...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!

san diego ikea kitchen before

san diego ikea kitchen before

Beth and her family lived with a basic builder kitchen for over a year before they decided life was too short to tolerate a dark and boring kitchen any longer. Beth dreamed of a brighter space with custom touches that better reflected her style. Having successfully utilized IKEA cabinetry in the past, the family turned to IKEA once again for their most recent renovation. Initially, neighbors and contractors thought the family was crazy for wanting to update a kitchen that “wasn’t horrible” to begin with, but once they saw the transformation they were blown away by the results. I asked Beth several questions about her experience. See her answers and the stunning results below!

san diego ikea kitchen after 1

Which items in your kitchen hail from IKEA?

The cabinets, doors, drawer fronts and dishware organization are from IKEA.

What made you decide to source these items from IKEA?

We used IKEA cabinets (AKURUM) in our previous home when we remodeled an outdated 70s kitchen. When it came time to sell that house, it was only on the market for six days before we accepted an offer! We know the kitchen remodel was one of the reasons it sold so quickly. For our current kitchen, we had a budget to stick to and felt that IKEA (SEKTION) would be a great choice for its function and quality – both of which we appreciated in our last home. The kitchen was a builder grade kitchen. The cabinets were dark and matched the hardwood floors, but they did not match our aesthetic. We wanted to start fresh with a clean slate.

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

I designed both our previous and current kitchens. It was so much fun! I don’t have a design background, but I have always loved interior design. After the first kitchen remodel, I felt more confident about my design capabilities and gained experience with the 3D kitchen planner. The only blog I came across when I was tackling our first IKEA kitchen was yours, House*Tweaking! I remember feeling very lost and unsure since there weren’t many people talking about IKEA kitchens at the time, but I was reassured after reading about your experience and seeing your results. I did consult with the contractors who installed the cabinets in order to nail down little details that would help us achieve the look we were trying to accomplish. Ultimately, I knew I wanted white and bright because our kitchen doesn’t receive a ton of natural light. I wanted a clean and classic look with custom details.

san diego ikea kitchen

san diego ikea kitchen



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

We utilized a contractor (from our previous kitchen remodel) who specializes in IKEA cabinet installation. The crew was very professional and detail-oriented. I was on site every day during the installation so I could ensure things ran smoothly. This was helpful when questions regarding placement specifics came up or if adjustments were required.

san diego ikea kitchen after 8

san diego ikea kitchen after 7

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

Customization was a priority. We love IKEA kitchens; however, we don’t feel that everything in a kitchen should hail from IKEA. I love mixing and matching and incorporating non-IKEA elements. I ordered pretty chrome handles to give the cabinets a classic feel. We went with a timeless white subway tile and a beautiful quartz countertop that has gray tones to mimic the look of marble. We added a professional chef range hood and upgraded our appliances to add more features for cooking and baking. The stainless steel farmhouse apron sink and chrome faucet were must-have features for everyday chores like washing dishes. We raised the cabinet height and installed bulkheads and crown molding above the upper cabinets to give them a custom, built-in look. It draws the eye up and makes the off-the-shelf cabinets look less generic, more refined. We used glass doors with LED cabinet lighting on two of the upper cabinets (near the sink) and undermount LED lighting throughout. In addition, we changed every recessed light to a softer, warmer LED light which made a huge difference in the overall look of the kitchen.

san diego ikea kitchen after 9

From a functional standpoint, we tweaked some things to make the space work better for us. We relocated the microwave and created a custom IKEA cabinet to house it. We moved our island to accommodate seating for four adults as the previous island was not positioned properly to accommodate seating and did not have a countertop overhang. Moving the island and expanding the countertop made the working space/surface area larger which is great for cooking and baking. Making sure the island lined up properly with enough space on either side and space for seating was a little stressful and challenging, but it worked out perfectly.


san diego ikea kitchen after 6

We also added a built-in cabinet to the nook in the adjacent dining area to optimize storage while keeping things cohesive with the kitchen. It’s our coffee station. The drawers hold brewing supplies and mugs among other things. It makes our morning coffee routine so much easier!!

How long was it from design to final product?

