...because home doesn't happen overnight.


More than half of the Airbnb homes we’ve stayed in boast IKEA kitchens. It’s not something I specifically look for in a vacation rental (I swear!), but I do get a little giddy the first time I open a drawer and make the discovery. I love seeing how other homeowners use IKEA cabinets within the context of their own homes. I think IKEA kitchens are becoming so popular because they’re affordable, efficient and customizable, and the drawer hardware holds up to daily abuse.

The Toronto house we stayed in utilized IKEA cabinets alongside other elements to create a rustic modern aesthetic. I thought I’d share it with you because, at first glance, the space doesn’t read IKEA. It feels lived in and exudes the same cozy vibe as the rest of the home. Keep reading to see some of the defining features.


Sleek cabinets + concrete countertops + wood floors

White, flat panel cabinets in a high gloss finish (IKEA RINGHULT) are topped with matte concrete countertops for contrast. The concrete wasn’t perfectly mixed or polished on purpose. Pits and color variations give the inexpensive material the look of pricier natural stone. The rawness of the concrete contributes to the rustic look. Pine planks ground the space and give off a pretty golden glow.


Minimal brass hardware

Solid brass edge pulls offer a clean design of a quality material. In line with the lived-in vibe of the house, the un-lacquered brass has taken on a patina over time. These particular pulls hail from Upper Canada Specialty Hardware, but Rejuvenation sells similar ones here.


Tiled walls

Taking the subway tile to the ceiling is a popular, contemporary installation of a classic material. Here, it adds another layer and texture to the utilitarian space. Fortunately, white 3″ x 6″ subway tile can be found for cheap at most home improvement stores.


Wood shelves

Forgoing upper cabinets on one half of the room gives the kitchen a lighter, airier feel. Thoughtfully placed reclaimed wood shelves in various lengths bring warmth to the tiled walls. A haphazard display of handmade mugs and cooking essentials feels casual and homey.


Open cubbies above wall cabinets

On the other half of the kitchen, a row of open cubbies fits snugly between upper cabinets and the ceiling. (Here, the cubbies were created by simply using horizontal IKEA wall cabinets in a wood lookalike finish – similar to this – and opting out of door fronts.) The cubbies break up the wall of cabinetry and make use of otherwise wasted space. The overall look is tidy and modern. The homeowners use the clever cubbies to stash their cookbook collection and less frequently used items.


A freestanding, antique island

An old farmhouse island takes center stage in the middle of the room. The worn wood top and rusted metal base give the new kitchen a sense of history while also providing extra prep and storage space. The drawers hold kitchen linens, and the bottom shelf keeps mixing bowls and a pair of colorful dutch ovens within easy reach.


A pot rack

An overhead pot rack makes use of vertical space above the island. The hanging pots and pans are reminiscent of a chandelier, reflecting light and the warmth of the wood-topped island below. The homeowners thrifted this rack, but you can find similar black, rectangular versions online.


Vintage rugs

Vintage rugs in saturated hues add color and pattern to the mostly white space and feel soft and warm underfoot. The rugs shown here are family hand-me-downs, so not only do they look great, they tell yet another story. Try searching “vintage rug” or “persian rug” on eBay or etsy.



What do you love most about this kitchen? I don’t think I can pick just one thing! I love the mix of old and new and all the contrasting materials. In person, I loved the patina of the concrete countertops, brass pulls and industrial island against the shiny, modern cabinets. (When we returned home, I may have trolled Craigslist looking for crusty, industrial metal legs to add a butcher block top to.) The pine floors were so handsome in real life, scratches and all. Even though the kitchen is probably the hardest working room in this house, the entire space felt really warm and inviting. It was obvious the family who lives here actually lives here. Which is the point, right?

P.S. – See more of this beautiful home right here. Read about our family trip to Toronto here.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking



Every AirBnB place you guys stay is gorgeous! If you ever want to write a post on tips & tricks for finding great AirBnBs, I’m all ears.


The open cubbies above the cabinets are my favorite! It’s a brilliant use of space especially for infrequently used items.

Out of curiosity, do you give the homeowners a heads-up when you stay at their airbnbs? I notice you usually (always?) post photos of the homes you visit, which I totally enjoy by the way, and I wonder if you ask for their permission to do so. Also, would you be into doing a post on how you find your airbnbs? They are the best!!!


Completely lovely! I’m curious about that corner sink- did you like using it? Pros/cons?


It was my first experience with a corner sink and it took a little time to get used to it, but it worked just fine. I still prefer rectangular sinks, but I could live with a corner sink if I had to…especially if there are windows on either side!


Yes, if I feel like the home boasts interesting design and/or storage ideas, I always ask the owners for permission to take and post photos of their Airbnb rental. I also ask if they would prefer I link to their Airbnb listing or not. So far, everyone I’ve asked has been game! I guess most of the owners assume it will only help their business. Plus, there are photos featured on the Airbnb site already.

A “how to find family-friendly Airbnbs” post is in the works!


It’s coming!


Looks great, but looks like a bear to work in! Corner sinks, especially the batwing, are on the bottom of the good-sink-function pile, especially for multiple users. Unless your assistant is at the ready to hand you items from the fridge and the pantry, it’s quite the hike to bring every single thing you’re going to use to the sink for the first leg of the food journey. And the dishwasher – terrible spot between sink and stove. This lovely kitchen is definitely form over function.


I love the overall feel of the kitchen more than any single component. It is a beautiful mix of modern and rustic that really feels like home. I think it is fabulous that dishes are piled on shelves and that it doesn’t feel cleaned and staged to within an inch of its life. It is the type of place that draws you in and wraps itself around you in a welcoming hug. Thanks for sharing!


Do you have any idea where to find the under cabinet mug hanger/holder? Love the look and the practicality…


I love this vibe, and what I would love to accomplish in my house one day. I also feel like it is the hardest esthetic to pull off without looking junky. They totally nailed it! (Go Canada! haha)


I lived in a home with a corner sink and two huge windows for several years. It was very doable when the kids were little and I was the main prepper/meal maker. It is much harder as the bodies get bigger in the room and you are wanting more help. The sink (and often the garbage underneath) are so pivotal in prep and clean up and with more than one body trying to access a corner it can be difficult.


Absolutely swoon-worthy. Thanks for sharing, Dana. I always wonder about concrete countertops in a kitchen — love the way they look but don’t know if I could handle the oil stains. Did these have any?


My favorite thing about this kitchen, as with any, is the wonderful display of their handmade mug collection. They have a nice bunch of them.


I love everything about it too, but I think those rugs are definitely the standouts for me. They’re gorgeous!


Does Ikea have different quality levels in their cabinetry? Or is it pretty much all the same? Or maybe there are different finish levels? We’re buying a new house. We’d like to add cabinetry in a few places for a built-in look and were wondering if Ikea was the way to go. We used it in our existing house’s media room and never could get the doors straight. Not sure if it was user error or if we just bought the really cheap stuff. Thanks!


All the cabinet frames are the same (you can choose either white or a dark brown wood lookalike depending on what fronts you plan to use), but the fronts are different. There are different styles made from different materials. Pricing is different as well and reflects the quality of the fronts.


I didn’t notice any stains but there were imperfections (color variations, pitting, a little roughness) that made it feel really rustic and casual. Probably not the best option for Type As!


I know, in person it felt even more homey. I loved that the styling was really loose, almost non-existent.


Our dishwasher is between the sink and stove and I don’t mind it all!


Ok! That explains it. Nicer fronts for us next time!


That’s lovely, though a bit cluttered for my tastes, but that vintage island and its cute chippy paint–I feel compelled to point out that, if you come across one of those in real life, the paint (it looks original to the piece) needs to be checked for lead. I would be pretty confident that, in the U.S., at least, something of that vintage would have had lead paint on it. Lead can be handled safely, but leaving it exposed and chippy like that is probably not the way to go.


I can stare at every nook & cranny of this house. You’re Airbnb homes are just so intriguing! Please keep them coming. :)


The concrete counter tops are just brilliant, it is like designing a nice kitchen with something scruffy that ends up looking nice????

I am confusing myself now but without seeing those counter tops in an actual kitchen being used, I wouldn’t of chosen them from the shelf.


More to come!


Beautiful!! We love it! Can’t wait to see more!!


I’m thoroughly gobsmacked that this kitchen is kitted out with IKEA furnishings! It looks so classic and rustic. I really need to refresh myself with what IKEA is putting out these days, I could very well be looking closer at their offerings when I come to kitting out my own kitchen! Thanks for these inspiring photos Dana


Wonderful combination of modern and rustic kitchen! Looks very homey. I especially like the idea of an open cubbies above wall cabinets. Very lovely!