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

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So last week I mentioned we didn’t own a cat. Then, in a strange turn of events, there was a kitten in our house the very next day. It’s a long story. I’ll share it next week. I know I’m not the first human to ever own a cat but when you’ve labeled yourself “not a cat person” for 35+ years and then all of a sudden there’s a kitten in your lap, it’s kinda a big deal. Life is weird like that. Anyway, we’ve been having fun with the newest addition to our family. Lots of cuddles and smiles this week.

More smile-worthy links…

*Textile artist, Maryanne Moodie, shared her home tour on etsy. I loved seeing how she mixes her weavings into her décor.

*Renovation inspiration.

*Hello, my name is Dana, and I am a house stalkerIt looks like I’m in good company. Search the hashtag #housestalker on instagram for more stalkers’ finds.

*An introduction for children (or adults) to modern houses and their architects. (Thanks for the heads up, Heather!)

genevieve gorder living room

*She’s baaaaa-aaaaaack. Genevieve Gorder launched a new website and magazine app. I hear she has a spread in HGTV magazine, too. I’ve always loved her so it makes me happy to see her doing well.

*Ikea’s version of a rock climbing wall.

*I couldn’t help but think of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road when I posted this week’s giveaway. Many of you bibliophiles made the connection as well.

Happy weekend! I hope you get a chance to curl up with a good book in your favorite reading spot.

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Genevieve Gorder

I shared the top 10 features of my dream home a few weeks ago. I thought it would be fun if Steve made a list, too, for comparison. He was game and created his list before reading mine to keep things unbiased. I asked him to mainly think about the shell / structure of the house – not so much about the location. I asked him to choose a few images to demonstrate the features he most desires in a house. As with my list, the images aren’t exact interpretations of the dream home in Steve’s mind but, hopefully, they give you a better feel for it. (He mentioned that the houses shown are all larger than the dream home in his mind.) Here’s what he came up with…

open loft layout

open loft layout

metal sliding partition in open loft

1. Open floor plan. Steve’s dream home has an open kitchen – living – dining space as opposed to separate, walled-off rooms. Movable partitions would be used to close off certain areas for added privacy.

right-sized modern, minimal exterior

right-sized prefab cabin

2. Just enough square footage. Call him Goldilocks. Steve’s dream home isn’t too big or too small. It’s just right. There’s no wasted space and every room serves a purpose or three.

high ceilings with exposed ductwork

high ceilings with exposed ductwork

high ceilings with beams and exposed brick wall

3. High ceilings with exposed ductwork / brick / beams. The “just right” dream home feels spacious and airy thanks to high ceilings. Interesting structural features like exposed ductwork, exposed brick and wood beams lend a loft-like vibe.

vaulted ceiling featuring beams, tongue and groove, skylights

4. Lots of natural light. Big windows, skylights, sun tubes and open air access let light pour in.

5. Solid flooring throughout. Wood, cork, concrete, tile or vinyl plank flooring is a must-have with area rugs thrown down for comfort.

separate modern workshop / shed

6. Detached workshop. Since we’re dreaming…Steve’s dream home is accompanied by a dream workshop / shed. It’s spacious with electrical and plumbing and maybe even small living quarters on the second level. In addition to the one shown above, he also loves the detached outbuildings seen here (designated as ph-1) and here.

7. Great outdoor space. A nice lawn with simple low-maintenance landscaping, a deck / patio and a big ass grill or smoker (Steve’s words exactly) make his dream home just as livable outside as it is inside. He’s really drawn to this outdoor space but prefers a less urban setting. And he basically wet himself when he found this built-in, floating, cantilevered grill setup.

8. Energy efficient. The house is inexpensive to heat / cool and includes a well-organized mechanical room.

9. Well-designed storage. A mixture of freestanding furniture and built-in cabinets provide adequate storage so that everything is in its place.

10. Side or rear entry garage. Also, his dream garage wouldn’t have disassembled bathroom fixtures sitting in it taking up precious space. I’m just guessing on that one.

For reference, here was my list:

1. right-sized
2. plenty of natural light
3. connection to the outdoors
4. open living space
5. high ceilings
6. architect-designed
7. warm wood tones
8. flex space
9. dark exterior
10. prefab construction

When Steve and I compared lists, it was reassuring to find that many features of our (non-existent) dream homes were the same: open layout, right-sized, high ceilings, an abundance of natural light. It was also nice to discover that we both dream of a more intimate space that can be closed off (perhaps with a movable partition?) from the main living space when necessary.

