...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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Ikea debuted their new kitchen system, SEKTION, earlier this week. Mabrey and I took a field trip to check it out. I brought along my camera to document the things that caught my attention and I thought I would share them with you. There’s one caveat: the pictures aren’t the best quality. I was in a time crunch and chasing a toddler so…yeah…my focus and white balance are all over the place. But, whatever. I have pictures!

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The first thing I noticed right off the bat were the drawers – specifically the drawers inside drawers. I like this option because the outside appearance doesn’t dictate the storage inside. You can have several drawers behind one drawer front for a uniform look. And you have the option of drawers that pull out all the way or only ¾ of the way if they’re layered over another pullout. The drawers themselves are available in several widths and depths that weren’t offered in the previous AKURUM line. I saw the widest, most shallow drawers I’ve ever witnessed in a kitchen in that island above. They would be perfect for flatware and servingware. Fortunately, the soft-closing hardware is still available with the SEKTION line.

Drawer lights (seen above) that turn on when the drawer is opened were an oooh-ahhh feature but from what I could tell they only lit the top drawers. I’m not sure how practical they would be for our household. Don’t people usually turn lights on anyway? I hear the new SEKTION line also features USB outlets, electrical outlets and remote-controlled dimming / power but I didn’t see this on display.

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Both upper and lower cabinet frames are available in more sizes (width, depth, height) which I see as an improvement over the AKURUM line. When we were designing our kitchen there were a few places in the layout where we didn’t have much of choice when it came to cabinet size. It wasn’t a deal breaker but it would have been nice to have more options. Also, in the AKURUM line a 15″ cabinet wasn’t really 15″ wide. It was something like 14 5/8″ which made things a little confusing.

The new SEKTION line measurements are true measurements. That means a 15″ cabinet is really 15″ wide. This also means the two lines aren’t compatible or interchangeable. I asked an Ikea kitchen specialist about how Ikea was handling customers needing AKURUM parts. She said AKURUM parts would be available until October 2015. After that, only if there was a warranty issue, Ikea would work to get the customer something comparable. I don’t quite know what that means though, seeing as how the new system isn’t compatible. (I’m hoping we never need to replace anything!) I did see where SemiHandmade will continue making doors / drawer fronts for the AKURUM line so AKURUM owners will be able to switch out their fronts if they want to.

The new sizes allow for an array of configurations. The hutch-like setup shown above was a unique feature that felt somewhat custom as far as Ikea goes. (Notice the shallow, short drawers at the bottom of the upper cabinet.) With the new system, the base and upper cabinets can be installed via a wall rail whereas with the old AKURUM line, only the upper cabinetry had the option of a wall rail. I’m guessing this will help DIYers (and professionals alike) who may be installing on their own or in a home with uneven walls or floors. We used the upper rails so Steve could install the wall cabinets on his own (I was preggo at the time) and they worked out really well for us.

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The one feature I’m so, so happy to see (and a little jealous of, quite frankly) is the brown wood lookalike color option for the cabinet frames. I was surprised this wasn’t an option when we were designing our kitchen. Slivers of the white cabinet frames are barely noticeable in between a few black drawer fronts / doors on our base cabinets. Guests say they don’t notice, but it’s the one thing I would change about our current setup if I could. I’ve contemplated painting those areas black or applying strips of black veneer. No need to worry about that with the new system though. As seen above, the “wood effect brown” frames work well with darker colored drawer fronts and doors. They look less cheap when opened, too. No white box staring you in the face.

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I noticed a few other interesting design elements like open shelf base cabinets and freestanding units made up of cabinets + legs. I think both of these could help lighten a room visually.

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One new option I didn’t like was this undersink pullout. It’s made to look like two drawers from the front but it felt flimsy because the front panel is so tall. Plus, I don’t think it’s very practical. What if one person is washing dishes and another person needs to grab something from under the sink? You can’t move to one side like you can with two doors.

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As far as aesthetics go, many of the “new” drawer fronts and doors look a lot like the “old” options. There are a few new finishes in the mix including glossy yellow and glossy green if that floats your boat. I really wish Ikea offered an unfinished wood option that would be less expensive than the ready-to-hang designs and could be painted any color of the rainbow for a truly custom look. Ikea, are you listening?!

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I totally understand that Ikea caters to the masses but I do wish they would push the envelope a bit more when it comes to their kitchen displays. It was nice to see an island sporting a waterfall edge and a herringbone backsplash.

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I didn’t get a chance to scout the countertop and hardware selection but I did see a walnut butcher block! On a fauxdenza no less! Ikea must read blogs. They’re on to us. Update: it appears the walnut butcher block is actually solid wood veneer over particleboard.

Some more drawer-in-drawer action because I couldn’t get enough…

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In conclusion, I’m pretty impressed with the new system. I was a little afraid Ikea would veer off course with the SEKTION line but I feel like they made smart improvements upon the old system that was so popular. Here are my take it / leave it suggestions in case you’re interested.

TAKE IT

*varied selection of new true cabinet sizes
*drawer-in-drawer action
*dark wood lookalike cabinet frame option for darker fronts
*freestanding units / open base cabinets

LEAVE IT

*integrated drawer lighting
*undersink pullout

Have you checked out the new SEKTION line in person? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. If not, you should make a day of it and go open & close a bunch of drawers and doors. You know, if that’s your thing. (It’s my thing.)

P.S. – A great write-up on the new SEKTION line.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

toddler transition 1

A few weeks ago I put Mabrey down for her afternoon nap and jumped in the shower. I hadn’t even wet my hair when she threw back the shower curtain and said, “Hi mom! I get outta my bed.” She had climbed out of her crib for the first time ever. She was so proud. I was so, so sad. There went my babygirl and my opportune shower time. Sniffle, sniffle.

