Category: Renovation projects

Kitchen Renovation Oslo

While living in Oslo I renovated a house from 1954. It had not had an update since the 70-ies. The first project was the kitchen.

white kitchen, flat kithcen fronts

I used kitchen cabinets from a Danish company, HTH.  Now IKEA has similar kitchen fronts with no handles in Europe (not offered on the US market unfortunately). The lamps are from Finnish company Artek (

Kjøkken2 Oslo

I used a white quartz counter top which I loved, as it is virtually stain resistant.  The cooktop was from an 80 cm induction top from Siemens, as were all the built-ins. I especially liked the built-in microwave to free up counter space. Beacuse I had space for so many drawers I didn’t miss more wall cabinets.

Kjøkken3 Oslo





Shelving for livingroom

Custom shelving for living room with Rakks shelving system and oak planks.

Total cost approx 700 USD; 200 USD for shelving system and 500 USD for oak planks. The planks are 12″ wide and 5 quarters thick. They are 11 ft long, and came in at about 10USD per feet bought at a well-stocked lumberyard in Cambridge MA (



Office renovation

With the help of Rakks shelving system, some oak planks from Home Depot and IKEA butcher blocks my father and I built my husbands new desk and shelving for his home office for less than 500 USD.








First I replaced the carpet with oak flooring that was stained ebony (Minwax-2 coats) and sealed. I then painted the wall and baseboards white. Because the baseboards had ben sealed with polyurethane I used an oil based primer in them before the top coat to make the paint stick.


The hardware for the shelving is from and I used red oak planks (1″x12″) that i picked up at Home Depot for about 8USD per foot. I sanded them lightly and eventually will use a white-pigmented wood oil to finish them.

I started with wall standards that were 6 feet tall, mounted to wall studs.

To attach the desk to the same system, Rakks sells counter support poles that are 24″ deep like in the picture below.



I sanded the oiled IKEA oak butcher blocks (it came that way) and then used a white pigmented stain on it (I used 2 coats) before 2-3 coats of  satin polyurethane


20140326-142008.jpg20140326-142043.jpg Do a sample of the stain first!



The white file cabinet below  is on wheels and is from IKEA.


This is how I attached the side piece that supports the end of the desk.


Wall support-made sure it was attached to a wall stud as well.





Guesthouse Bathroom Renovation Part I

My newest project is a rather spacious bathroom build in 1995. When I renovate, I prefer to work with the original plumbing layout as long as it makes sense. Moving plumbing is expensive! This building is quite contemporary in style, so that is the look I am going for in the interior as well.

I like to use natural materials whenever I can, but since it is often more expensive the extra investment must make sense considering resell value on the property. In this bathroom I used vein cut limestone 12″x24″ which i got for about 9 USD/sqft. When the original tile was ripped out, I had my subs install Schluter-Ditra to the original wood subfloor. It is an uncoupling membrane that is thinsetted to the subfloor and allows the floor to move seperately from the tile when there’s expansion and contraction, thus preventing the new tile from cracking easily.

The toilet, new glass shower door and hardware is from Koehler.

“IKEA HACK” with Godmorgon cabinets ;

Again, I used IKEA cabinets for the vanity. I combined 2 “Godmorgon” IKEA units (24″+48″) without the vanity top. My plan is to center only one sink in the middle of it. I know I will have some trouble with the plumbing on this one…




Here the old pink shower is gone. Put in some 2×4’s to build an edge in the new shower.



The insulation is filled in and lined with plastic before the cement boards go up.


The base of the shower is lined with a waterproof membrane (goes up alongside wall underneath cement boards)


This orange waffle membrane goes over the subfloor to keep the tiles from cracking.


It is always a good idea to keep the tiles in the shower small to make it easier to get the right angle towards the drain. You do not want your water to puddle up here!


Ahhh…my beloved IKEA. I put a 1×2 underneath where I want the cabinets to hang to make installation a lot easier.


After I put the cabinets on the ledge I know exactly where to drill my holes for the cabinets to attach on the wall. I found out where the studs were situated so I could make extra attachment points there as well.




I was going to get a plumber to do this, but I got impatient. Youtube shows how how to install a toilet. Not that hard! Key is to get someone to hold it straight above the piping so you don’t put it down at an angle and squish the wax ring unevenly.


I had my tileguy line the old brick wall with the same tile as the floor:


Kitchen Renovation Miami

The biggest project in this apartment was by far the kitchen. The original layout was unpractical and not made for entertaining. There was a dividing wall between the kitchen and living/diningroom that blocked out much of the direct ocean view. This wall was the first to come down.





Since I think the kitchen cabinets from IKEA are brilliant, I used them in this kitchen as well as the bathrooms in this apartment. The countertop is quarts. To get the apperance of en extra thick countertop, an 3″ (9cm) edge was made on the end of the reguar countertop.  All appliances were ordered on

Guest bathroom renovation Miami

The 2nd bathroom to get a complete overhaul was the kids bathroom. I still wanted a bathtub, and some additional storage is also nice.



I used base kitchen cabinets from IKEA for the vanity (see my post Master bathroom renovation Miami for details on dimension and base). The fronts are also IKEA, ABSTRACT white in high gloss.



The whole bathroom was gutted, although the layout stayed the same. By not changing the position of waterpipes and toilet, you can cut down the cost of renovation drastically. Besides, in small bathrooms you often do not have many options where these pipes should go anyway. Mosaic floor tiles with once white grout (NEVER use white floor grout in bathroom) were replaced with large (24″x24″)/(60x60cm) white , matte marble tile on floor and a 3d Porcelanosa tile (Jersey Nieve), approx 10USD/sqft. The walls were painted with a greyish taupe from Benjamin Moore called “Winds breath”. I love this color, it goes with everything and looks really warm and soft. Using greys in bathrooms can be a bit tricky, as lack of sunlight can give a stark and cold look if the grey is too cool in color. The counter is made of quarts. When you need a small piece like here, it can often pay to visit a stoneplace with a warehouse in the back. Remants can cost half of what you would normally pay.

I ordered the recessed porcelain sink, fixtures and toilet from


Master Bathroom renovation Miami

One of my most recent projects was a condo on the beach in Miami. This apartment had a theme; tulips in peach/gold. Everywhere. Wallpaper, custom carpets, sofa, bedding…I know gold is making a comeback, but I really did not feel that was the route to go in this case.

Step one was demolition. The most dramatic changes  happened in the kitchen and bathrooms;

After/Master bath:


For the vanity I used 3 base cabinets from the IKEA kitchen line. Compared to regular bathroom cabinets, they are extra deep (standard kitchen counter depth) , which, if you have the space, is an advantage storage wise. These cabinets are also tall, and if you use the standard feet that come with the base cabinets (minimum 4″/11cm)  you’ll end up with approx 36″/90cm to top of counter. Since I have kids this height can be a bit unpractical. I therefore made a 2″  tall square base of pine to support the cabinets instead. The fronts are also IKEA , dark grey from the Abstract line.

Master bath/before:







Tulip wallpaper, wall to wall carpet (ugh..), stained marble counters, fluorescent lighting, pressed wood cabinets and half wall between sink and toilet. All had to go.



3D Wall tile; Creta Marfil from Porcelanosa, approx. 10USD/tile

White, matte marble tile on floor 24″x24″ (60x60cm) on  floor, tiles cut in half (24″x12″) on side walls in shower area.