The Beach Cottage DIY IKEA Kitchen & A Mini Makeover Special

Mon 19th, Apr, 2010

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G’day lovelies, hope your weekend was good.

Mine was busy and exhausting.

I left the beaches yet again, that’s more times in the last few weeks than the last few months and on the way home we took a wrong turn and I found myself at the back end of west Sydney, not a clue where I was.  After driving around aimlessly staring at road signs we pulled over in a side road…it was dark, a bit dicey and I truly wondered if I should get Mr BC to send a search party.

You see it really hits home when you are new to a country and you get lost, that you don’t actually know where you are at all, you are a long, long, long way from home and you don’t know any landmarks..I didn’t have a clue what I should have been heading for and the map wasn’t much clearer.  I said to Miss Beach Cottage in a very wobbly voice that we might as well be in Timbuktu and not knowing what that meant at all and thinking it was in Sydney she replied with “well where is that at least??”

After a long 12 hour emotional day it all got too much and as we sat there I stated that firstly I was going back to England, at least I know the roads there, secondly I hated road sign designers, adding for effect that they were probably made by men and thirdly said that if we ever got home I was so having a beer.  Always a really good way to behave as a role model to a 12 year old. 

I have long long resisted getting those little thingies you stick on the dashboard that speak to you in a strange accent, I have always much preferred the old fashioned way – a street map and a brain and I think it’s taught the kiddos some good skills…but, well, I think it may well be time for me to embrace technology in this department.

After a phone call to Mr Beach Cottage, it seems I had somehow got myself facing the right direction and it wasn’t long before we were headed home and it couldn’t have come quick enough…going over that bridge and getting back to the beaches I vowed not to leave again for a while ;-)

So let’s get back to today, where I found myself, after stomping along by the ocean, headphones in and music blaring and a good 250 under my belt, back home in the cottage nursing a nice big coffee and continuing with the Kitchen Clean Up that has been long overdue.

It seems that though into our fifth year of life in AUS, I still can’t quite get over the Spring Cleaning feeling of April and seeing as the weather is perfect for a breath of fresh air, albeit Autumnal air, I decided to attack the kitchen with some elbow grease.

In doing that I moved a few things around and de-cluttered much that I had in this tiny kitchen (love how the mags have called it that) and made decisions on gadgets and untensils that really are never used and are doing a very good job of making it look like one jumbly mess.

I think I’ve said on here before that when we had the quotes in from the kitchen company that were well over what we wanted to spend, I decided to go for a stand alone kitchen from no other than IKEA…I’ve always loved the more casual look of these rather than a whole vat of built-in cabinets and I love the big deep drawers and butcher’s block type wooden top…

…but I won’t tell you this was easy, IKEA, though of course you know I love it, but their stock system was a labyrinth of unavailable items and the instructions to put these things together were, well, let’s just say they are probably not written with women in mind!

This is how the corner looked before (and there are pics of how it looked a while ago here), but after we had ripped most of it out…such a shame as it had the original kitchen in it in parts, but soooo hideously filthy, the like of which you have never seen, we could do nothing to salvage any of it…but I was determined to keep this little sash window and I love pulling these up and letting the coastal air breeze through


 I envisaged more of a white feel than those delightful colours you see up there, believe it or not haha….I want stacked up china, easily grabbable by stinky teenagers, piles of napkins and the like right on hand and the things I find myself constantly using, out and ready to go.


And so as I was spritzing the cleaning fluid away merrily and boy am I glad no-one has inspected my kitchen lately ‘cos there was lots of errm how shall we say, things to wipe away…I was ruthless with parting ways with things that aren’t used here very often and it seems I had, for some reason, 3 ladles and 4 slotted plastic spoons…hmmm…

Open plan kitchens are not for everyone I must admit, but I love it much more than I thought I would, considering it was a very hasty purchase…


…it makes for easy living space that suits our family right now.  Don’t get me wrong, should I find myself in a dirty great kitchen and a mighty big budget to play with I may well decide to build in more units than one may think humanely possible, but these stand alones are, to me, very pleasing and for now, in this tatty old place, the bench and the open shelving are working all too well.

and of course, I couldn’t show you the kitchen without a little pot of frangipani’s from the tree right up the back of the garden…


If you have any questions on the IKEA kitchen leave them here and I’ll do my best to answer them, oh and of course, I would lurve to know what you think of my stellar efforts as domestic goddess ;-)

Now, I am off, I have some chicken stock on the stove top about to be turned into a lovely soup and still on the come-down from yesterday’s emotional wreckage that was me, I am doing what I always do when I find myself in need of soothing – heading to the tub – which may I point out is in a room which now is on it’s second coat of tile paint and the floor is grouted (I love you at the moment Mr BC) and looking good baby!

See you next time Beach Chicks 



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65 Responses to “The Beach Cottage DIY IKEA Kitchen & A Mini Makeover Special”

  1. Scribbler says:

    Kitchen looks really great, but you are scaring me off IKEA! Is it really that difficult to assemble? I am considering a purchase of some of the cubicle style bookcases like I saw in your dining room. (I am desperate for storage for my old design library which I intend to keep till I croak!)

    So glad you all made it home in one piece. A GPS might be a very good idea. Nothing is scarier than when you can’t find “home.”


  2. Est says:


    The kitchen looks beautiful, I love the windows in the corner. I really wanted to have the Ikea freestanding kitchen but couldn’t persuade my husband, next time though… Sorry you had a bad time getting lost, I have been equally defiant about not having a satnav, but feel the time might be coming for that to change!

  3. Brigid says:

    The kitchen looks great! BTW, I am the least technologically savvy member in my family but the GPS for the car has saved me on more than a few occasions (especially when my navigator has sacked out;-) -definitely worth the investment (on the Garmin Nuvi you can change the voice/accent)

  4. Ruby Wand says:

    i know how you feel & i’m glad you made it home safe! i’m not much of a cook but your kitchen makes me want to cook or at least grab one of those plates & eat whatever you’re cooking. another great job sarah!

  5. miss sew & so says:

    love the kitchen- looks built from scratch & rambly- thats how a kitchen should work…be all inviting & full of flowers & yummy smells! i have yesterdays roast chook ‘bits’ making stock on my stove in a big ol’ pot now too- without the beloved frangi’s i must admit but with some gorgeous british spring flowers in jars…just a little memory of home for you….

  6. Cynthia says:

    I do love your kitchen and I love reading your witty description….of Everything! If you have time, check out my little cottage a half a world away.

  7. Su says:

    I’m glad to hear you got home safely, if a little ragged round the edges!
    Your kitchen is wonderful….I love the free-standing, rambling look. It’s clean and smart, but in a comfortably natural way.

  8. Tricia Rose says:

    It’s so soothing getting just one room in order (note to self, obviously feeling too secure lately, judging by my cupboards). Tiny kitchens are more efficient and more lovable, and yours is far more lovable than most. Who wants MORE counters to wipe?
    I have always felt there should be a compass in cars… that way you know the ocean is East, at least, where you are.
    Love the frangipani.

  9. We have an IKEA kitchen – ripped out all the cupboards/drawers – they were of the variety whose doors/fronts fell off the moment the ink was dry on the ownership contract – and replaced it with standalone IKEA pieces, lovely stainless steel racks and so on. I did put up some IKEA “Fran” shoe racks as shelves, and they work a treat. We combined the IKEA stainless steel loveliness with antique pieces, a massive old refractory table and chairs (I’ve been after benches forever, but oh well!), a gorgeous marble-topped wash stand for all the dishes, with my collection of TG Green Mixing Bowls (and others) on top, and a fabulous double-height meat safe, which acts as our pantry…our microwave is stainless steel and looks great on top of the meatsafe!

    One day…when the kitchen’s tidy…which could be the twelfth of never…I shall blog pics of it!

  10. Tovah says:

    I love your kitchen although I’m not sure I’d want open shelves for me personally. I tend to have an old fashioned sense of style though. Anyway your kitchen is beautiful and I love how it kind of has an industrial but homey look to it. I’m wondering are the back splashes hard to keep clean? And are those flowers also known as plumerias? Because they look a lot like them. I just love the smell of plumerias!

  11. anita says:

    I too have not caved to the technology. After all the times we’ve moved around I just used my old worn maps with kids in tow and drive around just to see where the road goes. Looking for quicker routes from here to there and to see what I might find along the way! I have experienced the little pang of panic within when I wasn’t quite so sure where I was. And I have made the call to hubby too to get a bit straightened out and then continue on!

  12. Kim says:

    Hey Sarah!
    good morning from sunny mi! i am sitting here with my starbucks! this a.m. i needed one after getting McKenna off to camp it sure cheered me up to come on here and see your blog! i needed that so thanks! kitchen looks fab! love it!!! or lurve it as you say!!
    and girly you NEED that gps i too was like you before we moved here to mich from ohio i said to hubs we dont need that and too expensive yadda yadda!! but let me tell you shhhhh dont tell hubs!!!! but i looove that thing it has helped me go so many places and find new places to hunt treasure that i dont know what i would do without it! i looove that thing! hope you have a great day!!!

  13. sue austin says:

    Glad you are home safe, if not yet sound. :-) Isn’t it fun to de-clutter? Makes me happy. Why do you wear earphones on the beach? I love the sounds of the waves, etc.

  14. Linda Jacobs says:

    I love how you honor all the little, common kitchen utensils! Most people hide them away but they truly are little works of art in your space!

  15. susan says:

    just beautiful! your style is fabulous! sorry about the getting lost, that isn’t a fun feeling, glad you got home safe & sound :) have a nice week! susan

  16. Anne-Marie says:

    Hey Sarah I think you did well to navigate from western Sydney to home.

    I’ve always believed that a thorough cleaning of the house, kitchen or whatever is a fab way to unwind from stress or an upset. Great to have a task to focus on.

    Love IKEA too but boy oh boy, for ‘simple’ furniture you need the patience of a saint to figure it out sometimes :0)

  17. Shar Yates says:

    @almost getting lost: I do not know what kind of cell phone you have but I have an iphone and it has an ap (who knew that would become such a common word?) that is a Google map. It does not talk back to me but it can tell me where I am and them a map to get me where I need to be. I can also set up a trip from point A to point B and it gives me both a visual and written directions. I am sure other phones have this ability but it came with mine and has been such a great feature!

  18. cherrie says:

    I love an open plan kitchen too but it does sort of require that you are always cleaning and/or that you don’t own heaps of stuff. As usual it all looks wonderful but I feel a bit cheated that we didn’t get to look at the chicken stock too. haha. Cherrie

  19. cherrie says:

    PS Sydney did always have bad signs. Believe it or not they are actually better than they used to be.

  20. Jennifer says:

    I absolutely adore your kitchen. My plans are to rip out the rather shoddy cabinets that are in ours and make it all open. I have been collecting bits and bobs for when it’s actually time to do it. We are taking a massive trip soon and will be passing an Ikea, and I will definitely be popping in to pick up a few items.

  21. Love, love, love your kitchen! Ikea is the best and you’ve shown why!


  22. beth says:

    Oh, sorry to hear you got so desperately lost. But I’m glad you made your way back home safe and sound! I’m terrible with directions myself, and I hardly ever go anywhere without my hubby. Even to the grocery store. And I’m not kidding!
    Your kitchen looks lovely! I have been sick all weekend, and my house is a filthy mess. But I am feeling better today, so I can no longer use being sick as an excuse. Time to clean house!
    Hope you have a great week. Beth. :)

  23. Janna says:

    It’s gorgeous! Makes me want to go to IKEA today and redo my kitchen!
    And the blue and white striped flags above the window – LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!

  24. Marie says:

    Hello sweet Sarah – your efforts as domestic goddess are spot on! Love your kitchen. Love the hanging bar w/the hooks above. Great for me because I don’t have much counter or cabinet space!


  25. Vicki K. says:

    There is one of my family members that is so directionally-challenged that getting that person a GPS was actually a gift to the world…

    I LOVE your kitchen! When did you finish it? Has it been in process this whole time? My one concern with open shelving is the dust…do you find yourself having to wash items (pots?) that have sat for awhile?

    Actually it rather makes sense to me to ‘Spring Clean’ in the autumn because everything probably needs a good clean after a summer of tracking in all the outdoors…

    I really love the kitchen…and would love having those windows too!

  26. Cindy S says:

    Sarah, Your kitchen looks amazing! I thought I was seeing photos out of their catalogue, it is that great! I am a fan of IKEA, it is actually coming to my city and should be completed within two years and I am over the moon happy about that!!! It looks very clean and sanitary, you are quite the domestic goddess!
    I blogged about the sweet magazine that you sent me and thanked you! i love that mag! You are a lovely lady.
    Hugs, Cindy S

  27. DeAna says:

    Oh poor sarah, there is nothing worst than getting lost…we had our fill of that on our spring break trip. We had the opposite experience though. My sister had a vz navigator on her phone that would work only half the time so we stopped at a gas station and bought a map.
    love the kitchen!!!

  28. Ha!! We have two of those Ikea units in our kitchen…well one in the actual kitchen and one in the area outside the teeny kitchen that we have extended into. I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts our kitchen is less than 1/4 of yours!!! LOL

  29. Frau Mayer says:

    Well, let’s get down to business, dear Sarah. What are those stunningly styled kitchen units called? Värde? Anything else? Give us the details, the IKEA-hungry public is waiting!

  30. GRACE GARLAND says:

    love it!!!

  31. Whitney says:

    Love it of COURSE!!! Ahhh… I would kill for that kitchen, it’s beautiful!!!! LOVE the butcher block counter!

  32. Michelle says:

    It’s BYOOT!. My kitchen looks almost as bad as your old one – but there’ll be a new one coming soooon! I love your open shelves but as I’m not too fond of cleaning and nor am I neat & tidy I’ll be going for cupboard doors to hide everything behind. I’ll just close em up and whoosh it’ll be gone from my mind!

  33. Beth West says:

    Sigh::sigh::sigh. Just too lovely. You’re tempting me to rip out all of my cabinets that have been recently painted bright white and replace them with shelves and open units. Fortunately for me, laziness will save the day! Great job.

  34. Irene says:

    I wouldn’t have chosen a different one. It looks a perfect fit to your sea cottage style. Love it.

  35. rachel says:

    Your kitchen looks amazing! :) Lovely job as usual! :)

    p.s. Glad you got home safely! :)


  36. Oh I can’t recommand one of those talking ladies anymore than I do now. Get yourself someone to tell you to turn left in a strong voice, it makes the world so much easier to navigate. And this is coming from a woman who knows how to read a map (for real!). But driving unknown roads and finding your way at the same time, simply can’t be done. I couldn’t go thrifting in the Brocante afterland in my backyard that is called Belgium without that lady. And I keep telling her ‘yes ma’am’ everytime she orders me to go right ‘now!’.
    Oh and your kitchen looks fab!

  37. Amanda says:

    Oh no you poor thing Sarah! One thing about Sydney it is soooooooo badly sign posted and don’t worry I have been lost a couple of times out west myself with not a clue of how to get home and miles in the wrong direction of where I was even meant to be in the first place. I could pretty much get around England without even using a map the signs are that good and when I came home to live in Sydney I found myself having trouble just making it over the Harbour Bridge in the right lane, god knows how poor tourists get around this city!!!

    Also love your kitchen, my sister put that kitchen in her house and it looks fantastic, although I have to say putting it together wasn’t much fun but the end result was worth it!

  38. Jan says:

    It is good you could see past the old to get to the new.

  39. desiree says:

    I am a bit envy on the zink backside, it is not on dale anymore here in the Netherlands. So I have to dtick with the boring white tiles ;P Love your kitchen and your pile of bowls!

  40. Paddy says:

    Warning: some of those speaking to you things would send you to west of Sydney as well (at least that’s been the experience of some of our photographers who rely on them for long distance travel). GTG: My disgusting windows are now calling me. Damn you Beach Cottage and your pristine kitchen!

  41. Kristin says:

    Love the kitchen and all those bowls, just gorgeous! There is nothing worse then the feeling of being lost. I remember being a teenager and getting really lost in LA having to pull over to gas station to gas station only to get more and more lost. It’s the worst feeling ever. Glad you made it back ok!
    Take care

  42. Ellen says:

    When my oldest son was home a while back I got him to tear out the old cabinets to the wall. I enjoy the white farm table I have in it’s place. My husband built it from some antique spindle legs and thick wood he got free at a recycling place. Then I placed a wire rack on the wall above the sink. Well, actually my husband put it there. Now the house is for sale and no one wants the open look which I dearly love. My little stash of white dishes are right there where I need them and so are the few utensils I kept.

    I’m so sorry you got lost! It is a horrible feeling. SO glad you made it back to us all.

  43. cheryl says:

    i know that disoriented feeling.. when you don’t know which direction you’re heading or which way is north on the street map!
    i’ve always loved the ikea cabinets you have, so much better than the mass produced kind.
    is the stainless steel splashback you have from ikea as well?

  44. Jenny Bowman says:

    Glad you got home OK. Kitchen looks amazing. I love the open plan type.

  45. Alicia says:

    Good to hear you got home in one piece! I have to agree with you, I find the Sydney road signage totally confusing, more than any other state i have been to. dont go back to England just yet ;0) Your kitchen is sparkling!!

  46. bonnie says:

    Love the open plan kitchen! I’ve always wanted one since I have so much stuff to display.
    I used to feel the way you do about navigational devices until I got one for my job. It’s been a lifesaver (& you can turn the annoying voice off if you want). I think the road signs in NJ were designed by the same man who did the Sydney signs :)

  47. Alison Gibbs says:

    Kitchen looks fabulous – always fun to have an Aussie ‘Autumn’ Clean around the house. It is amazing how quickly the kitchen does become ‘messy’. Can’t really be any other way when you have a family.
    Love the Ikea kitchen, they have some great designs. We have been to Ikea a couple of times in the last few months getting ideas for when we replace our ugly kitchen cabinets.
    Sorry to hear about ‘getting lost’, you know even with a GPS you can still get lost – well we did anyway when we went to Qld over xmas, the Navman took us up a few dead end streets, weaving in and out of everywhere!! Mind you, you do get to see things you may well have missed.

  48. Kathy says:

    Such a beautiful post, I came here from Jennifer at Cottage and she was right you have such a great blog, I am glad to have found you!

  49. Phew… glad you and Miss BC survived the great travel adventure. Not a nice feeling being lost.

    The kitchen spring clean looks fab!!
    Hugs ~ Kerryanne

  50. OHH DEAR SARAh….
    Hey i drive around little OLD mebourne town in my NICE new car…LIKE A LITTE OLD WOMAN!!

    Yep…I am that 50 ODD yr old gonzo…slowly driving around…a bit of a scaredy cat!!
    I am probably a traffic hazard??? SSSHHH!!!

    SOOO I do admire you for driving…ANYWHERE in SYDNEY & surrounds…MY HUBBY HATES IT…

    BUT your KITCHEN looks totally awesome..beautiful..

    you have inspired ME to get MY KITCHEN up to DATE today…

    xx andrea

  51. beq says:

    Wow… firstly I will apologise for commenting on every post. But I am just blown away by your design esthetics. Your home is heavenly. I love your antics and it is like a good cup of coco reading your blog…


    PS… I HATE SYDNEY DRIVING!!! Your brave just adventuring through it.

  52. Rebecca says:

    Hey Sarah – you cracked me up with your blogg today. I know its easier to laugh when its all over but I agree, being lost and having no idea where you are going is one of the most stressful things ever ! I hope you have a blogg that you can come home to and read that makes you laugh and realise you are not alone in your every day hassles. Just like yours makes me feel after a stressful day ! Reading your blogg and having a Kahlua (or a beer in your case!) is a great way to de-stress ! PS – Love your kitchen – can I get one that comes with a cook too ! Take Care & go the street map (those GPS can still send you the wrong way !) rebecca

  53. same thing here – we call it ‘the beaches’ and we too have to ‘come over the bridge’ to get back home. i’d love to see more pics of your neighborhood!

    am still waiting for the kitchen reno. patiently….

  54. Suzann says:

    I’m so sorry about the driving incident.
    I have a deep rooted fear of driving in unfamiliar places and definitely of getting lost. In Chicago, one wrong turn can be big trouble.

    I LOVE your kitchen. Really, it’s just so lovely.

    How do you like your butcher block counters? I’ve been seriously considering them, but I’m uncertain.

  55. Carole says:

    Hi Sarah, I don’t leave comments often but I do pop by. In fact I’ve left a little surprise for you on my blog today. Make sure you come and collect it. x

  56. Marianne says:

    I found your blog recently. Really love it. And I love your Ikea kitchen and the way you accessorized it!

  57. Okay, first of all, I LOVE the kitchen! In fact, I love all of your rooms. All that white just soothes my soul. I do have a question about it tho – does it feel too “cold” when it is raining or nasty out? I always loved the white-beach-cottage-y style but a friend told me she thought it would be much too cold and emotionless in the winter months. What do you think about that? Reading this blog makes me want to slather everything I own in white paint. Haha. Speaking of that, do you just use the same shade of white for everything?

    P.S. I empathize with the getting lost…I moved from Seattle to Miami and STILL get lost all the time…pulled over on the side of the road crying and wishing i had a map, lost. Eek.

  58. Melissa says:

    Love, love, love your kitchen too. Your blog is so inspirational. I love your photos… Would love to have a kitchen like yours.
    Thanks for sharing photos of your beautiful home with us.

  59. Sarah, Your kitchen is beautiful! You must be so pleased to have this sleek and stylish space to cook in. I love how you have set the whole thing up.
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

  60. Michelle says:

    Loved the focus on the packet of flour. My husband works for the company!

    I enjoy your blog and envy your beach life. I’m in the ‘burbs in Sydney, 1 hour drive to the beach.

  61. gaia says:

    I’m so in love with your blog. Your pics are stunning and make me dream to be near the sea on the beach…
    Have a great day!

  62. [...] The Beach Cottage DIY IKEA Kitchen & A Mini Makeover Special — A … [...]

  63. Missy says:

    You were featured on Apartment Therapy’s Re-Nest!! http://www.re-nest.com/re-nest/kitchen/10-tiny-kitchens-we-love-137441

  64. David says:

    I followed a link from the comments section (posted today) on apartmenttherapy.com to get to your site. I love your kitchen! Had a question about your backsplash: did you have your backsplash professionally fabricated and, if so, did you install it by just attaching it to your wall with construction adhesive? Thanks. David

    • sarah says:

      Hi David

      The backsplash comes in sheets from IKEA and is simply attached to the wall with adhesive.

      hope that helps