...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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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After renting for nearly a decade, Annie and Greg bought their first home in 2011. Since then, they’ve slowly been updating the 1950′s  house located in southern Minnesota. With a job relocation to Seattle on the horizon, they decided to tackle the kitchen to get the most bang for their buck when they list the house in a few months. They considered making do with the original cabinets but realized a few coats of paint wouldn’t address the need for a better functioning layout and more counter space. Keeping their small budget and future resale in mind, they opted to source most of their kitchen components from Ikea. I asked Annie several questions about their experience. Find her answers and images of the newly remodeled kitchen below.

budget-friendly ikea kitchen via House*Tweaking

Which items in your kitchen hail from Ikea?

The cabinets, doors, drawer fronts and toe kick are all from Ikea.

What made you decide to source these items from Ikea?

We never considered going elsewhere for those items due to our numerous trips to the Twin Cities Ikea where we’d snoop through their kitchen displays and dream. My husband, Greg, is a design and process engineer with a construction background and I’m a stickler for good design as well. Quality, design and function are important to us. Ikea delivered those aspects and fit our small budget. You can’t beat the hinges and door dampers on the soft-closing cabinets. We outfitted most of our 9′ x 10′ galley kitchen for ~$2,600. People don’t believe us unless they’ve also researched and / or created an Ikea kitchen.

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

The design was our own. We wanted to increase the amount of storage while not overwhelming the small space. We’re putting the house on the market in a few months to move to Seattle for my husband’s career. We’re trying to keep the same feel from room to room. Every bit of our house has been updated or renovated and the kitchen was the last room to finish on the main floor. I think it flows very well which goes to show Ikea’s versatility.

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

The two of us assembled and installed the cabinets. We read that putting the cabinets and drawers together was a pain but we didn’t have a problem. Once assembled, we stored the cabinets in the master bedroom to keep them away from our dogs and my accident-prone ways.

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

The original plan was to keep the old cabinets and paint them then add a new sink, faucet and countertop. One side of the 1952 kitchen had the stove and refrigerator next to one another with no counter space whatsoever which bothered us quite a bit. I’m short and the shelves in the old cabinets were hard for me to reach – even with a step stool. Once we started looking at the facts and what it would take to update the old cabinets, we realized it wouldn’t look or function any better. We said, nope, let’s go to Ikea. Let’s start fresh.

After that I started designing the space with the Ikea kitchen planner online. I took a few afternoons scattered over a few weeks to go over layout options with all the measurements. Then we took a Sunday to revise it together and arrive at the final design.

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I pictured the new cabinets going nearly to the top of the 9′ ceiling to bring the eye up and make the space look larger. (That was one thing I liked about the old cabinets.) I wanted to make it look more custom with crown molding. The trash and recycling also have their own place inside of a pull-out base cabinet which we love. We definitely wanted a better layout and more storage. It’s odd that we have more storage now – I still have empty drawers and shelves actually! – even though we omitted upper cabinets by the stove in the new design. Less cabinets and more storage is pretty awesome.

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The fridge took some work because it is not counter-depth. We had to shorten the door opening by 7” to get a built-in look after removing a pocket door and widening the doorway. Today, the doorway goes with the scale of the house and makes the kitchen and dining room feel more like one space. Carpet is not my friend and it was in the dining room. Gag. We installed hardwood flooring in both rooms for added cohesion.

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There were a few kitchens on my Pinterest board I was obsessed with which lead me to the hardware, the butcher block countertop and a single basin sink. My original idea for the countertops was soapstone but butcher block is more affordable and more forgiving. We work with wood furniture in our design / refurbishing business so it’s not a big deal for us to repair it. The more it ages, the better it looks to me. We didn’t install a backsplash because I think it’s a personal decision better left to the next owner…who I hope sends me a picture. I did consider a few backsplash options. We have subway tile in both bathrooms, marble in one bathroom and various of shades of gray throughout the house which were all tile options that caught my attention.

I wanted high contrast between the off-white ÄDEL cabinets and accessories so we used an almost matte black, oil-rubbed bronze in the details. The hardware has modern lines but the warm wood countertops and classic schoolhouse lights keep the room from leaning too contemporary. My taste tends to be modern rustic.

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How long was it from design to the final product?

We did very little to the kitchen until October of 2012 when we removed the laundry chute the previous owner had in the kitchen. I ran into the chute cabinet at least three times a day. The two of us removed the pocket door and opened the doorway to a nice 55” from the 26” it had been. We didn’t start the real work until March of this year.

The Ikea kitchen sale started late February which was right after we finished renovating a bathroom. Mid-way into the sale we went to Ikea with our design, logged into our kitchen planner account and asked the kitchen specialists a ton of questions. A specialist printed off our list, added what was needed (an important step since not everything is correct or included on the list) and we had our total in about five minutes. $2,634 didn’t even qualify for the discount which was fine with us. At that time, Ikea had everything we needed in stock but since we were not purchasing that day we had to call ahead to inquire about availability – especially because of the ongoing kitchen sale.

We nailed down our finances a few weeks later then returned to Ikea to order our kitchen. It was only $99 to deliver to our home a little more than 30 minutes away.

Everything was in stock and could have been delivered a few days after ordering but we requested a later delivery to accommodate our schedules. The delivery company called on a Tuesday to say they would be in our area the following day. I called back and scheduled the drop-off which fell into a 5PM to 9PM time slot when we’d both be home from work. Wednesday rolled around and the delivery company left a voicemail at 2PM saying they would be at our house in 40 minutes and that if we couldn’t be there we’d have to reschedule. This was our only unhappy moment. (Ikea hires the delivery out so it’s not really much of a reflection on them.) Luckily, Greg was able to leave work early and arrive home just before the delivery truck. Nothing was damaged upon arrival and we signed off with the delivery company. Simple and fast.

I immediately checked the list. Everything was accounted for. We started putting the cabinets together that night for a few hours. It took three weekday evenings and a total of six hours to assemble most of the components. Having years of experience in his family’s construction business, Greg wanted to do the rest on installation day. He’s an engineer and was impressed with the assembly method. If you pour out the box contents correctly it practically puts itself together. A screw gun is handy, too.

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Installation was easy and we spread it out over two weekends. The suspension rail was simple to use and helped a lot since it was just the two of us. The problems we did encounter were part of the kitchen structure itself: uneven walls and ceiling. You know, stuff that goes along with older houses.

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Custom framing came into play for the cabinet above the fridge and the tall pantry cabinet. Otherwise, the process was pretty straightforward.

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The flooring installation was aggravating compared to the cabinets. It took us a few weekday evenings in a row to knock it out. We were a tiny bit shy of toe kick in the end and we damaged a set of shelves at some point during installation. A trip to Ikea and $20 solved those issues.

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

The new kitchen has existed for about a month. Out of habit, we still find ourselves walking into the dining room looking for the fridge because that’s where we kept it during the reno. There haven’t been any concerns or problems. With our rambunctious pups, the floor has been scratched even though we use rugs. The cabinets are fine. I accidentally ram my step stool into them on a daily basis and they stand strong. I love this space now.

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

I love the flow and storage. And, although we kept resale in mind, there is still a lot of us in the design. We lived in nine rentals over the course of ten years before buying this house and nothing was even close to feeling like us. I’m also a food blogger on top of a DIY / home improvement blogger so the kitchen is the room in which I could spend all day and be happy. It’s my meal prep space, where I catch up with my husband over a glass of wine, where I break out in song and dance on the new hardwood floor and where the designer in me geeks out. Honestly, my least favorite thing is that we’re moving soon and that we waited so long to tackle the kitchen. I’m also bummed about not having found the items to display on my counters yet.

Would you recommend Ikea as a source for a kitchen remodel?

That’s a big yes. We recommend Ikea to anyone who will listen. If you create a design that truly fits your needs, seek advice from the kitchen specialists, prepare and organize your lists (I make a lot of lists) and materials, dedicate time to assembly and installation, accept that some problems might arise but that you will face them and all will be well, you can have a beautiful, quality Ikea kitchen. If things aren’t going together easily that means you are probably doing something wrong and need to take a step back. For example, we first put the base plate of the hinges on backwards.

Would you consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel?

In our next (Seattle) house, kitchen renovations will come first and Ikea will be a big part of it.

Resources of note:

cabinet frames, cabinet doors, drawer fronts, toe kick – Ikea, ÄDEL off-white
trim, molding – Menards
wall paint – Benjamin Moore rockport gray
trim paint – color-matched to Ikea ÄDEL off-white and Benjamin Moore decorators white
hardware – myknobs.com
kilim rug – ebay, vintage
butcher block countertop – builder outlet store
butcher block finish – dark raw tung oil + citrus solvent (waterproof, food-safe, all natural)
sink – build.com
faucet – Signature hardware
water filtration faucet – Amazon
range hood – <$200 at Rakuten.com
dishwasher – craigslist, $60
refrigerator and stove – already owned
lighting – Home Depot, Lowe’s
blinds – JCPenney
flooring – American Carpet Wholesalers
dining room pendant – Overstock

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Thank you so much Annie for sharing the details of your kitchen renovation!

How amazing is it that less cabinetry actually resulted in more storage?! This small kitchen is an example of thoughtful design at its best. I love Annie’s choice of hardware and lighting alongside the white cabinets and wood countertops. And don’t get me started on that vintage rug. Inevitably, making the decision to spend a little more on the kitchen reno to gain counter space and storage was a smart choice. The new layout and classic design are sure to be advantages over comps when the couple lists the home in the near future. You can follow the couple’s home improvement adventures over on their blog and you can see what Annie’s whipping up in the new kitchen on her food blog. (Pssst…the bathroom renovations are equally inspiring!)

If you’re in the mood for more Ikea kitchens, check out the rest of this series:

An Ikea Kitchen in Brooklyn

An Ikea Kitchen in Orange County

An Ikea Kitchen in Texas Hill Country

An Ikea Kitchen in Chesapeake

An Ikea Kitchen in a Barn (in France!)

An Ikea Kitchen in Cape Cod

And if you have an Ikea kitchen (it doesn’t have to be 100% Ikea) that you would be willing to share on House*Tweaking, please email me at housetweaking@gmail.com for consideration.

P.S. – Thanks to everyone who has already submitted an Ikea kitchen. I really, really, REALLY appreciate the time and effort you’ve put into bringing these posts to fruition. I have a slew of Ikea kitchens sitting in my inbox waiting to be featured. I apologize for the lapse in time between submission and the post going live. I’m buried in Ikea kitchens – in a good way! Keep ‘em comin’!

images: Annie at The Wits

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We added woven shades to the picture window in the living room. They are the same bamboo shades we have throughout the house and after linking to them in a post about our bedroom they were out of stock on Overstock for months. They finally became available again so I snatched up two in order to fill the gap between the curtain rod hung at ceiling height and the top of the window. The trick of installing woven blinds high above a window to make the window look larger is nothing new – to the design world or me – but I’m still amazed every time I witness the difference. Instantly, the picture window looked taller and another texture was introduced to the room.

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In a perfect world {is there such a thing?}, I would have one continuous shade spanning the width of the window. But those things are expensive and the budget-friendly Overstock version we have throughout our house isn’t even available in that width. So to keep things cost-efficient and consistent, I ordered two shades and HH hung them side by side. For us, they are purely aesthetic. We don’t raise or lower them but we could if we wanted.

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A post about two window shades is short and a little boring so let’s discuss pillows, too. Because pillow talk is never boring. It’s taken me a while to find the right pillows for our sofa. I’ve come to the conclusion that a mix of pillows in lighter, earthier colors and varied textures works best against the saddle leather.

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All of the pillows hail from HomeGoods except for the kilim which was an etsy find. None of the pillows cost more than $20. I kept the two outermost pillows the same and sandwiched three non-matching pillows in between. The arrangement feels balanced but not rigid.

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There’s a variation of texture amongst the pillows – smooth, embroidered, woven, etc. My favorite is this one with a random pattern of raised squiggly lines. Yes, “squiggly lines” is a technical pillow talk term.

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All of the pillows have down-filled inserts which is my preference. They hold their shape better and longer and look plusher than polyfill inserts.

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These two new layers – woven shades + pillows – give the room a cozier, homier look and feel. This is probably my favorite part of decorating – layering. Rugs, lighting, window treatments, pillows, blankets, greenery, furniture, accessories…they all contribute to that cozy lived-in vibe that well-layered, inviting rooms put off.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

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Since posting updates of the bedroom, I’ve fielded many questions about our window treatments. Many of you have questions! I thought it might help to turn my answers into a bona fide post. But first up…

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…I finally got a chance to hem the curtains on the window…

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…and on the closet. They are the RITVA 118″ panels. If you look closely, you’ll notice I hemmed the four closet curtains {94″} a few inches shorter than the window curtains {96″}. At the closet, we open and close the curtains daily to gain access to our clothing so it helps that the curtains graze the floor instead of pool onto it. At the window, we never close the curtains so a little pooling action gives a luxe, relaxed look. I prefer to sew my curtain hems versus using the popular hem tape. Sewing is cheaper and I think the curtains fall better with a sewn hem. But that’s just my personal preference.

Our ceiling in the bedroom is 8′. In a room with 8′ ceilings, you might be inclined to buy the 98″ version of the RITVA. However, if your plan is to hang the curtains floor-to-ceiling, once they are pre-washed there’s a good chance you could end up with flood water curtains. In my experience with IKEA curtains {and I’ve had quite a bit}, you lose about 4″-6″ of length after pre-washing and drying. Of course, it depends on the material you choose but either way you are going to lose some length and that needs to be considered – especially when you account for 2″ for your actual hem. I know it sucks to spend more on the longer version but, trust me, buy the longer version if you’re in doubt.

So the curtains are hemmed. Now to address the popular window treatment questions.

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Source list: RITVA curtains // black cafe curtain rod // petite rustique bamboo shade // Levolor room darkening shade

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The bamboo shades are functional but we don’t close them. Our windows are wide but relatively short so the 54″W x 74″H stock size woven blinds are a bit heavy and cumbersome to raise and lower daily. If we don’t close the curtains or the bamboo blinds, how do we maintain privacy at night? On all bedroom windows in our house, we use Levolor room darkening shades. Anything to catch a few more zzzz’s!

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We bought the inexpensive Levolor shades at Lowe’s right after we moved in last summer. They can be cut in-store to your desired width. Just be sure to measure each individual window opening precisely. Even if all of your bedroom windows are 52″ wide, you need to measure the exact opening where each shade will be installed. The smallest of measurements can throw off the fit and function of the blinds. This is coming from someone who measured one window then had all the bedroom shades cut to the same width. Guess what? They didn’t fit. Luckily, we were able to recoup our cost by selling them on craigslist and then re-measure EACH WINDOW for a proper fit. Now you know.

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When closed, they do a great job of blocking light and providing privacy although they aren’t much to look at. The tension needs to be readjusted sometimes, too. When a shade loses its ability to recoil completely, I just roll the shade all the way up and reset it into the metal holders within the window frame. It’s not difficult but it’s something I thought you should know. If you’re thinking of trying these shades out, expect a good price and great room darkening capabilities but also expect loss of tension over time.

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To disguise the roller shades, I don’t pull the bamboo blinds all the way up. The blinds are installed outside of the window frame and close to the curtain rod to make the window look taller than it really is. Lots of window trickery happening in this little brick ranch! When adding woven blinds, typically, I like to see them mounted outside the frame of windows without molding and inside the frame of windows with molding. There are always exceptions though.

I’m still hunting for trim to add to the curtains. I’ve checked out every possible option near me but nothing has really caught my eye. I’m happy to wait it out until I find “the one.”

I think that covers everything pertaining to our bedroom window treatments. If there are still questions, post them in the comments below and I’ll try my best to answer them.

Check back later today for five things I’m doing next week. It’s going to be a fun one!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

Our master bedroom has taken a backseat to many other projects.

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We bought nightstands, organized the closet, hung an awkward curvy headboard under the window and pretty much lived with it like that for the past year. But I finally said to HH, “Enough is enough! Time to make this a room we want to sleep in every night.” I’ve slowly been acquiring pieces over the past six months and recently repainted. This past weekend we got around to hanging window treatments and installing new lighting. We’re not done with the room just yet but take a peek.

Clearly, I am still in the process of fine tuning the details {nightstand styling, hemming curtains, adding accessories, etc.} but I am already in love with this room.

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It’s so weird. I had envisioned a dark and moody bedroom but somehow I ended up with a calm and airy one. If it had been totally up to me, I would have gone for those dark walls but HH was leery and told me more than once he didn’t want to feel like he was sleeping in a cave. So we went lighter and I’m surprised by how much I like it! The wall color {Benjamin Moore half moon crest} reminds me of a light gray-blue oxford shirt and it’s growing on me. Big time.

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We hung a curtain rod above the closet and added four floor-to-ceiling curtains. It’s so nice not to see our jumble of clothes from bed.

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The panels easily slide over to give us access to the closet. We thought doors would have been too cumbersome and we like how the curtains balance out the window on the other side of the room. And hanging the curtains high on the wall go a long way in making the room feel bigger.

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We hung woven blinds and curtains on the window opposite the closet. The plan is to embellish the plain white curtains {maybe on the closet too?} with ribbon or something. And hem them. Obviously. I always like to wash, dry, iron and hang curtains BEFORE I hem them so I know they aren’t going to shrink up on me.

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Ideally, I wouldn’t put my bed under a window unless it was architecturally interesting but we don’t really have a choice in this room. I tried to make the most of it. I looked at a bunch of pictures online of beds in front of windows. Many of them showed curtains falling behind the headboard but they were a little too fussy for me. The images I liked most were of simply dressed windows. So we just hung some woven blinds and called it a day. I like the texture and laid back feel of the shade.

We also switched out the curvy headboard for a straighter one to help the bed “fit” under the window better. I made sure to find one that wouldn’t overlap with the window. We love the original slate windowsills and like showing them off.

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Our bedroom receives very little natural light. To keep it bright, good artificial lighting is a must. We added a new ceiling fixture, a table lamp on a dresser on the other side of the room and two swing arm lamps flanking the bed. The swing arm lamps are my favorite pieces in the room and are super functional for two like-to-read-in-bed kinda people. I actually ordered the wall lamps back in January and they’ve been sitting boxed on our dresser up until a few days ago. I was waiting to paint and receive our new headboard before we hung them. There has been a running joke in our bedroom for the past several months…

HH, trying to read his Handyman magazine by the light of a lone lightbulb on the ceiling: Boy, it sure would be nice to have some reading lights in here.

Me: Technically, we do have reading lights in here. They’re just in boxes.

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The lamps support up to 75W which is more than enough for nighttime reading. The arm and shade are adjustable but I need to WD40 them. They’re a little stiff. I was this close to ordering the lamps in silver. That was my initial safe choice. But I am so glad I went for the antique brass. They feel so grown up. And I do turn 35 this year. Now if I could only keep my teenaged inappropriate humor under wraps…NAH. Borrrrrrrrring. {In my defense, I did just quell the urge to throw in a “that’s not the only stiff thing in the bedroom” joke. So sorry.}

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The room is narrow so I thought horizontal striped bedding would make it feel wider. Plus, I never met a stripe I didn’t like.

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I know you guys probably have a bunch of questions about where I got what but, if you don’t mind, I’d rather address those in a true “after” post. Especially since I’ll be adding in more accessories. But if there is something you are just itching to get your hands on, ask in the comments and I’ll be sure to source it for you. I just couldn’t wait any longer to share how things are looking.

In the meantime, I’ll be hanging out in my bedroom tweaking ’til my heart’s content. It’s funny. I used to blaze through this room on the way to the bathroom {the other bathroom is still gutted} and do my nighttime reading in the living room on the sofa but, now, I want to be in this room all. the. time. And it’s not even done.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking