...because home doesn't happen overnight.
09.22.14 / Made Me Smile

This post is going up a few days late but for good reason. I met up with my college girlfriends for the weekend and I purposefully left my laptop at home. Normally, I bring my laptop on trips but this time I didn’t want its presence distracting me. The goal for the weekend was to wind down and catch up. We had such a good time! I’m so happy we’ve been able to preserve this tradition for the last 12 years. It’s never easy to sync our schedules but it’s always worth it.

Without further ado, a few links from last week…

nate berkus fabric for joann fabrics

*I finally checked out Nate Berkus’s fabric line at JoAnn. I fell in love with the Warehem upholstery fabric (shown above) and have been brainstorming ideas for incorporating it into our home. I’ll keep you posted… (FYI – All JoAnn home décor fabrics are currently on sale!)

*Modern cat shelters – how timely!

*How to mix old and new cabinetry successfully.

*A DIY kitchen makeover that cost <$500!

*I’ve been waiting for these afters ever since I interviewed Orlando earlier this summer. Gah! I especially like how he carved out FOUR different zones (den, living room, dining area, bar) within one large space. Seriously. I don’t think Orlando could be / do anything ugly at this point even if he tried.

*Yes please!

marion house book entry light

*Emma’s entry is the epitome of fall.

*My favorite nail polish for fall. (It’s on my fingers as I type.)

*(Technically, this isn’t from last week but that’s the beauty of waiting until Monday to post links.) Daniel is well on his way to becoming the male blogger version of Nicole Curtis. It’s a good thing.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend. Tomorrow is the first day of my favorite season but it also means winter is near. It’s bittersweet but sweet nonetheless.

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Emma Reddington for The Marion House Book

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!

lila's kitchen before

Lila describes the “before” of her kitchen in rural Australia as small, cold and clinical. With inadequate storage and an awkwardly placed (and inoperable!) wood stove, the space wasn’t working as well as it could be and it didn’t reflect the family’s warm, organic style. On a tight DIY budget, Lila and her husband used Ikea cabinets and a healthy dose of ingenuity to create a unique but warm kitchen. I had the pleasure of interviewing Lila about her kitchen renovation. Find her answers and the inspiring “afters” below.

plywood ikea kitchen after

Which items in your kitchen hail from Ikea?

Most of our cabinets are from Ikea – except for the ones we custom built for awkward spaces (i.e., under the sink and the narrow space between the dishwasher and the wall).

plywood ikea kitchen fireplace

The cabinets in the non-functioning fireplace are narrow cabinets from Ikea. It was fantastic to find off-the-shelf cabinets that fit to give us more storage. They hold all of my baking spices, ingredients and tools.

plywood ikea kitchen 4

plywood ikea kitchen 3

Because we chose to install such a large sink (it was originally the laundry trough in our exterior laundry), we bought the DOMSJÖ colander and chopping board to place over one sink, enabling it to double as a work surface. We used Ikea drawers and made our own plywood fronts for the appliance drawers which house our kettle, toaster and blender. We have Ikea drawer organizers that we’ve used not only for cutlery and utensils but also to keep my spices close at hand near the stove.

plywood ikea kitchen 5

We purchased the BOSSE stools as our island is essentially our dining table. Our home is <900 square feet. The kitchen isn’t only a kitchen; it’s a dining room!

What made you decide to source these items from Ikea?

It had a lot to do with budget. We are renovating our house week-to-week without borrowing additional money to do so. I also felt the cabinets were of higher quality and more attractive than what a local cabinet maker could have produced. Not to mention, with Ikea we could save money by doing the labor ourselves.

plywood ikea kitchen sink

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

We designed our kitchen ourselves. We were going for warm, organic and industrial with a slight Scandinavian feel.

We designed the kitchen into zones so that items are grouped according to function. To the left of the oven are knives, cooking spices, pots and pans; to the right are the glasses, cutlery and plates for serving food.

plywood ikea kitchen pullouts

We installed trash pull-outs in between the sink and dishwasher so plates are easily cleared before washing. We grouped the kettle, coffee and tea brewing needs, the toaster, the spreads (jellies, jams) and the blender along with everything my husband needs to make his protein shakes. And, of course, my baking station holds all the things I need when I bake with my stand mixer plugged in and ready to go. It was important to us that these things were easily used but just as easily hidden when not in use. It keeps the small room feeling clean, uncluttered and spacious.

plywood ikea kitchen progress 1

plywood ikea kitchen progress

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

Yes, we put it all together ourselves. It was pretty straightforward and fast…and cheap! I know a lot of people find assembling flat pack stressful but I actually enjoy it.

plywood ikea kitchen 7

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

We used plywood fronts on some drawers, poured our own concrete countertops and wrapped the island in vertical join board to soften the high gloss fronts that we chose from Ikea. Choosing countertops from Ikea wasn’t an option because the closest Ikea is 400km (approximately 250 miles) away, making transporting items like countertops dicey.

plywood ikea kitchen 6

We chose to tile vertically to the ceiling with matte white subway tile. The bones and organization of the kitchen are Ikea but we’ve blended it with a variety of other materials to avoid the dreaded “straight from the catalogue” look.

