...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

play kitchen after 2

Santa gifted Mabrey this play kitchen last year. I didn’t find it obnoxious for a toy. But Mabrey kept asking, “When are you going to paint my kitchen?” Girl catches on quickly. Store bought items rarely stay the way I find them.

play kitchen before 1

In an effort to tidy up the side of the fridge, I decided to tweak the play kitchen with paint. And by paint, I mean paint, backsplash, new hardware, open shelving and an oven light. I may have taken things too far. Oops.

play kitchen before 2

The before. Again, it wasn’t obnoxious but there was room for improvement.

play kitchen steps 1

1 – The first thing I did was remove the chunky handles and patch the holes with wood putty.

2 – After a few applications of putty, I lightly sanded the patches and surfaces to be painted – just enough to scuff them up a bit.

3 – I taped off the oven window, control knobs and countertop.

4 – I gave the kitchen two coats of Sherwin-Williams coastal plain in a satin finish. (Btw, did you know you can purchase Sherwin-Williams paint at Lowe’s now? So convenient!)

play kitchen steps 2

5 – I bought two sheets of Smart Tiles subway tile in white. I had been eyeing them for a while but many sellers only sold them in packs of six and I didn’t need that much. When I saw them on sale at Wayfair for $5.99 per sheet and sold individually, I bit.

6 – The sheets are self-adhering vinyl with an easy peel-and-stick installation. The tiles are staggered on the edges for an overlapping seam.

7 – When positioned properly, the seam is barely noticeable. Lining up the grout lines carefully is key. I had to readjust the second sheet a few times to get a perfect fit. I don’t know that I would ever use these in a real kitchen (maybe a rental?) but they’re perfect for this application.

8 – I cut away the excess tile with utility scissors.

play kitchen steps 3

9 – I cleaned up the edges with a utility knife. I cut from the backside of the kitchen and pressed a board against the front side of the backsplash for more control. I ended up painting the top of the wood backsplash white for an even cleaner look.

10 – I used scraps cut from the first sheet to fill in small portions of tile on the second sheet. I had just enough tile!

11 – I added new handles. Because the play kitchen’s cabinet doors aren’t a standard thickness, the included screws were too long. I had to rummage around in the garage to find a few random ones that would work.

12 – (This is where Steve says I went overboard.) I cut a piece of lumber (thrifted from our garage) to fit the width of the backsplash. I sanded it smooth by hand and added a quick coat of wood conditioner.

play kitchen steps 4

13 – I applied two coats of wood stain. (It’s Minwax special walnut, my favorite.)

14 – I secured the shelf with two wood screws, using the original screw holes (from the original shelf) as my pilot holes. It’s super sturdy.

15 – I spray painted the faucet flat black to tie in with the new hardware. (Don’t think I didn’t consider adding a small bathroom faucet, but that really would have been too much. Ha!)

16 – The finished product!

play kitchen oven light

For fun, I added a battery-powered LED tap light in the “oven.” Mabrey LOVES this new feature.

play kitchen after 5

play kitchen after 4

play kitchen after 3

Just this morning she made me a broccoli cake ;) She couldn’t care less about the gray-green / subway tile / reclaimed wood / matte black hardware mix, but I’m all over it. One in my size, please?

play kitchen basket 1

Mabrey has a basket of play kitchen accessories. I keep it on a low shelf in the living room when she isn’t playing chef. She likes to carry it over to her kitchen when she’s playing. The red stool stands in as extra countertop space.

play kitchen basket 2

She was gifted this toaster, this coffee maker and a slew of faux food including some felt items from etsy. So cute!

play kitchen after 6

When I was tweaking the play kitchen, I couldn’t help wondering if there was a market for unfinished playthings that consumers could put their own spin on. Someone should do that. I think it’s so nice when toys (especially larger ones out in the open) meld with a home’s decor. I’m more likely to leave it out which means it’s more likely to be played with which is the whole point anyway, right? Or, I might be cray-cray.

At any rate, it was a fun little project and Mabrey seems to enjoy it. Now to tackle that messy fridge!

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