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Planning and Finalizing the Garden Kitchen Plans!

sconce | cabinet | subway tile | drawer pulls | finger pulls

This post is in partnership with IKEA.

For the last several weeks, we’ve been living, breathing and sleeping all things Garden Apartment, and to say we’re tired would be an understatement. It’s all-consuming for the entirety of our weekends and most weeknights, but don’t let our heavy eyes fool you – we cannot wait to cross that finish line and see this unit live up to it’s full potential! The most obvious benefit to this renovation will be our ability to ask for more rent than we have in the past, but we’d be lying if we said that was all that matters. This is our home; well, it’s a part of our home, and whoever lives here will walk through our front gate every day, the same front gate we walk through, too. They’ll share the same walls, they’ll use the same water lines and forced air and they’ll be a part of our house’s history (I mean, if I want to get really sappy, which I do!). To us, we want them to love the place they call home as much as we do.

I say all of this, because I feel like we’ve only reached the tip of the iceberg when it comes the garden. We’ve been working so furiously, that it’s been difficult to keep up with documenting our progress! When we’re not sifting through paint buckets and drills, I’m taking photos and sorting files and lining things up in a way that makes the most sense. (Because quite honestly, we’re a bit all over the place.) But today – today! – we are so excited to dive into all things kitchen with you! We’ve teamed up with the team at IKEA to create a functional, beautiful and, fingers crossed, well executed kitchen, and while this room has been our biggest challenge, it’s easily the one we’re most eager to complete.

First, let’s talk about where we started. The kitchen is a decent size, albeit with a less than ideal floor plan. It’s at the back of the apartment, and the back door demands its own space while making it difficult to accommodate cabinets. When this apartment was first thrown together by the previous owner, it seems as though appliances and storage were thrown into place with little rhyme or reason, or in other words, in a way that was the least expensive. It did the job, sure, but there were too many obstacles to create a nice workflow. Here’s how it looked before we sold off the cabinets, countertops, sink and appliances:

If you’ve been following along on our mudroom’s progress, you’ll know that it’s looking a little different nowadays! The mudroom was a necessity to allow us to access the whole house utility room without ever needing to step foot into the garden unit. As a result of adding this tiny nook, the kitchen gained a much needed wall:

You’ve been seeing the same view over and over again, so let’s peek around the rest of the space. If you’re standing at the back of the kitchen and looking towards the hallway (that leads to the living/dining/bedrooms), you used to see more cabinetry. We’ll be nixing those cabinets completely in the new plans:

Below, you can see how the base cabinet blocked access to the furnace closet. Not only was it difficult to maintain the furnace on an as-needed basis, but the louvered bi-fold door trapped kitchen grease, and that corner always felt unnecessarily grimy. The bi-folds were replaced with a solid single panel door, and we’re installing a small vent at the bottom, per our contractor’s recommendation:

Like our kitchen, there was nowhere else for the furnace to live, so that big box of a closet had to stay. We’re doing our best to work with what we’ve been dealt by creating a drywalled opening for a soon-to-be pantry!

A less visible but very necessary change was the addition of recessed lighting! In the first few photos, you can see that there were cans to begin with, but they were oddly small and required the use of special bulbs. They were replaced with appropriately sized LED lighting and re-positioned to make sense with our new layout. Two extra lights were added closest to the furnace closet (bringing our total to six fresh cans in the kitchen!), which we think is still a viable space to place a 2-seater table:

Somehow, the new layout feels much more spacious than where we started, although it shrank in size. Maybe it’s because it’s more contained? The addition of that third wall gave the kitchen a shape? You’ll notice that we did lose a window, but it’s going to be so worth it, hang with us here:

Okay, now that you see where we are now, let’s talk about how we got from A to B to C to Z! With the non-negotiable mudroom on the table, our initial plan was to create a cozy U-shaped kitchen. We gathered inspiration images, and we were feeling really good about the path we were headed down. Using the IKEA Kitchen Planner tool, we began by inputting the room’s dimensions, creating a ‘wall obstacle’ where our furnace closet lives.

I spent the next few hours creating different U-shaped layouts, saving each design separately so that I could share them with Scott for fine tuning. Finally, we landed on a design that felt… fine. (We guess.) Here’s our third or fourth draft, a draft that didn’t quite sit right with us, despite trying endless (and I mean endless!) combinations of cabinetry and appliance placement:

What Went Wrong

  • Both windows were eliminated, although we attempted multiple arrangements to salvage at least one.
  • We were dead set on including a dishwasher, but by doing so, we lost precious lower cabinet drawers. You can see it above, closest to the mudroom door, although the cover panel is missing from this design.
  • Counter space was minimal.
  • Those corner cabinets became our largest struggle. They take up so. much. space! Plus, who enjoys fishing around in the depths of an endless corner cabinet?
  • The room felt cramped, dark and heavy.

