Ikea gets a facelift

I don't know if I have mentioned it before, but in a former life, I used to build custom modern kitchens (check out Modern Union to see some of my past work, and the amazing work my old partner continues to do). Unfortunately after a stint at that, I became a certifiable kitchen snob. So when it came to a kitchen in my new house, I couldn't stand the idea of doing something bland or typical, even if I do plan on tearing the house down in a year. In order to try and balance cost and style, I decided to go with Ikea Akurum cabinets with custom walnut doors and drawers. I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out.

While there are a few things about Ikea cabinets I don't like, all things considered they are pretty good. This 12' long section of cabinetry only cost around $650. Add on $200 of grain matched walnut, and you've got a pretty great kitchen for under a grand. Since we were starting from scratch, we did have to buy a sink, faucet, cooktop and dishwasher as well. The zero radius sink we got from overstock for $225, and the kitchen faucet was a bargain (relatively speaking) at $135. Last, but not least is the little gas cooktop we score from Home Depot for $250. The dishwasher wasn't a bargain unfortunately. That guy cost a pretty little penny, but it's a Bosch and we plan on putting it in storage and using it for our future house, so we feel pretty good about it. 

The countertop is a whole other story, and was a bit of a messy debacle. I wanted something seamless and cheap and I eventually settled on a rather unique idea (which my wife gets full credit for). It started out with 1/2" plywood with a 1" steel edge secured via brass screws. Once that was done I poured a thin 1/4" coat of self leveling cement. The sink is an undermount so I put it on top of the wood, but under the concrete. The whole thing was then painted white with floor paint, and then sealed with a 1/4" topping of clear epoxy. The end result turned out pretty good, though the epoxy application turned out to be a bit messier than I expected. At one point my wife came home while I was frantically running around the kitchen trying to plug leaks as epoxy drained onto the floor and cabinets everywhere. Eventually it turned out ok. To coordinate with the brass screws I ended up settling on some brass knobs that I scored for $1.78 each.