...because home doesn't happen overnight.
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!
Lila describes the “before” of her kitchen in rural Australia as small, cold and clinical. With inadequate storage and an awkwardly placed (and inoperable!) wood stove, the space wasn’t working as well as it could be and it didn’t reflect the family’s warm, organic style. On a tight DIY budget, Lila and her husband used Ikea cabinets and a healthy dose of ingenuity to create a unique but warm kitchen. I had the pleasure of interviewing Lila about her kitchen renovation. Find her answers and the inspiring “afters” below.
Which items in your kitchen hail from Ikea?
Most of our cabinets are from Ikea – except for the ones we custom built for awkward spaces (i.e., under the sink and the narrow space between the dishwasher and the wall).
The cabinets in the non-functioning fireplace are narrow cabinets from Ikea. It was fantastic to find off-the-shelf cabinets that fit to give us more storage. They hold all of my baking spices, ingredients and tools.
Because we chose to install such a large sink (it was originally the laundry trough in our exterior laundry), we bought the DOMSJÖ colander and chopping board to place over one sink, enabling it to double as a work surface. We used Ikea drawers and made our own plywood fronts for the appliance drawers which house our kettle, toaster and blender. We have Ikea drawer organizers that we’ve used not only for cutlery and utensils but also to keep my spices close at hand near the stove.
We purchased the BOSSE stools as our island is essentially our dining table. Our home is <900 square feet. The kitchen isn’t only a kitchen; it’s a dining room!
What made you decide to source these items from Ikea?
It had a lot to do with budget. We are renovating our house week-to-week without borrowing additional money to do so. I also felt the cabinets were of higher quality and more attractive than what a local cabinet maker could have produced. Not to mention, with Ikea we could save money by doing the labor ourselves.
Who designed your kitchen? What aesthetic were you aiming for?
We designed our kitchen ourselves. We were going for warm, organic and industrial with a slight Scandinavian feel.
We designed the kitchen into zones so that items are grouped according to function. To the left of the oven are knives, cooking spices, pots and pans; to the right are the glasses, cutlery and plates for serving food.
We installed trash pull-outs in between the sink and dishwasher so plates are easily cleared before washing. We grouped the kettle, coffee and tea brewing needs, the toaster, the spreads (jellies, jams) and the blender along with everything my husband needs to make his protein shakes. And, of course, my baking station holds all the things I need when I bake with my stand mixer plugged in and ready to go. It was important to us that these things were easily used but just as easily hidden when not in use. It keeps the small room feeling clean, uncluttered and spacious.
Did you assemble and install all Ikea kitchen components yourself? If not, what did you seek help with?
Yes, we put it all together ourselves. It was pretty straightforward and fast…and cheap! I know a lot of people find assembling flat pack stressful but I actually enjoy it.
How did you customize your Ikea kitchen to suit your needs and preferred aesthetic?
We used plywood fronts on some drawers, poured our own concrete countertops and wrapped the island in vertical join board to soften the high gloss fronts that we chose from Ikea. Choosing countertops from Ikea wasn’t an option because the closest Ikea is 400km (approximately 250 miles) away, making transporting items like countertops dicey.
We chose to tile vertically to the ceiling with matte white subway tile. The bones and organization of the kitchen are Ikea but we’ve blended it with a variety of other materials to avoid the dreaded “straight from the catalogue” look.
How long was it from design to the final product?
It took about 17 months from concept to finish. We had quite a few hiccups along the way with asbestos found in walls and discovering the floor mostly missing under the original cabinets. We only worked on weekends and some evenings which also stretched the build out.
How long have you lived with your Ikea kitchen? Have you encountered any problems?
We’ve had the cabinets in for over a year and they have been fantastic. We originally had drawers to the left of the oven but ended up removing the bottom two drawers and replacing them with a door because the 60cm (~24″) cabinet wasn’t the best choice for housing my pots and pans. I also failed to allow enough space between those drawers and the wall and they would brush against the wall tiles when we used them which drove me insane. If I could go back in time I would have put the 80cm (~32″) drawers there instead and allowed enough room!
What is your favorite thing about your kitchen? Least favorite?
That it’s finally finished! But really I just love that it’s white and fresh but not cold and clinical.
I hate the chrome faucet and the legs on our island but replacing them would be really expensive so at the moment I choose to ignore them. One day I’ll switch them out with something nicer.
Would you recommend Ikea as a source for a kitchen remodel? If so, which items?
Absolutely, I’d recommend the cabinets and organizing accessories. I haven’t used other items but I’d expect them to be great too considering how good the products we have are.
Would you consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel?
I would use Ikea again in a heartbeat. I can’t speak to the quality of the appliances or countertops but the cabinets and organizational stuff are fabulous. They’re better than some of the custom made items I’ve had in previous houses.
Resources of note:
ceiling, wall and trim paint – Dulux wash and wear in White on White
floor – Feast Watson floor paint tinted to Dulux White on White
wall tile – Beaumont tiles, 300 x 100 Satin White
island light – Tradition Blasted KL1 Lamp purchased from Great Dane Furniture
other lights – Muuto E27 in white purchased from Surrounding
dishwasher – Asko D5424 (it’s a fantastic dishwasher!)
oven / stove – Smeg 60cm dual fuel
downdraft – De Deitrich
refrigerator – Samsung
plywood – from local hardware store
countertops – DIY hand poured concrete
Thank you so much, Lila, for sharing your darling kitchen!
What a creative use of space, right?! It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The fireplace turned baking station, the appliance garage, the automated downdraft in the island, the ceiling height book niches…they’re all such clever ideas for a small kitchen. I love that Lila and her husband put their own spin on things by DIYing plywood fronts and concrete countertops. And don’t even get me started on that trough sink. THAT SINK! You can read more about Lila and her commitment to savoring life’s little things 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 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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: Lila at Little Wolff
Do you remember our elderly, crumbling driveway? If not, let me jog your memory.
The asphalt driveway had seen better days. It was cracked and unlevel and had sunk so far into the ground that the culvert near the road was essentially a speed bump. Don’t believe me?
Grass was growing through the cracks. The depressions held water, gravel, dirt and mud. Some places were in such disrepair that you could lift up chunks of asphalt with your bare hands. The kids invented a “driveway puzzle” game where they would remove sections of the asphalt, jumble them up and then put them back where they belonged.
Replacing the asphalt with concrete had always been on our to-do list but it took a few years for it to reach the top of the list and for us to save money for such a big (expensive!) project. We lived with it as-is, not even bothering to make stopgap repairs. As the house’s exterior started to take shape, the driveway remained an eyesore. Steve and I would talk about how driving up to the house and pulling into the driveway should be a “Whew, I’m home!” moment but for so long it was “Ugh. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an uglier driveway.”
At one point, I was so over the crippled asphalt that I tried talking Steve into a gravel driveway. I actually like gravel driveways. But he was set on concrete (and a lot of it) and he was the one who would be maintaining it so we waited it out. Until this summer!
Steve grappled with the idea of DIYing the driveway but he would have had to take time off work and persuade friends to help (and also take time off work). In the end, saving his vacation days and back won out.
We found a local concrete guy (well, pair of guys) through family after admiring their beautiful driveways (What? You don’t gaze longingly at driveways?) and discovering the work had been carried out by the same contractor. We had a less-than-wonderful experience with the people we hired to install the back patios and front walk about two years ago so we were adamant about finding a better contractor. And we did! Work started in early July and it took about two weeks for two guys to rip out the old asphalt driveway, prep the site and pour the new concrete driveway. They were meticulous and followed our plans to a T. Their finish work was spot on. I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome it is to work with people who give a rat’s ass about their work. I’d give you the play-by-play of everything that went down but I don’t think it would be as enjoyable in post form as it was in real life. (Mabrey was mesmerized by the backhoe as documented here and here.)
I will tell you how much it cost. We paid $9,300 in cash which is no drop in the bucket but was affordable based on other quotes we received. (We had two other contractors come out and quote the job, too.) We could have saved thousands by doing it ourselves but it would have been a huge project and time-eater. For this particular project, we decided the money was worth it. And after seeing the results, we have no regrets whatsoever.
Soooo, the after!
So, we still need to tackle some general cleanup, sealing the concrete and reseeding the lawn but LOOK AT THE DRIVEWAY. Go ahead. Feast your eyes. Stare. It’s like concrete porn. Steve wanted a big driveway and he got a big driveway. It’s essentially a two-lane road. We let it cure for three weeks before we parked a single vehicle on it. The day Steve pulled the cars into the new driveway for the first time the kids were all, “Look! Dad’s driving on the driveway!” The first time we pulled out in the car the kids were all, “It’s so smooooooth!”
No more speed bump! There’s a new culvert in there. You just can’t see it. The driveway slopes ever-so-slightly away from the garage and out to the side yard and road. We also had the contractor install and bury two new drain lines that connect to downspouts at the front and back of the house. We haven’t had a problem with water seeping into the garage before and we’d like to keep it that way. Remember, we’re a bit paranoid when it comes to water + our house.
You might notice the far end of the driveway sloping up. The backyard is higher than the front. We were stumped about how to properly end the driveway at the backyard. Originally, Steve was going to have the guys create a curb there but we weren’t sold on the idea. I thought steps would look nice but Steve nixed that idea. He has high hopes of building a man shed just beyond the driveway someday and wanted a way to drive something (I’m guessing his nonexistent, fancy riding mower??) into the shed if necessary. I suggested a graduated slope. It made sense and we didn’t think it would look awful so a slope it is.
Can I tell you how excited I am about finally having a clean way into our house?! Before, we tracked rocks, dirt and mud into the house from the driveway. Now, I’m finding less of all of that in our house…and in our car.
Here’s a better picture showing the slope. See how the driveway ramps up on the left? Normally, our trash cans sit between the window and garage door. (It was trash collection day when I snapped these so the cans were out at the road.) We’re going to DIY an enclosure of some kind to hide the cans but we haven’t made it that far. Also, our Direct TV satellite used to stand off to the left (seen in the first two images of this post) but it’s not hooked up yet. I’m trying to convince Steve that we don’t need it but football season starts soon so I’m not sure it’s going to fly.
The one thing we aren’t head over heels about is the step to the front walk. It slopes up to the walk instead of meeting it at a 90º angle. But that’s the fault of the previous contractor who installed the front walk. It’s too shallow. We specifically requested a deeper walk there because we knew it would have to meet the new driveway at some point but it didn’t happen. Like I mentioned, it was a less-than-wonderful experience with the first set of concrete work. We’ll probably add river rock or short stacked stone walls on either side of the transition to hold the dirt back. Any suggestions?
Some side-by-side comparisons because that’s always fun…
Somehow the garage door looks better. We’ll replace it eventually but the driveway is a good distraction for now.
Can’t you just picture the driveway cleaned & sealed, surrounded by lush grass with a tidy trash enclosure, maybe a basketball hoop (?) and a modern man shed at the back? Squint harder.
And that completes probably the longest post ever written about a driveway. If you’ve made it this far, I’d love to know all about your driveway and any suggestions you might have for the trash enclosure and / or sloped step. Steve already has his man shed all planned out so don’t worry about that ;)
Whew, I’m home!
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
Did you happen to see this streamlined family home in the most recent issue of Dwell magazine? The article struck a chord with me. The <700 square foot space belongs to a young family of three – soon to be four. It’s the result of a four-month-long renovation which brought more light and storage and better function and design into the apartment. The use of sliding doors, ample windows and Murphy beds go a long way in making the space feel bright and airy. The execution of a stowaway bunk bed in the children’s room is particularly captivating.
In embracing small space living, the family spent the last year and a half selling off most of their books, furniture and decorative objects.
“It really made us scrutinize what’s important and what we can do without. Rather than being a burden, that has been liberating. We don’t feel weighed down by stuff we don’t need or use.” – David Friedlander, resident
“People usually try to fit their old furnishings into a new space. We fit ourselves into the space.” – Jacqueline Schmidt, resident
In addition to being small, the apartment was also in less-than-perfect condition upon purchase. The poor condition yielded a low price tag which meant the family could afford a complete remodel and a few splurge-worthy materials like wide-planked oak floors.
The kitchen is the perfect marriage of high and low: Ikea cabinets + marble countertops and backsplash.
The bathroom boasts marble tile and a floating vanity. Natural light streams in through the shower window.
You can see more of the family home here. I find it so encouraging! It’s a wonderful example of how living with less can actually be a luxury. Even though our home is about twice the size and we’ve done a fair amount of purging already, I am motivated to edit our belongings even further. Having downsized ourselves, I have to agree: living with less is freeing on so many levels.
Have you ever been inspired to go through your closets after seeing or visiting a smaller home? What one drawer / shelf / closet / room in your home needs a good purge session right now? Our junk drawer and the boys’ closet are calling my name…
images: Matthew Williams for Dwell
When we bought our house three years ago, the plan was to scrub the original bathrooms really well and live with them for a few years before renovating them. But in the midst of demolition, we discovered black mold behind one of the bathroom walls when we demo’d a shared kitchen wall. Upon further inspection, there were cracked shower tiles in each of the bathrooms allowing water to seep into the walls. We ended up gutting both bathrooms to remedy the mold problem. We finished the master bathroom before moving in and it’s been our only functioning bathroom for the past 2+ years. Yep, all five of us use one bathroom. And I’m still alive to tell its story.
The original bathroom was pink and gray – complete with a matching vinyl shower curtain, window curtain and valance (!). The vanity was way too small. The fluorescent lighting had to go and the only ventilation was an open window. However, we didn’t mind the layout and the window in the shower provided a decent amount of natural light.
To save time and money, we kept the original layout and toilet but all the other fixtures and finishes are new. The electric was upgraded to service a sconce above the vanity, a can light above the tub and a proper ventilation fan.
The original aluminum window was replaced with a vinyl one featuring privacy glass. The glass is smooth to the touch (and easy to clean) but textured in between the double panes for privacy. I am so, so, SO happy to have a window in the shower! It’s as close as I’ll ever get to an outdoor shower in Ohio.
