...because home doesn't happen overnight.
01.11.16 / Liked & Linked

Last week was everyone’s first week back to school and work after the winter break. I think we were all ready to get back to a routine. Truthfully, the break wasn’t much of a break for us. We spent too much time in the car and not enough time at home together. We’re vowing to make things happen differently next time around. I’m just grateful everyone was healthy and we were able to keep Cheetah mostly out of the tree.

There are two moments I will remember forever. One morning I woke up to an eerily quiet house only to find the kids outside jumping on their new trampoline (a gift from grandparents). It was 7:30 a.m. and very mild for winter in Ohio. Layne had helped Mabrey get dressed. I woke Steve so he could look outside. His groggy but insightful reaction?…

“Have you ever hopped out of bed and had the urge to jump on a trampoline?”

Nope. Never. Kids are so funny. The never-ending supply of energy!

My other favorite moment was when Mabrey wriggled into Steve’s arms on the sofa during some rare downtime and they dozed off together. It was ridiculously cute and I couldn’t stop watching them.

A few other noteworthy things…

*My kids are covered in these.

*What I wouldn’t give for a mini sauna in my bathroom right about now.

*A tiny house lives big with a full kitchen, a washer/dryer combo and double sinks in the bathroom. (!)

*An inspirational woman and her family build a tiny house for her 40th birthday. But it’s not what you think.

brownstone reno 1

brownstone reno 2

*A renovated brownstone with a lived-in vibe. “It’s not like you build it and just move in and everything comes right together. It’s a process and it’s a work in progress, which I love.” Such a profound sentiment from the homeowner on what renovating a house is really like.

*An $11 mantel. (See the before here.)

*This book has completely changed the way I think about running. (So much so that I ran my second 5K on New Year’s Day.)

*This book was a quick and quirky read. I couldn’t put it down!

I hope 2016 is treating you well so far!

images: 1-4) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 5,6) Pia Ulin

nebraska home

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!

ikea nebraska kitchen before 3

ikea nebraska kitchen before 2

ikea nebraska kitchen before 1

In 2013 Nicole, a maker of small batch home goods, and Adam, an engineer, bought a 1910 fixer-upper in a small town in Nebraska. Along with pulling up old carpet and cheap laminate, refinishing the original hardwood floors, painting the exterior (black!) and adding new landscaping, they completely overhauled the kitchen. Working with a limited budget, the couple retained the original floor plan and used IKEA cabinetry mixed with natural materials to achieve a look they describe as “rustic modern.” The couple recently sold their Nebraska house and made a cross-country move to Philadelphia for a job transfer, but Nicole was kind enough to share more about the renovation just before the big move. Read her thoughts and see the beautiful results below!

(FYI – Nicole and Adam’s kitchen was a finalist in the amateur category of the 2015 Remodelista Considered Design Awards. It’s even more inspiring when you know what the kitchen looked like before and how much work the homeowners put into the project!)

ikea nebraska kitchen after 1

ikea nebraska kitchen

ikea nebraska kitchen

Which items in your kitchen hail from IKEA?

The cabinets, door/drawer fronts, interior organizers and range hood are from IKEA.

What made you decide to source these items from IKEA?

We had some previous experience that we were able to rely on. This is the third IKEA kitchen we have installed! We knew we would be completing most of the work ourselves to stay within our budget. IKEA was a great choice since we could build everything ourselves, and the price point helped stretch our budget. We also found IKEA to be an ideal choice when it came to small town living. With limited local options, IKEA stood out because we could plan, select and order everything online then have it delivered.

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

I designed the kitchen aiming for a rustic modern aesthetic. Our home was built in 1910 so we wanted the kitchen to feel like it belonged to the rest of the house while still incorporating some fun, modern elements.

ikea nebraska kitchen progress

ikea nebraska kitchen progress

ikea nebraska kitchen

ikea nebraska kitchen progress

ikea nebraska kitchen progress

ikea nebraska kitchen progress

ikea nebraska kitchen progress

ikea nebraska kitchen

ikea nebraska kitchen progress

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

Yes, we assembled and installed all of the IKEA components ourselves. The assembly of the cabinets was pretty easy but the installation was dicey at times with our crumbly plaster walls and extremely unlevel floors. We built our own toe kick platforms to raise the countertops a little higher than average. (We are both tall and a friend of ours had done the same thing.) It was very tricky getting things to level out. Instead, I would definitely recommend using the legs or rails that IKEA offers.

ikea nebraska kitchen

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

We used the cabinets to set the foundation for the kitchen. One of the choices we made that we have been really happy with was incorporating lots of drawers into the cabinet design. We chose larger drawers over cupboards so that we could easily pull them out and have access to everything within the full 24” depth of the cabinet instead of rummaging around in the back of a cabinet. I would definitely do this again if I were to design another kitchen!

ikea nebraska kitchen

ikea nebraska kitchen progress

We have been working over the past few years to really pare down our belongings to the best and most special things. This drove our decision to give the open shelving concept a try. We sourced reclaimed barnwood from a Nebraska barn to provide a warm and rustic element against the black and white backdrop. I worked with my brother, a designer and fabricator in Oakland, California, to create brackets that mount behind the tile to give the effect of floating shelves.

ikea nebraska kitchen

For the countertops, we wanted something with a matte black finish. Soapstone was out of our price range. We found beautiful brushed granite that popped against the cabinets and subway tile and gave us the look we wanted.

We found a floor model Kenmore Elite integrated dishwasher at Sears for a steal right before we moved into the house so we were able to incorporate it into the design with a door panel from IKEA. We went with a smaller fridge which allowed for more counterspace.

ikea nebraska kitchen

To contrast with the traditional and rustic elements, we incorporated some modern pieces such as the brass hardware, West Elm wall sconces and clean-lined faucet.

How long was it from design to the final product?

I started designing the kitchen a few months before we moved into the house but, due to our work schedules, we didn’t start working on the kitchen for another six months after closing. We completed the demolition and cabinet and countertop install within a couple of months so we had enough of a functioning kitchen to get by. The remaining items such as the lighting, tile, shelving, painting and finish work took about a year for us to complete as we worked on it as time allowed.

ikea nebraska kitchen

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

It’s been a year since we completed the kitchen renovation. So far, so good! The open shelves are super efficient for quickly grabbing dishes and dry goods. The drawers…did I mention those drawers?!…they are the BEST.

ikea nebraska kitchen

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

Our favorite thing about our kitchen is that it is so comfortable for cooking. It’s compact size makes everything easily accessible. We’re in love with the finishes. Sometimes we just pet the countertops and gaze fondly at them, and our houseguests do, too. We love being in the room.

Our least favorite thing is that it is a separate room. It would have been nice to open up the kitchen to the rest of the house but it wasn’t in the budget.

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

Absolutely! The cabinets are great and they have some nice interior organizers. Some of my favorites include the pot lid organizer, the VARIERA door-mounted hanging storage and the baking sheet organizer. We have also used their exhaust hoods in more than one project. They always work well and look stylish. We didn’t use them for this project but I would also recommend their butcher block countertops. We have used them in other projects to top freestanding islands.

Would you consider IKEA for a future kitchen remodel?

Yes! We went with IKEA for this project because, historically, we’ve had success. The tradition continues! We hope to do another IKEA kitchen in the future.

Sources of note:

wall paint – rodeo by Benjamin Moore
door paint – onyx by Benjamin Moore
cabinets – AKURUM cabinets with LIDINGÖ fronts, IKEA
countertops – brushed black granite
subway tile – Menards
faucet – Delta trask pull-down kitchen faucet, Lowe’s
water filter faucet – Amazon
garbage disposal air switch – Amazon
gas range – Kenmore
fridge – Summit counter-depth, bottom freezer refrigerator, Home Depot
range hood – DÅTID exhaust hood, IKEA
ceiling fan – Amazon
wall sconces – West Elm (I painted the backplates matte black before installation.)
rolling butcher block – Goodwood Furniture in Virginia Beach years ago (It has moved with us several times.)
cabinet hardware – Liberty, Home Depot (discontinued)

ikea nebraska kitchen

ikea nebraska kitchen

Thank you Nicole for sharing your kitchen during such a hectic time in your lives! I hope the move went well and that you’re having fun working magic on your new old house in Philly. I can’t wait to see what you do with it.

So readers, what are you taking note of in this kitchen? I think this space is a great example of how you can make a dramatic change without removing walls or shuffling appliances around. Sometimes reconfiguring an entire kitchen just isn’t in the budget, but cosmetic changes can go a long way in bringing more function and style into a kitchen. Optimizing drawer space, incorporating a slim counter-depth refrigerator, paring down kitchen essentials, replacing overhead cabinetry with open shelving and bringing in a freestanding island make the space look and work larger without changing the room’s footprint. I love the black, white and rustic wood mix. The hidden mounting hardware for the open shelving was an ingenious solution. Sourcing veiny, matte granite over soapstone was a smart choice that fit the couple’s aesthetic and budget. And I had no idea the dishwasher cover panels from IKEA could work with non-IKEA appliances! Little DIY details like the black painted backplates of the sconces and the butterfly joinery in the wood shelves draw the eye in for a closer look. The entire space is the perfect backdrop for Nicole’s handmade woodwares. So special!

Be sure to check out Nicole’s shop, Vestige Home, for beautiful wood pieces. Follow her @vestigehome to watch the renovation of her new old home in Philly!

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!

images: Nicole Cole

Right-sized living forces me to shop with intention for our home and for myself. I think about how I will use an item and how often. I think about where I’ll store it. I think about how the item will impact my everyday living. If I already have a similar item, I think about its fate and if/how the potential purchase will be an improvement over the current item. I think about how long the item will last. I think about how I want the item to look. And I think about how much I’m willing to spend. Typically, the more boxes an item checks, the more money I’m willing to spend on it. There’s no aimless browsing. There are no impulse buys. If a purchase doesn’t hold up to my expectations, I return it.

Here are a few of my best buys from this year. I’ve divided them into two categories: things for my home & family and things for myself. They are little things I use on a regular basis that have improved my everyday life because of their purpose, convenience, small footprint, beauty and/or comfort.

FOR HOME & FAMILY

best buys 2015

1 – reusable grocery bags I use them multiple times per week for all shopping, not just grocery. They also make great library book bags. Don’t let their small size fool you. They stretch to hold an insane amount of stuff. They store easily inside of each other and can be stashed in a closet, glove box or purse or hung on a hook.

2 – wire basket I bought one of these over the summer to harvest tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers from the garden. The kids loved using it and it held up against their abuse. Because of the simple design, I leave it out on the kitchen countertop to corral all kinds of things during colder months.

3 – indigo dyed kitchen towels Pretty and practical, these kitchen towels are soft and absorbent. Drying dishes never looked so good.

4 – stainless steel lunch boxes When I bought these for the kids, I was leery of spending so much on lunch boxes. But after going through a ridiculous amount of boxes, bags, containers and lids (where do they all go?!) over the years, these have proven to be a worthy investment. Not only are they virtually indestructible, they somehow make packing lunches easier and faster. (Get tons of ideas here. Instead of forks, I pack toothpicks now.) Numerous classmates, parents and teachers have inquired about them. I throw them in the dishwasher for easy cleanup.

5 – mesh family beach tote Our old pool bag gave out this past summer and I had to find a replacement in a pinch. Even though it isn’t the prettiest thing, this tote is super functional which is the #1 priority for me when it comes to a family pool bag. With its various pouches and pockets, it easily holds everyone’s towels, drinks, snacks and pool toys. The mesh material is waterproof, sandproof (I made that up…it means it doesn’t hold sand) and washable. Throw it in the washer or hose it down. It folds up and stores flat during colder months.

6 – peshtemal beach towel Along with the pool bag, I also replaced our old beach towels with peshtemals. (We made the switch indoors a while ago.) There’s one for each member of our family and they’re all the same color so there’s no fighting over towels or outgrowing themed towels. They’re thin which means they dry quickly and roll up easily to fit inside the pool bag. No more lugging around heavy, wet towels! They get better with every wash; just don’t use fabric softener.

FOR ME

best buys 2015

1 – Finley clutch So, technically, I haven’t bought this yet because it’s sold out :( But as soon as it’s back in stock, it’s mine. I have the petite bellfield tote (the only purse I own) and it only gets better with each passing year. It’s great for everyday, but I’m in need of something smaller and dressier for special occasions. That motherhood milestone when you no longer have to carry around a ginormous bag for everyone else’s necessities? I’m celebrating it with a clutch.

2 – electrolyte drink tablets I’m a sweater (as in odiferous not knit) and, apparently, I’m a runner now, too. I discovered these tablets after a particularly grueling run. For me, they really help to prevent muscle cramping without adding loads of sugar to my diet.

3 – Saucony retro sneakers These are my go-to kicks for running errands and keeping up with the kids. They’re comfortable without looking orthopedic and they look great with almost everything “ath-leisure.” I love them so much I have them in black/silver and purple/orange. (The purple/orange looks great with olive or navy leggings.) I hope Saucony never stops making them.

4 – stainless steel water bottle When I’m home, I’m really good about drinking plenty of water. But when I’m out and about (which seems to be more and more these days), my water intake wanes. I keep this water bottle in my bag or in the car and fill it up at home or via drinking fountains around town. The kids have been known to borrow sips from it, too. It keeps hot liquids hot and cold liquids cold for 24 hours. I’ve used it with #2 above.

5 – swanky earbuds I’m a true introvert and sometimes I just need to drown out all the stimulation going on around me. I love these comfy, good-looking earbuds for listening to music, TED talks and podcasts at home or away. The design is a lesson in form + function. One cord is longer than the other. A teeny, inline 3-button remote is all but invisible. Gold accents make them feel more like jewelry than audio paraphernalia and a leather case keeps everything tidy. *BONUS* – Use the promo code “housetweaking15” to score a 15% discount.

6 – metro legging Easily, these are the best leggings I’ve ever owned. I bought the high-waisted version months ago and they have been a staple in my wardrobe ever since. Imagine if jeans and yoga pants had a baby. That baby would be these leggings. They do amazing things for the glutes. Dress them up for running errands and dining out or dress them down for lounging and light workouts.

What are some of your favorite buys of the year?