...because home doesn't happen overnight.
02.01.16 / Liked & Linked

mild winter

kid free target shopping

How was your weekend? The highlights for me included some epic kite flying at the park (sixty degrees in January?!) and a date night with Steve that ended with toilet paper shopping at Target. #sohot I had the absolute best meal of my entire life at Hawthorn Grill, a local chef-owned restaurant. If you’re ever in Dayton, Ohio, you must give their pan-seared walleye a try. It’s to die for.

Mine and Steve’s only resolution this year was to go on more date nights. We’re actually following through with it! We found a great sitter (one of the many advantages of living in a college town) at the beginning of the year, and she’s watched the kids TWICE for us in the last month. The kids adore her. Last week when we told them she was coming Saturday evening they were all, “WHAT?! You guys just went on a date!” They aren’t used to seeing us do the date night thing more than a few times per year so twice in one month is pure craziness. But it’s awesome. Our motto for 2016 is date nights > divorce ;) Seriously, they’re cheaper. Toilet paper included.

A few more awesome things…

*The leather teardrop earrings I wore for date night. They’re oversize but super lightweight!

*My favorite $5 carafe with cork stopper.

*I’m trying not to want this leather + kilim laptop bag but…

*A vintage rug in a killer kitchen.

lived in home

lived in home

lived in home

*Loving the lived-in vibe of this family home.

*A dreamy kitchen makeover featuring IKEA cabinets. (Bravo, Anna!)

*Triple bunk beds and some very honest words on parenting.

*I finished reading this magical book over the weekend and I think it deserves an entire blog post. To be continued…

Happy one month closer to spring!

images: 1 & 2) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 3-5) Lauren Kolyn for Apartment Therapy

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!

san diego ikea kitchen before

san diego ikea kitchen before

Beth and her family lived with a basic builder kitchen for over a year before they decided life was too short to tolerate a dark and boring kitchen any longer. Beth dreamed of a brighter space with custom touches that better reflected her style. Having successfully utilized IKEA cabinetry in the past, the family turned to IKEA once again for their most recent renovation. Initially, neighbors and contractors thought the family was crazy for wanting to update a kitchen that “wasn’t horrible” to begin with, but once they saw the transformation they were blown away by the results. I asked Beth several questions about her experience. See her answers and the stunning results below!

san diego ikea kitchen after 1

Which items in your kitchen hail from IKEA?

The cabinets, doors, drawer fronts and dishware organization are from IKEA.

What made you decide to source these items from IKEA?

We used IKEA cabinets (AKURUM) in our previous home when we remodeled an outdated 70s kitchen. When it came time to sell that house, it was only on the market for six days before we accepted an offer! We know the kitchen remodel was one of the reasons it sold so quickly. For our current kitchen, we had a budget to stick to and felt that IKEA (SEKTION) would be a great choice for its function and quality – both of which we appreciated in our last home. The kitchen was a builder grade kitchen. The cabinets were dark and matched the hardwood floors, but they did not match our aesthetic. We wanted to start fresh with a clean slate.

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

I designed both our previous and current kitchens. It was so much fun! I don’t have a design background, but I have always loved interior design. After the first kitchen remodel, I felt more confident about my design capabilities and gained experience with the 3D kitchen planner. The only blog I came across when I was tackling our first IKEA kitchen was yours, House*Tweaking! I remember feeling very lost and unsure since there weren’t many people talking about IKEA kitchens at the time, but I was reassured after reading about your experience and seeing your results. I did consult with the contractors who installed the cabinets in order to nail down little details that would help us achieve the look we were trying to accomplish. Ultimately, I knew I wanted white and bright because our kitchen doesn’t receive a ton of natural light. I wanted a clean and classic look with custom details.

san diego ikea kitchen

san diego ikea kitchen



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

We utilized a contractor (from our previous kitchen remodel) who specializes in IKEA cabinet installation. The crew was very professional and detail-oriented. I was on site every day during the installation so I could ensure things ran smoothly. This was helpful when questions regarding placement specifics came up or if adjustments were required.

san diego ikea kitchen after 8

san diego ikea kitchen after 7

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

Customization was a priority. We love IKEA kitchens; however, we don’t feel that everything in a kitchen should hail from IKEA. I love mixing and matching and incorporating non-IKEA elements. I ordered pretty chrome handles to give the cabinets a classic feel. We went with a timeless white subway tile and a beautiful quartz countertop that has gray tones to mimic the look of marble. We added a professional chef range hood and upgraded our appliances to add more features for cooking and baking. The stainless steel farmhouse apron sink and chrome faucet were must-have features for everyday chores like washing dishes. We raised the cabinet height and installed bulkheads and crown molding above the upper cabinets to give them a custom, built-in look. It draws the eye up and makes the off-the-shelf cabinets look less generic, more refined. We used glass doors with LED cabinet lighting on two of the upper cabinets (near the sink) and undermount LED lighting throughout. In addition, we changed every recessed light to a softer, warmer LED light which made a huge difference in the overall look of the kitchen.

san diego ikea kitchen after 9

From a functional standpoint, we tweaked some things to make the space work better for us. We relocated the microwave and created a custom IKEA cabinet to house it. We moved our island to accommodate seating for four adults as the previous island was not positioned properly to accommodate seating and did not have a countertop overhang. Moving the island and expanding the countertop made the working space/surface area larger which is great for cooking and baking. Making sure the island lined up properly with enough space on either side and space for seating was a little stressful and challenging, but it worked out perfectly.


san diego ikea kitchen after 6

We also added a built-in cabinet to the nook in the adjacent dining area to optimize storage while keeping things cohesive with the kitchen. It’s our coffee station. The drawers hold brewing supplies and mugs among other things. It makes our morning coffee routine so much easier!!

How long was it from design to final product?

I utilized my summer break from teaching to take on the remodel. It took about six weeks to complete. The biggest hurdle was the backorder of some parts and cabinets due to the supply/demand issue with the 20% off sale. My husband and I had to call and drive down to IKEA several times to pick up backordered items. The back and forth got old very quickly! We didn’t experience that with our previous IKEA kitchen. It all worked out though with lots of patience. Coordinating contractors and dealing with appliance deliveries were other challenges that affected the timeline.

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

It’s been about six months and we haven’t had any problems. We lived with our previous IKEA kitchen for about a year without any issues. The only problem we ran into this time around was fitting our Thermador oven in the IKEA wall oven cabinet. I consulted with our contractor and the appliance installer to make adjustments for a proper fit.

san diego ikea kitchen after 4

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

One of my favorite things is the fact that I was able to design our kitchen exactly the way I wanted. For example, I added pullout drawers and lazy susans right where I need them. I love how functional the kitchen is now. The soft-closing drawers and doors are the absolute best! Especially for my little ones! The work flow and placement of everything worked out so well which can be tricky when moving items like a microwave or an island.

My least favorite is the cabinetry around the refrigerator. We tried our best to customize it but it was difficult. Ideally, I prefer a more streamlined fit, but I keep telling myself it’s a minor detail in the grand scheme of things.

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

Absolutely! I highly recommend IKEA cabinets. Be sure to take advantage of the 20% off sale events. You can pocket the money you save or use it to splurge on finishes or high-end appliances.

Would you consider IKEA for a future kitchen remodel?

Definitely! I helped design my mom’s IKEA kitchen which means I have completed three IKEA kitchen remodels in total, and I can’t say enough good things about the functionality and quality for the price point.

Resources of note:

cabinets – BODBYN in off-white, IKEA
hardware – sutton place pulls, Atlas Homewares
countertops – LG viatera quartz cirrus
subway tile – Daltile
sink – stainless steel farmhouse apron sink, Kraus
faucet – Grohe
cooktop – Thermador
wall oven – Thermador
range hood – Zephyr
pendant light – Crate & Barrel
counter stools – Target
roller shade – Smith & Noble

san diego ikea kitchen after 5

san diego ikea kitchen after 3

Thank you Beth for sharing your kitchen! It’s lovely. Your mom is one lucky lady to have you as her personal kitchen designer :)

Alright peanut gallery, what are you taking note of in this kitchen? The added bulkheads and molding really do give the kitchen a sense of grandeur. Everything fits so snugly. I totally agree with Beth’s thoughts on mixing and matching IKEA cabinets with other non-IKEA elements for a less generic result. Moving the microwave and reworking the island allow new focal points (hood, island, etc.) to take center stage. And as much as I love a good DIY reno, it’s fun to see how professional contractors take IKEA kitchens to a whole new level with little tweaks here and there. (That’s not to say DIY kitchens can’t look professional.) I think the biggest takeaway for me, though, is the fact that Beth went through with the renovation even after harsh criticism. Do you, people!

You can follow Beth over on her blog or on instagram @1111lightlane.

Want more inspiration? Click the “See Real IKEA Kitchens” button in the sidebar to read about all of the kitchens featured in this series.

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!

IKEA studio organization 1

I’ve been working to add more function and organization to the studio. The space is essentially one big room with no closets or closed storage. Thinking outside the box, I built a dry bar and made over a large armoire to create hidden storage. When it came time to load the drawers and shelves, I knew I wanted to incorporate a slew of baskets and bins along with other organizational accessories.

IKEA is one of my go-to sources for affordable and versatile small storage items. I have a mix of fabric and woven baskets from IKEA in Mabrey’s room and various boxes, bins, letter trays and magazine files (all from IKEA) in the kitchen office. Our kitchen is outfitted with many IKEA pieces as well.

It just so happened in the midst of making my shopping list for the studio, I was asked if I would be interested in becoming an IKEA brand ambassadör. Seeing as how I’ve been regaling you all with my fondness for the Swedish company for, oh, six years or so, I was very interested. To make a short story even shorter, I happily signed on to be an IKEA brand ambassadör. I liken it to the marriage of Brad and Angelina. IKEA and I have been living together happily for many years. Why not just make it official? It’s official! Not much will change on my end. I will still only share IKEA products that I would use regardless of a partnership, but the difference is I am being compensated to share those products. I just thought you should know.

My role as an ambassadör actually began a few months ago when I participated in an online program to learn more about the history and mission of IKEA. It was so interesting! Did you know that IKEA is an acronym (Ingvar Kamprad, Elmtaryd, Agunnaryd) incorporating the founder’s name + the name of his family’s farm + the name of a nearby Swedish village? Or that Mr. Kamprad was passionate about life at home and would often visit other people’s homes and open their closets and drawers for inspiration? Or that the flat pack concept started when a designer took the legs off a table to fit it in her car? Or that a product design always starts with a price tag?

There are all these little backstories that have influenced the company in many ways, but the mission has always remained the same: to create a better everyday life for the many people. IKEA enforces this philosophy of democratic design by focusing on five key elements: form, function, quality, price and sustainability. Who knew so much thought went into a lamp or basket?!

Anyhow, let’s get back to organizing. Isn’t that what everyone does in January?

I finished my shopping list and made a quick trip to IKEA. (I strongly suggest making a shopping list before going to IKEA. Otherwise, you will be distracted. You will be tempted. Stay strong. Make a list and stick to it.) My local store is ~25 minutes away by minivan. It’s a blessing and a curse.

IKEA studio organization 3

IKEA studio organization 2

I grabbed two VARIERA flatware trays for some of the smaller drawers in the dry bar. They fit like a glove. I use one to corral kitchen paraphernalia (think break room > kitchen) and the other holds frequently used DIY supplies. Steve gifted me a portable tool box and a bunch of tools. I can’t tell you how convenient it is to have my own tools. Before, I was lugging stuff back and forth from our garage to the studio in paper bags.

IKEA studio organization 5

I grabbed a MAXIMERA drawer divider for each of the 36″ drawers. The drawers are deep and roomy. The dividers provide separation and keep loose items from sliding around. I used a variety of VARIERA boxes in recycled plastic and sustainable bamboo to corral everything from snacks to office supplies to toilet paper. The top drawer near the mini fridge holds kitchen items like paper plates, dried fruit and dish towels. There’s no water supply in the studio but there is a shared sink down the hall. When I need to wash dirty dishes, I grab the dishwashing box with dish soap, dish towels and sponges, place dishes in the empty bamboo box and go. I keep a few snacks on hand for me and the kids. We haven’t had any issues with mice in the warehouse and I’d like to keep it that way, so open food goes in TILLSLUTA bins with lids.

IKEA studio organization 4

The other top drawer holds cleaning and office supplies. I keep extra toilet paper on hand because no one likes being stranded in a stall with no toilet paper. The little bamboo box in the bottom right-hand corner is the designated “restroom box.” It holds a roll of toilet paper, hand soap and hand towel. (The shared restroom in the warehouse sometimes has soap but often times does not. I like to be prepared.) It has a nifty little handle which makes it easy to carry down the hall and back. The larger bamboo box in the upper right-hand corner holds notebooks, note pads, pencils, rubber bands, post-its, tape and other office supplies.

IKEA studio organization 6

The bottom drawers are mostly empty except for a few vases and pots which are kept in check by the drawer divider. I like having room to breathe and grow. I’d love to share the studio with other creatives.

IKEA studio organization 8

Speaking of vases and pots, they’re also items I particularly like scooping up at IKEA to hold greenery, fresh flowers and even crayons. The SINNERLIG pitcher is great for watering plants or serving drinks.

IKEA studio organization 9

I thrifted the brass bowl for 99¢ and plopped a vase of flowers inside for a layered look. The teeny wood bowl was another 99¢ thrift find that serves as a drop zone for keys.

IKEA studio organization 10

With the dry bar in working order, I turned my attention to the entry. I brought in a SORTERA recycling bin, and the space was in dire need of hanging storage for a broom, dust pan, coats and bags. I picked up ten BJÄRNUM hooks, spray painted them satin black then mounted them to a piece of timber salvaged from our home renovation. I made two hook racks consisting of five hooks each and hung them at adult and kid heights on a sliver of wall between the door and a concrete column. After they were finished, I realized I should have staggered the hooks on the bottom rack. Live and learn.

IKEA studio organization 12

I sanded down the boards but didn’t stain or seal them. I used wood screws to attach the hooks to the boards. I thought about disguising the stainless steel crews with black paint but ultimately decided I like the contrast. It is a warehouse so metal accents and raw wood feel right at home here. Even so, I could totally envision these hook racks in a living space.

IKEA studio organization 11

Each hook actually features two hooks so items can be hung in front of or behind one another to double the hanging capacity. One neighboring studio rehabs mopeds; the other is a rotating art gallery. Inevitably, grease, grime, paint and sawdust migrate into the space. It’s so great to finally have a place for hanging everyday items and keeping them off the floor.

IKEA studio organization 14

I love how the storage armoire turned out. To make it more functional, I loaded it up with a ton of baskets and bins.

armoire organization

The bottom serves as a mini garage of sorts and houses leftover paint, a tool box, a few battery-powered tools, a bucket, my sewing machine and looms.

IKEA studio organization 13

The upper portion holds crafting and sewing supplies along with paint and fabric samples. I left the lids off the KUGGIS boxes so they can hold even more. They’re 21″ long which means they extend to the back of the armoire and minimize wasted space. They’re made of recycled PET plastic, an added bonus. The SKOGSTA box is made from renewable acacia and is beautiful. It’s great for grabbing supplies from the cabinet and carrying them elsewhere to work on projects. The MÅLA paper holder and watercolor paints keep Mabrey occupied for hours. (Cheaper than a babysitter!) I love the texture of the MAGGA seagrass baskets against the black cabinet. Again, there’s plenty of room to grow as I take on more projects. I can easily move things around as needed for maximum efficiency.

IKEA studio organization 15

I wanted to hang a noticeboard of some kind on the interior side of one of the doors, but everything I found was too deep or too wide and would have interfered with the door closing properly. When I spotted the AVSKILD cork placemats ($4 for a 4-pack), they sparked an idea. I used wood glue to glue two placemats together, front to back. The result is a pair of noticeboards thick enough to push a tack through yet thin enough for the doors to close properly. Problem solved! I used damage-free hanging strips to attach the noticeboards to the door. They’re perfect for displaying photos, to-do lists and project ideas. I used an adhesive hook to hang a calendar on the inside of the other door (seen in the gif above).

IKEA studio organization 16

The new storage zones ensure that there’s a place for everything. With portable baskets and bins, nothing is permanent so I can easily switch things up or move things around if necessary. Everything is so functional! Finally!

What are some of your favorite pragmatic items from IKEA? We use the BEKVÄM step stool on a daily basis. I use it to reach items in cabinets above the microwave and fridge. Steve has used it as a stand-in step ladder for home projects. The younger kids use it to help out in the kitchen. Sometimes Mabrey even sits on the bottom step and uses the top step as a “table” to eat her lunch. Cheetah likes to nap on it next to the humming refrigerator.

*I am a brand ambassadör for IKEA. This post sponsored in part by IKEA. I received product and payment for this collaboration. IKEA is a registered trademark of Inter IKEA Systems B.V. and is used with permission. The views, ideas and opinions expressed here are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking