Merging Styles – Clean Lined Meets Rustic in This Grimes, Iowa Remodel

Today I have a fun project reveal with before and after photos and floor plans to share with you. I was brought in on this first floor remodel in early 2018 by Des Moines remodeling contractor and home builder Dave Adickes of MCC Focused Building. The clients had moved into the home several years earlier and spent their initial efforts on updating the exterior. For their next major project, they wanted to remodel their very cramped and outdated kitchen and give their fireplace wall a makeover.

Design Priorities

I start every project by getting to know my clients and understanding how they live so we can determine the priorities for the project together. This house is located on a stunning rural property in Grimes, Iowa, which is a northwest suburb of Des Moines.  The clients are avid animal lovers and have dogs, horses, a saucy cat, and even a miniature donkey. I am a huge pushover for clients with pets, so I knew that this was going to be a great project right from the start. They love to cook, bake, and are members of a gourmet supper club that they host on a rotating basis. Aesthetically, the husband preferred a more rustic look while the wife likes clean lines and more transitional or even contemporary pieces. They have a wonderful original art collection.

Priority #1 – Create a well-organized cook’s kitchen with ample countertop space for prep and baking and incporate a beverage fridge for wine storage.

Priority #2 – Open up the first floor as much as possible to maximize natural light and views to the exterior.

Priority #3 – Create dining space for up to twelve.

Priority #4 – Incorporate rustic elements without going overboard on the farmhouse trend.

Priority #5 – Repurpose the unused formal living room.

Priority #6 – Redesign the laundry room and mudroom to create more hanging storage and a bench.

Priority #7 – Update the outdated powder bath.

So you can see we had a lot to accomplish in this one project. In addition, we decided to take on the stairway to the second floor while we had everything torn up.

Before Plan & Photos

This plan shows our starting point for the remodel, and the before photos will help make more sense of how dark and cramped the kitchen and dining area felt. When you enter the house from the front door, you walk right into the stairway and can see through the hall to the family room and kitchen.

A formal living room is on the left, and the dining room is on the right. The powder room and laundry room are accessible through the kitchen (or the garage) at the back of the house.

Kitchen Before

Grimes Iowa Remodel Kitchen Before

The shot above is looking into the kitchen from the family room. There was definitely a lot of wasted space on that wall with the refrigerator.

Grimes Iowa Remodel Kitchen Before

I’m standing in the same spot here but looking back towards the powder room and laundry room. On the floor plan, you can see how congested that area is with three doors all in the same spot with the pantry, powder room, and door from the garage.

Grimes Iowa Remodel Kitchen Before

This photo is looking into the kitchen towards the dining room at the front of the house. On the right, you can see the door under the stairway that leads to the basement. The wall cabinets were much too short for the almost 9′ ceilings, and the layout was completely dysfunctional.

Dining Room Before

Grimes Iowa Remodel Dining Room Before

The photo above is looking into the dining room from the kitchen, and in the photo below, I’m standing in the entryway looking at the kitchen. You can see the funny angled tray ceiling in both photos.

Family Room Fireplace Before

Grimes Iowa Remodel Fireplace Before

I would say that the fireplace in the family room was the design element most out of sync with how the clients wanted their home to feel. They wanted to keep the built-in cabinets along with the angled TV (really no other place to put it) but inject more rustic character into the design.

Formal Living Room & Entry Before

Grimes Iowa Remodel Entry Before

The finishes throughout the house, like the white tile in the entry and kitchen and the honey oak stairs, were dated and needed updating.

Grimes Iowa Remodel Entry Before

Here I was standing just inside the dining room looking through the entryway into the formal living room, and below, I was standing in the family room and looking into the formal living room. My clients rarely used their formal living room, and it was a gathering spot for furniture they had no other place to put. It felt cramped, dark, and purposeless.

Grimes Iowa Remodel Living Room Before

Another view looking towards the family room…

Grimes Iowa Remodel Living Room Before

Powder Bath Before

Grimes Iowa Remodel Powder Bath Before

The powder bath presented a challenge because it serves as a passthrough from the mudroom, but it was lower on our priority list. We planned to give it a small facelift.

Grimes Iowa Remodel Powder Bath Before

Floor Plan Ideas

When clients hire me for major remodels like this one, or even for bathroom remodels, I explain that I’ll generate as many options for the floor plan as possible. Sometimes I can come up with four, and sometimes there’s only one good option. For this project, I presented two options to the client that I felt addressed the majority of their priorities in the best way possible.

Option 1

In both versions of the proposed floor plan, I removed the wall between the family room and kitchen and opened up the wall between the entryway and dining room to improve the circulation, sight lines, and light throughout the right (North) side of the house.

I also assumed we would need some sort of beam for structural support where we removed the wall between the dining room and kitchen, but at this point, I had no idea how large it would need to be.

In both plans, I turned the formal living room into an entertaining space by adding a built-in dry bar along the shared wall with the stairway rather than force the desired beverage fridge into the kitchen.

Option 1 shows a small dining nook with a bistro table at the end of the long peninsula/island and turned the dining table. The other end of the island incorporated storage for dog food and the dog food and water bowls. I also removed the drywall pantry in favor of built-in cabinetry.

Option 2

In Option 2, I created a built-in bench for the dining table with the idea that more people could squeeze in along the continuous seating surface if necessary. I adjusted the end of the island to accommodate a fourth stool and kept the fridge in its original location.

The powder room stayed pretty much the same, and I designed a set of lockers with a bench in the laundry room, closed the existing door on the North side, and added a new door to the garage at the clients’ request.

Construction Issues and Final Floor Plan

I presented those two plans to my clients over Skype since I was still on maternity leave and incorporated their feedback into the final working version. I say it’s a working version at this point because there were a lot of variables we didn’t yet understand like the beam and locations of plumbing and ducts in the walls we were planning to remove.

We met with Dave on site to discuss logistics and structural issues of which there were several. First, we couldn’t remove the short wall to the left of the refrigerator, which affected the cabinet layout. Second, we discovered a pipe in the North wall very close to the wall we removed to open up the dining room to the kitchen. These were frustrating but not insurmountable obstacles, and I was pretty confident we’d find a good solution that didn’t compromise the design.

After demo, we had a long meeting on site with Dave, the electricians, HVAC guys, and Waukee CabinetWorks to figure out how to solve these layout issues. Together we brainstormed several possible solutions and ended up with this final plan. I love this kind of teamwork during the construction process because the end result is so much better than if one person rams through his/her own vision.

This final floor plan…

Grimes Iowa Remodel Floor Plan

Here’s the kitchen all opened up during demo…

Once we worked through all of the mechanical and structural issues on site, we were able to finalize the cabinetry plan. Again, this was a team effort with myself and Waukee Cabinetworks. Because of the pipe in our range wall, we had to create a soffit on the range wall, which is never ideal. We also had to figure out a creative way to hide the pipe in the cabinets. Definitely a huge challenge!

The moral of this story is that there are almost always issues that pop up during construction no one can foresee, but a combination of creativity, time, and money can usually win the day.

Enlarged Kitchen Plans

We had so many restraints on our space plan, and we were still able to create a 9’6″ long island with seating for four and tons of storage. My favorite part of the design is actually the pantry cabinet shown in yellow. There are actually two tall cabinets, one is only 12″ deep and faces out towards the room. The other is 24″ deep and faces the garage. The deeper cabinet has a shelf that hides the microwave and pull-out drawers. Waukee CabinetWorks trimmed out these cabinets so they look like one piece.Grimes Iowa Kitchen Remodel MCC Focused Building Waukee CabinetWorks Jillian Lare

This elevation of the range wall shows how we ended up accommodating the pipe with a soffit trimmed out with crown molding to look like part of the cabinetry.

Kitchen Before & After

Now for the fun part – before and after photos! Looking towards the powder room before…

Grimes Iowa Remodel Kitchen Before

And after…

Jillian Lare Interior Design - Grimes Iowa Kitchen Remodel white kitchen modern farmhouse kitchen soapstone

Here’s a closer view of the corner with the new pantry cabinet. It takes up less room than the old pantry and is so much more efficient!

white kitchen modern farmhouse kitchen soapstone pantry cabinet


Grimes Iowa Remodel Kitchen Before

And after…

white kitchen modern farmhouse kitchen stainless hood soapstone

The refrigerator is in the same spot but everything else has moved. This photo clearly shows how we used the soffit to unify the cabinetry on this elevation while hiding the plumbing. The wall cabinet on the right is actually shallow to conceal the plumbing stack as is the drawer bank below it.


Grimes Iowa Remodel Kitchen Before

And after…

white kitchen modern farmhouse kitchen soapstone lantern pendant

The whole house feels so much more open, light, bright and welcoming once we removed the walls between the dining room and kitchen and kitchen and living room.

Dining Before & After

The dining room before…

Grimes Iowa Remodel Dining Room Before

And after (looking in from the entryway)…

white kitchen modern farmhouse kitchen dining table trestle table dining bench

We added a trestle style table and long dining bench so they could squeeze as many people in as possible. The bench is also now a favorite spot for the homeowner to work from home.

Entry Before & After

Looking into the entry from the dining room before…

Grimes Iowa Remodel Entry Before

And after…

Jillian Lare Interior Design - modern farmhouse entryway hickory floors

Installing one type of flooring throughout most of the first level played a huge role in improving the visual flow. This hand-scraped dark hickory is just stunning.

Here’s a detail shot of the stairs. We stained the new handrail, treads, and risers to match the floor.

Jillian Lare Interior Design - Detail of stairway makeover with carpet runner

Formal Living Room Before and After

The formal living room before…

Grimes Iowa Remodel Living Room Before

And after…

wine fridge floating shelves home bar - Jillian Lare Interior Design, Grimes Iowa

The new wine bar is perfect for storing liquor, wine, and all of their glassware. When they’re hosting, they can easily put everything out on the soapstone counters and guests can help themselves.

Fireplace Before & After

This was the fireplace before…

Grimes Iowa Remodel Fireplace Before

And after…

Jillian Lare Interior Design - Stone fireplace with rustic wood mantel

We completely transformed the fireplace with stacked stone, a new gas insert, limestone hearth, and a reclaimed wood-look mantel accented with iron straps. The painter finished the beam in the kitchen to match the mantel, which helps to tie the two rooms together.

Powder Room Before & After

We gave the powder room a little face lift that made a huge impact. Here’s what it looked like before…

Grimes Iowa Remodel Powder Bath Before

And after…

Jillian Lare Interior Design - Farmhouse powder room soapstone countertops

This was a simple update in that everything stayed in the same spot. We installed a new vanity to match the kitchen with coordinating soapstone countertops, new ceramic tile, lighting, and accessories.

So that wraps up this little tour of my recent Grimes remodel. I hope you enjoyed it. Which area do you think underwent the most dramatic transformation?


Masculine Modern Farmhouse Bathroom Floor Plan

Our masculine and modern, farmhouse bathroom remodel is starting in about two weeks, and I am so excited to see this space transformed. Today I want to talk about the bathroom floor plan and design. I knew as soon as I saw it that the space had a ton of potential to be so much better than it was.

Existing Layout

Masculine Modern Farmhouse Bathroom Remodel - Before Floor Plan - Jillian Lare Interior Design

I mentioned in my last post that my clients wanted a double vanity with more storage, a freestanding tub, and a better shower with some privacy (no full glass walls). Floor planning is one of my favorite parts of any project, and I like to challenge myself to come up with as many options as possible while meeting the clients’ requests. Sometimes there is only one good option, and oftentimes there are several.

The primary criteria for designing the floor plan were:

  • Incorporate freestanding tub under the windows.
  • Create a double vanity with plenty of usable storage.
  • Enlarge the shower to let in natural light, making it feel open and luxurious.
  • Incorporate wall niches in the shower and at the tub for toiletry storage.
  • Include a bench in the shower.

I also wanted to explore the idea of creating an enclosed water closet even though my clients didn’t request it. I knew that I was definitely going to use the space from the office closet, so each option takes that into account. These are my basic plans completed as part of my Phase 1 conceptual design service.

Bathroom Floor Plan Option #1

In this first option, I slid the toilet down into the area I made by removing the office closet. That allowed me to create a double vanity almost seven feet long, which is a great length for two people. The shower is a generous 42″ by 64″ on the interior with a stone top bench along the exterior wall. The freestanding tub remains under the windows in every plan. I like this option because of the potential for a cool vintage-style rug and the long continuous vanity.

Jillian Lare Interior Design - Masculine Modern Farmhouse Floor Plan Option 1 - Des Moines, Iowa #bathroom #remodel #interiordesign

Bathroom Floor Plan Option #2

In option two, I shifted the toilet towards the exterior wall in order to create an enclosed water closet. I played around with a slightly different configuration for the shower, and the vanity is still a generous 66″ long.

Jillian Lare Interior Design - Masculine Modern Farmhouse Floor Plan Option 2 - Des Moines, Iowa #bathroom #remodel #interiordesign

Bathroom Floor Plan Option #3

This option is similar to the last option except I swapped the water closet and shower. This option creates the potential for some different design details at the shower. I like that the shower head is on a short wall opposite the bench.

The downside is that the hand shower would be farther away from the bench, which isn’t great for aging in place. I could remedy that with a full-height wall, but then the shower wouldn’t get the great natural light from the large windows. I do not place plumbing on exterior walls here in Iowa with the extreme temperatures.

Jillian Lare Interior Design - Masculine Modern Farmhouse Floor Plan Option 3 - Des Moines, Iowa #bathroom #remodel #interiordesign

Bathroom Floor Plan Option #4

In this last option, the shower configuration is similar to the first two plans. I did tuck the shower back by a few inches just to make construction a little easier. I created an asymmetrical corner vanity with a wall cabinet in the corner.

Jillian Lare Interior Design - Masculine Modern Farmhouse Floor Plan Option 4 - Des Moines, Iowa #bathroom #remodel #interiordesign

Ultimately, my clients selected this fourth option. They liked the corner vanity and the extra storage in the wall cabinet. After exploring the vanity design a little more, I tweaked the cabinetry slightly. I am a very symmetrical person, and I was struggling with the asymmetrical design.

Final Design

This is the final layout from Phase 2 Design Development after tweaking the cabinets and adding some details to the shower.

Jillian Lare Interior Design - Masculine Modern Farmhouse Bathroom Floor Plan Final - Des Moines, Iowa #bathroom #remodel #interiordesign

The right side of the vanity is longer, so I planned to make it feel symmetrical on its own. The right side is shorter and part of it runs under the window. I knew that I wanted to emphasize the asymmetry by using different lighting fixtures on each side rather than try to make them feel the same.

Bathroom Elevation Drawing Jillian Lare Interior Design Des Moines Iowa

Aesthetically, I wanted to add architectural interest and dimension to the room through the use of moldings, while still keeping it simple and modern. I didn’t feel like shiplap was appropriate to this project (and I’m a little tired of it), so I went with a simple board and batten detail for the wainscot. The mirrors will be integrated into the trim with a simple painted frame.

I haven’t specified pendants at a bathroom sink before, but I do like the look. In this design, they made total sense. I didn’t have space to mount them on the mirror, and I needed them to coordinate with the light on the smaller side of the vanity without matching. I felt like using two different wall-mount lights would look off, so pendants solved all of my problems brilliantly.

Bathroom Elevation Drawing Jillian Lare Interior Design Des Moines Iowa

On the left side, the vanity is shorter with less wall space for the mirror, so I did have to use a light over the mirror. I only do this as a last resort as overhead lights cast more shadows on the face.

Bathroom Elevation Drawing Jillian Lare Interior Design Des Moines Iowa

This section view shows the interior of the shower with the floating bench as well as the niches at the tub and shower. We are adding new casing to the windows to give them more architectural presence and painting them the same color as the wainscot.

Bathroom Elevation Drawing Jillian Lare Interior Design Des Moines Iowa

This elevation shows the shower pony wall and how the board and batten wainscot continues around the exterior of the shower.

One change I will make before construction is to flip the shower door swing. (I always plan my doors so that you can reach in to turn on the water without getting wet. In this setup, you wouldn’t be able to do that because the controls are behind the door.)

I hope you enjoyed this peek into my design process. I love doing these technical drawings and thinking through all of the little details. It’s the perfect marriage of my interior design love and industrial engineering education. In my next post for this project, I will share all of the fixtures and finishes that we selected.

shiplap fireplace, slate floor, white IKEA kitchen remodel

Historic Fells Point Row House IKEA Kitchen Remodel

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a small commission. This helps me to support my blog and allows me to continue to make free content. I only recommend products that I have used and loved or would purchase myself. Thank you so much for your support!

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 row house in the vicinity of Patterson Park for several years and wanted to stay close by.

The challenge with living in a row house 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.

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.

Layout Before

Fells Point Baltimore Kitchen Remodel Floor Plan Before

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.

Layout Afer


Before Photos

Island view with cook top
View of the existing fireplace

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.

IKEA Kitchen After Photos

IKEA SEKTION kitchen remodel Fells Point Baltimore Maryland

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.

IKEA SEKTION kitchen remodel Fells Point Baltimore Maryland

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.

IKEA SEKTION kitchen remodel Fells Point Baltimore Maryland

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 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.

IKEA SEKTION kitchen remodel Fells Point Baltimore Maryland

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.

IKEA SEKTION kitchen remodel Fells Point Baltimore Maryland
IKEA SEKTION kitchen remodel Fells Point Baltimore Maryland

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.

IKEA SEKTION kitchen remodel Fells Point Baltimore Maryland


  1. Cabinets – IKEA BODBYN
  2. Pendants – Ballard Designs
  3. Pulls – Top Knobs
  4. Knobs – Top Knobs
  5. Backsplash – Tile Bar
  6. Quartz – Q Stone
  7. SW Worldly Gray
  8. Brackets – Signature Hardware
  9. Mugs – Anthropologie
  10. Stools – Ballard Designs
  11. Slate Tile – Home Depot
  12. Benjamin Moore Hale Navy
  13. Tribal Vase – Loom & Kiln
  14. 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.


Master Bedroom & Bathroom Refresher

I recently completed a concept for a transitional and neutral master bedroom and bathroom refresh. My clients wanted to replace their hand-me-down furniture and update the look to their current taste but were torn between investing in this home or starting from scratch with a new-build.

When we met, they were already fairly settled on a paint scheme of warm grays and had selected a new carpet for the majority of their spaces including their master bedroom. They originally called me to give a second opinion on the paint selection and provide advice on what they should update if they were going to sell. Luckily for them, their kitchen cabinets were in fairly good shape with a neutral backsplash and dark granite countertops. I advised them to upgrade their basic builder grade lighting and some of their window treatments.

Then we moved into the master bedroom, and I immediately saw that it had real potential, which wasn’t readily apparent given their current decor.

A couple shots of the room before…


You can see the scale of the nightstands and table lamps is too diminutive for the size of the room.


The window treatments aren’t properly designed for the space and don’t take advantage of the 9′ ceilings. The TV feels awkward shoved into the corner and is a little low. It isn’t obvious from this perspective, but the dresser on the right is also too small for the space. The size of the furniture made sense in their last home but not in this room.

I asked them if they would consider updating their furniture, which they could always bring with them if they moved, and purchasing new window treatments. I could see that the room, which was generously sized, and very bright would be a huge asset if it were decorated properly. Happily, they agreed with me and also decided to paint out all of their maple trim to white.


I created a space plan that incorporated a king size bed instead of their current queen and oversized nightstands that could double as small dressers. The larger scale of these pieces works well with the size of the room and actually makes it feel more spacious.

Across from the bed, I placed a larger dresser to ground their flat screen television and an armchair next to it, which softens the corner and provides a convenient spot for tossing clothing at night or putting on shoes and socks.

Transitional Neutral Master Bedroom Concept

The wall color – Sherwin Williams False Creek Greige – is a deeper warm gray. I kept the upholstery and drapery lighter to provide contrast, while the nightstands and dresser are darker in tone to keep the room from feeling too feminine. The white, urn-style lamps are quite tall at 36.5″ and balance the wide nightstands and tall headboard.

Woven wood Roman shades layered with linen drapery panels, which will be hung on simple wrought iron rods, add depth and texture to the windows.

My clients also wanted to improve the aesthetics of their master bathroom without undergoing a full remodel. We had to work with the existing maple cabinetry and warm beige tile and still make the space feel cohesive with the master bedroom.

The current cabinetry…


And the tile…


I recommended switching out their cultured marble countertops to quartz with under-mount sinks and replacing their builder grade faucets. I also suggested trading the large wall-mounted mirror for two individual framed mirrors and centering the light fixtures on each sink.

Transitional Master Bathroom ConceptThey selected the craftsman inspired vanity lights from a number of options I provided, and I decided to play off the lines of the lights by selecting fixtures and accessories that were square rather than curvy. I recommended a warmer white, marble inspired quartz to coordinate with the existing tile. New, polished nickel bathroom accessories and hardware also help dress up the basic tile and cabinets.

I really enjoy quick projects like this, especially when the clients are open to my suggestions and interested in making changes. I know they’ve already demoed their bathroom counters and mirror, so they are well on their way to an updated space.

If you need help pulling together a room in your home, I’d love to help. It doesn’t matter where you live…I can work with you no matter your location. You can contact me via the website or email me at

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover

A Cozy Cottage Kitchen Makeover with IKEA SEKTION

Last Fall, I started working with a new client who wanted to update her 1990s builder basic kitchen. When she first called me, she was looking for some help selecting a new countertop. After seeing her home and checking out the cabinets, I suggested that she consider a full kitchen remodel. The cabinets were in the best shape, and the layout wasn’t optimal. It wasn’t a particularly large space, but I thought that were some changes we could make to the layout that would definitely justify a major remodeling project.

In the “Before” floor plan below, you can see that the kitchen was broken up by a doorway leading into what the builder probably intended to be the formal dining room. My client was using it as a library/den. Interestingly enough, I had met with another potential client with this same exact floor plan, and they too were using it as a den/office.
IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover

This house (and the other one like it) had some really goofy architecture going on with oversize columns and soffits. You can see the drywall columns flanking the opening in the den. I was baffled by what the builder must have been thinking when he/she designed this plan.

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover

My thought was to close the doorway to the den in order to create a U-shaped kitchen and to demo the existing pantry and replace it with a cabinetry pantry. I also wanted to demo the little wall to the left of the sink which served no real purpose except to make the room feel smaller.

In this before photo, you can see the a view of the sink wall and the entry into the den. My client wanted to bring color into her space, but she was tired of the dark heavy red. I wanted to create a light bright space with a foundation of neutrals and bring in color through accessories, furniture, and artwork.

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover

This view shows the range wall.

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover

A little bit different view that shows the awkward corner with the doorway.

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover

And, a view of the refrigerator with the pantry.

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover

We had a couple of issues to work out on the refrigerator wall. I had initially wanted to replace the pantry with deep pantry cabinets, but there was an air return behind the pantry in between the entry closet. That also meant that I couldn’t shift the refrigerator at all from its current position.

Those goals and constraints led me to this floor plan…

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover Floor Plan

It’s a little tighter than I would like it to be with the table and island, but I think the increased storage and more efficient layout achieved by closing the door was worth it.

My client and her husband had a tight budget, so I recommended that they consider IKEA SEKTION cabinets. The frameless style will allow them to maximize every square inch in this tight space, and they come with great organization options to further increase the storage capabilities.

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover Floor Plan Elevation

I shifted the range slightly on the main wall. In the corner to the left of the range, I placed a regular lazy susan cabinet. The corner on the right has a cabinet with a straight susan that pulls out so you can fully access the contents. All of the remaining base cabinets are drawers. The trash is stored under the sink in a unique pull-out cabinet.

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover Floor Plan Elevation

As I mentioned before, I got rid of the existing pantry closet with bi-fold doors and wire shelving, and I replaced it with two 15″ deep pantry cabinets. I like how the two facing doors with the drawers below have the appearance of a hutch. Behind those big doors are roll-out drawers.

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover Floor Plan Elevation

On the sink wall, I was able to incorporate an 18″ drawer base because that useless wall was taking up valuable inches. I placed a glass front cabinet to the left of the window to show off pretty dishes and glassware. A pendant light over the sink will increase the amount of task lighting available during clean up. In the electrical plan, I added pendants over the island as well as recessed cans to brighten the space, which seemed dark every time I visited.

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover Perspective

In this view, you can get a good idea of how closing the doorway really changed the entire space and created a kitchen that feels much larger.

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover Perspective

This view gives a good idea of the island in relation to the rest of the kitchen.

In addition to the plans, I put together two options for the finishes and other decorative items in the space. My client wanted to create a cozy cottage-like feel throughout her home, so we decided to go with white, raised panel cabinets, marble subway tile with gray veining and a gray quartz countertop that looks like concrete.

Option 1

Cottage Kitchen Makeover Concept

Option 2

Cottage Kitchen Makeover Concept

As you can see, the two concepts share many of the same elements with tweaks on the lighting and stools. My client ended up ordering the lighting in option 1. I really loved the striped stool in option 2, but she didn’t think that the light fabric on either stool would be practical with her kids. I think she eventually ordered a metal and wood pharmacy style stool from Restoration Hardware.

Yesterday, we selected the paint colors for the kitchen and adjoining rooms, and demo begins in two weeks. In the meantime, she and her husband will be assembling all of the cabinets. I hope to be able share photos when it’s finished because I think the transformation is going to be incredible. In addition to being much more functional, the white cabinets, glossy marble and quartz and increased lighting are going to brighten up the whole room.

If you’re interested in learning more about planning an IKEA kitchen, check out my post The Twelve Things You Need to Know before Planning Your IKEA kitchen.