The original shower tile was only installed about two-thirds of the way up the wall. We chose to take the new wall tile to the ceiling to give the appearance of taller ceilings and a bigger space. We contemplated a glass door or partition on the tub / shower but the placement of the plumbing would have made entry / exit into the shower tricky. We opted for a simple floor-to-ceiling shower curtain instead and it works great.
Bathrooms tend to feel very slick and sterile but I’m drawn to natural, nubby and woven textures. To achieve that tactile vibe I love, I chose tiles with interesting textures. The shower tile almost has a glittery appearance. It shimmers in the light from the window. Not to mention, the reflective surface is another way to trick the eye into seeing a brighter, larger space.
The sink area of the bathroom is visible from our bed(room) so I wanted something super simple that would tie in to the bedroom and not look too utilitarian. I had my heart set on a floating vanity but Steve requested drawers for all of his beauty supplies. (He’s kinda high maintenance.) The compromise was a floating vanity boasting two deep drawers. It was the perfect solution! We have plenty of storage and I can slip the kids’ step stool underneath the vanity. The floating design makes for quick and easy floor cleaning, too.
Eventually, we added a small wall cabinet to the left of the sink to house Steve’s electric razor, electric toothbrush and more of his manly toiletry surplus. (I told you he’s high maintenance.) I got tired of knocking over all the charging stations on the sink. We cut a hole in the side of the wall cabinet to gain access to an outlet so Steve can charge his grooming tools sight unseen and no one’s the wiser. THIS IS HOW YOU STAY MARRIED, PEOPLE. You won’t read about this in any of those self-help marriage books. Good communication? Showing appreciation? Healthy sex life? Yeah, those are all noteworthy and all but, I’m telling you, hidden charging stations are where it’s at! And they lived happily ever after…
For warmth, I hung a round teak mirror above the sink. I didn’t seal it or anything and it looks as good as new. Teak has a good reputation in wet conditions so it’s kinda perfect for a bathroom.
The original floor tile tested positive for trace amounts of asbestos but there was no way we were keeping it. Now the proper way to remove asbestos tile (at least in the great state of Ohio) is to hire a certified abatement contractor for anything >50 square feet. (This one bathroom contained less than that but we were dealing with two bathrooms which put us over by ~20 square feet.) But that is expensive and Steve will try anything at least once. So he removed the asbestos tile himself using a wetting method along with full-body coverup gear and a respirator. I was pregnant at the time so the kids and I steered clear of the house during and for some time after removal. Steve did dispose of the tile in a landfill that accepts asbestos. In sharing this, I’m NOT saying you should attempt this yourself. I’m just being honest about what we did. You should probably follow your state’s regulations, m’kay? M’kay. Now that that’s settled…
The new floor features (asbestos-free!) penny rounds and they lend yet another texture to the bathroom. It reminds me of reptilian scales and, after we first installed it, I wanted to rub myself all over it. We chose a sandy, dirt-colored grout that has held up well over the past two years. A woven trash can disguises ugly water lines. The basket on top of the toilet tank holds toilet paper. We couldn’t decide on a good place to hang a toilet paper holder (I vetoed the side of the vanity because I didn’t want to see toilet paper from the bed) so we threw a few rolls in the basket temporarily and, well, now it’s permanent.
I don’t think either of us expected to live with only one bathroom for this long. (We’re slowly plugging away in the other bathroom as I type.) But if we must share a bathroom, I’m happy it’s this one. On any given night, you can find all five of us squeezed in here getting ready for the kids’ bedtime. It works but, man, I am totally looking forward to having a second bathroom. It’s going to be a game changer. No more difficult questions about what happened to my penis!
Resources of note:
wall & trim paint – Benjamin Moore white dove
floor tile – penny round moss from The Tile Shop
shower tile – capua blanco from The Tile Shop
tub, drain, shower fixtures – Kohler archer
shower curtain – 96″ seersucker curtain from Amazon, discontinued
double hook shower curtain rings – Amazon
shower curtain liner – Amazon
toilet – reused, Kohler
wall sconce – Barn Light Electric
mirror – Home Emporium
vanity – Ikea GODMORGON, high gloss gray
sink – Ikea ODENSVIK
faucet – Ikea DALSKÄR
soap dispenser – Target
wall cabinet – Ikea, painted white
towel holder & hooks – Lowe’s
trash can – Target
wall urchins – Target (I spray painted them gold because that’s what I do.)
hand towel – West Elm
peshtemal towels – etsy
Curious about the evolution of this bathroom? Here are a bunch of bathroom-related links:
FIXTURES & DECOR
You can now access this master bathroom tour (along with a general house tour and individual room tours) under the “See My House” tab in the side bar. I will be adding more rooms in the weeks to come. Thanks for reading!
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking