Photography by Lucas Boyd
We recently checked out blogger Rebecca Lowrey Boyd’s kitchen and loved it so much, we persuaded her to share all the details with us. You can check out more of Rebecca’s writing at Wee Birdy.
I never thought I would renovate our kitchen. When we bought our ‘70s modernist pole house on Sydney’s upper North Shore three years ago, I was a staunch defender of its wood-panelled walls and ceiling. While everyone peered around in the gloom, I felt like I was living in a little wooden cabin in the the bush.
After three months of living with our kitchen, the charm of the timber-lined space wore thin. The darkness of the kitchen was at odds with the rest of the house, which we’d since painted white and was bathed in light. More than anything, the clunkiness of the cabinetry was annoying. The drawers were heavy and frequently got stuck, and everything felt disorganised and messy. The overhead cabinets dividing the kitchen and living room made the room feel dark and closed in.
We knew a stone benchtop was out of the question because we have two poles going through the benchtop. The only option was timber so we could cut around the poles like a jigsaw. For a flatpack option, IKEA appealed because of the budget-friendly cabinetry and oak benchtops. We’ve got a Scandi-style home and it’s easy to get the Scandi look with IKEA. Finally I was drawn to the soft-closing, deep drawers that are so much more expensive in a custom-made kitchen.
We removed the overhead cupboards that hung over the benchtop, which opened up the space and allowed the light from the living room to flood the kitchen. We also painted the dark timber panelling white in Dulux Natural White.
IKEA’s AKERBY worktop in oak (no longer available but there are similar).
White IKEA FAKTUM cabinets (now called METOD).
Hand-made ceramic subway tiles with black grout. We loved the organic look and the wavy surface imperfections. It gave our flatpack kitchen a more handcrafted, customised look.
Sink and tapware
The DOMSJÖ double bowl sink completed the relaxed Scandi-style look, which tied in with the rest of our house. We’d like a black kitchen tap but for now we’ve got an ELVERDAM tap (we love the pull-out spout for rinsing dishes).
IKEA SVAVANDE ceiling-mounted extractor hood.
We spray-painted IKEA’S white RANARP pendant lights black, and hung them over the working area of the benchtop. We also ran LED strip lighting under the bottom cupboards. It gives the space a soft glow at night, which is great when we have the TV on in the next room.
Mini vertical pole gardens
Our home is filled with plants and the kitchen wasn’t going to be the exception, so we painted the poles white and turned them into mini vertical gardens with Little Urban Farmers’ hanging gardens planters.
Worst thing we did
We orginally went with IKEA’s recommended tradesperson. We ended up having to rip out the benchtop and start again.
Best thing we did
Hire our builder, Matthew Blackmore. He carefully cut around our poles and joined the new IKEA oak benchtops seamlessly with a biscuit-joint, held together with benchtop clamps and wood glue. (The first tradie butt-jointed the benchtop together with Sikaflex and the finish was messy.
Our tradie dream team
Builder: Matthew Blackmore 0499 997 375
Painter: Joey Neukam 0435 162 240
Matt Blackmore’s top 3 IKEA timber benchtop tips
- If you’re joining together IKEA timber benchtops, ask your carpenter to make a biscuit joint and hold it together with benchtop clamps and wood glue.
- Use kitchen grade benchtop oil and give your benchtop three generous coats of oil with a second sand.
- It’s worth choosing the IKEA solid timber benchtops instead of the timber veneers, as the woodchip can disintegrate around the cut-outs to the sink and it can get black mould. If you do get a timber veneer, use the end strip to protect around the pieces which are exposed to the sink.