...because home doesn't happen overnight.

I received great feedback from the first Ikea kitchen a reader so kindly agreed to let me share here on House*Tweaking. Since then, more readers have sent me wonderful stories and images detailing their experiences with Ikea kitchens. I’d like to continue to feature these types of posts throughout the year so I hope you don’t mind if I sprinkle them in from time to time.

These posts won’t feature overly styled rooms or professional photography – although many of them are magazine worthy. They are meant to provide personal accounts of designing and installing Ikea kitchens…something I felt was lacking when we were considering Ikea for our own kitchen renovation. These are real stories from real people. I ask the owners to be as honest and candid as possible. I want the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. Personally, I get so much inspiration from seeing how other people incorporate Ikea products into their homes to meet their needs and style. I hope you find them inspiring as well.

french barn before

This particular story comes to us by way of France. (!) Ariane is a journalist and was once a news anchor for a local French network. Her dream had always been to own and run a vacation guesthouse. To realize her dream, she and her husband bought a home with outbuildings on the property that they could eventually turn into guesthouses. They started the process of revamping an old barn very casually but when Ariane was laid off in 2012, it became her full-time job. Ariane still does some journalism work on the side but she finds running the guesthouse completely fulfilling.

The barn had great features to begin with – high ceilings, a stone wall, tons of natural light, open layout – but it was necessary to add a functional kitchen to the space without distracting from the overall vibe.

french barn progress

Ariane worked with an architect to come up with a general layout for the barn but she designed and sourced materials for the kitchen herself. And, surprise!, she tackled the installation mostly on her own as well.

I asked Ariane several questions about her kitchen renovation. You can read the interview and find “after” shots below.

ikea barn kitchen 2

Which items in your kitchen hail from Ikea?

The cabinets, doors, drawer fronts, hinges and hood are from Ikea. I must point out that this kitchen is located in a barn I just renovated. The barn is on our property and I run it as a rental guesthouse.

What made you decide to source these items from Ikea?

When I started planning this kitchen, I looked around to see if I could find better prices but I couldn’t. No one would beat Ikea prices! And the look is pretty great, too. It’s trendy but nothing that will be outdated in a couple of years. And it’s sturdy.

I hadn’t planned on buying Ikea kitchen appliances for the guesthouse. We bought new appliances for our house and put the old stuff in the barn. The fridge is three years old. I had a new dishwasher on hold. The only thing I needed was a hood. I scouted Le Bon Coin (our version of craigslist here in France) and outlet stores with no luck. The day I went to Ikea, I found the hood on sale for 80% off! It was meant to be.

This is actually the third full kitchen I have purchased from Ikea! The first one was for my dad’s home. The second one was for my first apartment. The house I live in now has awesome custom oak cabinets that we’re reusing but we did hang Ikea glass-front cabinets next to the fridge. And we’ve started a wall-to-wall TV stand and bookcases for the living room…all made with Ikea cabinets!

ikea barn kitchen design

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

I hired an architect for the barn renovation and he planned the general layout (electricity, outlets, plumbing, etc.) so I started from there and worked with the Ikea design software. I took my design to the store and an employee helped me finalize the layout (and told me about the clearanced hood!). I located a bottle rack on the right side of the stove so the oven wouldn’t open next to the wall. The white version of the rack was 40€ and the stainless was 80€. I chose the white. In the “as-is” section, I found a stainless rack for 14€!! It made the trip home with me.

For the guesthouse, I needed a functional and low maintenance kitchen that would fit in with the general mood I wanted for the whole space. The kitchen is open to the dining area and living room. My first choice was based on an inspiration photo I had found on Ikea’s website – oak-colored doors for the lower cabinets and white cabinets on top. But once I saw them in real life, I didn’t like them so much. So I turned to a combination I had seen elsewhere. Your very own choice of black-brown for the lower doors and white for the top.

ikea barn kitchen install 1

ikea barn kitchen install 2

ikea barn kitchen install 3

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

I assembled all the cabinets myself. At the time, my hubby was recovering from an appendectomy so he couldn’t help at all! But since the installation stretched over several months, he was able to help me hang the upper cabinets (even though I did almost everything else alone). I asked for help when I needed it. Since pros were working in the barn alongside me, I asked a carpenter to help me with a piece of wood that needed to be cut with a circular saw (which I don’t have). A friend of mine helped me with the back of the peninsula and the baseboards. My brother-in-law installed an under-cabinet light and the hood. Even my eight-year-old nephew tried his hand at the counter tiles!

custom built counter

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

I knew I couldn’t buy counters from Ikea without renting a truck so I decided against it. (I live >2 hours away from the nearest store.) Besides, the barn’s crooked walls would have made it very difficult to perfectly cut a counter without proper tools and advanced skills. Instead, I decided to buy tile-able counters and tiles. I custom built the whole thing. I built a wood frame around the peninsula so it’s sturdy and doesn’t flip over. The wood (which is actually flooring!) on the back and side is nailed onto the frame like tongue and groove.

The day I went to Ikea to buy the kitchen, they were rearranging the hardware aisle and were out of stock on all the nice pulls. Instead of buying so-so pieces, I bought pulls I liked better at a big box store.

I had plumbers in for the barn remodel and they supplied the faucet. I bought the sink on sale. The plumbers installed both.

How long was it from design to finished kitchen?

I bought the kitchen in February 2013 and it was fully installed by the end of July 2013. I bought it early because sales were going on. I knew I wouldn’t start installation right away. The drywall wasn’t even up yet!

First, I focused on painting the spaces I had saved for myself. (The painter did all the ceilings and the walls that required scaffolding.) I got very bad tennis elbow which prevented me from working for a month. In the end, it took two months on and off to tackle the whole space.

ikea barn kitchen sink

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

I don’t “live” with my kitchen since it’s in the guesthouse. But tourists who have stayed here like it very much! They like the layout, the view from the window over the sink, the simplicity and the airy feel.

The only problem I’ve encountered was a broken dowel in one of the upper cabinets which loosened the tightness of the installation. My hubby helped me take the cabinet down and I changed the dowel (on both sides, you never know!) so it’s nice and secure now.

Ikea barn kitchen 1

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

You mean besides the pride of having it done almost all by myself?! I like that in real life it’s exactly like it was on the Ikea software. The design software is reliable if you use it correctly. I also like that it’s open and light on the walls but grounded with darker lower cabinets. It ties in really well with the rest of the space.

I think my least favorite thing is the counter. I need to fix a crack that has appeared between two rows of tiles and I think it would have been nicer to have carpenters install a custom solid counter. But I couldn’t justify the cost of that in any way, especially since it’s not for personal use. It will have to do!

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

Yes, I would definitively recommend Ikea as a source for a kitchen remodel. I know that they have changed the Faktum line (it’s Metod now) so I’m not as familiar with it as I was with the previous one. I’ve purchased Ikea kitchens in 1997, 2003 and 2013. I’ve seen the line evolve and become sturdier and easier to install so I’m confident this new line will be as easy to use as the old one.

I’ve never bought appliances from Ikea (except for the hood) so I can’t vouch for them.

Would you consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel?

Yes, I would definitively consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel. Although, once in my lifetime it would be nice to experience a big project entirely taken care of by the pros!

Resources of note:

cabinets, doors, drawer fronts, hood – Ikea
counters, tiles, grout, sink – Brico Dépôt
faucet – Anchonetti
pulls, lights – Leroy Merlin
dishwasher, stove, clock – La Redoute
fridge – Darty
microwave, coffee maker – hand-me-downs
wood on the back of the peninsula – Chèze
accessories – Noz, Casa, thrift stores, yard sales

french barn turned guesthouse

Thank you, Ariane, for sharing your experience and letting me feature your lovely guesthouse kitchen. I can’t get over that stone wall, the soaring ceilings and those steel framed windows! Congrats on turning your barn into a functional and profitable space. Kudos to you for chasing your dreams!!

UPDATE: If you are interested in staying at Ariane’s lovely guesthouse in France, you can find more information here and here.

Okay, readers, who suddenly feels the urge to renovate an old barn? Yeah, me too. Even though most of the items sourced in this kitchen aren’t available in the U.S., the story and ideas have my wheels turning. Please thank Ariane for sharing her kitchen barn remodel. English isn’t her first language but she did wonderfully!

Do you have an Ikea kitchen (it doesn’t have to be 100% Ikea) you would like to share on House*Tweaking? If so, please contact me at housetweaking@gmail.com for consideration. Thank you in advance!


Wow! How amazing. It hard to believe thats an ikea kitchen! It looks so good. I love the property as well. The entire transformation is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing this with us Dana. Keep em coming!


I’m not really into dark cabinets but those are really doing it for me! I think it’s part of what makes the whole thing work. May need to reconsider our kitchen plans coming down the line in the next few years.


I love this post and your blog! I stumbled upon it several months ago and just want to let you know you are a true inspiration to me. My husband and I just recently purchased a 1950’s mid century ranch on the west side of Cincinnati. We moved from a 7 year old house that we built but it just lacked the uniqueness we were looking for. We are anxious to revamp this house and I visit your blog daily to check on your progress and to get ideas. When we do remodel, we are leaning towards an IKEA kitchen, so I love seeing posts about people that have actually used them and their thoughts on how they hold up.

I’m totally obsessed with that deep window well! Everything is so beautiful!


Impressive! Would you (and Ariane) consider a link to the information regarding her guest house for readers who may be considering a trip to France?


I love this series. Thank you and to those that are sharing their experiences.


We did an Ikea kitchen too in our 1952 home in Southern California 3 years ago and LOVE it. It’s not completely Ikea, but we used all Ikea cabinets and pendants. We did all the demo ourselves, had a contractor help with recessing a beam, plumbing, marble counters, and moving a couple walls, but the kitchen cabinet assembly and installation, island building, appliance installation, paint, crown molding, etc was all us. I’d love to send you the photos if you are interested.

Wow!! What a great find; love the inspiration!!


I love these Ikea kitchens! I especially love that this one hails from the French countryside, I took a vacation there last summer and I can’t wait to go back. Will definitely be looking into Ariane’s guesthouse for inspiration AND vacation!


Thank you all for those kind words :) I’m totally thrilled to have my barn and its kitchen on House*Tweaking. Thanks again Dana for having me. Merci beaucoup !


Oh and Ariane, your barn and kitchen looks gorgeous! Congratulations!


Yes, please do!


I just included that info in the post! Find it towards the end of the post.


Gah! I’ve always wanted to renovate an old barn! Although now I live in the city and there’s a lack of them, go figure! But I’ve found an old firehouse that would satisfy me. too :)

Love the idea of this series. I did IKEA also (sent you an email) because I had a few friends who had good experiences so we went with it because it fit our budget. My father is an architect and many of his colleagues swear by IKEA for affordable remodels. We finished ours in 2011 and are very happy with our decision. Looking forward to seeing more. I wish there would have been more resources when we started in 2010!

Beautiful space. And I will also be checking it out for a future vacation. I love France and cannot wait to go back and visit soon :)


Thanks a lot Gina !


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