Expanding a Small Kitchen with a Coffee, Cocktail, and Wine Bar

One of the first projects my husband and I tackled after we got married was expanding our kitchen - after all, where were we going to put our beautiful wedding gifts? Our apartment is actually quite spacious, but as with most charming Victorian-style apartments, only half the kitchen is functional and the other half was made for a breakfast nook. This means there's little counter space for prep/cooking and limited storage.

We scoured the internet for butcher blocks and other ready-made solutions but nothing seemed to meet our needs. Eventually, we turned to Ikea and saw we could build something custom and expand into the breakfast nook area. I was a little nervous about a DIY project but when Adam said "we'll add a wine rack for you", I was sold :) We'd been binge watching Fixer Upper and other renovation shows on HGTV too so we felt pretty motivated to do this at this point.

We received many comments along the lines of "Wow, kitchen renovation, that's awesome! Wait... do you own the place?". Well, we don't - we rent. However, with our Ikea plans we wouldn't have to change any of the kitchen infrastructure. We would just be adding storage along a blank wall, which we could even take with us in the future when we move!

So here’s how to build your custom kitchen space with Ikea!

Design your kitchen space on Ikea's website

Ikea's Kitchen Planner on their website allows you to custom design your kitchen space. We took measurements of our space and then started the design with the cabinets we picked out from their inventory. They offer a few different cabinet sizes in each design. Our existing cabinetry is off-white with recessed rectangular panels and large round knobs, so we picked a design that resembled that so there would be a cohesive look and flow between the existing and the new addition. We chose the Grimslöv design in off-white and the Hishult round porcelain white knobs. According to our measurements, we could fit a 24 x 24 x 80 high cabinet and three 18 x 15 x 30 cabinets (one with drawers) next to each other along the wall. We chose the largest size knobs (1 3/16"). Lastly, we chose our wood for the countertop. Once you've chosen everything, you can generate a quote estimate, which will also contain each product and corresponding hardware you'll need to put it all together.

Review your product selections and place your order in person.

Ikea makes you come into their location to review your design with you and place your order. It was nice to see the pieces in person and make sure we were happy with them, especially with the wood countertop - I think it's hard to tell the authentic color and pattern on a computer screen. Once we went through everything with the specialist, we placed our order and voilà, we were done! Easy peasy.

Organize your boxes on Delivery Day!

A couple of days later Ikea delivered all 50+ pieces to our home. The many boxes were slightly intimidating, but the key thing here is to organize the boxes so that all related parts are grouped together. We organized the boxes in our living room and made space in the kitchen to add our new pieces as we built them.

Build the cabinets.

We started first by building each individual cabinet. Having all the parts grouped together made it easy and honestly the instructions were pretty self-explanatory (all in pictures, no words even). I will preface this by saying Adam definitely did most of the heavy lifting (I heart him <3). From the image above, you can see from left to right we placed them in this order: high cabinet, base cabinet w/shelves, base cabinet w/drawers, base cabinet w/shelves, and wine rack. We tested to be sure they fit before anchoring/attaching them anywhere.Surprisingly, the space was too small for all 3 cabinets by about an inch, so we decided to exchange the base cabinet w/ drawers for the smaller 15-inch size. After the exchange we tried again and it all fit perfectly, so we continued on...

Cut the counter top.

Unfortunately, Ikea doesn't cut the counter top for you so you need to cut it yourself or find another place to do it for you. The length was to measure but the width was too wide. We took measurements of what to cut with a ruler and planned on a 1-inch overhang from the cabinets.  If you're like us, you live in a city apartment and probably don't have any tools that you keep in the shed, lol. We borrowed an electric saw from a coworker and set up the counter top on an old kitchen table. We got creative with our protection by wearing ski goggles and Bose headphones. Ideally, one person cuts while the other stands behind with a vacuum cleaner to catch all the sawdust. In our case, the counter top wouldn't stay still so I had to hold it down while Adam sawed. Then we vacuumed... a lot!

Once the kitchen counter was cut, we sealed the cabinets together with the metal brackets it came with and screwed the counter top on top. Living in earthquake central, we anchored everything to the wall using thick pieces of wood to bridge the gap between the cabinets and wall (gap being due to the footboards).

And finally, what an HGTV marathon and a couple of glasses of wine will do.

With the extra wood from the countertop, we had the bright revelation after a couple of glasses of wine to have custom shelving above the counter and create a Coffee, Cocktail & Wine bar :)  Finally, I could add my creative touch to this project! We recently got married in wine country and Adam's cousins gifted us this beautiful wooden plaque with our last name"LaPrad" Vineyard, on it so we definitely wanted to incorporate it into our new wine bar. We decided to put it in the middle and surround it by shelving (one long shelf at the top and two short "accent" shelves on each side). We found these pretty white shelf brackets online and Adam bought T-molding at Lowes which we repurposed to hold our wine glasses upside down from the top shelf.  We put our coffee station on the left-hand side with our espresso machine, coffee grinder, a coffee maker, and placed our coffee mugs and pour over coffee equipment (all the rage in SF) on the accent shelves. On the right-hand side, we put our cocktail station to make delicious drinks (Adam has been perfecting his craft!). On the top shelf, we placed our cooking books (one of which his aunt gifted me containing special family recipes!), a teapot from my bridal shower signed by my lovely ladies, herbs (parsley and thyme - we still need a mint one), and cocktail recipe books.

We had some weekends with interruptions so it took a little longer, but I estimate it would take a weekend or two to complete this kind of project. It was worth it! I love looking at it every day. It's so beautiful and comes with such a sweet sense of accomplishment. When we buy our own place in the future, I won't be afraid of a fixer upper if it means getting exactly what we want. Of course, ping me when that time comes and remind me of this post! :P