
backsplash tile – American Olean (1/16″ spacers), Lowe’s
grout – dove gray, The Tile Shop
side entry floor tile – clearances porcelain with charcoal gray grout, The Tile Shop
EZ mount cabinet levelers – My husband thought these were amazing.
granite countertops, sink – a local supply store called Shell Fab (They actually cut the stones and do the installation for the local big box stores, which allowed us to save $$ and shop direct from the local supplier.) We LOVE the deep sink and granite.*
appliances – Frigidaire, c/o the previous homeowners
charcoal vent hood – eBay
open shelves – DIY, inspired by Young House Love / Ana White
spice rack – wine bin from flea market
spice jars – Ikea
faucet  – Moen motion sense in spot-resistant stainless
hot water heater – Amazon*
garbage disposal – Amazon*
hanging pendant lights – Hampton Bay, Home Depot / ebay
pod lights – LED Sylvania 6″ retro fit to standard j-box, Lowe’s
knobs – satin nickel, Home Depot
motion lights – Lutron dimmable LED 3-way*
USB outlets – Leviton*
cake domes – Amazon, Macy’s
bread boxes – Ikea
clock – Target
glass jars – Amazon
copper bowls & colander – ebay
marble rolling pin – Amazon
mortar & pestle – Amazon
dishes – white Corelle (no worries about breaking them!)
dish towels – Etsy
apron – Ikea

*Denotes items / features we’re especially fond of and highly recommend.

craigslist kitchen after 6

Thank you so much, Brittany and Greg, for sharing your space!

I love the ingenuity and hard work that went into this budget-friendly remodel. $1,000 for those cabinets? Are you kidding me?! And, of course, I love the open shelving and subway tile. Bringing down the wall between the kitchen and dining room solved two problems. It opened up the kitchen AND allowed more light to shine into the windowless dining room. This kitchen a far cry from the jumbled, dysfunctional space it once was. You can read more about this project on Brittany’s blog.

Have you ever thought of sourcing kitchen cabinets from craigslist? It seems like a cost-effective option if you aren’t pressed for time and are willing to be imaginative with your design.

images: Brittany Semrau