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Last year, my little sister Kate and her then-fiancée (now husband!) Andrew began searching for a home to buy in their Fells Point, Baltimore, neighborhood. They had already been living in a rented rowhouse in the vicinity of Patterson Park for several years and wanted to stay close by. The challenge with living in a rowhouse in Fells is that most of the homes are incredibly narrow (10 feet across or less!), making furniture placement and circulation a challenge, to say the least. After touring several possibilities, they found the perfect house with a width of almost 14′ across. It had a large outdoor space, three and a half bathrooms, historic details like fireplaces in the bedrooms, exposed brick, and hardwood floors.
While they loved most aspects of the house, they weren’t wild about the style of the kitchen. My sister initially asked me to help her choose a paint color for the cabinets, new floors, lighting, and countertops. But, when I heard they also wanted to start moving cabinets around, I hesitated. I knew, at that point, that if they could increase their budget, they could get a whole new kitchen with the perfect layout that would be exactly their style and very attractive to future buyers or renters.
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I hate when clients end up throwing good money after bad, and I knew that they would eventually regret their partial remodel and want to rip it all out. So, without even asking, I redesigned their entire kitchen using IKEA cabinets and sent them the plans with an estimate for how much the cabinets would cost. Thankfully, Andrew was on board right away, while Kate needed a little more convincing.
The kitchen is actually fairly large, but the old floor plan didn’t maximize the functionality of the space. An old stove took surrounded by tile and brick took up the far wall, and a corner built-in (not original) limited the cabinetry on the long wall. The sink was shoved into the corner while the range was located on the island with no hood – two kitchen planning elements that I avoid at all costs.
My goal was to use as much of the square footage as possible for storage and to create a large island for informal dining and entertaining since they are frequently hosting guests. Aesthetically, I wanted to keep it feeling light, bright, and modern while incorporating traditional details like crown molding so it felt in keeping with the rest of the house. I removed the angled built-in and reworked the stove into a fireplace with a reduced footprint. I relocated the sink to the island, which can easily seat four people, and the range to the long wall, which allowed us to add a hood. I was also able to incorporate two large pantry cabinets on either side of the refrigerator. On the short wall, Andrew requested a beverage center, so we added an under-counter wine fridge.
In these before photos from the MLS listing, you can see the awkward features of the layout and the dated finishes. It would have been nice to keep the exposed brick on the fireplace, but when the tile was removed, it was too damaged to salvage.
We used the white BODBYN door from IKEA’s SEKTION line, since the white is not quite as creamy as their Shaker style door, and the raised panel detail works well with the other historic details in the home. The contractor added crown molding to the wall cabinets, island legs, and baseboard trim, all painted to match. The floor is tiled in 12″ x 24″ black slate, and the walls are Sherwin Williams Worldly Gray.
In this photo, you can see the redesigned fireplace and a glimpse of the new back door, painted Benjamin Moore Hale Navy, which lets in more natural light and a view to the back yard. The fireplace is clad in painted white shiplap topped with a reclaimed walnut mantel. The interior of the box was left the original brick. Future plans include adding a gas insert since the original chimney is still intact.
The countertops are a marble-look white quartz with just enough gray to contrast slightly with the cabinets. The large format subway tile is from tilebar.com. We loved how the wavy finish has a handmade quality to it, adding subtle texture to the backsplash. We selected the budget friendly lanterns and industrial style stools from Ballard Designs to inject some contrast with the white finishes.
The open shelves are the same reclaimed walnut as the mantel and supported with simple iron brackets (similar from Signature Hardware). Kate styled the shelves with her favorite cookbooks and Anthropologie coffee mugs.
Polished nickel pulls and knobs add a little bit of sparkle and shine throughout the kitchen. The original artwork above the mantel was a gift from Andrew’s parents. Kate found the vintage runner online. The large vase is a Target find.
At first Kate was a reluctant participant in the full remodel but both she and Andrew agree that the extra investment and time were well worth the result.
- Cabinets – IKEA BODBYN
- Pendants – Ballard Designs
- Pulls – Top Knobs
- Knobs – Top Knobs
- Backsplash – Tile Bar
- Quartz – Q Stone
- SW Worldly Gray
- Brackets – Signature Hardware
- Mugs – Anthropologie
- Stools – Ballard Designs
- Slate Tile – Home Depot
- Benjamin Moore Hale Navy
- Tribal Vase – Loom & Kiln
- Vintage Runner – Splendid Rugs
If you’re thinking about an IKEA kitchen remodel, check out my tips for planning your IKEA kitchen as well as another one of my IKEA remodeling projects. You can also sign up for my kitchen budgeting worksheet using the form below.