...because home doesn't happen overnight.

fridge side panel 3

When we were designing the kitchen, we were a little confused about what to do for the exposed side of the fridge. A side panel would most certainly tidy up the appearance but would it be weird to have a full-length white side panel in a tuxedo kitchen? Would a white panel extending all the way to the floor look strange with black lower cabinets elsewhere? We couldn’t decide. So when we ordered our Ikea kitchen and discovered the side panel we needed was on indefinite backorder, we let it go.

We lived with one side of the fridge exposed to the living room for a few years. As much as I adored seeing my kids’ creations and accomplishments stuck up there, things felt cluttered and chaotic. In preparation for the photo shoot, we finally got around to purchasing and installing a side panel…three years later.

Luckily, Ikea sells a white 36″ x 96″ cover panel in the current SEKTION line that matches the older AKURUM cabinets – which we have. (It’s the FÖRBÄTTRA cover panel in case you’re wondering.) We simply cut it to size and screwed the top into the cabinet above the fridge. The bottom is secured to the floor with small L brackets.

fridge before after

I love how the side panel visually connects the cabinet above to the fridge below. The fridge looks more built-in so the entire kitchen feels finished and polished from the adjacent living area now.

fridge side panel 1

The crazy thing is the white panel is a non-issue after all those weeks and months of rolling around the idea in the early stages of renovating. It just makes sense. (Can you spot the kitty lump in the mudroom? Haha.)

fridge side panel 4

The way things were displayed before was very random and haphazard. Just papers and magnets in disarray. So much so that it was hard to appreciate any one thing. After the new side panel was up, I slapped on some of my favorite family-oriented instagram prints from Artifact Uprising using washi tape. I find Mabrey standing on the step stool studying the photos on a daily basis. It’s so cute.

fridge side panel 2

I guess the takeaway here is, if you’re in the middle of renovating and you can’t quite figure out a particular detail, it’s not the end of the world if you need to wait it out or live with it a while for it to make sense. I can remember getting so caught up in stupid little things mid-renovation. They drove me nuts! Often times, taking a step back and focusing on something else helped. I’m just not sure why it took so long with this one.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

It seems the consensus is that you guys would like to continue seeing and reading about Ikea kitchens regardless of which cabinet line – AKURUM (previous) or SEKTION (current) – is featured. For that reason, I will continue to share the best of the bunch that come my way. Thanks for reading!

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!

LA Ikea kitchen before 1

LA ikea kitchen before 2

Two years ago Eden and her husband purchased an outdated ranch in Los Angeles and immediately set to work making it their own. The original kitchen featured nondescript cabinetry in a cramped “U” layout and tiled countertops. A bank of upper cabinets suspended above a peninsula closed off the kitchen even more and blocked sight lines into the adjoining dining space. On a tight budget and an even tighter schedule, the new homeowners used Ikea cabinets to transform the kitchen into a bright, open space. I asked Eden several questions about the remodel. Find her answers and the happy “afters” below.

LA ikea kitchen after 1

Which items in your kitchen hail from Ikea?

All of the cabinetry and the farmhouse sink are from Ikea.

What made you decide to source these items from Ikea?

When we bought our home there was so much work to do that we had to stick within a pretty reasonable budget on the kitchen remodel. We had heard that Ikea’s cabinets were surprisingly good quality and the hinges and hardware are some of the best.

LA ikea kitchen after 2

Who designed your kitchen?

We had a contractor help us design our kitchen using the Ikea layout software they have in the store. I was going for a very clean and open café aesthetic. I knew I didn’t want upper cabinets because you wouldn’t see those in a café. Forgoing them also made the space light and airy rather than closed in. I wanted a good mix of masculine and feminine, so I went with brushed metal hardware.

LA ikea kitchen progress

LA ikea kitchen progress

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

My husband assembled all of the cabinets himself and then we had our contractor install them. It was his first time putting in an Ikea kitchen so it was a learning process for all of us. As expected, we had to make some adjustments to compensate for our old, uneven floors.

LA ikea kitchen after 6

LA ikea kitchen after 5

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

I feel like with everything in life a mix of high and low quality is always good and works well. I knew I would need to spend a little extra on knobs and pulls to dress up the Ikea cabinets so I ordered them from Restoration Hardware. The lights above the island are from RH as well. For the countertops, I chose a honed marble in a natural beige color. The wall behind the range is tiled with subway tile, which is actually pretty inexpensive and looks beautiful. We also bought all of our appliances from Sears. The GE café range is my favorite!

LA ikea kitchen after 8

How long was it from design to the final product?

After we closed on our house we had one month to stay in our apartment and remodel the house. We had to do all of the floors throughout the house which entailed leveling out the kitchen and dining area flooring. We also smoothed out every inch of the walls and ceilings because they were covered in thick, textured plaster from the 80’s! And then we started on the kitchen. So it was about 6 weeks from start to finish.

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

It will be two years this June that we’ve had our Ikea kitchen and it’s actually been great! For the price and everything we really don’t have many complaints. There are small issues like the Lazy Susan being incredibly squeaky (I think that’s due to the flour bags I put on it) and a little chipping on the bottom molding. Other than that we’re super happy!

LA ikea kitchen after 7

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

I love the open and clean feel and how white it is. I always wanted a white kitchen. That way I can add color and décor through furniture and accents. I also adore the layout of our kitchen. There is easy access from the sink, to the stove, then to the fridge which is nice. I can’t think of a least favorite!

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

Yes, I would! I think Ikea is a wonderful option for those looking to revamp their kitchen on a budget. Our 80’s kitchen had to go. We worked with the budget we had but still managed to make a dramatic change. I would highly recommend the farm sink too. It was only $200 and it’s big and beautiful with amazing quality!

Would you consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel?

I definitely would. I’ve also heard about a company, Semihandmade, that creates doors, panels and drawer fronts to attach to Ikea cabinets. I didn’t know about them at the time we did the remodel, but I would consider using them in conjunction with Ikea frames.

Resources of note:

wall paint – mirage white, Behr
cabinets – AKURUM frames and ADEL doors & fronts, Ikea
sink – Ikea
countertops – honed marble in earthy beige
hardware – Lugarno in oil-rubbed bronze, Restoration Hardware
pendant lights above island – Restoration Hardware
floors – real oak hardwood, Early American stain
range – GE café range

LA ikea kitchen after 11

LA ikea kitchen after 9

Thank you Eden for sharing your kitchen! I can’t believe the difference between the “befores” and “afters.” And in only six weeks?! Bravo.

Okay readers, what caught your eye? I’m digging the airy vibe. Ripping out the peninsula and view-blocking upper cabinets completely opened up the space. The view from the kitchen to the dining room is amazing. Did you notice the doorway to the living room (near the range) was moved over to provide wall space for the refrigerator, pantry and additional countertop space? That was such a smart move. Losing most of the upper cabinets and tiling the range wall floor-to-ceiling are in line with Eden’s preferred café aesthetic. But my favorite? I absolutely love the little sitting area between the kitchen and dining room. The leather aviator chairs, open shelving and vintage stools feel so homey and inviting. I can just picture guests gathering and lingering there when Eden entertains. Little details like that make the space feel less clinical, more cozy. Be sure to check out Eden’s blog, Sugar and Charm, for all things charming!

Want more kitchen inspiration? See more Ikea kitchens right here:

An Ikea Kitchen on Australia’s Gold Coast

An Ikea Kitchen in Asheville

A (Mostly) Ikea Kitchen in Denver

An Ikea Kitchen in Rural Australia

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

Do you have a project (big or small; Ikea or non-Ikea) that you would like to share with House*Tweaking readers? Email me at housetweaking (at) gmail (dot) com for consideration. Thanks in advance!

images: Eden Passante

hidden litter box 8

Before we get into this hidden litter box business, can we talk about how “helpful” toddlers are? Mabrey is a BIG “helper.” If you had / have / know a toddler, you know what I mean. In their lil’ minds they are busy doing something important (like washing dishes, dusting, cooking, mopping, vacuuming, feeding the family pet, etc.) but in reality they are making an even bigger mess.

After Mabrey washes dishes, the dishes are still dirty and everything in sight is soaked. When Mabrey dusts, one square foot area is dripping wet and she’s still spraying it because (to her) it’s just not wet enough. When Mabrey cooks, she uses all of the things: pots, pans, spoons, spatulas, toothbrush (?!), measuring cups, Hot Wheels (?), bowls, whisk, baster, timer. All of the things. When Mabrey vacuums, everything is fair game: her braid, Legos, Cheetah’s tail, shoelaces, jewelry, rocks, Hot Wheels, crayons. Don’t want to pick it up? Sweep it up! When Mabrey feeds Cheetah, there’s no telling how much food she’ll put out or where the food will be. Two days’ worth of food in the water bowl? Two pellets in the food bowl strategically placed in the dollhouse? A perfect scoopful in the litter box? Yeesh.

Of course, after I clean up her helping messes and relay the day’s events to Steve in the evening, it’s comical. Sweet even. So she keeps “helping” and I keep reminding myself that she’ll want nothing to do with helping in a few short years.

But when it came to the litter box, something had to be done. Every time I turned around Mabrey was trying to clean it or throwing random stuff in it. Originally, I placed the litter box on the floor next to the dryer but that spot was a little too accessible for a two-year-old. I googled a bunch of hidden litter box ideas but it seemed like everything I found required a new, separate piece of furniture: a solid bench, an end table, a freestanding wood box, etc. I really wanted to keep the litter box in the mudroom and I wasn’t willing to give up precious real estate for another furniture item no matter how small.

So I started looking around at what we already had. That’s when the a-ha! moment struck.

PAX wardrobe + cat door = hidden litter box. Boom. Done.

We purchased a cat door for big cats (the vet guesses Cheetah is at least part Maine Coon which means we could end up with a pretty large cat when she’s full grown) that would accommodate the thin side panel of the PAX. If you’re curious, it’s this one. It doesn’t have the best reviews but it looks like they mostly pertain to indoor-outdoor use on an exterior door. Since we were going to be installing the door inside, we weren’t too concerned with the actual door function. We simply needed the large opening and the ability to install it into a thin panel.

hidden litter box before 2

hidden litter box 2

We removed the PAX doors and all contents (cat paraphernalia, sewing machine, sewing basket) from the bottom shelf. Using the included template, we cut a hole in the side of the PAX where Cheetah would be able to access it when the wood bench was in place (see first image of this post).

hidden litter box 3

Installing the door wasn’t difficult but it did require an extra pair of hands to hold everything in place while another person screwed everything together. Because we installed the door on a thin panel (as opposed to an actual door) we did have to trim the screws to get a perfect fit. Again, not difficult but an added step.

hidden litter box 4

I made the executive decision to install the door with the red locks facing the interior of the wardrobe. I didn’t want them visible from the exterior. (The 4-way locks allow access only in / only out / both in & out / both locked.) We could have done away with the flap door all together and just used the opening, but we decided to keep the door in case we ever need to put Cheetah up for some reason. That way, she still has access to the litter box.

We taped the door to hold it in the up position. We want Cheetah to get acquainted with the new location of her litter box before we introduce the door. I lined the bottom of the wardrobe with two Flor squares leftover from the boys’ room. I had to trim one for a perfect fit. I plan on hosing them off outside when necessary, probably each month when I empty and clean the litter box. A rubber mat, a scoop and the litter box sit on top of the rug squares.

PAX_wardrobe_with_cat_door_litter_box

To accommodate the litter box, I raised the lowest shelf and reorganized all of the shelves. I moved my sewing machine and sewing basket to a different closet but, eventually, they will end up in the studio along with most of the other items in this wardrobe. The dark brown woven basket on the shelf above the litter box holds cat food, overstock litter, cat nail clippers and Cheetah’s brush. So I guess this is the cat closet now? Never thought I’d be typing that.

hidden litter box 5

hidden litter box 7

I like that the cat door is easily accessible for Cheetah but completely inconspicuous. Mabrey’s interest in the litter box has waned. For now. The other great thing about this setup is that the litter is better contained. I’m not finding as many stray bits as I was when the litter box was on the floor next to the dryer. I also have my rolling cart back next to the dryer which is another plus.

hidden litter box 6

Luckily, Cheetah has adjusted to the change swimmingly. She took to it right away and hasn’t missed a beat. I actually think she prefers this setup over the previous one. It’s her contained space away from toddler “help.”

hidden litter box 1

After we installed the door and put everything back together, I got to thinking that if someone really wanted to they could totally go wild with a DIY cat house design that takes up the entire PAX. THE ULTIMATE IKEA CAT HOUSE HACK! You know, cutting holes in shelves, adding scratching / climbing posts to allow access to vertical space, etc. It was just a thought. I’m not THAT crazy ;)

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking