Color Month

Before and After: A Breakfast Nook Redo So Chic You Won’t Believe It’s an IKEA Hack

published Jul 4, 2023
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About this before & after
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Light filled dining room with dark wood rectangular dining table surrounded by dining chairs with light wood caning and green cushions.
Credit: Amanda Evans Photo

Have you ever seen a home makeover project so sophisticated-looking that you’re shocked to discover that it’s made up of IKEA products? This redo, a breakfast nook transformation designer Jana Donohoe did in her own home, is exactly that kind of project.

The breakfast nook started out super plain, with nothing but white walls. “It was a brand-new builder-basic white box that had no personality,” Jana says. “I wanted it to feel like home!” Home, to her, meant something a little more zhuzhed up but still “as comfortable as possible” for her three growing kids. Jana also wanted to add in some much-needed storage space.

Credit: Amanda Evans Photo

While Jana didn’t have much to work with in the way of style for this space, she did have 10-foot-tall ceilings and great morning light here. She wanted to take advantage of both in her makeover by creating functional and stylish built-ins.

Credit: Amanda Evans Photo

Jana’s breakfast nook redo, done for the One Room Challenge, was part of a larger makeover that also included her kitchen. That meant that she couldn’t blow the whole budget on just this area, so she needed to get creative by adding built-ins herself. “I researched many different ways that I could approach these built-ins but ultimately landed on doing an IKEA hack,” Jana says. She made the base with SEKTION kitchen cabinets, and the countertop and shelves were all constructed using MDF that she had cut down to size at the hardware store. From there, Jana put everything together herself, adding trim and crown molding to make the built-ins look extra luxe.

What takes the hacked built-ins to the next level is the cheery blue paint color (Benjamin Moore’s Steel Blue), which Jana also used in the adjacent kitchen. “I really needed the extra storage for all my glassware and dishes,” Jana says, and the new built-ins give her plenty of space for that (plus more).

Credit: Amanda Evans Photo

The plain walls had to go, but Jana found that the texture on them made wallpaper a tricky option. She wanted to avoid skim coating the walls before wallpapering, and instead decided to try wall liner to help smooth it out before installing the decorative paper.

The wall liner applies pretty much like wallpaper, but is slightly trickier. “This process was difficult because the instructions are to hang it horizontally. Not an easy process with one person and 10-foot ceilings,” Jana says. She also found that she soaked a couple of the pre-pasted sections of the liner too long, resulting in bubbling once dry. Jana had to redo those sections, but once they were completed, the walls were much better suited to installing her chosen wallpaper — a statement-making crane print in a blue color that complements the cabinets.

Credit: Amanda Evans Photo

Jana didn’t neglect the fifth wall, adding decorative molding to mimic a tray ceiling and replacing the light fixture, as well. Finally, she replaced the old dining table. “Swapping out the rectangular table for a round one makes dinner conversations so much easier,” she says.

The breakfast nook is now unrecognizable, in the best way possible. “The space doesn’t even feel the same,” Jana says, calling the new look “so cozy, inviting, and fresh.” And as she notes on her blog, one of the biggest compliments ever came from her daughters: “Our house is so cute now. I want to have all my friends over!” How’s that for high praise?

This project was completed for the Spring 2023 One Room Challenge, in partnership with Apartment Therapy. See even more of the One Room Challenge before and afters here.
Inspired? Submit your own project here.