How long was it from design to the final product?

It took about 17 months from concept to finish. We had quite a few hiccups along the way with asbestos found in walls and discovering the floor mostly missing under the original cabinets. We only worked on weekends and some evenings which also stretched the build out.

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

We’ve had the cabinets in for over a year and they have been fantastic. We originally had drawers to the left of the oven but ended up removing the bottom two drawers and replacing them with a door because the 60cm (~24″) cabinet wasn’t the best choice for housing my pots and pans. I also failed to allow enough space between those drawers and the wall and they would brush against the wall tiles when we used them which drove me insane. If I could go back in time I would have put the 80cm (~32″) drawers there instead and allowed enough room!

plywood ikea kitchen 8

plywood ikea kitchen 9

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

That it’s finally finished! But really I just love that it’s white and fresh but not cold and clinical.

I hate the chrome faucet and the legs on our island but replacing them would be really expensive so at the moment I choose to ignore them. One day I’ll switch them out with something nicer.

plywood ikea kitchen organization

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

Absolutely, I’d recommend the cabinets and organizing accessories. I haven’t used other items but I’d expect them to be great too considering how good the products we have are.

Would you consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel?

I would use Ikea again in a heartbeat. I can’t speak to the quality of the appliances or countertops but the cabinets and organizational stuff are fabulous. They’re better than some of the custom made items I’ve had in previous houses.

Resources of note:

ceiling, wall and trim paint – Dulux wash and wear in White on White
floor – Feast Watson floor paint tinted to Dulux White on White
wall tile – Beaumont tiles, 300 x 100 Satin White
island light – Tradition Blasted KL1 Lamp purchased from Great Dane Furniture
other lights – Muuto E27 in white purchased from Surrounding
dishwasher – Asko D5424 (it’s a fantastic dishwasher!)
oven / stove – Smeg 60cm dual fuel
downdraft – De Deitrich
refrigerator – Samsung
plywood – from local hardware store
countertops – DIY hand poured concrete

plywood ikea kitchen elk horn fern

plywood ikea kitchen book niches

Thank you so much, Lila, for sharing your darling kitchen!

What a creative use of space, right?! It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The fireplace turned baking station, the appliance garage, the automated downdraft in the island, the ceiling height book niches…they’re all such clever ideas for a small kitchen. I love that Lila and her husband put their own spin on things by DIYing plywood fronts and concrete countertops. And don’t even get me started on that trough sink. THAT SINK! You can read more about Lila and her commitment to savoring life’s little things over on her blog.

If you’re in the mood for more Ikea kitchens, check out the rest of this series:

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

And if you have an Ikea kitchen (it doesn’t have to be 100% Ikea) that you would be willing to share on House*Tweaking, please email me at housetweaking@gmail.com for consideration.

P.S. – Thanks to everyone who has already submitted an Ikea kitchen. I really, really, REALLY appreciate the time and effort you’ve put into bringing these posts to fruition. I have a slew of Ikea kitchens sitting in my inbox waiting to be featured. I apologize for the lapse in time between submission and the post going live. I’m buried in Ikea kitchens – in a good way! Keep ‘em comin’!

images: Lila at Little Wolff

calvin & hobbes 5

My kids are OBSESSED with Calvin and Hobbes. It’s a daily read around here. I credit the comic strip with advancing Everett’s reading skills over the summer. It has prompted a lot of good questions from the kids, too. (“Mom, what does ‘pizzazz’ mean?”) Even though Calvin and Hobbes was a favorite of Steve’s when he was little, he never pushed it onto the kids. It just sorta happened. I think it was Layne who first chose a Calvin and Hobbes book at the library and it was love at first sight read.

So when I was brainstorming ideas for a blank sliver of wall next to the boys’ closet, a DIY mural of Calvin and Hobbes was the first thing that came to mind. Luckily, everyone else thought it was a cool idea, too.

calvin & hobbes 1

We searched high and low for an image that would fit the narrow wall space. We settled on a simple image of Calvin and Hobbes standing next to each other. Steve printed the image onto a transparency at work. (Shhhh, don’t tell.)

calvin & hobbes 2

We used a projector to project the image onto the wall. The projector is the same one we used for a similar project in our previous house. We borrowed it from Steve’s office and they told us to keep it because they had no use for it. I have no idea how the projector made the cut and managed to stay in the “keep” pile when we downsized. In fact, I thought we had given it away but Steve found it in the attic space above the garage last week.

calvin & hobbes 3

Steve traced an outline of the image onto the wall with a pencil. The image was a tad too wide. We didn’t want the bedroom door to obscure Calvin when opened. So after tracing Hobbes, Steve repositioned the transparency to move Calvin a little closer to Hobbes. Then he traced Calvin.

calvin & hobbes 4

Using paint we already had on hand (Clark + Kensington primer + paint in one, color-matched to Ace Paint color “besalt” D36-7 in a flat finish) and a small paint brush, Steve filled in the lines. It took two coats to get adequate coverage.

calvin & hobbes 8

The matte charcoal paint worked perfectly. The end result is similar to what you would find in print. Except it’s life-sized and on a wall.

calvin & hobbes 6

The area under the basketball hoop no longer feels like a void and the mural should hold up to free throws.

calvin & hobbes 7

For reference, here’s the same view with the bedroom door open.

