If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know I love a good IKEA kitchen remodel and have used IKEA cabinets in three of my own kitchens. This IKEA + Semihandmade kitchen remodel for a Des Moines Beaverdale Colonial that I designed almost two years ago was one of the more challenging kitchen projects I’ve worked on but also one of the more fun.
I felt like Lisa and I clicked instantly when we met for her initial consultation to discuss how she and her husband could update their severely out-of-date kitchen on a budget. Luckily, she was completely open to my go-to solution for kitchen makeovers with tight budgets – IKEA cabinets.
Lisa had already been researching using cabinet boxes from IKEA with Semihandmade fronts before we even met. She loved the line of doors by Sarah Sherman Samuel, particularly the beaded door style.
The before photos will give you a great idea of what we were dealing with. The eat-in kitchen spanned two spaces divided by a header and wing wall that separated the teeny tiny original kitchen from a later addition.
The fridge, stove, sink, dishwasher, and oven were crowded into an L-shaped layout divided from the eating area and additional storage by a peninsula. The space occupied by the kitchen was long and narrow. It was also very dark with only one small window flanked by cabinets and wrapped with a soffit and a French door on the far end.
The family didn’t have enough countertop space or storage in the actual kitchen. The peninsula created a very awkward circulation path that required them to walk around it to access the majority of the counter space and storage on the other side.
I noticed immediately that the sink wasn’t on center with the window. Complicating matters, the addition didn’t line up with the original exterior wall. On the “new” side of the kitchen, there was 10″ less cabinet depth. The ceiling height was also lower. We realized that we wouldn’t be able to totally eliminate the structural header and stay in budget. And, to create a continuous run of cabinetry and more countertop space, we’d need to address the different wall depths on each side of the header and wing wall.
There were a lot of constraints. Combining the two spaces by removing the peninsula and wing wall created one long narrow space without enough room for an island. Throw the quirky sized IKEA cabinetry boxes on top of the spatial issues and you get a real space planning and aesthetic challenge.
French doors lead out to the back yard and deck. The garage and driveway are at the back of the house, so this door is the family’s most used entrance to the house.
This counter is too far from the primary cooking area and thus underutilized. The soffit is a waste of valuable storage space.
Lisa and her husband had several goals for the remodel aside from updating the look:
#1 – Unify the “old” and “new” areas of the kitchen so they felt like one room.
#2 – Increase the amount of countertop space for food prep and improve the efficiency of the layout.
#3 – Keep a table for casual family dinners with their two boys.
#4 – Create a little mudroom off the back door.
#5 – Incorporate a beverage fridge and carve out space for a dedicated “bar” area.
Before we talk about the after photos and transformation, I have to say that this kitchen was 30% me and 70% Lisa. I helped her work through the space planning and logistics of the IKEA cabinetry and coordinating with Semihandmade, but she really drove the aesthetic. She bounced her ideas for the finishes and details off me, but she had fantastic taste and didn’t really need my help in that regard. Lisa also took all of these after photos and was kind enough to share them with me so that I could write this post.
One of our top goals was to make the two spaces feel like one continuous space and create flow from the original house into the addition, which also serves as their family room. We had that pesky header and ceiling height change to deal with. Luckily, we were able to completely eliminate the wing wall.
We kept the header, and the contractor preserved the paneling and faux beams in the addition but removed the heavy texture from the ceiling.
Painting everything in shades of warm white unified the two sides of the kitchen. The low contrast neutral scheme de-emphasized the header and difference in ceiling height on either side of it.
Limited by the location of the window and distance to the corner, we used a 24″ farmhouse sink that maxes out every inch of available space.
The custom cabinet fronts for the IKEA boxes are from the Sarah Sherman Samuel line for Semihandmade.
To solve the mis-aligned walls along the exterior of the home, I asked the contractor to fur out the original kitchen wall on the interior to match the addition. Yes, it cost us 10″ of countertop space, but we were able to create a custom recessed display shelf, trimmed in walnut, and an extra deep window sill for plants and herbs.
I had originally planned for two niches, but Lisa and the contractor made a last minute adjustment that resulted in these open shelves, the custom modified wall cabinet that tucks under the header, and the open cubby above for cookbooks.
No one would know it wasn’t part of the original plan, and the whole elevation works because the width of the shelves on the right balances out the dark contrast of the niche on the left.
The open shelves hold a collection of vintage glassware and every day dishes.
Although the new sliding door added to the budget, it helped with the circulation into the home. This back door is the family’s main point of entry, and the old French doors took up way too much floor space. We took part of the cabinetry and countertop space and created a “mudroom” of sorts with a bench, open underneath for shoes, and hooks for coats, bags, and leashes.
Lisa found the primitive dining table at an antiques dealer in Southern Iowa.
We split the two tall elements – the fridge and pantry – with a small countertop space that serves as a mini bar. Lisa and her husband enjoy both wine and craft beers, and they really wanted to incorporate a beverage fridge into he new design. An open shelf and glass front cabinet above display Lisa’ collection of vintage barware and ceramics.
I hope you enjoyed this IKEA + Semihandmade kitchen remodel before and after. I was really inspired by this kitchen transformation for my own future kitchen remodel. I love the mixed materials, the combination of wood and white, and the muted terracotta hue of the brick floor tile. It’s warm modern with a little bit quirky and a touch of California cool with a dash of wabi sabi. It’s cozy and casual and not too precious but still clean and simple, which is how I prefer my own interiors.