Needless to say, we skipped naptime that day and later on in the evening I converted the crib to a toddler bed. For those who don’t know already, it’s the Ikea GULLIVER crib and I have nothing but good things to say about it. It’s affordable, practical and has clean lines & a small footprint. The ability to convert to a toddler bed was the final selling point for me.

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Removing the one side was quick & easy. It took me all of twenty minutes. My favorite thing about it was that other than the accompanying toddler side rail (which I stashed in the nursery closet for the past two years), I didn’t have to keep track of any other parts or hardware. All of the hardware I removed was used again to install the toddler side rail. LOVE THAT. I slid the crib rail I removed in behind the standing shelf in Mabrey’s closet. It barely takes up any space. DOUBLE LOVE THAT.

The crib-to-toddler-bed conversion left me feeling sentimental and a bit lost. Sentimental because I’ll never put a child of mine to bed in a crib ever again. Lost because, even though I have two older kids, this was my first experience with a climbing toddler. Neither of my boys ever showed interest in climbing out of their crib. They were both 3+ years old when I transitioned them to a twin bed in preparation for a subsequent baby’s birth. And they each handled the transition beautifully.

I’d like to say the same for Mabrey, age 2¾. She did really well the first week. I think she was just so smitten with the idea of sleeping in a “big kid” bed, she wanted to do it right. But, lo and behold, last week was rough. It was like she went to bed one night and something clicked.

Heyyyyyyyy. Wait a minute. I can get up whenever I want. I can get up WHENEVER I WANT. And turn on all of the things! And take off all of the things! And climb all of the things! And never sleep! And party all night long!! Yeah, let’s do that.

Steve was out of town last week. Figures. When he’s gone, Everett gets a little daddysick and likes to wake me up in the middle of the night to tell me his foot hurts and the only thing that will make it better is sleeping in my bed. I don’t mind. He goes right to sleep. But when he came into my room one night last week (for the second time that night), I had already been up with Mabrey a half-dozen times or more each night for the past several nights (including that night) and was on the verge of livid-exhausted. If you’re a parent, you know that feeling. You are so, so tired and you’re mad that you’re tired. You’re so mad about being tired that your anger wires you and the only thing you can do is lay frozen in bed thinking about how tired-mad you are and what you wouldn’t give for just five hours of solid sleep. Until another little person walks into your room or the baby starts crying again. Sleep deprivation. It’s a torturous thing.

Anyway, I hadn’t an ounce of sympathy for Everett’s daddy-missing foot. Gruffly, I told him to get in bed with me and go to sleep. Then I cursed Steve. Because somehow it was his fault that Everett’s foot was heartbroken and Mabrey was participating in what can only be described as “Girls Gone Wild Toddler Edition.”

By mid-week, I had removed the rocker and all lightbulbs from the nursery and was contemplating a padded room. Mabrey was miserable. She hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in over a week. She’s normally a very happy-go-lucky kid but had melted into a whiny bag of overtiredness. I was at my wits’ end. Then, I think out of sheer exhaustion, Mabrey finally slept through the night. As did I. Uninterrupted sleep is pure bliss.

We’ve had a few nights in a row of good, long sleeps. Mabrey is back to her cheery, cheeky self. Steve is home. Everett’s foot is miraculously pain-free. I think we’ve turned the corner. Fingers crossed.

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I thought I’d share some pictures of the changes in Mabrey’s room now that we’re all in a better place ;) Don’t let her cuteness fool you. She was a hot mess less than a week ago!

The highlight of the transition has been bringing out the heirloom quilt my grandma gave me last year. Doesn’t it look like it was made just for this room? It was made by my great-grandmother, Mabrey’s great-great grandmother. Mabrey is her namesake. My great-grandmother’s maiden name was Larew which is Mabrey’s middle name. That quilt is pretty special.

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I hung the Bright Lab lights months ago. I’ve mentioned them on instagram but don’t think they’ve been formally introduced on the blog.

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Ironically enough, they are dubbed the Party Girl lights. How fitting.

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The rocker is still in the living room. I’m not taking any chances.

In summary, the physical conversion of the crib to a toddler bed was smooth sailing. The actual transition? Notsomuch.

I’d love to hear your experience with the crib-to-bed transition. Was it an easy or difficult milestone? At what age did you switch your child(ren)? Was it different for each child? Did you use any sneaky tricks?

Sweet dreams all around! And if not, there’s always Go the F**k to Sleep. No, Seriously, Just Go to Sleep.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

02.01.15 / Made Me Smile

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The photo shoot stars aligned yesterday! The final piece for the bathroom arrived. Steve returned from his work trip. He and the boys got out of the house in the afternoon while Mabrey napped. The light was decent. My camera battery was fully charged and the bathroom was clean. You know what that means? Yup, the bathroom reveal is happening this week.

Until then…

*House & Home’s hit list. (That Ikea kitchen! I could totally live in a cube, too.)

*Two real Ikea kitchens.

*Great space planning ideas in a narrow living room with a corner fireplace.

*Love these built-ins with both open and closed storage.

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*Hey lil’ etsy shop. You’re cute. (Full house tour here.)

*On my nightstand: Essential Oils for Beginners, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, The Bluest Eye.

*One neighbor, “Well, I hope he’s going to repaint it after the Super Bowl.” Hehe.

I hope you have a happy, lazy Sunday.

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Ninelle Mikula