I utilized my summer break from teaching to take on the remodel. It took about six weeks to complete. The biggest hurdle was the backorder of some parts and cabinets due to the supply/demand issue with the 20% off sale. My husband and I had to call and drive down to IKEA several times to pick up backordered items. The back and forth got old very quickly! We didn’t experience that with our previous IKEA kitchen. It all worked out though with lots of patience. Coordinating contractors and dealing with appliance deliveries were other challenges that affected the timeline.

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

It’s been about six months and we haven’t had any problems. We lived with our previous IKEA kitchen for about a year without any issues. The only problem we ran into this time around was fitting our Thermador oven in the IKEA wall oven cabinet. I consulted with our contractor and the appliance installer to make adjustments for a proper fit.

san diego ikea kitchen after 4

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

One of my favorite things is the fact that I was able to design our kitchen exactly the way I wanted. For example, I added pullout drawers and lazy susans right where I need them. I love how functional the kitchen is now. The soft-closing drawers and doors are the absolute best! Especially for my little ones! The work flow and placement of everything worked out so well which can be tricky when moving items like a microwave or an island.

My least favorite is the cabinetry around the refrigerator. We tried our best to customize it but it was difficult. Ideally, I prefer a more streamlined fit, but I keep telling myself it’s a minor detail in the grand scheme of things.

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

Absolutely! I highly recommend IKEA cabinets. Be sure to take advantage of the 20% off sale events. You can pocket the money you save or use it to splurge on finishes or high-end appliances.

Would you consider IKEA for a future kitchen remodel?

Definitely! I helped design my mom’s IKEA kitchen which means I have completed three IKEA kitchen remodels in total, and I can’t say enough good things about the functionality and quality for the price point.

Resources of note:

cabinets – BODBYN in off-white, IKEA
hardware – sutton place pulls, Atlas Homewares
countertops – LG viatera quartz cirrus
subway tile – Daltile
sink – stainless steel farmhouse apron sink, Kraus
faucet – Grohe
cooktop – Thermador
wall oven – Thermador
range hood – Zephyr
pendant light – Crate & Barrel
counter stools – Target
roller shade – Smith & Noble

san diego ikea kitchen after 5

san diego ikea kitchen after 3

Thank you Beth for sharing your kitchen! It’s lovely. Your mom is one lucky lady to have you as her personal kitchen designer :)

Alright peanut gallery, what are you taking note of in this kitchen? The added bulkheads and molding really do give the kitchen a sense of grandeur. Everything fits so snugly. I totally agree with Beth’s thoughts on mixing and matching IKEA cabinets with other non-IKEA elements for a less generic result. Moving the microwave and reworking the island allow new focal points (hood, island, etc.) to take center stage. And as much as I love a good DIY reno, it’s fun to see how professional contractors take IKEA kitchens to a whole new level with little tweaks here and there. (That’s not to say DIY kitchens can’t look professional.) I think the biggest takeaway for me, though, is the fact that Beth went through with the renovation even after harsh criticism. Do you, people!

You can follow Beth over on her blog or on instagram @1111lightlane.

Want more inspiration? Click the “See Real IKEA Kitchens” button in the sidebar to read about all of the kitchens featured in this series.

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!



I noticed that some (not all) of the links to her sources are rstyle links, which means you get a commission off of them. I don’t mind when bloggers do this for their own work, but for you to make money off of her work on her kitchen, which she shared with you, seems a little weird to me. Maybe I’m over reacting, but I was just surprised to see that from you.


Wow, LOVE the bulkheads and molding, and the beautiful contrast of white with the wood floors! Great job! Best of luck with the new blog Beth!!
Leah: )


Love reading about these!


Good for them! Life’s too short to live with “good enough”. I’ve been trying to convince my husband for years to get our 25 year old kitchen renovated.
This kitchen is beautiful. Good job!


I think that this kitchen is FABULOUS! Although IKEA is frowned upon in my community I loved it when we lived in Europe. My kitchen is an 80’s disaster but I recently replaced all of the appliances and am absolutely chomping at the bit to gut the rest of it (think blech brown cabinets with cathedral door fronts – falling apart in places, sorta white floor tile with grungy grout, and soffits galore). This is exactly what I would select for cabinets but I have my sights set on antiqued brass hardware and real marble (Calcatta d’Oro) countertops. This kitchen has definitely turned the tides for me. Now to talk hubby into taking the rest of the dive… Thanks for sharing!


