...because home doesn't happen overnight.
07.10.14 / The Kitchen

Ohhhhh, the kitchen.

kitchen before

The original kitchen was walled off from the living and dining rooms.

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If the cabinets had been in better shape, we might have tried to work with them but, sadly, they were rotted and the doors / drawers didn’t open or close properly. The odd layout assigned the refrigerator to a lone corner with no storage or counter space nearby. There was no dishwasher.

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One thing we liked about the kitchen was the window above the sink which looks out onto the backyard. It was one of the few windows that had been replaced by the previous owner.

kitchen after

kitchen after 3

To enlarge the kitchen and create a more functional layout without altering the house’s original footprint, we removed walls separating the kitchen, living and dining rooms. We aren’t formal people so the small dining room was relocated to allow for a large island. The dining room window was replaced with french doors to connect the kitchen to the backyard. A vaulted ceiling and skylights flood the north-facing space with natural light. It’s a far cry from the dark, soffit-heavy room we started with.

kitchen after 2

We had our plumber run new water and gas lines to accommodate the current layout. A counter-depth refrigerator stands where the stove once lived. A freestanding range occupies the site where a wall used to separate the kitchen from the original dining room. A new dishwasher is located to the right of the sink. It’s hidden behind a cover panel that matches the base cabinetry. When the house came to us, a microwave sat in a corner eating up precious counter space. We added a shelf next to the refrigerator to house the microwave and a few cookbooks which freed up counter space for a coffeemaker, toaster and shelf of drinking glasses.

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One thing we didn’t change was the location of the sink. I like that I am able to look out the window when I’m washing dishes to admire the greenery or watch the kids playing.

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We opted for solid surface countertops around the perimeter of the kitchen for easy maintenance. An extra deep, under-mounted, single basin sink makes cleanup a breeze.

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The nine-foot-long island is the hub of the house. It sees as much Play-doh, crafting and homework as it does meal prep, entertaining and casual dining. We topped it with a walnut slab to give it the feel of a wood table since we eat most of our meals here. It’s a warm contrast to the granite in the rest of the room. Guests always comment on the island and wood top saying they feel like they’re at a bar. We take it as a compliment.

We suspended a trio of pendants above the island. I wanted something that would punctuate the island but not impede the view of the kitchen from the adjoining living space. Clear globe lights were an ideal choice. I especially like the black cloth cords. The pendants are on a dimmer so we can have bright light for food prep or low light for dining and ambiance.

I chose durable metal counter stools to stand up to the kids and their inevitable messes. I wipe them down with a wet cloth and they look brand new. To keep the view from the living room to the kitchen uninterrupted, the stools are backless. This feature also makes it easy to turn around to talk with someone in the living room. Initially, I had some reservations about using backless stool with kids but it hasn’t been an issue.

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We kept the back wall free of upper cabinetry and installed reclaimed wood shelves. A sleek range hood and minimal backsplash add to the open feel. It’s nice to look over from the living room and not be bombarded with a slew of wall cabinets or an entire wall of tile. I really wanted the kitchen to feel like an extension of the living space instead of a kitchen thrown into a living room. To achieve this, we continued the engineered hardwood flooring into the kitchen. The wood flooring, walnut island top and reclaimed wood shelving help bring warmth to an innately utilitarian room.

The cabinetry is Ikea. From the get-go, I had my heart set on a tuxedo kitchen: dark lowers, white uppers. I wanted dark base cabinets to ground the kitchen in such an open space. I wanted white wall cabinets to keep things light. A mix of black and white just made sense.

We fell hard for the Ramsjö black-brown base cabinets but were disappointed with the slightly pink tone of the coordinating white wall cabinets. In the end, we used three different door styles. (Ramsjö black-brown, solid front for the bases and Lidingö white, solid and glass-front for the uppers.) I was a little worried about the mix on paper but in real life I think it goes a long way in helping the kitchen feel less generic.

