...because home doesn't happen overnight.
I received great feedback from the first Ikea kitchen a reader so kindly agreed to let me share here on House*Tweaking. Since then, more readers have sent me wonderful stories and images detailing their experiences with Ikea kitchens. I’d like to continue to feature these types of posts throughout the year so I hope you don’t mind if I sprinkle them in from time to time.
These posts won’t feature overly styled rooms or professional photography – although many of them are magazine worthy. They are meant to provide personal accounts of designing and installing Ikea kitchens…something I felt was lacking when we were considering Ikea for our own kitchen renovation. These are real stories from real people. I ask the owners to be as honest and candid as possible. I want the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. Personally, I get so much inspiration from seeing how other people incorporate Ikea products into their homes to meet their needs and style. I hope you find them inspiring as well.
This particular story comes to us by way of France. (!) Ariane is a journalist and was once a news anchor for a local French network. Her dream had always been to own and run a vacation guesthouse. To realize her dream, she and her husband bought a home with outbuildings on the property that they could eventually turn into guesthouses. They started the process of revamping an old barn very casually but when Ariane was laid off in 2012, it became her full-time job. Ariane still does some journalism work on the side but she finds running the guesthouse completely fulfilling.
The barn had great features to begin with – high ceilings, a stone wall, tons of natural light, open layout – but it was necessary to add a functional kitchen to the space without distracting from the overall vibe.
Ariane worked with an architect to come up with a general layout for the barn but she designed and sourced materials for the kitchen herself. And, surprise!, she tackled the installation mostly on her own as well.
I asked Ariane several questions about her kitchen renovation. You can read the interview and find “after” shots below.
Which items in your kitchen hail from Ikea?
The cabinets, doors, drawer fronts, hinges and hood are from Ikea. I must point out that this kitchen is located in a barn I just renovated. The barn is on our property and I run it as a rental guesthouse.
What made you decide to source these items from Ikea?
When I started planning this kitchen, I looked around to see if I could find better prices but I couldn’t. No one would beat Ikea prices! And the look is pretty great, too. It’s trendy but nothing that will be outdated in a couple of years. And it’s sturdy.
I hadn’t planned on buying Ikea kitchen appliances for the guesthouse. We bought new appliances for our house and put the old stuff in the barn. The fridge is three years old. I had a new dishwasher on hold. The only thing I needed was a hood. I scouted Le Bon Coin (our version of craigslist here in France) and outlet stores with no luck. The day I went to Ikea, I found the hood on sale for 80% off! It was meant to be.
This is actually the third full kitchen I have purchased from Ikea! The first one was for my dad’s home. The second one was for my first apartment. The house I live in now has awesome custom oak cabinets that we’re reusing but we did hang Ikea glass-front cabinets next to the fridge. And we’ve started a wall-to-wall TV stand and bookcases for the living room…all made with Ikea cabinets!
Who designed your kitchen? What aesthetic were you aiming for?
I hired an architect for the barn renovation and he planned the general layout (electricity, outlets, plumbing, etc.) so I started from there and worked with the Ikea design software. I took my design to the store and an employee helped me finalize the layout (and told me about the clearanced hood!). I located a bottle rack on the right side of the stove so the oven wouldn’t open next to the wall. The white version of the rack was 40€ and the stainless was 80€. I chose the white. In the “as-is” section, I found a stainless rack for 14€!! It made the trip home with me.
For the guesthouse, I needed a functional and low maintenance kitchen that would fit in with the general mood I wanted for the whole space. The kitchen is open to the dining area and living room. My first choice was based on an inspiration photo I had found on Ikea’s website – oak-colored doors for the lower cabinets and white cabinets on top. But once I saw them in real life, I didn’t like them so much. So I turned to a combination I had seen elsewhere. Your very own choice of black-brown for the lower doors and white for the top.
Did you assemble and install all Ikea kitchen components yourself? If not, what did you seek help with?
I assembled all the cabinets myself. At the time, my hubby was recovering from an appendectomy so he couldn’t help at all! But since the installation stretched over several months, he was able to help me hang the upper cabinets (even though I did almost everything else alone). I asked for help when I needed it. Since pros were working in the barn alongside me, I asked a carpenter to help me with a piece of wood that needed to be cut with a circular saw (which I don’t have). A friend of mine helped me with the back of the peninsula and the baseboards. My brother-in-law installed an under-cabinet light and the hood. Even my eight-year-old nephew tried his hand at the counter tiles!
