...because home doesn't happen overnight.

indiana renovation IG

It all started with this post. I mentioned my thoughts on Ikea missing the mark by not offering an unfinished wood cabinet door / drawer front that could be painted any color of the rainbow. I absolutely loved all the comments (read through them if you haven’t already) on that post. There was one in particular that grabbed my attention. Megan commented that her sister, Whitney, had used painted Ikea cabinets in a kitchen remodel and linked to an instagram photo of the results. I had to know more. What began as a quest to discover how the painted cabinets came to be and how they were holding up, turned into a full on house tour. Read Whitney’s narrative and see the before, in-progress and after photos below.

indiana kitchen after 1

I bought my house three years ago after falling in love with a street in Fort Wayne, Indiana. After studying the block, I noticed one particularly dilapidated / vacant home. When I asked the next door neighbor what the story was she told me that an elderly lady had passed away and the house had been vacant for some time. My soon-to-be new neighbor gave me the son’s information and the rest is now history.

indiana entry

This is my second home. I learned so much the first time around that I knew I wanted to put some of my newfound skills to work on a bigger project.

indiana living room before 1

indiana living room in progress

indiana living room after 1

It wasn’t the plan from the start but somehow we decided to remove all the plaster and lath from the walls – ALL the walls. In short, my one-hundred-year-old house was completely gutted down to the studs. My dad, sister, husband and I did almost all the demo ourselves.

indiana dining room before

indiana dining room in-progress

indiana dining - kitchen after 1

We removed the wall between the dining room and kitchen, closed in a kitchen window, had all the knob-and-tube electrical replaced, properly insulated the walls and, finally, drywalled. After pulling up five layers of linoleum in the kitchen we realized the original pine floors were too damaged to save. We removed all the pine and replaced the kitchen flooring with unfinished red oak to match the rest of the first floor and then sanded and stained both the new and original hardwood a dark walnut finish.

indiana kitchen before 1

indiana kitchen before 2

indiana kitchen before 3

indiana kitchen in-progress

indiana kitchen after 2

When it came to work on the kitchen cabinets, I knew I wanted them to be gray. It was difficult to find a company that carried a gray cabinet in their line that was still in my budget. I received quotes from Kraftmaid and Clique Studios versus having them custom made. The quotes were between $6K – $9K for my small kitchen. More than I was willing to spend. My sister suggested buying Ikea cabinets and having them professionally painted so I read the reviews, did the math and decided Ikea was the way to go. We chose the white ADEL (no longer available) style as our base, but as a pleasant surprise, when we got to Ikea we found a discontinued ADEL style in birch (not advertised online) that was 50% off.

indiana kitchen open shelving

Phenicie Restoration did all the painting for close to $1,500 – all the cabinet fronts, side panels, toe kicks, open shelving (which we bought at Lowe’s and cut ourselves) and eight corbels. In hindsight, I probably would have cut all the trim and side panels first before sending them off to be painted, but because it was going to take a few weeks I was anxious to get the painting started while we installed the boxes.

After the side panels were painted we cut them using a jig saw through delicate painter’s tape to prevent chipping and splintering. The brand of paint Phenicie Restoration used was Sherwin Williams and the color I chose was “Wet Pavement” by Valspar. I was so pleased with how the cabinets turned out. They looked like I bought them gray from the manufacturer. The painters gave me a little jar of paint for touch-ups, knowing they’d need to be made eventually. Two years later I still love them. I have needed to touch up the corners here and there but it blends perfectly.

All in all, buying from Ikea and having them painted was more work but worth it for the money I saved. One great lesson learned was to triple check all the quantities of pieces sent to the painter. It wasn’t until after we got everything back that we realized we still had three drawer fronts tucked away among other Ikea purchases. But I can’t say enough good things about Ikea quality.

indiana dining buffet before

dining buffet after

The island we built between the dining room and kitchen encroached on dining space. So the idea for the banquette along the wall came quite naturally. I love all the imperfections in the antique buffet I found in our garage. Incorporating it into the banquette worked wonderfully.

indiana kitchen chimney

My favorite detail about my kitchen is the brick chimney we painstakingly uncovered under thick plaster.

indiana kitchen chalkboard sign

indiana DIY kitchen shelf

indiana living room after 2

indiana living room mantel

This house is very much a DIY group effort by myself, my husband, my sister and my dad. My dad has been a woodworker for 50 years. Being raised by a man who is always building something around the house has put home improvement in my sister’s and my blood. And slowly but surely my artist husband, Nate, is becoming one of us. Working on this house with my family has truly been a labor of love. I am looking forward to many more projects.

Resources of note:


kitchen cabinets – Ikea
cabinet and banquette paint – Sherwin Williams paint, color-matched to wet pavement by Valspar
marble countertops – Marble Uniques in Tipton, IN
apron front sink – Kohler, Lee Supply
kitchen cabinet hardware – Lowe’s
kitchen faucet – Wayfair
appliances – Samsung, Lowe’s
floral prints under cookbook shelf – Rifle Paper Co.


pine dining room table, pine & pipe cookbook shelf – DIY, materials from Lowe’s
black glass buffet handles – Hobby Lobby
floral prints above banquette – Little Low Studio
dining chairs – Overstock
barstools – thrifted


living room rug – RugsUSA
bench, wooden vase, stair wall picture frames – Target
sofa, chairs, industrial light, side table base – thrifted
wall mirror, globe – estate sale
throw pillow – Ikea
floral mantel prints – Lulie Wallace
fireplace mirror, entry table – vintage, thrifted
wall art – Kelly Ventura, Oh Gosh Cindy, Lulie Wallace, Rifle Paper Co., Little Low Studio
glass cloche, side table top – Crate & Barrel


Whitney, thank you SO MUCH for sharing your house-to-home story! And thank you, Megan, for introducing me to your lovely sister. You two make quite a team. I can only imagine how much time, sweat and love went into this transformation.

Okay, readers, how blown away are you? Me? Mind. Blown. I can usually spot an Ikea kitchen from a mile away but this one might have fooled me had I not known about the painted cabinets already. The custom cabinet color, exposed chimney, open shelving and fitted moldings give it that extra oomph to take it from just updated to something special. I am so happy that Whitney respected the 100+ year history of her home by choosing finishes and materials that complement the house’s character. Rehabbing the old buffet into a built-in banquette was ingenious. Did you happen to notice the black window frames? I asked Whitney about those. She said they are the original wood frames but she painted them black to make them pop. The cost? $20. Bang for your buck, folks.

This is why I love blogging. I love hearing and seeing others’ renovation stories. Even when the end result isn’t something I could achieve in my own home, I’m always inspired. When the storytellers allow me to share their experiences here with you, it’s icing on the cake. Do you have a project – big or small – that you would like to share on House*Tweaking? Please send submissions for consideration to housetweaking (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks in advance for letting me peek into your homes and lives.

images: Whitney Clappe-Utesch



Beautiful! Could you please tell us what paint colors/brand are used on the two contrasting walls in the entryway? Thank you!

Very modern farmhouse!


This is incredible! Would it be possible to find out what the wall colors are in the kitchen/dining room/living room? It’s beautiful.


Very nice! I’d love to know the living room wall color.


Loved this tour! The pop of color in the stairway is great. Any chance
you would be able to find out and share? Thanks so much
for all you do, love your blog!


Magnificent. I love it all. Especially that banquette.


Loving that gluten forever sign!!!


Love everything! I’m originally from the Ft. Wayne area and there are some beautiful houses there. Many needing help like that one. Such a great story!


Hi, LOVE the makeover and would DESPERATELY love to know that epic dark colour that is in the stairwell. Would you mind sharing? Thank you!


Beautiful remodel, but the best thing they did? Properly insulate. Nothing like comfortable to make a house a home.


This house is beautiful! Did they lacquer the cabinets? I’m assuming yes, if the paint stuck to the slick Ikea doors. $1500 is a great price for a good lacquer job.


This is incredible! I love all the before & after photos, and I would never have been able to tell that it was an IKEA kitchen. The banquette is to die for, love the exposed brick, and the recycled buffet. What a labor of love. I’d love to see what they come up with for the rest of their home!


My new dream house!!!!!!!! Incredible!


This makeover is truly inspirational! Thank you so much for sharing it!


Makes me sick to see all that absolutely beautiful woodwork painted over. Keeping it would have been so much more in keeping with the style of the house, too.


Speechless, what a labor of love!


I think painting original woodwork is a completely personal decision. I like the mix of painted / unpainted in this home!


I love that this house is both minimalist and super colorful and cheerful. Such a good project thank you for sharing!


When I first saw the images that was my thought. If they did not want a Craftsman style home why did they buy one?


Loving this house! I wish she had a blog so I could do more creeping.


This home is gorgeous!
I had the original ikea cabinets in my kitchen painted grey as well. Saved A TON of money and two years in, they still look great. (a few dog scratches here and there by the treats jar) ;)


so. agreed.

like, WAIT!!! – i need to know about the REST of the house!!!!


Hi. I am new to your blog and was sucked in because of the great reno you did on this house. It really looks fantastic! And I love carbs as well:).


Question for Whitney – I’m wondering about the distance between the sink and island…it seems wide. Was there a reason for placing the island where it is? Thanks!


Such amazing before and afters! I absolutely adore the framed chalkboard signs in those pics. So cute!


What an incredible transformation. The kitchen looks outstanding. You guys put a lot of great heard work into it. The gluten sign made me laugh, I try to avoid gluten but don’t cut it out completely. Life is amazing with a donut


This looks amazing. I am also blogging about kitchen at smartways and I regularly check your blog.


I’ve come back here three times to look and gather inspiration. Very well done, nice combination of mixing old with new. Love that you refinished the wood floors. Loved the Gluten Forever sign too. Did you redo the first house? I wish there was more to see!


Me, too!!! LOL :)


Stunning makeover! And I just LOVE LOVE LOVE that they saved an old house that looked sad and worn and made it pretty again without losing the character of the home! It looks so fresh and still has the character and woodwork and details of the original home. Amazing!!!


what an amazing renovation. i’m so inspired by her commitment to the older home and making it so beautiful and functional again. these photos just leave me wanting more of her entire home!

What a fabulous makeover! I love everything they did, especially uncovering the brick chimney in the kitchen. Thanks for sharing with us!


I love the kitchen!! We have had an IKEA kitchen for 4 years now and I have to say that I am still loving it. I always thought that eventually, when it got old and tired, I would try to repaint the cabinets but I had no idea how. This is great information!! Thanks…


It’s quill by Olympic.


Living room is quill by Olympic and Whitney is pretty sure the dark entry wall is the darkest color on the same swatch, afternoon tea. She doesn’t have the names of the kitchen / dining paint. Sorry!


Living room walls are quill by Olympic and Whitney thinks the dark color is the darkest color on the same swatch, afternoon tea. Hope that helps!


Hopefully, there is a bathroom reno in the works ;)


Thank you so much!


I know semi handmade has unfinished cabinet doors specifically for IKEA cabinets. Not sure about cost though!


oh wow, can’t express how gorgeous this is! So lovely.


I have those IKEA cabinets in the maple color and want them painted. I’m having problems finding someone who’ll do it. Is your paint holding up?