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One of the things I like the best about Ikea kitchens is the freedom to choose from all the different colours and textures to create something completely bespoke. That’s a luxury you don’t normally have at the budget-end of the interiors market.

Even if you’re limited on budget, a pick-and-mix system means that you can still show personality and creativity in your choices. There is really no excuse for putting together dull and uninspiring rooms.

What's the bigger crime, Ed? Admitting to your second kitchen, or that it looks like this?

What’s the bigger crime, Ed? Admitting to the existence of your second kitchen… or that it looks like this?

Recently, one of my clients was deciding between a Howdens Kitchen (which is sourced directly through your builder and not generally marketed or sold to the trade) and one from Ikea. We weighed up the pros and cons, but in the end the potential for choice and creative scope won through. I may write further about this decision process soon — it’s something I’ve worked through a few times with different people, with different outcomes. Anyway, we wanted something a bit individual for this kitchen design, and with a brief to create ‘something cool,’ I got going.

As you might be aware, Ikea has had a complete kitchen furniture upgrade – the trusty Faktum has been replaced by a more modern and flexible system called Metod.

Where do we start? Ikea's new Metod system is like creating a Lego model

Where do we start? Ikea’s new Metod system is like creating a Lego model

This means that the dimensions of the units now feel more boxy, the drawers are deeper, and your options for storage are more varied. You might like a sleek block of minimalist doors to hide your gadgets,

Behind closed doors: Ringhult reflect the light and hide the clutter

Behind closed doors: Ringhult doors reflect the light and hide the clutter

or to ditch the doors altogether and display all your kitchenware in neat shelves;

Horda blocks are basically cabinets without doors: stack them and fill them

Horda blocks are basically cabinets without doors: stack them and fill them

to create the ultimate country-style kitchen complete with cornicing and wooden worktops,

Classic features here show off the more traditional look

Classic features here show off the more traditional look

or to play around with different textures and pattern.

Glossy red Ringhult makes a bold statement, while the geometric dimples on the Herrestad wall cabinets add to the glamour

Glossy red Ringhult makes a bold statement, while the geometric dimples on the Herrestad wall cabinets add to the glamour

First I looked at colours. My clients wanted something modern and sleek: they had been considering glossy cabinets and bright colours. However when we looked through inspiration sites like Houzz and Pinterest (really useful exercise — you can surprise yourself), we realised they actually gravitated most towards the greys and whites, with more natural tones and wood accents.

Ideal kitchen style for top budget -- a good starting point/ Roundhouse kitchen featured on Houzz

Ideal kitchen style for top budget — a good starting point/ Roundhouse kitchen featured on Houzz

Creative mix of colours, use of different materials/ Kitchen by Whitten Architects, featured on Houzz

Creative mix of colours, use of different materials/ Kitchen by Whitten Architects, featured on Houzz

So we played around with those shades, and came up with an inventive pairing from Ikea’s selection — Bodbyn Grey and Brokhult.

The Bodbyn range at Ikea comes in a few shades, one of which is a mid-grey. The doors are featured with a simple carved insert, Shaker-style. But you don’t have to recreate a farmhouse when you use it.

Stylisheve does Bodbyn grey. Pared down and modern

Stylisheve does Bodbyn grey. Pared down and modern

Chic grey Bodbyn nestles in this open plan apartment/

Chic grey Bodbyn nestles in this open plan apartment/ Pinterest page by Thomas Strubreiter https://uk.pinterest.com/thomasnordic

Ikea pairs its Bodbyn with chequerboard tiles and industrial style accessories

Ikea pairs its Bodbyn with chequerboard tiles and industrial style accessories

Get more bling with your Bodbyn: Ikea's show kitchen sparkles

Get more bling with your Bodbyn: Ikea’s show kitchen sparkles

Brokhult is a wood effect finish with distinct striped markings: a little bit retro, unapologetically faux, with grey-hued tones and smooth texture.

Brokhult features heavily in this from Kitchens by Design LA

Brokhult features smartly in this from Kitchens by Design LA

Skonahem puts Brokhult in a nautical, driftwood-type of role

Skonahem puts Brokhult in a nautical, driftwood-type of role

I felt that putting these two together would warm up the potentially stark grey with a complementary wood accent. So I plumped for Bodbyn grey doors, with surrounds and end panels in Brokhult. One section of the room needed cupboards to surround the large American-style fridge. These cabinets in turn are wrapped around by the Brokhult, creating a neat stand-alone unit. I hope to get some photos of the finished room for you very soon, so you can see how well they work together.

Back in the design stage, having established the core colours and materials, we now had to draw together worktops, lighting, extra shelving, window coverings, flooring, taps, oven and splashback. I’ll take you through these next time — some beautiful products were bought and some careful decisions were made.

Until then, what are your thoughts on Metod? Have you installed this new style Ikea kitchen in your own home? What pick-and-mix successes have you had?

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A few years ago we moved to sunny Manchester from London. The complex factors involved meant that for a few (long) weeks we didn’t have a school place for Jonas, then six years old. So I home-schooled. Actually, I didn’t, because he was convinced that he already knew quite considerably more than me. So I tried schooling by stealth. We visited National Trust properties (history), played scrabble (literacy and maths) (relentlessly), and spent a good few hours in the park every day (outdoor games). The only ‘lesson’ which I was allowed to introduce into our home schedule was… weaving. Apparently, this was amazing fun and I just needed to buy some ribbons. Duly purchased, we set about creating all manner of different patterns threaded through paper. It wasn’t really at all skilful, but what with Manchester’s Cottonopolis heritage, and the stark lack of interest in any other craft activity…

When we do junk modelling, we like to let the materials speak for themselves.

When we do junk modelling, we like to let the materials speak for themselves.

I lost the green lollipop stick legs on the way home, but I think you can see that quite clearly this is meant to be me.

I lost the green lollipop stick legs on the way home, but I think you can see that quite clearly this is meant to be me.

…it meant we were at least ticking a few creative boxes.

Now we are quite considerably further advanced in school careers and all the boys have for some reason done weaving: clearly a basic life-skill — who knew? Generally the in-and-out ribbons slop out of position and buckle at one end, sometimes I just find lonely escapee strands curled on the floor. But every now and then we get an offering which is actually quite attractive. Not ‘maybe-they-have-a-future-in-this’ successful, but quite pretty nevertheless.

And when one arrived home tastefully mounted on some black cardboard, I had an idea. This would look fantastic displayed in a light box. What if I were to somehow able create an illuminated frame? It could hang in a dark area of the kitchen (a place where I wish we’d wired in some wall lighting) and bring some sparkle without us having to undergo expensive and messy wiring work.

Gloomy space

Gloomy space

As you may remember, most of my Pinterest craft moments are classified amongst the ‘fail’ or ‘humour’ categories, so I held off for a long time before deciding to experiment. However, in the end, my curiosity got the better of me, and I went ahead.

So here is how you go about making a light-box frame to preserve and display your child’s genius classroom achievements:

Do your shopping:-

Ikea Ribba picture frame

Ikea Ramsta string lights (battery operated) and appropriate sized batteries

Sheet A3 thick black paper (or whichever colour you prefer for the backing)

Glue gun and sticks (now you own these the Pinterest world is your veritable craft oyster)

Two of those useless novelty erasers you get in party bags or as part of football team membership packs (you need a couple that are the same depth and ideally also rubbish at actually rubbing out)

A very sharp knife (Stanley knife)

Masking tape

Gaffer tape

U-shaped small screws/ thick wire staples

Sturdy string/cord

Get creating:-

Place your Ribba frame carefully glass-side down on a soft firm surface (such as a blanket on a table top) so that it doesn’t scratch. Take it apart by unhooking the little clasps at the back.

What you get when you dissect a Ribba

What you get when you dissect a Ribba

You are going to remove the backing board (the brown one) but leave the (white) cardboard mount in position on the glass. Replace the little clasps again, this time only holding the glass and mount in place.

Pop your batteries into the string lights and check they work. Now take your backing board and at one of the bottom corners trace around the light battery box with a pencil. With a very sharp knife (on a chopping board or other handy surface) cut out this corner so that the battery box (and light switch) will be accessible once you’ve fixed the backing board back into the frame. Set the backing board aside and nestle the battery switch box into the bottom left-hand corner of the frame (so it’s hidden by the mount). Masking tape it into position, and then drape the string of lights loosely but evenly around the mount. When you have the lights equally positioned, masking-tape them into position. They should be hidden by the mount when viewed from the front, but obviously when they’re turned on will glow light onto your piece of genius art.

Back to the backing board: cover it carefully with your chosen backing paper. Neatly fold around the edges and attach at the back using the glue gun. Leave to dry, then turn over and attach the weaving masterpiece in position, again using the glue gun.

Using the sharp knife, cut the annoying novelty eraser into equal-sized blocks about the size of a pea.

The Disney Cars erasers are actually fit for purpose, so I didn't chop these up. Spoiler alert - the reindeer wasn't so lucky.

The Disney Cars erasers are actually fit for purpose, so I didn’t chop these up. Spoiler alert – the reindeer wasn’t so lucky.

These are going to be supports upon which you will be laying the backing board, to keep it level. Arrange them around the mount board — amongst the string lights — at regular intervals, especially in the corners. Now glue them in position.

Get ready with your prepped backing board, pop little dabs of glue onto the top of each eraser stump, and press the backing board section firmly down onto the glue. Because you’ve now wrapped it, the backing board should be fairly securely wedged into the frame, as well as being attached to the little rubber chunks. Secure it further with gaffer tape, especially at the top and bottom.

It’s highly unlikely that the feeble mounting hooks or wire that come with your Ikea Ribba frame are going to support your now altogether more weighty creation. Instead you can use some u-shaped nails (staples)…

When picture hooks don't work.

When picture hooks don’t work

…and some strong cord or string instead. Tap the staples into the frame and tie the string through and around them with some tight knots. You can then drive the staples even further in to secure it all further.

Now switch it on and see your work of art subtly illuminated! It turns out that mine had some glittery threads running through it and these reflect the lights, making the whole thing even more impressive.

Proud creation.

Proud moment

Making the most of a boring space - weaving illuminated

Making the most of a boring space – weaving illuminated

Imagine my surprise when I received the following message from my sister Sanna:

"John Lewis copied you!"

“John Lewis copied you!”

Well I wouldn’t go so far as to say copied exactly, but this bright orange runner on white painted stairs bears a strong resemblance to my own stairway and encourages the braver John Lewis customer to splash out on colour. It’s quite heartening to see a trend catching on, when you’ve already run with it.

However cutting edge is as cutting edge does, and whilst I can predict you a fancy notion for your home, I wouldn’t come knocking for media advice. I have, in the manner of a child (or me for that matter) in a sweet shop, recently discovered Pinterest. Such Luddite behaviour is not from lack of information, because I remember Tim showing me something about Pinterest years ago. Hopelessly behind the times, I’m just getting around to it now.

Only yesterday I picked up on this little ensemble, which resonates joyfully with so many of my ideas, but yet takes them somewhere new as well:

Snaffled from Pinterest/ A Punch of Color

Snaffled from Pinterest/ orig. Apartment Therapy

The use of carpet is clearly extreme, but see how they work with the stag’s head, the stripes up the stairs? Most exciting, however, are the flowers which have somehow escaped from their carpet. I think this is so clever. I’d love to know how it’s done.

Anyway, who knows? Some time in the near future, I could start exploring this new phenomenon I’ve heard about called Instagram. It is meant to be good. But I don’t want to hurry things….

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