How did you customize your Ikea kitchen to suit your needs and preferred aesthetic?
I knew I couldn’t buy counters from Ikea without renting a truck so I decided against it. (I live >2 hours away from the nearest store.) Besides, the barn’s crooked walls would have made it very difficult to perfectly cut a counter without proper tools and advanced skills. Instead, I decided to buy tile-able counters and tiles. I custom built the whole thing. I built a wood frame around the peninsula so it’s sturdy and doesn’t flip over. The wood (which is actually flooring!) on the back and side is nailed onto the frame like tongue and groove.
The day I went to Ikea to buy the kitchen, they were rearranging the hardware aisle and were out of stock on all the nice pulls. Instead of buying so-so pieces, I bought pulls I liked better at a big box store.
I had plumbers in for the barn remodel and they supplied the faucet. I bought the sink on sale. The plumbers installed both.
How long was it from design to finished kitchen?
I bought the kitchen in February 2013 and it was fully installed by the end of July 2013. I bought it early because sales were going on. I knew I wouldn’t start installation right away. The drywall wasn’t even up yet!
First, I focused on painting the spaces I had saved for myself. (The painter did all the ceilings and the walls that required scaffolding.) I got very bad tennis elbow which prevented me from working for a month. In the end, it took two months on and off to tackle the whole space.
How long have you lived with your kitchen? Have you encountered any problems?
I don’t “live” with my kitchen since it’s in the guesthouse. But tourists who have stayed here like it very much! They like the layout, the view from the window over the sink, the simplicity and the airy feel.
The only problem I’ve encountered was a broken dowel in one of the upper cabinets which loosened the tightness of the installation. My hubby helped me take the cabinet down and I changed the dowel (on both sides, you never know!) so it’s nice and secure now.
What is your favorite thing about your kitchen? Least favorite?
You mean besides the pride of having it done almost all by myself?! I like that in real life it’s exactly like it was on the Ikea software. The design software is reliable if you use it correctly. I also like that it’s open and light on the walls but grounded with darker lower cabinets. It ties in really well with the rest of the space.
I think my least favorite thing is the counter. I need to fix a crack that has appeared between two rows of tiles and I think it would have been nicer to have carpenters install a custom solid counter. But I couldn’t justify the cost of that in any way, especially since it’s not for personal use. It will have to do!
Would you recommend Ikea as a source for a kitchen remodel? If so, which items?
Yes, I would definitively recommend Ikea as a source for a kitchen remodel. I know that they have changed the Faktum line (it’s Metod now) so I’m not as familiar with it as I was with the previous one. I’ve purchased Ikea kitchens in 1997, 2003 and 2013. I’ve seen the line evolve and become sturdier and easier to install so I’m confident this new line will be as easy to use as the old one.
I’ve never bought appliances from Ikea (except for the hood) so I can’t vouch for them.
Would you consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel?
Yes, I would definitively consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel. Although, once in my lifetime it would be nice to experience a big project entirely taken care of by the pros!
Resources of note:
cabinets, doors, drawer fronts, hood – Ikea
counters, tiles, grout, sink – Brico Dépôt
faucet – Anchonetti
pulls, lights – Leroy Merlin
dishwasher, stove, clock – La Redoute
fridge – Darty
microwave, coffee maker – hand-me-downs
wood on the back of the peninsula – Chèze
accessories – Noz, Casa, thrift stores, yard sales
Thank you, Ariane, for sharing your experience and letting me feature your lovely guesthouse kitchen. I can’t get over that stone wall, the soaring ceilings and those steel framed windows! Congrats on turning your barn into a functional and profitable space. Kudos to you for chasing your dreams!!
UPDATE: If you are interested in staying at Ariane’s lovely guesthouse in France, you can find more information here and here.
Okay, readers, who suddenly feels the urge to renovate an old barn? Yeah, me too. Even though most of the items sourced in this kitchen aren’t available in the U.S., the story and ideas have my wheels turning. Please thank Ariane for sharing her
kitchen barn remodel. English isn’t her first language but she did wonderfully!
Do you have an Ikea kitchen (it doesn’t have to be 100% Ikea) you would like to share on House*Tweaking? If so, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration. Thank you in advance!
That’s Everett. He’s five. He wants to do everything his big brother does including wash his hands at the kitchen sink even though he can’t reach the faucet. Instead of walking back to the bathroom, because you know it’s sooooo far, he climbs up on the counter and precariously balances on the edge of the sink. Obviously, it isn’t safe. I keep picturing him falling head first into the sink or backwards onto the floor. Plus, there’s no center support in the cabinet under the sink so I don’t really think it’s meant to hold the weight of five-year-olds.
Enter the Ikea BEKVÄM step stool. It’s $15, constructed of solid wood and sturdy. (We have one in the boys’ room so I can vouch for it.)
(I got a little carried away with laying out the unassembled pieces. Doesn’t it look like a graphic group cheerleading pose?)
Before assembly, I painted the legs and stained the steps. I walked into Sherwin Williams (I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket) and was immediately drawn to a fiery red-orange swatch. The paint color is called “stop”. I guess because that’s what you do when you see it. STOP! I like mostly neutrals in our house but I thought it would be fun to have a shot of color on the stool. Also, I seem to be on a red-orange kick lately. The paint guy said since it was in the red family I was to use a primer first. I didn’t. I’m such a rebel. I brushed on two thin coats in a semigloss finish and the coverage was great so I left it at that.
Ikea advises against painting the steps due to the risk of slipping. And since safer was my goal in the first place, I decided to stain the steps with one coat of Minwax special walnut. We had some leftover from previous projects so all I had to do was walk out in the garage and search for a half an hour through our own private paint department. Oh, wait!, first I used a coat of wood conditioner…then I stained. I always use a wood conditioner before staining. Okay, so that was one coat of wood conditioner then one coat of special walnut. I decided not to seal the steps because I like the raw, matte wood and I kinda love the idea of it getting beat up and taking on a patina over time.
Isn’t it spicy against the black cabinets?! HOT. With hints of orange and coral, it’s such a great modern red. I’m so happy I only did one coat of stain on the steps and left them unsealed. I love me some rustic-modern juxtaposition.
Now the lil’ man can wash his hands, no problem. Everett was so excited when I told him the stool was for him.
But there was a *slight* ulterior motive for this stool. I have a hard time reaching a cabinet above our microwave. I usually end up hoisting myself onto the counter or dragging over an extra tall stool from the island. No more.
When the stool isn’t in use, I’ve been stashing it next to the fridge. (Mabrey is all about climbing up and messing with the papers and magnets. One problem solved, another created.) Eventually, it will go live where the high chair is now in my workspace.
I am a little worried about the paint marking up the cabinets but I talked to Everett about it and so far he’s been really careful not to bump the stool against the cabinets. Like I said, he LOVES the fact that this is his stool and he’s taking it very seriously. Ha! I’m hoping the high quality paint won’t be prone to leaving marks. I also made sure to let the paint cure thoroughly before bringing the stool into the kitchen. So far, so good.
Isn’t it just the hottest lil’ thing? All of a sudden I’m craving a margarita and chips & salsa. Any takers?
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
Welcome to my workspace!
I don’t have a separate room designated as an office. Instead, I carved out a home office in a corner of my kitchen. This is where bills are paid, mail is sorted, the kids’ school communication lands, grocery lists are written, design work is completed, blog content is created, and – let’s be honest – falling down the virtual rabbit hole happens. It’s a small space with many functions and, up until a few weeks ago, it wasn’t living up to its full potential. I was finally able to give it some much needed attention and turned it into an organized and inspiring place to werrrrk.
First, let’s take a look at the evolution of this lil’ corner.
During renovation, we removed walls to open up the kitchen to the living room. This space was originally a teeny dining room off the kitchen. We relocated the dining room to the mudroom (sounds strange, works beautifully for us) to make better use of the space. We vaulted the ceiling, added skylights and replaced the original dining room window with french doors.
We installed Ikea cabinetry, including a 9′ island. For the office portion of the kitchen, we created a built-in desk with plenty of closed storage. The base cabinets house the printer, paper, kids’ art supplies, gift wrap and even a charging station for battery-powered tools. The glass front cabinets hold glassware, decorative accessories, my camera bag and plenty of baskets and bins which corral everything from vitamins to paint decks to the kids’ flash cards.
We added a tongue and groove backsplash (it matches our TV wall) to the desk area and painted it white. The backsplash links the upper cabinets to the base cabinets. Before, the upper cabinets “floated” on the wall and felt disconnected from the lower desk area.
Recently, I organized the contents of the glass front cabinets and moved the shelves in line with the grids on the doors for a more unified look. I added accessories to make the workspace more appealing from both practical and visual standpoints.
The photo on the left was taken the day we closed on the house. It’s a view of the original dining area from the front door. The image on the right is the view from the front door now. It’s safe to say I don’t miss the orange shag carpet or 8′ ceiling one iota.
Let’s take a closer look.
For the upper cabinet contents I stuck to mostly glass, white, wood and silver for an organic feel. I threw in a pair of textured gray letter boxes to tie in to my desk stool and other gray elements in the adjacent living room.
(My fiddle leaf fig is still alive! I just wanted to point that out. I think he likes it here.)
The glass front cabinets work great for me. They force organization and discourage clutter while providing a display area protected from dust. The right side of my desk has always been a natural dumping zone so I brought in a wood cubby with hidden storage to give inevitable clutter a sightly place to chill. A decorative tray on top holds fresh flowers and my glasses.
There are two items in my office that always spark compliments from visitors: the wood cubby and the fiddle leaf fig. I guess you could say they are the popular kids.
At the opposite end of the desk, I brought in a letter tray to address my family’s never-ending paper trail. Each family member has their own (labeled!) pull-out tray. I temporarily store current catalogs and glossies in the magazine files until I get a chance to read them. #printlimbo For fun, I personalized the metal files with photo magnets.
A desktop organizer holds smaller items like pens, pencils, planners, a tape dispenser, scissors, a tape measure and my phone. I splurged on a fire engine red stapler after a decade of living with a mini stapler that constantly jammed. And, yes, it reminds me of Office Space which makes me laugh out loud.
“…but then they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler but I kept my Swingline stapler because it doesn’t bind up as much and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler and it’s not okay because if they take my stapler then I’ll set the building on fire.” – Milton Waddams
I’ve long admired loosely arranged inspiration boards. It makes for a casual display that can be easily changed when boredom strikes. I decided to try one myself. I used washi tape and double-sided tape to tack business cards and inspirational images to the backsplash. I hung a framed print with 3M adhesive strips. I tapped a finish nail only partially into the tongue and groove and hung a few rolls of washi tape and a leather bracelet. I shopped my house for the items displayed on my inspiration board so this project was free yet completely fulfilling. It’s so nice to work surrounded by items and images that inspire me in some way.
I spent months searching for a comfortable stool that would go along with the modern organic vibe I had envisioned for my workspace. When I stumbled upon this clean-lined upholstered counter stool, I knew it was the one.
The cushy seat, supportive back and appropriately placed footrest are conducive to long blogging sessions. The simple silhouette and rich wood base are in line with the aesthetic of our open kitchen-living space. I’ve been using the stool for a few months now and it looks and feels just as good as the day it arrived. I am much more productive when my legs aren’t falling asleep.
I always appreciate a pulled back shot to help me visualize how a niche, nook or corner fits into the bigger picture. I thought you might, too. Our kitchen is on the left; our living room is on the right. Can you see how the DIY shelves balance out the desk area on this wall?
I need more Buddha heads. Obviously. Also, I think I may be the only person I know with a high chair in their office. It’s for my assistant.
And that’s my home workspace in a nutshell – almost literally. It’s modest in size yet totally functional and so me. I love working here! I want to work here. Ever since I made organization and inspiration priorities in this lil’ space, I have been waaaaayyyy more productive.
After working for over a decade in a career field that sucked all inspiration out of me, I feel EXTREMELY lucky and am so grateful to be able to do the work I do now and to do it here. I have you guys to thank for that. Thank you! From the bottom of my stripe-lovin’ heart.
wall color – Benjamin Moore tapestry beige
backsplash color – Benjamin Moore white dove
cabinets – Ikea
letter boxes – Ikea
framed wall art – Clare Elsaesser
high chair – Ikea
wood cubby – Wayfair*
letter tray – Ikea
magazine files – Ikea
desk organizer – Ikea
photo magnets – StickyGram
counter stool – Wayfair*
photography prints – Walter Helena
blue & white desktop planter – JoAnn’s
black & white floor planter – vintage
rug – vintage
*This post was sponsored in part by Wayfair. Items marked with an asterisk were chosen by me and donated by Wayfair. All opinions and images are my own. Hop on over to Wayfair to see my top five tips for creating a functional and stylish workspace.
Happy start to the work week, my friends!
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
My kids haven’t had a full week of school in over a month. Cabin fever doesn’t even begin to describe the pent up energy and general irritability that we’re experiencing. Saturday the temperature reached 45ºF and it felt like summer. We took two long walks hoping they hold us over until April.
Last Tuesday my kids had yet another snow day so I did what any parent with three bored kids would do on a Tuesday. I hit up Ikea for the Kids Eat Free Tuesday ploy. Of course, I ended up buying stuff so it wasn’t all free. I had a small shopping list going in and stuck to it save for one tempting item.
Meet Mr. Fig. (And, yes, I’m officially a design blogger now.) I have always wanted a fiddle leaf fig but could never justify the money against my consistently black thumb. Fiddle leaf figs love rainforest climates so they aren’t all that common in Ohio and prices usually reflect that contradiction. I’ve seen them from $50-$100+ in local nurseries and home improvement stores.
But when I spotted this guy for only $12.99 at Ikea, I just had to give him a go. If my black thumb conquers all, I’m only out thirteen bucks and I know not to ever buy another fig. He’s so brave, isn’t he?
Getting him to the car was quite comical and I liken it to taking my first newborn out on a cold winter’s day. “Gotta keep him warm! He will freeze! Protect him! We need more blankets! Is he still breathing? Oh, wait. He’s sweating.”
I left him on a trolley inside the store while the kids and I fetched the car and warmed it up all nice and toasty like. Only then did Mr. Fig leave the building. (In my defense it was 0ºF.) I don’t know much about plants but it seems reasonable that they can suffer frostbite much like a human. That was my thinking anyway. And I wasn’t going to jeopardize the one shot I had at a fig. He survived the car ride and I promptly ran him inside while my kids waited in the car. Figs > kids.
The planter is vintage (I bought it at our house’s estate sale) and I picked up a cheap stand on wheels so I can move Mr. Fig around easily. When it’s spray-painting season, I’ll probably paint the stand. I haven’t actually transplanted him to the pot yet. Waiting for a warm day?
I did some reading up on figs and decided my guy would probably do best in front of the french doors in the kitchen. (Ahem, sneak peek of my workspace. Full reveal coming soon!) He should receive plenty of indirect light from the north-facing doors and skylights. The doors lead to our grilling patio and, seeing as how we haven’t grilled anything for nearly three months and probably won’t for another two, we don’t use them right now. When it’s warmer and we’re no longer using the fireplace, I’d like to roll him over to the TV wall (similar to the location of our Christmas tree) but I think he’d shrivel up over there in the winter with all the dry heat. I have a feeling this guy is going to get moved around a lot. So happy he’s on wheels.
The other evening Steve asked, “So, is this thing staying here?”
This thing, I thought. Hmph. Clearly, he has no idea what high stature the fiddle leaf fig has in the design community. Forgive him. He knows not what he sees.
Me: Why? You planning on doing some grilling tonight?
Steve: Well, no. But I might someday.
Me: I’m going to move him over by the TV when it gets warmer but the fireplace would fry him right now.
Steve: Did you just refer to it as “him”?
So he’s living here for now. So far, so good. These days our house is really dry with the fireplace or furnace running. Before Mr. Fig came to live with us, we were considering the purchase of a humidifier but haven’t acted on the thought yet. I read to water figs thoroughly and allow the soil to dry out in between waterings which has equated to watering every three days over the past week. That will probably vary as the seasons change and it’s going to take some effort and attention on my part but I’m fully committed at this point.
I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, I’ll take any advice or tips you have to offer. I’ve heard occasional showers (in the bathroom) can do wonders for figs. I might be the weird mom throwing her kids in the shower with a tree.
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking