...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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!

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Weslie and Kristina bought their 1970s fixer upper in early 2014. Right away, they set to work bringing improved functionality to the kitchen. The original layout was cramped and closed off from the rest of the house. The location of the dishwasher made it nearly impossible to stand at the kitchen sink with the dishwasher door open. (Which pretty much defeats the purpose, right?) A small doorway leading to the dining room was the only means of entry / exit. A pair of awkwardly placed pass-throughs provided limited views to the adjacent living area and left a lot to be desired.

In an effort to improve traffic flow & sight lines, add function and incorporate Kristina’s Finnish heritage, the couple created a new floor plan for the space (bye, bye pass-through wall!) and utilized Ikea cabinets. Weslie was kind enough to answer several questions about the renovation. (Kristina was off doing important things like giving birth to baby #2!) Find his answers and images of the cheerful space below.

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Which items in your kitchen hail from Ikea?

Cabinets, sink, vent hood, shelf brackets, perimeter countertop, step stool, drawer organizers, lighting, curtain rods, storage containers, bookends, shelf liners and dish drain.

What made you decide to source these items from Ikea?

Aesthetics, durability, price and ease of DIY.

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

We created a fairly detailed design and then utilized Modern Family Kitchens which was completely worth the relatively small designer fee. One of the greatest benefits of using the outsourced design service is that they know all of the little spacing tricks and, perhaps most importantly, upload the entire design to Ikea with a pick list for the employees. Because of their knowledge, our conversation with the employee in the Ikea kitchen department was about 30 minutes. Compare that to another poor soul who sat down at the same time as us with a different employee with a list of ideas. She may still be there a year and a half later!

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The aesthetic we were aiming for is probably something like Scandinavian modern. Kristina is from Finland. Our kitchen looks like the average kitchen there. Though I’m a pastor now, my undergrad studies were in design and photography. Our kitchen design was a complete collaboration. One goal was to add touches from Kristina’s home in Finland into our north Texas home. For example, the long runner in the kitchen is a handmade vintage piece which was a gift from our sister-in-law in Finland. These are very typical in Finland and most Nordic countries.

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Likewise, the curtains (the biggest block of color in the kitchen!) were a gift from both of our parents. The pattern is the iconic Unikko design from Marimekko, one of Finland’s most well-known design exports. The fabric was a gift from Kristina’s parents. My mother, Sylvia, sewed everything to perfection. The little painting of lemons is from my dear great aunt, Edith, whom our daughter is named after. We love collecting vintage pieces as well which is evident throughout the kitchen.

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

We did everything. My parents were in town for the demo and helped with that and watching our daughter, Edith. They also helped greatly by bringing their big truck! We live a little over two hours away from the closest Ikea, so we took the truck down to the Dallas metroplex and spent the night with a friend. The next morning we rented a large U-Haul trailer for the cabinets. We also picked up approximately 750 sq. ft. of flooring the same morning, drove everything white-knuckled back that evening and unloaded everything in the garage late into the night. All of the demo, electrical, gas, plumbing, carpentry, sheetrock, painting, trimming, flooring, countertop laminating (for the peninsula), and tile work (completed with consultation from a friend) was done by us!

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

The main goal was functionality. Our old kitchen didn’t function well. It was the original one from 1970 and included a small wall oven that always ran 50 degrees too hot. Our first itch was to deal with that, but a new wall oven that would have fit the space (24″) would have been more expensive than our current stainless steel, five burner convection oven! If we were to go with a regular stove, we would have had to figure out what to do with the hole in the wall left by the nonexistent wall oven. Secondly, when the dishwasher was open you couldn’t reach the sink. It needed to be moved. Lastly, good access to the backyard was high on our wish list. This led us to decide on a complete gut and wall removal. We expanded the original entrance to the kitchen as well. We cook and bake a lot, so we wanted the kitchen to function well for us. Since our funds were limited, we decided to keep the plumbing and gas lines in the same place though we did add and move electrical.

How long was it from design to the final product?