How We Tried to Fix It

  • We toyed with the idea of all open upper shelving, but we know it’s a look that’s not for everyone. Not to mention, hidden storage was already lacking!
  • We moved the stove and the fridge and the sink, rotating them around until we could rotate no more. The corner cabinets were the bossiest of all, insisting on All the Room! and forcing us to keep the stove on the far wall.
  • Before we landed on the idea of building a pantry into the furnace closet, we added a floor to ceiling pantry where you see that four-drawer lower cabinet. Not only did this eliminate the drawers (very bad), it took away the counter space that was once there (very, very bad).

We shared our plans with a handful of our friends who rent. We asked them if they felt it was functional, and while some loved it, others offered suggestions that weren’t physically possible because of those flipping corner cabinets! Are you sensing a theme? Those corner cabinets had to go, so I hopped on a Skype call and shared my screen with my very smart, very talented friend Daniel Kanter (aka my hero).

He agreed that the layout was okay, but his reservations were all the same as ours. What if, he suggested, you tried a galley kitchen? Peace out corner cabinets! Hello, window! I couldn’t wrap my exhausted brain around his idea, so he texted me a 10 second sketch that not only illustrated a sweet little galley, but it officially introduced the idea of the half wall to extend the cabinetry!

Immediately, I freaked out. It was good. This could work. I felt jittery and anxious, and I told him to give me 30 minutes while I re-arranged everything again.

I stuck closely to his plan, except I tucked the dishwasher against the wall completely and I moved the fridge closest to the furnace closet, allowing for more breathing room along the window wall. The half wall allowed me to include a set of 36″ wide base cabinets to the right and left of the stove, and after measuring (and re-measuring) my dimensions in the IKEA Planner, I was able to confirm that we were still left with a good 4′ of aisle space!

I instantly felt relieved, and for the first time since planning the kitchen, I felt inspired and eager to dive in. The second Scott came home, I shared with him the plans, and he agreed, this is it! The final plan includes everything from plenty of base cabinet drawers and storage, upper storage, a dishwasher(!), a window, and more counter space than this kitchen has ever seen. All the plans you see here are made with SEKTION cabinets and BODBYN gray doors.

These renderings were taken directly from the IKEA Kitchen Planner tool, and although some of the things appear slightly skewed (the too-low range hood and the super skinny door), rest assured that our real-life measurements match up to the Planner perfectly.

Not pictured: The pantry we added to the furnace closet isn’t represented in these renderings. We had to re-route the furnace intake, which used to run through the entirety of the closet and face the sink cabinet! The intake is now located underneath the pantry, and everything is still accessible through the new furnace door.

The Cost

  • We purchased all the cabinets, fillers, side panels, refrigerator, dishwasher, sink, faucet, range hood and stove from IKEA during their kitchen sale this past April, saving us 20% off the top. Our grand total for cabinetry and all appliances came to $4,800!
  • We picked up these brass drawer pulls and fingers pulls on crazy clearance – and they’re still on sale! Not only did we get enough for the kitchen cabinets, but we took into account the laundry cabinet-to-be and entryway hooks, and we invested a total of $200Side note: We debated less expensive options, but it was more important to us that we choose something that would only get better with age.

  • After a lot of discussion we’ve decided on butcher block countertops, which will add another $280 for two 25″ x 96″ panels. Butcher block will afford us the ability to refinish any areas that may get rough over the years, and it will add a warmth to the kitchen that should play nicely with the brass hardware.
  • We’re keeping it affordable – around $100! – with classic, pretty white subway tile and (we think) a white grout backsplash.
  • We’ll be mounting a $120 porcelain sconce on the cabinet above the sink, similar to our kitchen.
  • This makes our entire kitchen $5,500, which includes all new everything – although, not the cost of initial construction. (It’s tough to estimate the cost of construction, as it was lumped into the rest of the apartment’s renovation. This will, of course, be different for everyone based on their needs and location.)

We’ve said it before, but we can’t say it enough – we couldn’t be more excited! One of the garden bedrooms is completely filled to the brim with IKEA boxes, and our plan is to dive into cabinet making by July 1. This will be our first IKEA kitchen, and we’re looking forward to sharing our experience with you! Stay tuned, friends.

IKEA® is a registered trademark of Inter IKEA Systems B.V. The views, ideas and opinions expressed here are my own. As always, thank you for supporting the sponsors that support Yellow Brick Home!

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  • Jordann6.20.17 - 7:13 AM

    I could not be more excited to see how this turns out since the colour scheme you picked is essentially exactly what I’d like to do to my kitchen when the time comes! IKEA Bodbyn cabinets, white subway tile, and butcher block countertops – exactly! I can’t wait to see how this turns out!ReplyCancel

  • Carol6.20.17 - 7:57 AM

    Daniel to the rescue! So glad you followed your gut and kept working at the design until it felt right – I’ll be following along eagerly!ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.20.17 - 9:48 AM

      Once we finalized the galley, we felt such a rush of relief! We knew there was a gem under there, and Daniel helped to pull it out of us.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah6.20.17 - 8:19 AM

    This is so helpful because I’m closing on TWO investment properties tomorrow and one of them needs a full kitchen gut in the next 8 weeks.

    Question about the countertops: I want to go with butcherblock because it’s beautiful and cost effective, but I don’t know how to design it so that water doesn’t damage it near the sink. I have to assume that our tenants won’t be totally fastidious about wiping up any water that may accumulate.

    I’m thinking an ikea farm sink (rather than undermounted or drop in) might distance the water from the counter… And it would allow us to make the most of a slab because it allows for more seams/cuts.


    • Kim6.20.17 - 9:45 AM

      This is SUCH a good point, and one I should have touched on! To be honest, we’re a little worried about that as well, and as a result, we were SO close to going the farmhouse sink route for the same reason you’ve suggested! I can’t remember exactly now (since we bought everything 2 months ago), but the IKEA farmhouse options weren’t a good fit for our kitchen. I’m sure if we had looked at other brands something could have worked, but at this point, we were doing our best to pull everything from IKEA – a one stop shop. That said, I think a farmhouse is a great solution if you’re really worried.

      I will say that although our laundry room sink isn’t used as often as a kitchen sink, we layered on FOUR coats of Waterlox to that butcher block top (see that story here), and it still looks gorgeous. Brand new. Time will tell, but Waterlox isn’t a poly that sits on TOP of the counter, it actually sinks into the butcher block like an oil would, although it leaves a tough as nails coat (with a satin sheen). If we absolutely needed to, we could sand down bad spots and reapply the Waterlox. It would be a little more work, but Waterlox is tough enough to hopefully prevent that from happening!ReplyCancel

      • Kim6.20.17 - 10:38 AM

        I also meant to add: Congrats on your 2 investment properties! How exciting!ReplyCancel

  • Katie @ Red House West6.20.17 - 10:28 AM

    This post, with the before/progress photos is so helpful! Your planning and decisions make so much sense and it’s really fun to see the process. Love the galley kitchen, and love the thought and effort you put into redoing the furnace closet so it’s way more functional. You guys do such excellent work!ReplyCancel

  • Caitlin low6.20.17 - 10:34 AM

    One issue we always had in rentals was microwave placement. I’m not a huge fan of over the range microwaves, but now in two remodels we’ve done, we added an outlet to the pantry for a small microwave. It’s so nice to have it free up counter space! You’ve likely run all the electricity, but just a thought. Such a nice perk!ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.20.17 - 10:38 AM

      Right! Our friends in rentals were torn on the microwave debate. Some said it was a necessity, others said they stay away no matter what, and would prefer a range hood. We did include a microwave above the range in one draft, but a microwave PLUS a cabinet caused it to be a little too low (since the ceilings in this apartment are lower than most). Then, we talked about adding an outlet to the pantry, but between everything that went on down here in the last couple of months, it honestly slipped our mind. I really wish we would have added one!

      We figure that if a tenant wants a microwave that badly, there are plenty of outlets along the counter, or they can store it in the pantry and pull it out during the times they need it.ReplyCancel

  • Paige6.20.17 - 11:57 AM

    I can’t wait to see the end result! I already know it’s going to be amazing!


  • monica6.20.17 - 1:03 PM

    Am sure it will be a great space! I think having that window is key!!! Only comment is that I might have placed the sink where stove is and vice versa – given how much time you spend in front of the sink in a kitchen (even with a dishwasher, I am always standing at the sink – rinsing things, washing vegetables etc), I would rather be able to look up and glance at the entrances to the kitchen than look at the wall – would just feel a bit more open…but I also see that you had plumbing on that outside wall so that would have been an aded expense to move…ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.20.17 - 1:29 PM

      Fair point, but you’re right about the expense to move the plumbing. The main thing is that the dishwasher and sink are smaller individually than a stove, so by placing the stove on the same wall as the fridge, we would have to put in smaller base cabinets to flank it. And if we put the sink on the stove wall, we wouldn’t have utilized the length of that wall to its fullest potential! I see where your head is at though, but in this case, we needed to prioritize the amount of storage we could add. Plus, being able to flank the stove with two really wide 36″ base cabs makes my symmetry loving self very happy!ReplyCancel

  • Lori6.20.17 - 4:30 PM

    Nice! One of my friends did something similar with her kitchen, but the opposite way– she opened up the wall to the dining room to make the tiny space feel less cramped. She gained a ton of counter space by making the half wall flush with the top of the cabinets, and then extended the countertop over those last few inches. It makes great prep space, and it’s easy to pull up a stool & hang while she cooks. I wish I’d realized you weren’t planning to do that, because I would have suggested it. Those extra few inches make a huge difference!ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.20.17 - 4:45 PM

      I love that idea, but we sadly wouldn’t have been able to do it because we needed to have a completely enclosed mudroom! (I think, if I’m understanding you properly!)ReplyCancel

  • Ashley Wilson6.21.17 - 12:13 PM

    Hi Kim! I secretly love that you landed on a Galley kitchen because that’s what I have! I’m so excited to see how this all comes together! I also used Ikea cabinets and have been so impressed with them! p.s. I spent SO much time using Ikea’s software and trying out layouts- isn’t it so addicting?!ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.21.17 - 12:18 PM

      It really is! I liked that we could save each design separately, so we could go back to our favorites and try a few more arrangements if needed!ReplyCancel

  • Vanessa6.21.17 - 9:27 PM

    Well done Kim and Daniel! And very well done on the shopping. I am just working on a flip with the total kitchen coming in at about $10K. It’s 11 x 14 though so a bit bigger than yours and with a fancier counter. To be honest, I can’t really imagine what it’s going to look like. The next three weeks will let me know if I have done a good job or not.ReplyCancel

  • I’m really happy to hear that you’re going full IKEA because we plan to remodel our kitchen in a few years and I’ve been considering IKEA since I love their aesthetic and price point but I wonder about installation. For those of us who are not DIY experts, do you have any ideas how easy/hard, good/bad it is working with IKEA to also install the kitchen? I’m curious how IKEA works when there is a full renovation involved. Any intel you have and can share, I’d appreciate! Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.22.17 - 9:37 AM

      Hmm, that’s a good question. I know they offer build/installation services, but we have no first hand experience. I would check in with IKEA and find out WHO is doing the building and install. They might be subcontractors, but they’ll probably give you more information on how they’re chosen, including background checks and insurance.

      Does anyone else have experience with this?ReplyCancel

      • Thanks, I appreciate it. I also wanted to say that I think you’re great at blogging. Not just the content but how you treat your readers and actually take the time to respond both online and on social media. It’s really impressive and thoughtful. Happy Friday Eve!ReplyCancel

        • Kim6.22.17 - 1:42 PM

          This so kind of you to say. Thank you, Regine! Happy Friday Ever to you as well!ReplyCancel

  • Cindy6.22.17 - 11:05 AM

    Lucky you to be able to contact Daniel directly. That man is pure magic. He’s the House Whisperer.ReplyCancel

  • Haley6.30.17 - 11:42 AM

    This is sort of a strange idea, and maybe not possible, but on the wall where the U connection was going to be, could a fold down/up counter surface be hung? You know the kind of thing where it hangs from hinges and then props up when needed? Could also be a cool little breakfast bar? IDK if that actually works, but I was noodling on it.ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.30.17 - 12:00 PM

      I do love that idea, but this layout was already a battle of inches. To have even a 1.5″ fold down tabletop would cause issues with opening the drawers and dishwasher. But! This is why we left the opposite wall completely open (where those cabinets used to be). We think this is a great space for someone to put a 2-top table, or to have a fold down counter, if they’d like!ReplyCancel

      • Haley6.30.17 - 2:39 PM

        Yeah, I suspected that may be the case, but was curious. Also, did y’all build out a little pantry in the furnace closet in your part of the house?ReplyCancel

        • Kim6.30.17 - 2:46 PM

          We didn’t. Our closet is set up in such a way where the furnace takes up the WHOLE thing. If we need to upgrade our furnace down the road, we could actually downsize, and a pantry built into that obnoxious box would certainly be an option!ReplyCancel

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