Never in a million years did I think that my clearance rug purchase from Home Goods would snowball into a kitchen "renovation." But given that we're the proud new owners of IKEA cabinets and brand spankin' new butcher block counter tops, I'd say that we're well on our way to a substantial renovation. But let me start at the beginning.

For those of you following along these last few months, you might remember that one of our new year's resolutions was to redecorate our sun porch to remove the tired floral window treatments, and to better incorporate the wine fridge into the furniture layout. Here's what we were starting with back in January.

The first step I took to accomplishing this was to purchase inexpensive bamboo blinds from Home Dept as well as a new wool rug from Home Goods. The only problem? I felt like I had taken our room from bad to worse.

My disgust with the changes left me in a state of complete design paralysis for several months, after which time I finally came to terms with the fact that in order for the new purchases to work, we'd have to repaint both the kitchen and sun porch since they're largely one big open space. After careful deliberation reckless abandon and lack of test swatches, I landed on Benjamin Moore's London Fog. Although the color wasn't exactly what I thought it would be from looking at the paint chip, overall the new color is a big improvement and we're well on our way to a better, more cohesive space.

The color looked so darn nice in fact, I couldn't help but wonder what the room might look like with new counter tops and the addition of a backsplash. 

A helpful reader suggested looking at IKEA, and after pricing it out, I couldn't believe that we could have new counter tops for around $100. Even though this work is "temporary" until we do a full renovation of the kitchen (which includes relocating it to where our family room is today), at this price Alex and I agreed it was worth the small investment to get us through the next couple years. 

Saturday morning we woke up, excited at the prospect of purchasing the new counters and moving forward on a project that will have such a big overall impact on the look of our kitchen. Up until this point, we had talked about building a wine bar area on the long wall of the sun porch to better incorporate the wine fridge.

But that morning, something just wasn't sitting right with me about this plan. I felt like we were trying to cram a seating area on the window side of the sun porch, whereas the wine bar side seems like it would waste the depth of that side of the room. 

We talked about switching the two sides, but the height of the wine fridge sits well above the bottom of the windows, and we felt it would look out of place. At one point I was so disgusted I suggested we move the wine fridge to the basement hellhole. After an...ahem...enthusiastic discussion, we had an epiphany. What if we moved the white hutch from the kitchen into the sun porch, placing it on the long wall? Then we could move the wine fridge into the hutch's location, adding a cabinet or two to either side, and topping it off with butcher block to nearly double the amount of counter space in the kitchen.

After a quick measurement determined the hutch was short enough for its new location, we practically did a happy dance. This new space in the kitchen will give us the prep area and storage we have long desired. It makes the wine fridge look at home in the room, and gives us the entertaining area we were looking for. It felt right.

With measurements in hand, we set out to IKEA to battle the Saturday traffic both on I-95 and in the store. We met with one of their kitchen consultants, who helped us put together a plan for a six foot long unit, which will consist of the wine fridge, a storage cabinet for our garbage, and a 30" cabinet with two large lower drawers and two small drawers up top. We selected a raised panel door in white, that will be a close match to the existing cabinetry. 

She also helped us order the counter tops. It turns out the really affordable counters I had seen online that were the catalyst for this trip in the first place aren't available for sale at the store. She also mentioned that they're much thinner than the samples she had been showing us. Urgh, the evil up-sell. We talked it over for a minute, and felt it was worth it to spend a little extra money to have nicer, more substantial counters, as well as be able to take them home with us that day. Our helpful Ikea staffer completed the order in the system and handed us a print out with the grand total. 

Holy crap! Without realizing it, we had spent roughly ten times our projected $100 counter top estimate on the two new cabinets, and the three sections of butcher block. Good grief! 

But knowing how long we had debated this project, and feeling like we had really landed on a solution that will work well for us for the next several years, we decided to bite the bullet and just do it. Plus, even after moving the kitchen into the other room, we can relocate the new wine bar area to the basement, and even potentially reuse a section of the other counter as a top for our washer and dryer. 

Once we had our new cabinets and counter tops ordered, all we needed to do was proceed to the check out, pay for them, and then wait at the furniture pick up area for our pieces to be brought out. On the way to check out, I might have gotten a little sidetracked by the shiny new sinks. Oohh, sinks. 

Thankfully, Alex was there to snap me out of it and remind me how much we had just spent and that this was "temporary." Oh, right. To the check out.

While we waited for nearly an hour for our twenty five packages to come out of the stock room, we found ways to keep ourselves busy.

Finally our number was called and not one, but two flatbeds were wheeled out. Uh oh, how the heck are we going to get all this home? With only one dropped counter top and one (wo)man down due to a pulled back, we were nearly on our way.

The new challenge became where I was going to ride in the car on the way home. We had to fully recline the passenger seat in order to be able to angle the counter tops to fit into the car. So my options were to squeeze in the back without a seat belt in the small area behind the driver's seat, or lay in the passenger seat with a seat belt on, praying that the weight of the new counters didn't break the seat and ultimately crush me.

Admittedly both options were less than desirable, but I opted to go with the seat belted option, and tried to contain my panic for the forty minute ride home. I don't know that I can say I was successful.

Once we arrived home, Alex did most of the unloading because as I mentioned, lifting the counters did a number on my back. This was in no way a one person job, but he managed to get them inside (barely), nearly losing control of his bowels balance on several occasions. 

The IKEA experience ate up nearly half the weekend, so we didn't get as far as we'd hoped on the project, but we're well on our way. We can't wait to show you our progress throughout the week, as we are hopefully able to devote a few hours each night to the cause. 

Currently the house is in complete disarray, with IKEA boxes stacked everywhere, and all of the items from the white hutch littering nearly every surface in the kitchen and dining room. The mess is making both of us absolutely crazy, and surely will serve as the extra motivation we need to keep plowing ahead.

So what do you think of the new plan for the kitchen and sun porch? Did you check any projects off your list over the weekend? Has anyone else attempted to assemble IKEA cabinetry, and are the instructions pretty straight forward, or is the process a temper tantrum inducing nightmare? We'll soon find out. 

Comments 25


8/20/2012 at 10:12 AM
Very cool! Can't wait to see more!
8/20/2012 at 10:24 AM
How exciting! Can't wait to see it come together.
8/20/2012 at 10:28 AM
So exciting... Sounds like a great way some much needed storage without totally breaking the bank!
8/20/2012 at 10:42 AM
Totally did IKEA cabinetry as a temporary solution in our kitchen. The five years we had them, I had zero complaints. When we redid our kitchen counters and put in a cabinet/eat-in kitchen table, we resold our IKEAs to someone who was really excited. They were easy to install, easy to maintain, and easy to take down without any damage.
Wonderful! So glad to hear you had a good experience with them. Thanks!
Karin K
8/20/2012 at 10:47 AM
This is so exciting! And a great idea! When I saw "new cabinets", I thought, "But why? Your cabinets are nice!" Now that I see what you have planned, it is a great idea. Wouldn't it be funny if, after all this, you found a different rug for the sunroom? Ha ha. Not.
Ha! I had the same thought over the weekend. Well more like, what if I spill paint on the rug and ruin it, and then we've built the whole design around it?? That would be a disaster!
8/20/2012 at 11:00 AM
You were being too hard on yourself about making the sunroom look worse. However, this newest idea is GREAT! And, I can tell just from the way the post was written that you are feeling good about it. More counterspace is never a bad thing :)
Thanks Tammi. I can't tell you how excited I am! (And we can't believe we didn't think of this before.) I'm already dreaming of all the ways I want to use this new "zone" in our kitchen. :-)
8/20/2012 at 11:10 AM
I made an Ikea trip this weekend as well to buy butcher block counter tops! I got the oak Numerar and now I'm trying to decide if I want to sand and stain them darker. I can't wait to see how yours look!
That's what we ended up with too! :-) Keep us posted on what you decide, and how you like them. I'm already in love and they're still sitting in the sun porch!
8/20/2012 at 11:16 AM
Can't wait to see the changes. They sound great. Hysterical photo of you in the car. Good think I-95 moves at the pace of a snail on weekends!
Thanks Karen. I was totally freaking out the whole way home. Luckily I could reach Alex's phone in an attempt to keep myself focused on other things (rather than how painful it would be to be crushed to death by counter tops). :-)
8/20/2012 at 11:22 AM
LOL at the picture of you in the car. I've occasionally done the 'crushed into the corner' thing myself.

I like the idea of moving the hutch and getting more counter area in the corner instead. Best of luck with the assembly and install! I can't wait to see how it all looks when you get it put together again.
Thanks Karla. The place is still a mess, but we're already happy with how it's looking. A few of the cabinet pieces were on backorder, so it will be a few days at least until it all comes together, but I'm super excited!
8/20/2012 at 3:54 PM
I'm so excited to see how this turns out!! I'm itching for a new countertop, too...
As with most things in our house, we don't expect the counter project to be easy. That weird angle in front of the sink is going to present some challenges for sure. But we're super excited nonetheless!
8/20/2012 at 4:09 PM
Ikea is tricky like that. Every time I go in I wind up spending way more than I had intended.

I can't wait to see how it all looks!
For reals. Let's hope it's all worth it in the end!
8/20/2012 at 7:16 PM
I've been assembling bits of Ikea furniture for our house almost since the day they opened. I remember watching an episode of the Amazing Race, when the contestants were in Sweden and they had to assemble a little white combo student's desk ... I had just done that exact same desk for one of our daughters the month before!

The trick is to follow the instructions one at a time, while resisting the temptation to read ahead. If you read ahead and try to understand all the directions at once, you may end up hopelessly lost. Also, be sure to lay out your hardware the way it appears in the little picture in the directions.

You two are handy people, and I have no doubt that you will run right through this project. (I was at Ikea today, coming home from Southpaws in Fairfax ... bought turquoise velveteen curtain panels to use to slipcover a rocker.)
Thanks for the tips, Connie. It's slow going, but we're heading in the right direction.

Turquoise velveteen curtains sound gorgeous! Good luck with your project. :-)
8/21/2012 at 9:42 PM
Shopping Ikea by Google Maps:
threadbndr (Karla)
8/22/2012 at 1:14 PM
@Connie in Hartwood

I used to drive my late husband absolutely NUTS when we would assemble flat pack furniture! I'd get an assortment of empty plastic containers and zip lock bags and sort out every bit of the hardware before I'd even let him start.

We got to the point of me getting everything set up without him and I'd just call him when it was time to hold and power the screwdriver at the same time!
Sarah Burnette Conrad
9/11/2012 at 6:17 PM
Do we all get a tour of your beautiful home someday?
Susan Aster Sawyer
9/11/2012 at 6:17 PM
Can't wait to see the finished product
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