We closed on the house on Valentine’s Day in 2014 and started designing immediately after. It took about six weeks from the day we started gutting until the kitchen was usable again. That includes flooring throughout the house except the bedrooms. I didn’t take a day off work but worked on the kitchen every spare hour of the day. Kristina, who is a stay-at-home mom, worked as much as she was able to during the days. She assembled nearly all of the cabinets herself. It took 18 months to completely finish the kitchen, including crown molding and trim. The long timeframe was due to laziness on my part! Once the kitchen was usable and decent-looking, we were so exhausted that the finishing touches were put on the back burner.

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

We’ve lived with it for ~16 months. It was a complete DIY and some things were harder to do than we had imagined. I laminated the countertops using materials from Home Depot, but the result on the perimeter cabinets was not as good as we had hoped for. Rather than trying to fix them, we ended up switching them out for one of the newer Ikea countertop options. We kept the countertop I made for the peninsula, and we are really happy with that decision.

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

We love the openness to the living and dining rooms now and the functionality of the drawers and pantry. Our least favorite aspect is probably the fact that the white doors are a little hard to keep clean.

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

Yes, absolutely! The cabinets are as high of quality as you can find without paying tens of thousands of dollars for 100% wood cabinets. In fact, after we completed our work we visited some dear cousins in Austin who had just finished their own kitchen remodel with very beautiful, all wood cabinets. Their kitchen looks amazing but we’re just as satisfied with ours – no regrets. We’re also very pleased with the perimeter countertops we decided to buy. The texture on the laminate is a nice touch.

Would you consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel?

Yes, without a doubt.

Resources of note:

paint – Lowe’s Olympic gray beige (light color) and eiffel tower (darker color)
cabinets – AKURUM, Ikea. (We did not use Ikea trim because it was rounded. We found 8′ sections of door jamb trim at our local Habitat Restore for $1! We simply turned it around, cut it down, painted it and used it as under-cabinet trim and upper cabinet spacers. The upper spacers give the crown molding something to rest on.)
shelf brackets – Ikea
perimeter countertops – SÄLJAN, Ikea. (We’re very pleased with them.)
peninsula countertop – textured slate laminate, special order via Lowe’s
flooring – Lamton Madagascar oak laminate (discontinued), Build Direct (They’re 12mm thick, commercial grade and we’re very happy with them. The nice thing about Build Direct for us – besides the price – is that they have no sales tax and are located somewhat near our local Ikea.)
subway tile – Home Depot
grout – pearl gray, Home Depot
sink – BOHOLMEN, from the “as-is” section of Ikea! One of our great victories! They had just taken it off of the floor. It was about $85, a steal!
faucet – Kraus, eFaucets with a coupon
dishwasher – GE, Home Depot return inventory
stove – Frigidaire Gallery, Best Buy
microwave – GE
refrigerator – Kenmore Elite, a generous gift from friends
vent hood – NUTID, from the “as-is” section of Ikea! Another great victory! It, too, had just been taken off the floor and was marked half off.
kitchen timer (on hood) – Moomin Mamma from the well-known Finnish stories of Tove Jansson
pendant lights – RANARP, Ikea
ceiling light – ALÄNG, Ikea
LED light above sink – Lowe’s
curtain rods – Ikea
curtains – Unniko fabric design by Marimekko, DIY
runner – vintage
counter stools – J. Persing Arborline stools, Craigslist

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Thank you Weslie and Kristina for sharing your kitchen! I love the new layout and all the Finnish-inspired touches. And to think you did it all yourselves?! Kudos. For the record, putting off finishing touches like trim and molding is par for the course in my book. After seeing your kitchen transformation, “lazy” is the last word that comes to mind. Congrats on your newest (human) addition! Hope all is well. I can’t thank you enough for taking time out of your busy lives to help bring this feature to fruition.

Okay readers, what ideas are you stealing from this remodel? I love the overall happy, cheery vibe. Before I even read Weslie’s answers, I was thinking Scandinavian. The mix of black, white and wood tones is classic while meaningful touches like the vintage runner, handmade curtains, baking ingredients labeled in Swedish and heirloom art create a homey atmosphere. The end result feels personal not sterile like some Nordic kitchens. FYI: socker = sugar and matsoda = baking soda. Don’t say you’ve never learned anything from this blog. Ha!

By removing the kitchen-living room wall and widening the doorway to the dining room, the homeowners were able to create a workable layout with improved traffic flow, loads of natural light, better access to adjacent rooms and direct access to the backyard via nearby sliders. I’m always amazed by the impact of wall removal. You can see more behind the scenes action of this remodel over on the homeowners’ blog right here.

Another possible takeaway for those of you considering an Ikea kitchen is enlisting the help of Modern Family Kitchens. Honestly, I had never heard of them before but taking advantage of their knowledge of the ins and outs of Ikea kitchens sounds like a wonderful thing. Paying a few hundred dollars to have full confidence in your kitchen design (regardless of whether you plan to DIY or hire out the installation) seems pretty reasonable to me. Has anyone else worked with them? I’d love to know more.

Want more kitchen inspiration? I finally created a banner in the side bar that will take you directly to the Ikea kitchen series. Just click “See Real Ikea Kitchens” and all the posts will pop up. I’m working on creating a simplified landing page for the series but, for now, you have to scroll through the posts. Sorry fingers.

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: Weslie Odom



YES to storing all your plastics in a drawer like that – genius!


Beautiful kitchen renovation! Two questions for Weslie as we are in the midst of finishing up our own IKEA remodel :)
How did you drill 1/8 in. from the ceiling into the tile to install the bracket for the range hood?
How are your curtains hanging above the window? Did you drill into the tile, or is the curtain rod attached in another way to the wall?


pretty kitchen! one thing i noticed wasn’t sourced was the counter stools…is there any way to find out where those are from?


Love the Moomin!



Because we knew where the range hood would go, we put reinforcing wood horizontally between the studs and attached the range hood directly to the wall with a spacer to account for the thickness of the tile. There is no tile behind the range hood.

The curtain rods are from IKEA, are lightweight, and are not supporting a lot of weight. Because of this, I felt comfortable attaching the curtain rod brakets with heavy duty Liquid Nails. I did rough up the tile with sandpaper so it adhered a bit better. Once it dried overnight it was good to go!


Is it just me or are you posting less and less? I really love your blog and have followed all the way through you and your family renovating your current house but for the past few months you seem to barely post, I know all the major stuff has been done in your house but how about sharing your new studio? Your posts just seem a little less personal recently too, maybe it’s just from the infrequency of them.I’m hoping everything is okay with you and that you start posting more often.


Hi. Your remodel is gorgeous! The layout reminds me of my kitchen and helps me see possibility. Do you have a blog with a house tour?


Loved seeing Moomin Mama hiding out in the kitchen! Also, the runner on the floor reminds me of my grandparents home. My grandparents were Finnish but I just assumed everyones grandparents had those runners? Also, the labels…. don’t look Finnish, I am guessing Sweedish?


Abby –

The counter stools are by J. Persing (Arborline / Danko line). We bought these off Craigslist from a montessori school that had closed.


Hey Katy,

We’ve never done a house tour, but perhaps in the future! Thank you for your kind words.



Yes, very perceptive. My wife, Kristina, and her family is from a part of Finland approximately halfway up the coast running, very broadly speaking, from Vaasa up to Kokkola that is predominately the minority Swedish-speaking Finns. Finland has two official languages: Finnish and Swedish. I’m very thankful I didn’t have to learn the much more difficult Finnish!


We just finished up an IKEA kitchen this week, when the plumber came for the last part of the install and now we have water! We did everything fairly quickly and hired it all out so that we knew it was done properly. We also used a design company, Traemand to do the design. I couldn’t get very far with the IKEA design software and IKEA recommends Traemand when you go in to talk to them. We are in Northern CA. The designer showed up and spent every minute of two hours putting the plan together for $200. So worth it. I said to my husband later, we might have been able to do a straight run of cabinets, but to turn two corners and figure out the sink placement and add extra room in a few spots that were bothering us – no way. Very pleased with everything.


Love it! The labels in Swedish made me grin — and I love the Finnish touches that honor your wife’s origins. Looks like a really cool house!


Wow! What a transformation! I love it. I think my favorite part is the newly open floor plan–amazing! Weslie, did you and your wife do that all yourselves, too (in terms of taking down walls, etc.)? Any insight on that process (level of difficulty or expense and so on) would be amazing (if you don’t mind sharing). Thanks, and congrats on the baby!


Hey Summer,

We did absolutely everything ourselves, which lead to much literal blood, sweat, and tears. We had a carpenter who is also a contractor come and verify that we were correct that the wall we wanted to take down wasn’t load bearing and give us an estimate for demoing it and expanding the opening to the dining room. In the course of our conversation he convinced and encouraged us that we could do it ourselves, so we did. His visit was part of a free estimate, so there was no cost. Normally this would have cost some fee, but that varies based on where you live. The demo went very smoothly, but there was much more debris than we anticipated (this cost in trips to the local dump). We did “save” money by reusing some of the kitchen cabinets for mudroom storage (see that somewhere on our blog — twocapstanrow.blogspot.com — hopefully Dana doesn’t mind us linking there).

I bought a bunch of cheap corded power tools from Harbor Freight for the remodel. Especially useful were the reciprocating and oscillating saws with lots of blades. That was perhaps a $60-80 expense, but we still find uses for the around the house.

Finf someone you know who has tackled sheetrock before. It looks easier than it is. It isn’t impossible, but there’s a learning curve especially with the mudding and sanding.

I’d say on a scale of 1-10 the demo was a 4, but the sheet rocking was an 8. Oh, and sheet rock costs what sheet rock costs. Every once and a while we’d find a whole sheet at our small Habitat Restore (utilize these if you have some near you!), but it was too inconsistent to count on.

Does that answer your question?


That was Kristina’s idea, and, yes, it’s genius. DO IT!!!


Oh my gosh — you are so helpful!!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH. I’m really encouraged to read this (though I have no doubt about all of the blood, sweat, and tears — ha!). Opening up that floor plan looks like it was just a total game changer for your kitchen/living room/house! The kitchen looks twice as big and how freeing to be able to fully see what’s going on in the living room. Plus you got an amazing full-fledged island out of it. Will definitely check out your blog. Thanks again!


I had this odd feeling that kitchen looked/felt familiar…and turns out, we have the exact same countertop and the Sektion version of the Shaker cabinets in white! Our kitchen is teeny and laid out really differently, but it is really fun to see almost identical materials used in a different setup. I love how this looks, especially the homey touches like the DIY curtains and charming canisters on the open shelving. Amazing reno, and I’m off to check out your blog now. :)


Thanks for mentioning another design company to help with the Ikea kitchen software and design process! Good to know you thought they were worth the money as well.


Oops! Google fails me once again. Haha! Off to fix that in the post ;)


Thanks so much Weslie for dropping in to answer questions. I love the interaction! I’m so sorry I didn’t include a link to your blog. In all of our communication I didn’t notice any mention of a blog. I should have asked! I will update the post with a link.


Yes, I think it’s fairly obvious that I am posting less. I created this blog primarily to document and share our home projects. Now that we’re on the other (i.e., finished) side of a fairly extensive renovation, we aren’t tackling as many projects so I have less content to share. While simply living in our home doesn’t provide a ton of content, it sure feels nice in real life. We have no plans to move or take on more home projects just to provide blog fodder. When / if we move, it will be because it’s right for us – not the blog.

I have been working in the studio and want to share more but the perfectionist in me wants to wait until a few more items are in place before I snap pics. Sorry to make you wait so long!

I can see how posting less makes things feel less personal. I struggle with what / when to post now that we’re beyond the reno stage. Fixing up and decorating my own home isn’t such a large part of my life right now, even though I still LOVE all things home. There’s more of a focus on simply living in, enjoying and maintaining our home and using it as a home base so to speak while pursuing things outside of the house. (Like running my first 5k, exploring our city, helping out with kids’ school, etc.) So here’s my question to you: Would you like to see more frequent posts if it meant including more non home-related content (family life, beauty, fashion, recipes, etc.)? There are little home-related things I do get excited about but I’m not sure they’re worthy of a blog post. For example, I got new kitchen towels recently and absolutely LOVE them and wanted to share them but thought it would be weird to dedicate a post to kitchen towels when I’m used to delving into the technicalities of major projects like vaulting a ceiling. I guess I’m having a hard time figuring out where the blog goes from here.

I’d love to hear any feedback! I hope my explanation doesn’t come off as defensive. That’s not my intention at all. Constructive criticism is always welcome. Now I’m thinking this topic could spark an entire blog post!


Given how little people know about Finand/Finnish I like to make sure it is accurate! :) My kids were once told that Finnish wasn’t a language. Now if we can just get everyone to pronounce sauna correctly that would be great! And yes, someone once told me I was saying it wrong. Being Finnish is awesome and I love to see a home celebrating it. Also, check out Nalle’s House blog some time. I think your wife would enjoy it.


IMHO if you want to write a post on kitchen towels, write a post on kitchen towels :) Not all posts have to be 3000 words – a photo and a paragraph would suffice. (You could always have a separate category for short posts). I visit this blog because I like your taste and practical approach to styling your home, and I’m glad you don’t force projects just to have something to post.


Love love this kitchen and this entire series as usual Dana. Keep em coming sweet friend


I’m not Eve but would love to see a post about kitchen towels. :-) I too miss seeing more posts, but am glad you’re doing well!


Love this kitchen! The personal touches really make it lovely. I love the idea of the curtains, too. I’ve been trying to figure out window treatments for our kitchen and wood blinds just seemed like they would just add more hard-ness (is that a word?) to a room that had enough already! Thanks for the inspiration!


I would love to read a post on kitchen towels too! Lol I get excited about stuff like that. It’s more affordable than a vaulted ceiling too!
I say, post what you love and we will probably love it too. I always get motivated to tweak my little mid- century diamond in the rough every time I take a peek at your blog. I hope you and your beautiful family are well. You are smart to also focus your time on enjoying that precious family time as it all goes by so fast!
thanks Dana. Love your blog.


Thank you for replying to my comment so extensively. Thank you for explaining, yes I would love to see other posts other than all things about the house. I really love the way you seem to live, without clutter, in a smaller house and healthy eating. I am trying to do the same and just like to get more inspiration from you on those kind of things like fashion and food and Yes! I would love to see a post about kitchen towels. It’s the small things that make things interesting! :-)


Beautiful kitchen renovation! What a transformation! I’m off to check out your blog now.

Best regards


Awesome! Good to know ;)


Dana, I think I can speak for many of us when I say we read your blog because we’re fans of yours. Of your house. Of your style. Of your sense of humor. Of your good eye. Of your love of the important things. Seeing a new post pop up in my inbox always makes me happy, whether it’s about a garage door, kids (furry or human) or kitchen towels! :)


Hi Dana :) I’ve been following house*tweaking for over a year and also noticed the downswing in post frequency, which was a little sad because I really enjoy your writing. It is a refreshing counterpoint to the often materialistic blog content out there. My guess is that most of your readers enjoy reading about taking your simple, efficient, meaningful approach to anything, not just renovations and decorating. So I’d say if you are enjoying writing posts, and you feel compelled to write about a wider variety of topics, go for it!! If you’re not wanting to write as much, then don’t. I personally would love to hear about your perspective and life goings-on beyond the house.

Also, Rachel over at maybe matilda wrote about the whole blog identity crisis topic…she started out as a craft blog and then things started morphing in a new direction. Here’s the link, if you’d like to see: http://www.maybematilda.com/2012/02/are-you-there-blog.html#.VhWW1flVhBc

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Beautiful renovation! I am in the process of making some very minor changes in my kitchen and love the hardware on your cabinets. I looked at the list of sources but didn’t notice that there. Any chance you could share where the cabinet pulls are from? I love how minimal and sleek they are. Thanks!



These were pretty standard pulls in the old IKEA system. I think they’ve since been discontinued, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you could find some on eBay or even in the “As Is” section of your local IKEA.

The kitchen looks quite amazing now! I must admit that the place looks a lot bigger once the see-through wall is gone. The IKEA kitchens are indeed very practical and easy to install yourself. I think you made a great choice with the light colours, even though many people would hesitate to use so much white in a kitchen, because every stain would be visible. But I personally think it looks amazing.


Hello! I just discovered your wonderful blog from your recent post for Semihandmade doors in your studio space. Lovely work! We also love our IKEA + Semihandmade doors for our recent kitchen remodel. I love how you used the notched doors for your studio space. How do you like the notched doors for day-to-day use compared to regular hardware? I have some clients interested in Semihandmade for the kitchen too, but doors with notches as well. I love the look but was curious about the convenience when using every day for a kitchen?


It is a little awkward to reach down to open the top (un-notched) drawers. Other than that, I really like the notches. In an everyday kitchen, depending on the color of the fronts, you might get a lot of fingerprints, too.

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