Layne and Everett were away at their grandparents’ house when Steve painted the mural. Even though we had talked with them about creating a mural, the boys had no idea it was happening while they were away. They were so surprised (and excited!) to discover it when they came home. Everett talks to Calvin and Hobbes. It’s hilarious. And ironic. And awesome.

The best thing about the mural (other than it being FREE!) is that it’s easily “erased” with a coat or two of paint should the boys tire of it. But seeing as how their dad is still a fan after 25+ years, I don’t think Calvin and Hobbes are going anywhere.

Fun fact: Did you know Bill Watterson first created the popular comic strip characters in his spare time when not working at an advertising job he detested? The mischievous first grader and his tiger sidekick were originally side characters in a strip that was rejected by a syndicate.

How do you feel about wall murals? Would you consider painting your child(ren)’s favorite character on a wall? I would never agree to a character-themed mural on a wall in a main living area but when done in a kid’s space and in a simple, non-garish design, I think it’s harmless fun.

FYI – If you’re interested in DIYing a wall mural but don’t own a projector, try borrowing one from a local business, school, library or church.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

main bath tiled 1

Steve finished tiling the bathroom walls two weekends ago. Working in spurts around his real job, family life and appendectomy recovery, the entire process strung along for most of the summer. Between the uneven walls and Steve’s perfectionist tendencies, it wasn’t the most enjoyable DIY. The window wall put up a good fight. It was all kinds of wonky. And our choice of tile probably wasn’t the easiest to work with on the wavy wall. The narrow subway tile is extra long at 12″ which didn’t allow for much “play” along some of the most troublesome spots. Luckily, the worst spot (along the bottom of the window wall) will eventually be hidden behind the bathtub so it shouldn’t be too noticeable in the end.

main bath tiled 2

But we do have perfectly wrapped corners. (The water lines denote the vanity’s location.)

main bath tiled 3

main bath tiled 4

And exact 90º angles. Those are always fun.

We are SO HAPPY with how the black pencil liner and bullnose trim turned out! I was a little worried about the profile of the pencil liner sticking out further than the subway tile but I actually love it. It’s a great finishing touch that’s simple yet sophisticated. And it gives the walls some added dimension, too.

With all the tile in, we started to second-guess our choice of white grout for the walls. The contrasting spaces between the subway tile looked decent so we contemplated a contrasting grout for a split second. But when we pulled back the cardboard protecting the hex floor tile, things felt very busy all of a sudden. So we decided to stick to our original choice of white grout.

main bath grout 1

Which we tackled this past weekend! It was a joint effort and we let the kids fend for themselves while we knocked it out. Let’s just say, once we were finished, the rest of the house was looking waaaaaaaay scarier than the bathroom. When you have three kids and a bathroom remodel on your hands, you do whatcha gotta do. Sometimes the bathroom takes precedence while your kids run wild and eat whatever / wherever they want for a day. It’s all good.

main bath grout 2

The freshly grouted bathroom! And a piece of unpainted baseboard for reference! I’ve never been so in love with a room that doesn’t serve any purpose (yet!).

main bath grout 4

The grout is standard white unsanded grout from The Tile Shop. It’s the same color we used on the shower walls in the master bathroom.

main bath grout 3

Pictures really don’t do this room justice. It’s difficult to photograph because of the small size and layout. Just being in the space – even sans fixtures – feels like a luxury. At one point, we considered only tiling the shower / tub area but I’m so, so glad we went for a tiled wainscoting around the entire room.

main bath grout 6

I was having so much trouble capturing the room on camera that I went outside and snapped some shots through the window to give you a different perspective. Do you spy a glimpse of the open shelves in the living room?

main bath grout 7

Someday, a toilet, vanity and wall sconce will live on this wall.

main bath grout 8

Someday, towel hooks and shower / tub plumbing fixtures will live on this wall. Maybe one day we’ll even have a bathroom door. Who knows?! The possibilities are endless.

main bath grout 9

Here you can see how the short hallway (to the bathroom) juts off from the main hallway. There’s a small linen closet to the left just beyond the bathroom. I don’t think I’ve ever shown this view before but, hopefully, it gives you a better idea of the bathroom’s location in relation to the rest of the house. Hint: on the other side of the right-hand wall is the kitchen desk.

main bath grout 11

We still need to seal the walls, install baseboards and caulk. (The floor is already sealed.) Then we start work on the tub. We’re equal parts stoked : horrified. Especially considering what happened the last time we touched it. If anything, it should be a good learning experience. At least, that’s what we’re telling ourselves.

*Thanks to The Tile Shop for partnering with us on this bathroom remodel. Tile and grout were graciously donated to the project. All product choices, labor and opinions are ours.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking