Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ikea Bekvam Step Stool Hack For Kids

This isn’t anything crazy new, it’s just a quick and fun product hack that’s both used by kids, but can be done with kids as well. 

Bekvam-Kids-Hack

I mentioned I bought this step stool for the kitchen after purchasing one for our godson awhile back.  I painted the legs a navy blue, and used a shellac on the steps.

Kitchen-Stool

It was actually my second stool I painted.  The first one was a little more special and personal though. 

Our very good friends were talking about a wooden stool for their son, our godson, Marshall.  I mentioned Ikea had one for $15 and picked it up for them on one of our many trips over there.  Dave, our friend and coworker, jokingly asked if I was going to paint it too, and I said sure, and I’ll even do it with Marshall!

We were scheduled to watch him one night so I figured I’d create an art project out of it.  I knew painting a piece of furniture with a 2-year-old is risky so I tried to think of the best method that would allow him to feel he “made” it, while keeping it nice looking so that his parents could use it around the house. 

I figured I’d go with a stencil and Marshall could go crazy painting inside of it.  I’d use complimentary colors, and paint the legs blue.  Also, I would be doing this at their house, so I wanted a relatively clean operation, a high order with a toddler. 

I prepped what I could at home.  I made the stencil using my Silhouette, then stuck it on the bottom step.

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Then I got smart and figured even the best painters get bleed-thru, so I quickly painted the edges to seal everything in. 

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I covered everything that I didn’t want paint on, (I may not be a parent yet, but I’m smart enough to know toddlers don’t color inside the lines).

Once we were at our friend’s house, I set up a painting station by taping down some craft paper, taping down the step, (so it wouldn’t move around), throwing Marshall in one of his dad’s old t-shirts, and put the kid to work! 

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Actually when Mike and I were both sitting there hovering, he was very reluctant.  He’s actually a very meticulous child, so he was trying to stay in the lines at first, as best as any 2-year-old could.

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I left to prep dinner and Mike got him to loosen the reins a little and he finally got the letters full of paint.  And, quite proud of himself if I might add.

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We had a little lesson in toddler when he had some paint on his hands and in the second Mike looked away to grab a paper towel, Marshall had already rubbed it on his face.

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Before the paint had fully dried I removed the tape and stencil and set aside to dry.  I had only taken the bottom step with us, so when I got home I painted the legs and used a couple coats of poly on the steps, sealing in the painted name as well as protecting the wood from water spills. 

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Marshall said he had a good time painting it with us, and his mom, Sarah, told me last night that he tells everyone that he made it with his “Uncle Mike and Aunt Mallory”, which melts our hearts, so I would call this a win!

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They use it in the kitchen for washing hands and helping with food prep, and it’s held up for the last 6 months, so I think it’s safe to say it’ll last awhile.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Ikea Kitchen Renovation | Tips and Tricks

We've put together our share of Ikea products and they all come with a little learning curve.  But, nothing prepared us for the task of creating an entire kitchen from those infamous flat packed boxes.


Sometimes the greatest lessons are learned the hard way.  But, that doesn't mean I'm not going to share everything we learned so that some other poor sap isn't left yelling at their husband at 2 am when the cabinets have to be ripped apart because we didn't see that stupid little drill hole facing the other way!  I know there's at least one of you out there that feels me.  Here are our tips and tricks for ordering and installing an Ikea kitchen.

Pay for the delivery.  Seriously.  We live and hour and 45 minutes away from the closest Ikea and it was $139.  We had 140 items including a dishwasher and 4 large panel covers each 3'x8'.  It would have taken a couple of our friends with trucks, a lot of gas money, and a lot of food to feed our workers to cover all that.

Make Spreadsheets.  My copier at work can scan and convert to an excel spreadsheet, so I scanned in my order and used the information to make a couple spreadsheets.

Take Inventory.  As the guys are unloading everything take inventory.  I made one spreadsheet with all the pieces that were being delivered.  I grouped all like items together and then did a count as they came it.  I called and let the delivery company know that I was going to do this, (not necessary, but I already was on the phone with them), and it's a good idea to prepare the guys on the truck.  We had 2 delivery guys and since they parked on the street and had to walk back and up the deck they only brought in about 5-10 items at a time.  I had a couple minutes between the next load to count and mark off all the items.  We had a total of 140 items and with my checking, and 2 guys unloading, it was done in and hour and 15 minutes. 


Label the Boxes. I had one item missing on my initial delivery inventory, but we wanted to group all the items together by cabinet numbers so I made a second spreadsheet with all the items labeled by cabinet number.  Mike read them off while I called out the cabinet number and he labeled and placed them in like piles.  Turns out my delivery inventory was correct, but we found a box that was damaged, (something I didn't see when the guys brought it in).  This was necessary for customer service since our goal was to not have to drive back and replace on our own.


READ and Reread the Directions.  Or rather look closely at all the picture directions Ikea uses.  The first cabinet Mike built was the corner cabinet which has two pieces that look similar but one has holes drilled on the edge.  You guessed it, he put them in the opposite positions and attached the back with all the little nails.  He cussed for a long time after that little discovery.  He actually decided to drill his own holes and it worked out, but he had to remove the backing on one or two more cabinets, (the butt of the hammer handle works well for this).  After putting together 1 1/2 cabinets he was an expert so he flew through the rest, but since Ikea's a little European let's say, there was definitely a learning curve, even for the most skilled carpenter!



Build In the Order of Your Design.  I printed an 11"x17" layout and labeled each cabinet number.  Our order had different numbered cabinets than my design, (the woman ordering must have gone in a different order), and Mike had this at his side while he put all the bases together.  This helped us just to understand what we were putting together, which made the process smoother.  The uppers are all the same pretty much, so it was easy to say, "Okay the next one is just the 24" version of the last one you did."  Not really necessary, but this helped us.

Google, Google, Google.  Find blogs that have done Ikea kitchens, there are so many out there.  Read the forums before undertaking even the purchasing.  There are a lot of little things that we discovered after putting everything together that I found people had the same problems as we did.  It's hard to know what to search for before it becomes a problem, but doing your research will hopefully highlight these nuances before you start.

Don't Attached Cabinets Together with the Fourth Hole!  Learn from our mistakes.  You must drill and attach the base cabinets together but it doesn't tell you where to do this.  


We used the same directions given to attach the side panels and drilled in the 4th holes.


Big mistake.  When it came time to install the drawers, which hole do you think a majority of them use?  Read the directions for your drawers before deciding which holes to use.  For most we were able to drill and connect through the 5th holes.

Color Match Your Paint.  I wanted a built-in look so, we added a simple crown molding to the tops of the upper cabinets.  I took a cabinet door into Sherwin Williams and they color matched it to a gallon of ProMar 200, (I get a contractor's discount so I use this line).  If you don't want to do that, use the formula I did for a perfect match to the Adel off-white cabinets:

           
Order a Regular Shelf for Above the Refrigerator Cabinet.  Since all the other cabinets came with shelves, I assumed the one above the fridge would too.  Nope.  When I tried to order one while I was back at the store I found something else out.  They do not make full size shelves for these cabinets.  They don't exist, so don't try to harass it out of the nice lady trying to help you.  It won't get you anywhere.  You might think that because these cabinets look like they are the full 24" depth.  Because they are hanging on the suspension rail, they are actually short by a couple inches.  This means that the base cabinet shelves which are 24" will not fit.  I had to purchase a 12"x36" shelf pack after the fact, which was only $12 and came in a pack of 2.  It made a hug difference in the organization of the cabinet, and I wish I knew that this was something I had to verbally add on during the ordering process.   

  
Take Your Time.  This is the most basic advice, but it's true.  Whether it’s designing the using the Ikea planner, or assembling the cabinets.  Also, Don't start assembling the cabinets while angry.  It'll just mess with your brain and you will start making mistakes.  Mike's an experienced carpenter and has built many things from scratch, but he went in knowing these were going to piss him off, and you know what, it did!  Go in with an open mind, and it'll go quickly as long as you stay organized!

Utilize the planner.  This is pretty basic, but the planner not only helps you design, but it also helps you visualize the kitchen.  I made about 5 plans, each a little different than the others and modified based on those.  I narrowed it down to the two I was confident in.  We contemplated the positions of our fridge and range, and visualizing with the planner helped determine the layout we liked best.

IKEA Home Planner PrintoutIKEA Home Planner Printout
I second guessed myself about the black lowers for a second, but seeing the kitchen all together in the planner, helped give me the confidence that it was going to turn out awesome!

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I hope that anyone undertaking an Ikea kitchen can learn from our experience and the things that I wish we had known at the beginning.  If just one of these helps someone from having to make a 3 hour round trip, or from re-drilling the base cabinets together, than my little hobby of blogging is worth it!  Has anyone else put together Ikea cabinets only to find something out after the fact?  Any tips or tricks you may have let me know! 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Kitchen Renovation | Special Features Cont’d

I talked about the Ikea features, but I also wanted to highlight the other details of our kitchen.  Many are design choices, but some of function as well.  I also have one of the nuances that we discovered later in the remodel that we had to account for, and I had to compromise on my design a tiny bit.

First up is our sink. We went back and forth between a single or double sink, but am happy with our decision to go double. We always knew it would be under-mounted though.  We bought an under-mount stainless steel Kraus sink, because we’ve been happy with the Kraus sinks we got for the upstairs bathroom.  They came with these grate thingies and the left side which doesn’t have the garbage disposal has a little strainer so crumbs don’t go down the drain. 

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We also went with a Kraus faucet. We definitely did not install the soap dispenser though. I’ve read to many poor reviews to cut a hole into our counters for that. Also, I like my little soap dish next to the sink!

The faucet does not have a spray feature which we knew before purchasing, but we liked this design better so we were okay with it. The design does make the water stream pretty close to the back of the sink, so the back counter gets wet quite often when we wash our hands, but it’s something I’m aware of so when I clean up I make sure to wipe up any water.

Sink-Faucet-On_thumb

The pull-out head is really nice and I’m able to fill a pot sitting on the counter, (so nice!), or rinse off all sides of a large dish. I tried to pull it down and take a picture, but it’s weighted so it retracts without a little pressure.

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I don’t like kitchen counters cluttered with a lot of things, so I tried to create little vignettes to keep all the clutter organized.  At least that’s what I tell myself. 

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I wanted to balance the wood tones so I placed a cutting board leaning on the wall.  We don’t really use this one, but it’s there if we ever needed it.

Cutting-Board

I found the little bowl at the thrift store along with a muddler Mike made, and the marble cheese cutter was on sale at World Market.  The bowl’o succulents was actually made with one of the M&M bowls from our wedding!

You’ve seen the little liquor collection along with the house watercolor and recipe card

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I’m happy to report that it’s again manageable since the addition of the cabinet in the dining area.

No one can get away from the clutter than accumulates next to the oven.  It’s just easier to have things out on the counter for easy access.  I found a copper-like tray from Target in the outdoor section of all places.  It was perfect for our old utensil holder, salt and pepper grinders also from Target that I received from my bridal shower and an olive oil bottle from World Market.

Stove-Tools

On the other side we treated ourselves to a Keurig with some of or wedding gift cards, (even though we don’t drink coffee, we’re loving us some chai tea!).  I also added a toothpick holder my grandma gave me and a little wooden box from Target that holds black salt.

Black-Salt

Yep, black salt.  I saw it a Home Goods and grabbed it.  I’ve yet to use it, the grains are really big.  But, it was cool looking.

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One of the design aspects we thought a lot of about was the lighting.  We knew we weren’t going with under cabinet lighting so we wanted to create a lot of lighting options.  We also only had one over head light in the old kitchen so we wanted a lot in the new one.  We used LED recessed lighting, as well as pendant lights over the sink and peninsula.  Fancy blogger photos don’t usually show rooms with the lights on, but here she is.

Lights-On

It’s very bright with all the lights on.  The nice thing about the LED lights though is they have a dimmer.  Here they are dimmed to the lowest setting.

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It’s a more like a cool natural light.  They’re actually the same ones we used downstairs in the basement.  They’re a little pricier upfront, but they are more sustainable in the long run, and really easy to install.  Without those, it’s a really nice glow from the pendants.  If we’ve finished dinner and the dishes are all done, I’ll sometimes leave it like this so we can get in and out kinda like a nightlight.

Lights-Off

During the day we’re lucky to have three windows including the one on the door in the kitchen and three more in the dining area so we don’t need lights at all. 

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The only thing I regret with our kitchen that translated into a noticeable design aspect is this backsplash termination.

Tile-Termination

It’s not a big deal, and not something anyone would notice on their own, but ideally it would have ended below the upper cabinet and wouldn’t have the silly little square tile at the top.

We had to to it this way because of the stud location the outlet was added and we didn’t realize it would line up like it does.  We should have moved it to the other side, but that was such a long time before these small details came into play that we wouldn’t have known.  And, you can’t have and outlet over half on tile, it would have a very noticeable gap. 

This outlet actually was a hassle throughout since our friend actually drywalled over it forgetting it was there.  Mike had to find it based on stud spacing and hoping he hit it when he cut into the wall.  It’s funny because it’s probably the most important outlet in the whole kitchen since we use it to charge our phones every night and plug our computers in when we need to work from home.

Tile-Termination-Closeup

The square tile is a corner edge piece that is used to create a finished edge.  Since we had to take the tile out a couple inches for the outlet, we had to figure out a way to create a clean corner.  Due to the size of the tiles, we felt it looked more proportionate to have a small corner piece above the cabinet line. 

It’s also important to note that because we extended that up, we had to make sure to continue that line along the rest of the wall.  You can see below that we had to add an additional tile between the cabinets and windows so that the line matched up.

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It’s not the biggest mistake, just something that we couldn’t fix since it would have created more of a mess than just figuring out a solution.  I never notice it now, but I figured I would mention it now so that people know that even with all the planning things happen that you have to figure out after the fact how to remedy it.  

I’ve got our list of tips and tricks for Ikea kitchen designing, purchasing, and installing coming up next week.  And then, hopefully we’ll have gotten through all our receipts for a budget breakdown and I’ll add a source list as well.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Kitchen Renovation | Ikea Special Features

One of the biggest advantages of purchasing cabinets from Ikea is the customization.  I knew I wanted things like large base drawers, but that wouldn’t have been in the budget had we gone with higher-end cabinets.  Some of the features we added were at the top of my must have list, some were added along the way.  Not all of these are Ikea specific, they’re just the features we used to make our kitchen personal and more efficient to what we wanted.  I’ll share the Ikea features in this post and another with non-Ikea specific items later.

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Like I said, one of the important features I wanted was base drawers.  I actually was only able to include two sets of these due to spatial restraints.  Although the kitchen is much bigger than it was before, it’s still not that big. 

My favorite are the large drawers in the peninsula.  The drawers are deep and all around awesome.  I was able to put the things that I use often, but were always a pain to get out of the cabinets in the bottom.  Like the juicer, steamer, and little crockpot.  The middle has all our pots and pans.  I pared down when we moved our old stuff into the new kitchen and only kept what we use on a regular basis.  The top holds the knives and silverware.

Large-Drawers

The top of my must have list actually wasn’t a very expensive feature, but to me it was priceless. 

Behold hidden trash cans.

Ikea-Trash-Drawer

I knew that a lot of people were doing this with their Ikea cabinets, but when it came down to it, no one was very descriptive.  I designed an 18” base cabinet then we had to verbally tell the associate we were working with to only include a full 18” cabinet door, and an 18” deep drawer base.  No extra drawers, no hinges, no shelves, nothing else.  She didn’t understand and we actually received extra drawers and a set of hinges for this cabinet.  Just because everyone’s doing it on the internet, don’t assume the store associates will understand what you are talking about. 

I couldn’t find any explanation as to how this was constructed, so here’s how it works.  Mike filled the hinge holes on the cabinet door using a hole saw the same diameter, and caulk for the screw holes.  I have to paint it so it doesn’t look so obvious, but that’s for your benefit now.

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He did that for the top and bottom, and then had to drill holes to attach the drawer.  I’m sure someone can figure these out, but when I explain that “everyone on the internet is doing it”, and then can’t produce a tutorial for Mike he gets a little pissy, mostly because he’s worried that I’m following a half-assed idea.  We added the cabinet pull just like a drawer aligned with the drawer next to it and it’s been amazing.  Probably my favorite kitchen feature, sad but true!

The reason we didn’t put the trash next to the door is because we knew we wanted some sort of shoe storage there.  We, as well as all our close friends and family, use the back door.  So, having shoe storage was just as important as hidden trash cans in our books.  In the early design stage we thought maybe some open shelves below the counter, but we both knew that open shelves would mean they would have to be kept tidy.  Then I came up with a brilliant idea.  A closed cabinet with the basket shelves.  This is something I’ve only seen in readily available stock at Ikea, so I’m going to stretch the definition and say this is an exclusive feature.

Shoe-Cabinet

We actually stuff way more of our shoes in there than this, but I’m not going to show you that!  It's also not like we stuff guests shoes in there when they come over, but it’s nice to have a place to put our shoes so that it looks tidy.  We also try to always put our shoes away everyday, but sometimes the pairs we wear often sit out, which is okay, because it’s better than 12 pairs sitting out.  The only problem we’ve found, especially with summer shoes which are often worn without socks, is, ahem, the smell.  The cabinet gets a little stinky.  I’m side-eyeing you Mike’s boat shoes.  I added a baking soda odor absorber, but it doesn’t stick to the door and doesn’t seem to work.  I have to get something new.  I will sometimes leave the cabinet open overnight and it’s better in the morning.

The other Ikea specific feature, although other cabinet makers have these as well, is the integrated or cabinet-faced dishwasher.  We didn’t really go in to the design with this in mind, but we saw it, liked it, so we bought it.

Dishwasher-Closed

The dishwasher sits next to the sink, but blends in with the base cabinets so it looks seamless.

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I’ve never had a brand new dishwasher before so I can’t really compare it to others, but I’ve loved this one so I would recommend it to anyone looking.  Obviously, I cared more about what it looks like, so if that’s important, then this ones for you.  It also cleans really well too!  I’m in the habit of rinsing before I put dirty dishes into the dishwasher, but even when I forget they still come out clean.  It’s also very quiet.  Which is nice, but I sometimes forget if it’s on! 

The only problem I have is the cycle is really long.  There is a “1 Hour” button which I thought was a 1 hour delay, but I recently found out its for an hour wash. 

The buttons are on the top, and are somewhat flush, but really sensitive.  Sometimes I’ll accidently press a button, but it makes a beep so you know to press cancel before closing it.

Dishwasher-Open

One design feature I wanted was for the refrigerator to look built-in by adding panels on both sides.  This was important because the one side is open to the dining area and can be seen from the living room/front door. 

Refrigerator-Panel-Right

I briefly mentioned how we installed these, but I wanted to note this as a special feature because it’s not necessary, just something that makes it look a little more custom.  The tops are attached inside the cabinets and the right hand side is also attached to the base cabinet.

Having different colors on the top and bottom created a a small moment of decision making as to what color to use, but to me it would always be the top color, white, since it is the entire left side.  I also did white on the other side.

Refrigerator-Panel-Left

I added a Bekvam step stool from Ikea because I need it to reach the tops of the cabinets.  I’m 5’7” and still can’t reach the top shelf!  I painted it navy blue after seeing it here.  I grabbed one of these stools for our godson a year ago and I remembered it when we were designing the kitchen.  This spot is perfect because it’s out of the way, but easily accessible.  My only advise, paint before you put it together, it’s much nicer looking. 

Kitchen-Stool

We’re planning to add a chalkboard above it for notes, or quotes, sometime soon.

The last Ikea features are the interior organizational items.  We utilized all the Rationell drawer dividers and the silverware and knife trays which can be seen in the drawer photo.

Large-Drawers

They’re really great for keeping items organized because once you set it up one way, you’re more likely to put it back in the same spot. 

I wished there were more organizational items for the upper cabinets, but I didn’t really find a large selection.  I grabbed some plastic bins which are nice because they’re made with the Ikea cabinet sizes in mind, but they aren’t mind blowing or anything.

Cabinet-Storage

I’m sure if I wasn’t there I could easily grab some bins and such as Target or Bed Bath and Beyond.

Overall we’re really happy with our Ikea special features and designs and think we were able to utilize as many as we could within the confines of the kitchen space.  I’ll be back with more kitchen details, because it seems that now I’ve open the floodgates I can’t stop talking about it!