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One end of the kitchen is devoted to paying bills, making grocery lists, creating meal plans and all the other secretarial tasks that go along with running a household. It’s also where I do the majority of writing and photo editing for the blog. Essentially, it’s a home office. Base cabinets hold a printer, office supplies and the kids’ crafting supplies. Upper, glass-front cabinets provide pretty storage. I use an assortment of baskets, bins and boxes to corral vitamins, batteries, camera accessories, receipts, crayons and a bunch of other miscellaneous. The planked backsplash is a repeated element also found on the ceiling and TV wall.

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To give the kitchen space a cozy vibe, I added greenery, artwork, vintage rugs, an upholstered desk stool and a linen-covered lamp. It feels lived. It is lived in.

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There are a few tweaks yet to be made in the kitchen. (We need to add a trim piece next to an upper cabinet in the corner near the microwave and I’m brainstorming an interactive side panel for the refrigerator.) But I’m very lucky to be able to spend the majority of my time in this bright and airy space. In the evening when the kitchen is tidy after dinner and the dishwasher is humming away, I pour myself a glass of wine and golden light glows through the skylights. It’s my happy place.

Resources of note:

wall paint – Benjamin Moore tapestry beige
trim, ceiling, planked backsplash paint – Benjamin Moore white dove
french door paint – Glidden trim & door oil paint, extra high gloss in deepest black
flooring – Jasper engineered hardwood handscraped birch in Texas brown via Build Direct
base cabinets – Ikea, Ramsjö black-brown
wall cabinets – Ikea, Lidingö white
perimeter countertop – kashmir white granite via Stone Design
walnut countertop – Hardwood Lumber Company
island corbels – The Home Depot
hardware – Ikea (Värde handles sans rosettes)
refrigerator, dishwasher, gas range, range hood – Ikea
microwave – LG
sink – Kraus 32″ undermount single bowl
faucet – VIGO stainless steel pull-out
backsplash tile – imperial bianco gloss 2″ x 12″ via The Tile Shop
backsplash grout – Laticrete epoxy grout in natural grey
globe pendant lights – West Elm
counter stools – Overstock
wall sconce above sink – Barn Light Electric
house artwork near sink – gift
spice rack – Ikea
glass storage containers – Wal-mart
kitchen towels – Crate & Barrel
step stool – Ikea, painted & stained
rug near sink – ebay (seller was manhattanrugs)
open shelving - DIY using Ikea brackets and reclaimed wood
oil & vinegar drizzlers – Amazon (These are the best!)
stainless steel containers – Target
antlers – etsy
black & white planter – vintage
rug near desk – etsy
desk stool – Blu Dot knicker stool
laptop bag – STM
blue & white planter – JoAnn’s
letter tray - Ikea
magazine files – Ikea
linen lamp – Crate & Barrel
wood cubby – Kalon Studios
highchair – Ikea
art above highchair – Clare Elsaesser
mat & frame – Utrecht art supplies
tongue & groove planks – Home Emporium
skylights – Velux

In case you’re interested in seeing how this space came together over time, a slew of kitchen-related links:

KITCHEN RENOVATION

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2011/08/30/a-few-new-things

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2011/10/25/light-skies/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/05/22/finishing-the-walnut-butcher-block/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/05/24/installing-the-walnut-butcher-block/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/05/25/countertops-are-in/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/11/01/kitchen-backsplash-tweaked-shelves/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/03/11/our-pantry-a-tasty-giveaway/

IKEA KITCHEN

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2011/06/03/an-ikea-kitchen-in-the-making/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2011/06/15/an-after-dinner-ikea-run/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/06/29/ikea-appliance-reviews/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/07/09/designing-our-ikea-kitchen/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/07/12/purchasing-our-ikea-kitchen/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/07/20/installing-our-ikea-kitchen/

DECOR

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2011/08/21/kitchen-island-pendants/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/08/06/those-stools/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/08/22/our-kitchen-cabinets-color-matched/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/10/05/ill-take-it/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/03/14/a-new-desk-rug/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/08/11/what-happened-to-the-wall-planter/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/09/30/a-kitchen-rug/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/12/01/sink-hole-quick-fix/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/02/04/the-cheapest-most-loved-fiddle-leaf-fig/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/04/11/how-im-not-killing-my-fiddle-leaf-fig/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/02/24/i-call-it-the-stop-stool/