When we exchanged lists, there were a few “Ah! Why didn’t I think of that?!” moments. For me, it was his #5 (solid flooring throughout). I definitely want solid flooring in my dream home. For Steve, it was my #10 (prefab construction) if his dream home was a new build.

I found it interesting that I seemed to focus a little more on how my dream house would look (architect-designed, warm wood tones, dark exterior) while Steve was more concerned with how his dream house would function (detached workshop, energy-efficient, low-maintenance landscaping, well-designed storage). But that’s pretty indicative of how we approach projects in real life. Typically, I’m more focused on the aesthetics while Steve tends to think about how things will be used or how things work. Together, our concerns usually lead to outcomes that address both form and function.

Finally, it was fun to see what images Steve chose. His aesthetic is sleeker, more industrial and more modern than my decidedly warmer vibe. But we both agreed we wouldn’t be upset living in any of the spaces shown on either list.

Have you and your significant other ever exchanged dream home lists? If you like houses (and I’m assuming you do since you read this blog), I’d encourage you to try this exercise. Not only is it fun to see the hits and misses between the two lists, but I think the lists are actually a good jumping off point for buying or renovating a home. Identify the features you both dream of and make them a priority. Then compromise on the other stuff.

If you do happen to make some lists, feel free to share them in the comments section!

images: 1) Bethany Nauert for Apartment Therapy 2) Laure Joliet for Remodelista 3, 6 & 7) Lincoln Barbour for Remodelista 4) House Design 5) Method Homes 8) Morten Holtum for Bolig magazine 9) David Butler for Apartment Therapy 10) Cultivation Design

Have you heard of Indiegogo? I was recently introduced to the global crowd-funding platform which is democratizing the way people raise funds for projects. If you’re an entrepreneur or a do-gooder, you can present your idea, product or cause to the public for funding. Or, if you’re a potential supporter, you can browse all kinds of campaigns and make monetary contributions to the products and ideas you’d like to see through to fruition. Basically, it’s a simple way to make ideas happen. Sounds pretty cool, right?

One particular campaign driven by Indiegogo caught my attention. Meet JIBO, the world’s first family robot. JIBO can take pictures, vocalize electronic messages, read bedtime stories, welcome you home, order takeout and so much more. Essentially, the robot acts as your family’s personal assistant. It’s been dubbed the “robot with a little humanity.” If it sounds like a product worth backing, you can contribute as little as $10 or go all out and pre-order your own JIBO!

After watching the JIBO campaign video, I couldn’t help but think of The Jetsons‘ Rosie, The Transformers‘ Bumblebee, Small Wonder‘s V.I.C.I., Her‘s Samantha and Apple’s Siri. Obviously, we humans have been thinking about the concept of a family / home / humanistic robot for a while. What should it be able to do? To what extent should it interact with us? Should it be personified as “he” or “she” or not at all?

I showed JIBO to Steve and, of course, (as an engineer) he finds the idea of a family robot fascinating. He says the human-robot relationship is inevitable. I have mixed feelings. I do find humanistic robots interesting (this TED talk on the subject is intriguing) but, honestly, I’m a little weirded out by the idea of them, too. I mean, they aren’t real. We’re just starting to see what happens when human-technology relationships replace human-human relationships. But I’ve never been the first to jump at new technological advances either. (I clung to my flip phone up until I was pregnant with Mabrey. Steve forced me to upgrade when only a few wires were holding the two halves of my phone together. I started texting just last year!)

Who knows? Maybe family robots will be commonplace in a few decades. Maybe sooner.

jibo

I will say JIBO is pretty cute…for a robot ;) FYI – That image is a mock-up.

Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts on family robots. Yay or nay? Won’t it be fun to look back at this post and the commentary twenty years from now? If they still exist, that is.

P.S. – Check out a few more home technology-related campaigns currently running on Indiegogo: the TouchPico turns any surface into a projector and Reemo allows you to control your world with gestures. Steve wants to try them both.

*This post sponsored in part by Indiegogo. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!

media: 1) JIBO 2) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

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