...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

08.10.16 / Liked & Linked

summer kids


nashville shasta

Everett started back to school today. I know, too soon! Where did the summer go?! I’ve been away from the online world and social media focusing on real life, and it has filled me up in so many ways. Before getting caught up in another hectic school year, I took each of the kids out on individual “dates.” It made me realize just how quickly they are growing. For a few hours time was frozen, and I cherished every minute. Even though they whine and bicker and eat a week’s worth of food in two days, my kids are funny, bright, sweet, awesome, healthy little people. Sometimes I need a reminder ;)

It’s been ridiculously hot. And dry. And yet also extremely humid? (I can’t tell you the last time I wore my hair down.) Even the best kept lawns are brown. Thankfully, the dahlia bulbs I planted in spring are hanging on despite the heat and humidity. This is the first summer I’ve had a cutting garden. It won’t be the last. Maybe I’m not a serial plant killer after all!

Steve and I slipped away to Nashville for a few days, kid-free. (Thank you for all of the eats and treats suggestions!) I swear the days were four hours longer. We stayed at the coziest backyard retreat, and it pretty much solidified my dream of living tiny as empty nesters. Every time I stay in a vacation rental, it makes me want to go home and get rid of everything but the necessities. Can you relate?

A few links because it’s been a while…

*One of the shops we visited in Nashville was burning this candle in the ash scent, and it smelled amazing. Steve even commented on it. Guys like candles? I was going to buy one, but it had just sold out. Giddy to find it online!

*I’m a loyal eggs + ketchup girl, but pesto sounds delicious.

*The homiest tiny house yet.

cozy modern 2

*I love cozy modern.

*A mix-and-match kitchen that still feels clean and tidy.

*Hands down, my favorite summer tank.

*My current soundtrack is heavy on the lady albums, new and old. (Don’t let the mariachi scare you!)

*This etsy shop makes me laugh so hard. Some of my favorites: new sponge, bathroom doorhome depot, sleeping person.

I can’t even.

images: 1-3) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 4) Ana Kamin