KITCHEN DESK

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/09/27/organizing-the-kitchen-desk/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/12/12/kitchen-desk-backsplash/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/12/16/the-kitchen-desk-backsplash-painted/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/03/04/baby-steps-in-the-unfinished-bathroom/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/02/16/my-home-workspace/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/02/26/diy-sueded-cord-cover/

For ease, you can access this kitchen tour under the “See My House” tab in the side bar along with a general house tour and the living room tour. I’ll be adding more rooms in the weeks to come. Thanks for reading!

images: 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!

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ikea kitchen MN 3

After renting for nearly a decade, Annie and Greg bought their first home in 2011. Since then, they’ve slowly been updating the 1950′s  house located in southern Minnesota. With a job relocation to Seattle on the horizon, they decided to tackle the kitchen to get the most bang for their buck when they list the house in a few months. They considered making do with the original cabinets but realized a few coats of paint wouldn’t address the need for a better functioning layout and more counter space. Keeping their small budget and future resale in mind, they opted to source most of their kitchen components from Ikea. I asked Annie several questions about their experience. Find her answers and images of the newly remodeled kitchen below.

budget-friendly ikea kitchen via House*Tweaking

Which items in your kitchen hail from Ikea?

The cabinets, doors, drawer fronts and toe kick are all from Ikea.

What made you decide to source these items from Ikea?

We never considered going elsewhere for those items due to our numerous trips to the Twin Cities Ikea where we’d snoop through their kitchen displays and dream. My husband, Greg, is a design and process engineer with a construction background and I’m a stickler for good design as well. Quality, design and function are important to us. Ikea delivered those aspects and fit our small budget. You can’t beat the hinges and door dampers on the soft-closing cabinets. We outfitted most of our 9′ x 10′ galley kitchen for ~$2,600. People don’t believe us unless they’ve also researched and / or created an Ikea kitchen.

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

The design was our own. We wanted to increase the amount of storage while not overwhelming the small space. We’re putting the house on the market in a few months to move to Seattle for my husband’s career. We’re trying to keep the same feel from room to room. Every bit of our house has been updated or renovated and the kitchen was the last room to finish on the main floor. I think it flows very well which goes to show Ikea’s versatility.

ikea kitchen MN assembly

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

The two of us assembled and installed the cabinets. We read that putting the cabinets and drawers together was a pain but we didn’t have a problem. Once assembled, we stored the cabinets in the master bedroom to keep them away from our dogs and my accident-prone ways.

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

The original plan was to keep the old cabinets and paint them then add a new sink, faucet and countertop. One side of the 1952 kitchen had the stove and refrigerator next to one another with no counter space whatsoever which bothered us quite a bit. I’m short and the shelves in the old cabinets were hard for me to reach – even with a step stool. Once we started looking at the facts and what it would take to update the old cabinets, we realized it wouldn’t look or function any better. We said, nope, let’s go to Ikea. Let’s start fresh.

After that I started designing the space with the Ikea kitchen planner online. I took a few afternoons scattered over a few weeks to go over layout options with all the measurements. Then we took a Sunday to revise it together and arrive at the final design.

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I pictured the new cabinets going nearly to the top of the 9′ ceiling to bring the eye up and make the space look larger. (That was one thing I liked about the old cabinets.) I wanted to make it look more custom with crown molding. The trash and recycling also have their own place inside of a pull-out base cabinet which we love. We definitely wanted a better layout and more storage. It’s odd that we have more storage now – I still have empty drawers and shelves actually! – even though we omitted upper cabinets by the stove in the new design. Less cabinets and more storage is pretty awesome.

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The fridge took some work because it is not counter-depth. We had to shorten the door opening by 7” to get a built-in look after removing a pocket door and widening the doorway. Today, the doorway goes with the scale of the house and makes the kitchen and dining room feel more like one space. Carpet is not my friend and it was in the dining room. Gag. We installed hardwood flooring in both rooms for added cohesion.

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There were a few kitchens on my Pinterest board I was obsessed with which lead me to the hardware, the butcher block countertop and a single basin sink. My original idea for the countertops was soapstone but butcher block is more affordable and more forgiving. We work with wood furniture in our design / refurbishing business so it’s not a big deal for us to repair it. The more it ages, the better it looks to me. We didn’t install a backsplash because I think it’s a personal decision better left to the next owner…who I hope sends me a picture. I did consider a few backsplash options. We have subway tile in both bathrooms, marble in one bathroom and various of shades of gray throughout the house which were all tile options that caught my attention.

I wanted high contrast between the off-white ÄDEL cabinets and accessories so we used an almost matte black, oil-rubbed bronze in the details. The hardware has modern lines but the warm wood countertops and classic schoolhouse lights keep the room from leaning too contemporary. My taste tends to be modern rustic.

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How long was it from design to the final product?

We did very little to the kitchen until October of 2012 when we removed the laundry chute the previous owner had in the kitchen. I ran into the chute cabinet at least three times a day. The two of us removed the pocket door and opened the doorway to a nice 55” from the 26” it had been. We didn’t start the real work until March of this year.

The Ikea kitchen sale started late February which was right after we finished renovating a bathroom. Mid-way into the sale we went to Ikea with our design, logged into our kitchen planner account and asked the kitchen specialists a ton of questions. A specialist printed off our list, added what was needed (an important step since not everything is correct or included on the list) and we had our total in about five minutes. $2,634 didn’t even qualify for the discount which was fine with us. At that time, Ikea had everything we needed in stock but since we were not purchasing that day we had to call ahead to inquire about availability – especially because of the ongoing kitchen sale.

We nailed down our finances a few weeks later then returned to Ikea to order our kitchen. It was only $99 to deliver to our home a little more than 30 minutes away.

Everything was in stock and could have been delivered a few days after ordering but we requested a later delivery to accommodate our schedules. The delivery company called on a Tuesday to say they would be in our area the following day. I called back and scheduled the drop-off which fell into a 5PM to 9PM time slot when we’d both be home from work. Wednesday rolled around and the delivery company left a voicemail at 2PM saying they would be at our house in 40 minutes and that if we couldn’t be there we’d have to reschedule. This was our only unhappy moment. (Ikea hires the delivery out so it’s not really much of a reflection on them.) Luckily, Greg was able to leave work early and arrive home just before the delivery truck. Nothing was damaged upon arrival and we signed off with the delivery company. Simple and fast.

I immediately checked the list. Everything was accounted for. We started putting the cabinets together that night for a few hours. It took three weekday evenings and a total of six hours to assemble most of the components. Having years of experience in his family’s construction business, Greg wanted to do the rest on installation day. He’s an engineer and was impressed with the assembly method. If you pour out the box contents correctly it practically puts itself together. A screw gun is handy, too.

ikea kitchen MN install

Installation was easy and we spread it out over two weekends. The suspension rail was simple to use and helped a lot since it was just the two of us. The problems we did encounter were part of the kitchen structure itself: uneven walls and ceiling. You know, stuff that goes along with older houses.

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Custom framing came into play for the cabinet above the fridge and the tall pantry cabinet. Otherwise, the process was pretty straightforward.

ikea kitchen MN floor install

The flooring installation was aggravating compared to the cabinets. It took us a few weekday evenings in a row to knock it out. We were a tiny bit shy of toe kick in the end and we damaged a set of shelves at some point during installation. A trip to Ikea and $20 solved those issues.

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

The new kitchen has existed for about a month. Out of habit, we still find ourselves walking into the dining room looking for the fridge because that’s where we kept it during the reno. There haven’t been any concerns or problems. With our rambunctious pups, the floor has been scratched even though we use rugs. The cabinets are fine. I accidentally ram my step stool into them on a daily basis and they stand strong. I love this space now.

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

I love the flow and storage. And, although we kept resale in mind, there is still a lot of us in the design. We lived in nine rentals over the course of ten years before buying this house and nothing was even close to feeling like us. I’m also a food blogger on top of a DIY / home improvement blogger so the kitchen is the room in which I could spend all day and be happy. It’s my meal prep space, where I catch up with my husband over a glass of wine, where I break out in song and dance on the new hardwood floor and where the designer in me geeks out. Honestly, my least favorite thing is that we’re moving soon and that we waited so long to tackle the kitchen. I’m also bummed about not having found the items to display on my counters yet.

Would you recommend Ikea as a source for a kitchen remodel?

That’s a big yes. We recommend Ikea to anyone who will listen. If you create a design that truly fits your needs, seek advice from the kitchen specialists, prepare and organize your lists (I make a lot of lists) and materials, dedicate time to assembly and installation, accept that some problems might arise but that you will face them and all will be well, you can have a beautiful, quality Ikea kitchen. If things aren’t going together easily that means you are probably doing something wrong and need to take a step back. For example, we first put the base plate of the hinges on backwards.

Would you consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel?

In our next (Seattle) house, kitchen renovations will come first and Ikea will be a big part of it.

Resources of note:

cabinet frames, cabinet doors, drawer fronts, toe kick – Ikea, ÄDEL off-white
trim, molding – Menards
wall paint – Benjamin Moore rockport gray
trim paint – color-matched to Ikea ÄDEL off-white and Benjamin Moore decorators white
hardware – myknobs.com
kilim rug – ebay, vintage
butcher block countertop – builder outlet store
butcher block finish – dark raw tung oil + citrus solvent (waterproof, food-safe, all natural)
sink – build.com
faucet – Signature hardware
water filtration faucet – Amazon
range hood – <$200 at Rakuten.com
dishwasher – craigslist, $60
refrigerator and stove – already owned
lighting – Home Depot, Lowe’s
blinds – JCPenney
flooring – American Carpet Wholesalers
dining room pendant – Overstock

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Thank you so much Annie for sharing the details of your kitchen renovation!

How amazing is it that less cabinetry actually resulted in more storage?! This small kitchen is an example of thoughtful design at its best. I love Annie’s choice of hardware and lighting alongside the white cabinets and wood countertops. And don’t get me started on that vintage rug. Inevitably, making the decision to spend a little more on the kitchen reno to gain counter space and storage was a smart choice. The new layout and classic design are sure to be advantages over comps when the couple lists the home in the near future. You can follow the couple’s home improvement adventures over on their blog and you can see what Annie’s whipping up in the new kitchen on her food blog. (Pssst…the bathroom renovations are equally inspiring!)

If you’re in the mood for more Ikea kitchens, check out the rest of this series:

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: Annie at The Wits

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!

ikea brooklyn before

After renting for eleven years, Susan and her young family bought an old apartment in Brooklyn and decided to tackle the kitchen renovation (among other things) before moving into the space. On a tight budget and even tighter schedule, they opted for Ikea cabinetry. Fueled by pure adrenaline, they managed to transform a cramped and dated hodgepodge kitchen into a modern marvel in just six weeks. I asked Susan several questions about the renovation. Find her answers and pictures of the jaw-dropping results below.

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Which items in your kitchen hail from Ikea?

We purchased our base and upper cabinets, dinnerware and utensil organizers, as well as our range hood from Ikea. Friends with experience told us to avoid Ikea faucets. We bought our kitchen during the annual fall mark down, actually on Halloween evening in 2011. It was the perfect time to go as Ikea Brooklyn is usually packed and the wait line in the kitchen design / orders area can be hours. The store was literally empty and we received hands-on service from the kitchen designer who made sure we bought all the right accessories for our design.

What made you decide to source these items from Ikea?

There were a number of factors that made Ikea cabinets the right choice for us. We had heard that the quality of the Ikea cases and interiors was good as long as you used wood glue when assembling.

We were also on a tight timeline and budget as we had just bought our apartment which needed renovation prior to move-in. We were living with very generous friends during the closing process (6 weeks, due to NYC regulations) and the renovation (6 weeks). The great thing about Ikea is that you don’t have to wait weeks or months for cabinet fabrication. We did not want to overstay our welcome. (We are still friends, thankfully!)

The third selling point was the flexibility of the design options. We knew we could upgrade the aesthetic with non-Ikea countertops, appliances and hardware to cater to our tastes and needs without breaking the bank.

ikea brooklyn DIY

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

We actually did assemble all the cabinets ourselves after our full-time jobs, putting our baby to bed, and walking 15 minutes to our new apartment. Looking back, I’m not quite sure how we did it all. I think it was the adrenaline of the renovation.

ikea brooklyn progress

ikea brooklyn cabinet install

We found the perfect contractor who installed our upper cabinets and base cabinets as well as the appliances. We did install all the doors, drawer fronts and hardware which was a pretty lengthy process getting the spacing just right. A separate contractor provided and installed the Caesarstone countertops.

We expanded the kitchen footprint by 35% which added some challenges. The floors in our apartment are very uneven (+/- 1-2″ over 6 feet) as the house was built in 1910 and has settled (hence our neighborhood’s name, ParkSlope). To mitigate this challenge, our contractor provided a new level plywood substrate with a self leveling compound topper. This allows the floor and the cabinets within the kitchen to be level. The countertop waterfall and the island panels were scribed to our uneven floors.

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

The main thing we liked about the original kitchen was that it was open to the living area. As a young family, being able to keep eyes on little ones while getting work done is a must. We enlarged the kitchen by over three feet in length and one foot in depth. The peninsula went from being about six-and-a-half feet to eleven feet in length. It is amazing! It works really well as a place for our sons to color, play or eat while we cook as well as a perfect place for entertaining.

Design-wise, we wanted the kitchen to be clean and modern but also sympathetic to the details of our old home. I really wanted to do dark lowers and white uppers. The white helps the kitchen feel more open and doesn’t impose on the living and dining areas while the dark lower cabinetry grounds the space and hides fingerprints. I’m glad I did wood veneer on the lowers rather than a glossy laminate as any scratches or marks are easy to touch up.

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Some of my favorite details include the Doug Mockett 3″ black chrome edge pulls. These pulls are great as they act as built-in childproofing. Case in point: my three-year-old can now open them but my 15-month-old cannot. I chose to spend a little more on hardware that is unexpected and consequently most people are surprised when I reveal my kitchen is from Ikea.

To save money we went with ¾” thick counters. This literally was half the cost of the typical 1½” thick counters. I love the modern look this references. Probably the most impactful aspect of the kitchen is the waterfall edge treatment on the island. The miter edge is a favorite detail and when you conceal the sides of the cabinets, no one really knows who made them. We also chose to spend a little more money on side panels on either side of the fridge as well as on the back of the island which reinforce the custom / built-in look.

IKEA Home Planner Printout

Who designed your Ikea kitchen?

Professionally, I am a certified Interior Designer so my experience in space planning and design, although mainly for corporate clients, was useful. I pretty much designed our kitchen in an evening. As we were moving one of the walls in the apartment to create the washer / dryer closet, we were able to create the ‘built-in’ look by setting the wall dimension for the closet using Ikea’s standard dimensions for their cabinetry. I then worked a few evenings with Ikea’s 3D program online to confirm and refine the design. After we closed on the apartment, we purchased the kitchen which fit in a borrowed minivan in one trip. We carried all 1,100 lbs of cabinets up the four flights to our apartment ourselves.

We only had to make one return trip to Ikea to switch out some drawers. Due to the floor detail at the kitchen threshold, we ended up having to cut 2″ off three panels on the corner cabinet by the range. I had wanted more drawers in this location but due to this field dimension constraint and a conflict with the range, we had to switch to a cabinet which provides deep storage.

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

After living in rentals for eleven years, I have a lot of favorites that I feel are luxuries – especially for a NYC apartment. The ice-maker and water dispenser in the fridge, the garbage disposal, the working, *silent* dishwasher, the deep double sink, the touch on / off faucet and the dual convection oven are all attributes that I am thankful for every day. I finally feel like an adult as most rental apartments do not have any of these options.

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The Ikea cabinet functions that I love are the soft-close drawers, the dinnerware and flatware organizers. Placing the flatware and dinnerware drawers right next to the dishwasher is one of my favorite things. It makes unloading the dishwasher a breeze. I also love all the drawers and that we were able to conceal our trash can in a standard Ikea cabinet.

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I also love, love the rubber floor. After living with ceramic and porcelain floors where a dropped cup or dish is shattered to a million pieces, the rubber floor has saved many of the drops by my family of klutzes.

My least favorite aspect is that we did not integrate the microwave. I really would have preferred it below the counter but there just wasn’t room. I really didn’t want to hang it over the stove. I hope one day I will learn to live without it and can gain that valuable counter space back. The other cost reduction we did that I wish we hadn’t was not venting the hood to the exterior. It is something I regret not doing but hope we can add it in the future.

Ikea cabinet wise, the only disappointment has been the corner lazy Susan. Silly me did not read the weight limitations of the unit which was only 1 lb over my Kitchen Aid mixer which sat on it for 2+ years with five other heavy appliances. Needless to say, a piece holding it in place broke. Thankfully, with some additional screws and super glue, we were able to reassemble. My mixer now lives in the base cabinet by the range and the lazy Susan holds snacks and lightweight appliances.

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

I would definitely recommend Ikea. I think the thing to be mindful of is / are the finish(es) selected on the cabinetry. Definitely use glue when assembling so you don’t have anything loosening over time. Being mindful of exposed sides, fillers, end panels, trim, etc., requires extra planning and forethought but can add sophistication to your design.

Would you consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel?

Most definitely. Although next time, if applicable, I would pay someone to carry it up the four flights!

Resources of note:

wall paint – Benjamin Moore cement gray
ceiling & trim paint – Benjamin Moore super white
upper cabinets - Abstrakt white doors on white Akurum cabinets
lower cabinets – Ikea Nexus in dark brown (discontinued, similar to Gnosjö wood effect black doors on birch Akurum cabinets)
hardware – Doug Mockett 3″ edge pulls black chrome DP3A-21
countertop – ¾” Caesarstone in organic white 4600
sink - Signature Plumbing Specialties 
faucet - Delta Trinsic pulldown faucet with Touch2O technology (This was an upgrade after the original faucet we had starting leaking due to a bad valve. We got this and our disposal for a steal in Amazon’s returns section.)
disposal - InSinkErator pro cover control (I love the batch disposal so no fingers can end up where they aren’t meant to be! We added this just this year but had installed an outlet below the sink during the renovation.)
refrigerator - GE cafe french door counter depth refrigerator (We actually sourced this on Craigslist. One of the benefits of living in a large city.)
range - GE cafe dual fuel range with baking drawer (Again, another Craigslist find. We paid extra to have it delivered. worth. every. penny.)
dishwasher - Bosch acenta in black (I love how you can’t even tell it’s there as it blends with the cabinets.)
hood – Ikea (discontinued – similar to Luftig)
backsplash tile - American Olean bright profiles 3″ x 6″ in ice white gloss
backsplash grout –  Laticrete #42 platinum
backsplash metal edge trim- polished aluminum Schluter Jolly trim
pendant lights – Tom Dixon-inspired found on ebay and rewired with a kit from West Elm
flooring – Nora Rubber norament round platinum gray, 18″ x 18″ tile
counter stools – Overstock
booster seat – OXO tot seedling youth booster in taupe

ikea brooklyn kitchen before & after

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU Susan for sharing your kitchen with me!

There are so many smart takeaways here. I love how Susan incorporated high end hardware, numerous side panels and a waterfall edge to achieve a more sophisticated look. And the part about using a ¾” countertop versus the standard 1½” to save big money is ingenious. I’m all over the clean and simple design. Those pendants! And that rubber floor is so practical. But what’s truly miraculous is that Susan managed to create a full kitchen – complete with dishwasher – in Brooklyn. That’s no small feat. You can follow Susan and her adorable family 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 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: Susan at 4th Floor Walk-up

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.*

Congrats to Megan! She’s going to use Cook Smarts and her Whole Foods gift card to whip up a vegetarian dish for her family.

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I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m not particularly fond of cooking. My biggest tiff with the whole process is coming up with ideas for meals and organizing grocery lists. But as much as I detest it, meal planning really does make a difference in how well our weeknights go – especially during the school year. Enter Cook Smarts.

weekly meal plan

Cook Smarts takes the guesswork out of meal planning. Their weekly meal plans include four balanced dinners to save time and money and bring you out of the dreaded dinner rut.

paleo option

Steve has been eating paleo most of the time for the last six months so, by default, the rest of us have been, too. Each Cook Smarts recipe can be customized to a gluten-free, paleo or vegetarian version. Needless to say, this is a huge and practical benefit to me and my family. Once customized, you can print / email the meal plans and create grocery lists with the click of a mouse. Done!

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The kids and I are out of town this week and next. Right before we left, I threw together an early Father’s Day meal since we won’t return until the day before the actual holiday. Seeing as how I’m barely functioning a day after making the 16-hour drive with three kids, I’m guessing I won’t be in any condition to entertain when I return home. (In case you’re wondering, the total sleep time for the entire drive for all three kids was…wait for it…50 minutes. And it was broken up at that. Gotta love road trips with kids!) I searched the recipe archives and decided to try the chipotle burger recipe.

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It isn’t a Father’s Day meal without some grilling action! If you need to brush up on your grilling skills, Cook Smarts offers short how-to and prep videos which teach basic cooking skills to boost your cooking confidence.

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I topped the chipotle burgers with homemade guacamole and served them with sweet potato fries, steamed broccoli and our favorite pasta salad from a local gourmet deli. Since we were entertaining extended family members who don’t follow a paleo diet, I didn’t customize this particular recipe.

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The burgers were so good! They had a bit of a smoky bite to them that was tempered by the guac. I will definitely be making these burgers again!

i made this recipe

To keep a running list of the recipes we try, I click the “I made this” button at the bottom of each recipe.

favorited recipe

To denote favorites, I click the button above the dish’s photo. And just like that, everything is organized for me. It really is a smart setup. For a more in-depth guided tour of the site, click here. Who knows? Maybe cooking in the kitchen could eventually become my happy place??

jess at cook smarts

As easy as Cook Smarts makes it to live smarter, happier and simpler in the kitchen (I find cooking isn’t as awful when I have a plan of attack) what really inspires me is the story behind the business. The website was founded by Jess Dang who, after being diagnosed with Hepatitis C at the age of 17, made a promise to herself. If she lived to see 30, she would do something that would help others lead a healthier life because she knew first-hand how much “it sucked to feel unhealthy and helpless.” Jess is now 32 and Cook Smarts is 2. Some people become complete victims and wallow in self-pity whenever problems arise in life. But those who choose to make the most of their situation by helping others are extraordinary and inspiring. That is exactly what Jess is to me and I support her mission whole-heartedly.

Are you ready to try Cook Smarts for yourself? Great! You can sign up for free and receive 3 free meal plans to sample. Subscription plans start as low as $6/month or roughly $0.40 per meal. To help you out, Cook Smarts is giving away $250 in groceries! See entry details below.

PRIZE: $250 gift card to Whole Foods plus a Cook Smarts tote bag

RULES: You must be at least 18 years old to enter and have a shipping address (no P.O. boxes please) within the U.S. to enter. One entry per email address.

TO ENTER: Sign up for a free Cook Smarts account here. Then check out the recipe archives and comment on this post sharing the meal you’d most like to try.

DEADLINE: Enter before Sunday, June 8th at 9:00 p.m. EST. One random winner will be announced Monday, June 9th.

BUT, WAIT!, THERE’S MORE: Use the discount code “HTCOOKS” to receive 30% off your first meal plan payment. Offer expires June 10th, 2014. A subscription to Cook Smarts would make a great graduation or wedding gift this summer.

Eat healthy, stay healthy!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking; image of Jess Dang via Cook Smarts