Tag Archives: DIY

The hunt for the perfect, inexpensive kitchen island


Our kitchen was fitted by the company that renovated and revamped the building we live in. It’s nice, supposedly a high-end brand, but we miss space. Both for cooking and for storage. We have a lot of cookbooks, a lot of oils, vinegars and herbs, and because we live in an apartment, we need space to store empty bottles and paper. Moreover, we are in desperate need of an extra, small, fridge.

Kitchen as seen from dining room

Kitchen as seen from dining room

Same, but different angle. The two double doors on the right are our fridge and freezer

Same, but different angle. The two double doors on the right are our only fridge and freezer

View from kitchen towards the window

View from kitchen towards the window

If we were to have designed our own kitchen we would’ve put in an island of some sort. Plus we would have made use of the space under the window and created a u-shaped lay-out. As you can see we put two shallow storage units together to create a make-shift island, but it’s not ideal. It looks messy and still doesn’t give us the extra space we want. And there’s no room for an extra fridge.  Time for the real deal. As usual though, my challenge is to find something that is functional, but not expensive.

So yeah, this, for say a maximum of $150? I know I can…..

I went on a scavenger hunt online looking for existing work stations, kitchen islands, vintage desks, tables etc, but couldn’t really find anything that fit our needs. Mind you, it needed to allow us to store books, small kitchen items, a few drawers, a mini fridge and ideally also our garbage bin. It therefore needed to not be too open, a certain height to allow preparing food on it, a certain size to fit in the kitchen and ideally something that wouldn’t alienate prospect buyers as we are making looking to sell in the next few years….More and more I started to realise I might had to build something myself.

Have you guys ever heard of Ikea Hacks? There’s a whole world out there of people, the so-called hackers, using Ikea furniture for other, or better, uses then they are designed for. I check out the various websites and blogs frequently and stumbled upon a few kitchen island or bar ideas using the Ikea Expedit. A simple, cheap and understated storage unit.

I like how here you can see how a dark counter top makes it look a bit more solid.

As the Expedit is only 79cm high, and our kitchen is about 93, we would also need to put wheels or other underneath

We would also use two to create this L-shape. It would hide the fridge and allow for the garbage bin to be hidden too. This example still looks very cheap and frail though

This is starting to look like what I have in mind!

I really want the result to look as if it was part of the original kitchen design. So what I am thinking of doing is buying the high gloss white Expedits, adding a few of the high gloss doors and drawers. It looks a bit better and the white tends to turn a bit beige over time, which would be great as our kitchen is off white too. To match the counter top with our black granite kitchen one, I could opt for painting the work top faux granite. Or maybe I could fine a real granite counter top second-hand somewhere. Furthermore, I would  add height by putting black baseboards underneath, like our own kitchen has. And, I might even go as far as to attach the Tyda handles on the drawers to match the ones we have in our kitchen. All in all I think it would look like a proper island with tons of space and plenty of room in the nook of the L to put a mini fridge and a garbage bin. The total cost would be about $150. Not bad I think…..Yeah, I guess it’s time for a trip to Ikea soon!

Check out my Pinterest mood-board. I will keep you posted. In the mean time, any other suggestions are more than welcome!

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Styling for a sale: Family home in Haarzuilens


As a kid growing up in the small town of Haarzuilens, some of my fondest memories are of sleep-overs at friends who lived in this house. They lived right on the edge of the wooded park that was home to a French baron’s folie castle and even though we had a big garden too, their’s was bigger and bordered the derelict green house and nursery complex of the estate. It was like growing up in a children’s book.

Haarzuilens house

The house

Recently, long after my friends and I all went to college, moved out and set up camp as far as Northern America in the case of one of us. my friends inherited the house and put it up for sale. In a tough market, in a credit crunched society where banks don’t like to extend loans for renovations. And it’s just that what this house needs. Their dad didn’t take very good care of it, but through the damaged gutter, the stained exposed brick and the worn-out kitchen and bathroom, I still see that wonderful home I know from my youth. It needs some good old TLC and it will make a great family home.

Haarzuilens house

The gardens

After the house was on the market for over a year and only one person came to view it, I offered one of my friends to help with sprucing the place up a bit. A house with a bit of decorating lures people in more than an empty one. So one particularly sunny afternoon we set off to a local thrift store where the people were kind enough to lend us whatever furniture we wanted and went to work. I am quite pleased with the result!

Before: The split-level living room towards the front. Not the view of the monumental farm

Before: The split-level living room towards the front. Note the view of the monumental farm

Before: The kitchen towards the bar area and the living room

Before: The kitchen towards the bar area and the living room

Before: The living room towards the back of the house.

Before: The living room towards the back of the house.

As there was no budget, and timings are tight, we had to make do with what we could find. If time nor money were a restriction I probably would have suggested to paint the exposed brick and kitchen cabinets, but understandably, my friend wanted to avoid spending a lot of money and time. So we were limited to furniture and accessories. Remember, this all came from one place, and was selected and put in, in a matter of a few hours.

After: the living room with simple and minimalistic art complimenting the style of the house. The exposed brick actually works again!

After: the living room with simple and minimalistic art complimenting the style of the house. The exposed brick actually works again!

After: the kitchen. The floor and dark wood gave it a bit of a French country feel already so I went with that when sourcing accessories. A simple checkered tea cloth works wonders!

After: the kitchen. The floor and dark wood gave it a bit of a French country feel already so I went with that when sourcing accessories. A simple checkered tea cloth works wonders!

After: the eat-in kitchen in its full glory. This is where we would have the best Sunday Steak breakfasts ever! My seat was on the bench by the window.

After: the eat-in kitchen in its full glory. This is where we would have the best Sunday Steak breakfasts ever! My seat was on the bench by the window.

The town is wonderful with two decent restaurants, one doubling as a community pub. Both Amsterdam and Utrecht are easy to commute to with both Vleuten and Breukelen connected to train links and the highway at 5 minutes driving. I can highly recommend checking it out. And do me favour. Restore the house to its former glory when you buy it and cook me a steak breakfast there one sunday…

Check out the listing here.

Red headboards


We recently had the walls on the second floor of our condo painted. It’s a powder blue/lavender type colour and we love it. It matches really well with some of the reds in our accessories, so I was thinking of adding even a bit more red. We always wanted a headboard, and I am thinking of making one myself.  Here are some great images of red headboard in the style I am going for.

This red headboard is maybe a bit over the top, but I really like the way it looks with the blacks and whites.

This red headboard is a bit more modest. It would look great with some of the art in our room too.

This red headboard might be my favourite. I really like the faded antique red, which would match our faded curtains. Also, the yellow/white trimming will work great with the tassels on our curtains.

This is our bed room now. It needs a bit a pizzazz

This is our bedroom now. As you can see it needs a bit of pizzazz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think we should go for?

Pillows of your pet


Yep, you read it right, a pillow OF your pet…I am not sure what to think of these custom pillows by Borderpress. Some look cute, some downright creepy. But it’s like with stuffing your beloved Fifi after she dies. Some people take great comfort in it. Personally, after our little Lola moves on the greener pastures, I’d rather not be reminded of her passing by seeing her stare back at me from the sofa. Then again.. I would keep a framed photograph of her, so why not a pillow.. I guess it’s each one his own taste. From a decorating stand point I like them!

Broderpress custom pillows of your pet

Broderpress custom pillows of your pet

 

New Kitchen in French summer home.


My aunt and uncle are the lucky owners of a little bit of paradise in the French countryside. It’s a semi-detached house that is part of a small estate. Their property once was part of the stables with possibly living space for staff or farmers. When they bought it, the furniture of the previous owner, and old lady, was still partially there. Many pieces of these left behinds were wonderful and now look fantastic between m aunt and uncle’s antiques and vintage pieces. 

My uncle built the new mantle of the fireplace himself out of large sand stone bricks. It’s an elegant work of art and fits the house like it is the original fireplace. The next time I am there I will take pictures of it and post it on here too. 

The latest project was the kitchen. It looked cosy enough as it was but just needed a bit of attention. Instead of fixing the odd screw or door here and there they decided to rip the old kitchen out, and replace it with a new one. Obviosuly keeping with the decor and mood of the house. 

Below a collage of the before, in between and after shots. It looks absolutely great! 

Kitchen before

Kitchen before

 

All but the sink have been removed

All but the sink have been removed

 

The tiles had to go too

The tiles had to go too

 

The old sink had to be drilled out!

The old sink had to be drilled out!

 

The new cabinets and stove are put in

The new cabinets and stove are put in

 

New backdrop and making sure it's all water tight

New backdrop and making sure it's all water tight

 

Final result!

Final result!

 

Love the eclectic clutter! Check the Franch vintage jars!

Love the eclectic clutter! Check the French vintage jars!