The microwave cabinet – is it from Ikea? Does the shelf protrude beyond the standard upper cabinet depth? I know in their old line, the shelf does stick out, to accomodate larger (deeper) microwaves.

But this one seem so tailor made! Speaking of which, what brand/model of microwave is that?


love this. so bright and cheery!


So so good Dana! Love when you share the Ikea kitchens. Im always so amazed at how people integrate their systems into their spaces. And everytime I get so jealous of the new Sektion system. So many fantastic options


The kitchen is gorgeous, but I’m cracking up at what appear to be cherry cabinets, granite counters, and stainless appliances being considered “builder grade.”


This is very similar to what we’re currently designing for our kitchen. Looks great! Are the upper cabinets 30″ or 40″ height?


One more question…. what’s the size and/or make of the microwave?


Thank you Leah! Appreciate you stopping by and for your kind words!


Thank you Mary! Yes we felt that even though this isn’t our forever home we plan on staying for awhile and wanted to make it work for us!


Thank you Ellen! It sounds like you will have an amazing kitchen when you are finished! It’s funny that you say IKEA is frowned upon in your community because our IKEA cabinets are superior to our builder grade cabinets – better in quality and functionality. I’m sure there are several homeowners in our community that may feel the same way…however I think there is a lot of misconception about IKEA cabinets – as you probably know that the materials/construction are similar to high-end European grade cabinetry. The cabinets that came standard with our home didn’t have soft-close drawers, were not functional (no lazy-susans, drawers, or pull-out drawers within a cabinet) and the doors were very thin and not “real wood” so unless you upgrade your home to real wood cabinets and spend a small fortune, the IKEA cabinets win hands down for quality and function. When installed properly with the right finishes they look as custom as more expensive cabinets. Thanks for stopping by!


Hi Rhune! Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words! The microwave is GE and we had the contractor build us a special cabinet to “house” the microwave. It was a little tricky but we worked together to achieve a look where the cabinet was in alignment with the rest of the upper cabinets and was able to fit the microwave properly without it sticking out. I couldn’t be happier with the result – we didn’t need a huge microwave and it gets the job done with our microwave needs :)


Thank you Andrea!


Thank you Shavonda!


Hi Michelle – thank you so much! I can see where it might appear that way however the cabinets were not cherry, they had the look of “fake wood” and the granite while not horrible was very dark for the space. Our appliances while stainless where the most basic with lots of issues – several of our neighbors have had to replace a few here and there with issues and they were only a few years old. Since we love to cook we wanted more professional appliances that had more options and function. Because the kitchen doesn’t get a ton of natural light we needed to brighten the space – especially for resale someday it would have been a huge issue as it was for us when we purchased the home. We could have painted the cabinets but didn’t want to deal with the paint chipping and touch-ups not to mention that it wouldn’t solve the issue of functionality :)


I love that they took an “ok” kitchen and made it their own. We bought our house 6 months ago and I don’t think my husband will ever agree to a remodel because the kitchen is “great” (his opinion). I will admit that the cabinets are high end real wood and the counters are very nice granite. The problem is that the cabinets are dark and the counters are black. Also, the appliances are subpar. I love cooking in the space because the physical layout is pretty good, but it’s so dark! Seeing your kitchen reinforces my feelings and gives me inspiration!


I love the ikea kitchen posts…. can you add ikea laundry rooms too?!


I would love for readers to send me some laundry room makeovers!


I LOVE your new kitchen and am planning a similar renovation. I do wonder why you did not paint your existing cabinets since they look in great shape? I am asking because I was planning on painting mine, which are also in good shape.


I think Beth mentioned the previous layout and appliances weren’t as functional as she knew they could be and, since Beth and her family cook and bake a lot at home, they decided it was worth the effort to make the change. Hope that helps!


Hi Kristin – thank you! they are the 40″ cabinet :)


I just did a post on the microwave – you can find it at 1111lightlane.blogspot.com :)


Thank you! We decided not to paint the cabinets because we knew that they would chip (we had done this in a previous home) and never were big fans of painted cabinets. While they were in great shape they were not functional (i.e. lots of dead space in the corners, etc.) We wanted more function and organization and realized that investing in new cabinets would be money well spent. However, painting your cabinets can be a nice alternative if your renovation budget doesn’t allow for new cabinets :)


This looks amazing! Great job


A search for IKEA kitchens led me to this blog and I have spent the last two days pouring over every Real IKEA kitchen post. How amazing that so many are featured here? Love it! I am currently weighing my options for my own reno and the photos and information have been very encouraging. I especially like this post featuring BODBYN cabinets (at the top of my list!). Dana, your blog as a whole is wonderful! I look forward to following you!


very delightful post on home remodeling. each and every picture in the blog shows the work.


Beautiful! Love everything!!! Can you send me some info on the wood floors? They look like a nice medium brown.


Omg! I have no words to express the joy of seeing this transformation!! Mostly because the whole story is absolutely identical to mine, except Beth got to live her dream – way to go, Beth!!!
I, too, moved into a newly constructed house with kitchen identical to this one. I hated it from before moving in but builders give you no choice and later it is nearly impossible to take a plunge and gut the whole brand new kitchen. Beth lived my dream of gutting that boring brown trap and now get to enjoy the kitchen that I would’ve have built for myself exactly!
Great job and congrats!


Thank you Haley! I appreciate your kind words, Beth


Hi Sue! Isn’t Dana’s blog the best!! She was my original inspiration several years ago when I tackled our first IKEA reno project. I love the new BODBYN cabinets and I wish you all the best in your future kitchen reno project – thanks for reading about mine! Beth


Thank you Leeshin! I appreciate you taking the time to read about our IKEA kitchen reno and your compliments – thanks! Beth


Hi Erin! Thank you so much! The floors were already installed when we purchased the home (so we did not choose them) but I can try to find out more and send your way. Beth


Hi Polina! Your kind words and compliments made my day! Thank you so much for taking the time to read about our kitchen reno and for appreciating our transformation! Many thanks, Beth


Is the cabinet above the microwave 24w x 30h x 15d? I’m
Hoping to do the same thing with the GE 0.7 micro.


LOVE the kitchen! We are in the process of designing our Ikea kitchen. I am trying to figure out the island to get as much workspace and seating space as possible. Do you know the dimensions of this island? How big are the cabinets underneath and how much of an overhang for the seating? Thank you!


Love this kitchen! Can I ask the dimensions of your kitchen space? We are considering a reno and I would love an island but don’t know if we have a wide enough space for it.

Wow! What a makeover. I absolutely ADORE that sink… funny how you can be so particular about things like sinks and faucets :D


So now that you’ve lived in your kitchen a bit, can you tell me if you’re still as happy with your Bodbyn cabinets? We have puchased the boxes but have yet to decide on the doors… Im so tentative to go with the white for fear of yellowing. Any additional insite you can offer would be appreciated!!


It looks amazing! Do you mind me asking what contractor you used in San Diego that was familiar with the ikea system? Thank you!


I know this is an old thread! But currently designing our kitchen and we are looking at Bodbyn – i have a 20cm wall space to fill and love your wine rack, where did you get this from as i cant find anything on the Ikea site. Thanks :-)


Love this! Can you please let me know what your paint color was? Did you paint the trim and molding to match the cabinets (off white) or did you just go with plain white?


Hi there, I know you did this remodel a few years ago. We actually did an IKEA kitchen that same year (also in San Diego). Last week we had a slab leak (ouch!) and need to have a bunch of the cabinets replaced. The guy who installed our kitchen at the time (not from Traemand—or whatever they are called) is now retired. I am wondering if you would be willing to share the name of your contractor. As I know you know, IKEA cabinets are their own unique animal and I don’t want a contractor who is unfamiliar with them attempting to rebuild our kitchen. I am trying to find experienced people and your kitchen is simply beautiful. Thanks in advance for any information you can provide!


I have a question about the wine rack – how did you guys build it? Is it fully custom or did you use Ikea materials?

Thank you so much for your help!


I love your kitchen, it is beautiful. I am curious did you have to modify the cabinet when putting a cooktop and then wall oven in it? We have an existing 36″ cooktop we want to reuse and need to get a new wall oven. Just curious if their cabinet was able to accomodate each. Were your cooktop and oven the same width? Thanks~!