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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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I took an Apartment Journey


My personal heroes at Apartment Therapy shared some wonderful photographs taken by a guy in his apartment. He was forced to spend some time at home due to a sprained ankle which was a break from his otherwise hectic working life. He started playing with his Hipstamatic app on his iPhone. The result was an amazing series of pictures of his home. “I started looking for unique angles, small vignettes arranged by my girlfriend, or gathered in their own organic way (messes). I looked for textures and viewpoints that I miss in my daily busyness. I even caught a couple of cat naps that I rarely see when working late hours.”

The pictures made him look at his place with different eyes. Only after seeing these images he realized the uniqueness of it. He saw things he never noticed or never appreciated up to then. Apartment Therapy recommends trying this yourself. They say “This is such a great exercise on multiple levels – it adds to your emotional connection to your home and creates an opportunity for design improvements. Taking a step back and seeing your home’s objects, arrangements, colors and textures through photos allows you to evaluate and appreciate them in a different way, opening up the door for both change and acceptance.”

So I did. I didn’t use the same lens as I believe that is one of the ones you pay extra for but I still like the result, a lot. And it works. I see my place through the eyes of a first time visitor now. It’s great! I had to force myself not to look as a photographer or as a designer but just look for unusual angles, shapes, forms or items I would otherwise not have captured. A lot of the pictures didn’t work at all, but quite a few came out pretty nice if I say so myself.

If you feel like sharing pics of your own apartment journey please do. But also please share them with the guys at Apartment Therapy as they inspired me in the first place. They always do.