HOUSE: New Mexico #2

Updating a vintage kitchen with IKEA!

Kitchen makeover -

You know that feeling when you’re looking for a new place to live, and you see something—even the smallest feature—in a house or apartment that just screams out, Hello! It’s me. I’ve been waiting for you! and you just know it’s the right home for you? That’s the feeling I got when I walked into the kitchen in what is now my new house in Albuquerque and saw that green tile, intact and going strong since 1939. Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a post about mint green bathrooms, and now here was a kitchen that struck exactly the same chord in me. Nobody else could have that house, because the kitchen was clearly mine.

Kitchen makeover -

So yeah, the kitchen was cute as hell from the get-go, but there were definitely some issues that needed to be addressed. The floor tile is totally wrong for this sweet vintage kitchen, for starters. Someone definitely spent a long time cutting and installing these tiles and they’re in good shape, but they completely overwhelm the room. Since I don’t own the house and replacing the floor isn’t an option, covering it up as much as possible was my game plan. The other thing that was immediately apparent was that despite the kitchen being a good size, there was precious little counter space—just a couple of feet on either side of the sink—and not enough room for storage.

In choosing IKEA products for the kitchen, my main goal was making sure that everything would complement the form of the original vintage elements of the kitchen without sacrificing the functionality needed in a room that is by its nature largely utilitarian.

Kitchen makeover -

First up, the floor. I needed a rug big enough to reach nearly wall-to-wall that I could keep clean without a lot of fuss. The SINNERLIG rug is made from seagrass, which I’ve always found very easy to vacuum regularly and spot-clean as needed. It’s also reversible, so if it starts to look cruddy in time, I can flip it and double the wear. Putting the rug down immediately softened the whole vibe of the kitchen. Yes, you can still see some of the floor tile near the back door and around the appliances, but it’s not screaming at me anymore. Plus, the seagrass feels really nice underfoot.

Kitchen makeover -

Kitchen makeover -

There used to be a dishwasher next to the stove. This may sound crazy, but I asked my landlord to remove it before I moved in. It was one of those portable models that you have to roll over to the sink to connect the water line and drain every time you use it, and that’s way too much work for me just to wash some dishes. I actually like washing dishes (well, usually). So the dishwasher went away, and a little STENSTORP cart took its place. I gained space for my coffee maker (which doesn’t fit under upper cabinets in this smaller-than-contemporary-standards vintage kitchen), a prep counter, a drawer for dishtowels and three storage shelves!

I added shelving above the stove, too. This VARDE unit is, happily, exactly the right size to span the width of the stove and the cart. There’s no wasted wall space now, which pleases me greatly. Putting my favorite dishes on display means that I can now used the closed cabinets for food, mismatched mugs and other things I don’t want to look at all the time. I’m a big fan of open shelving in kitchens—it forces you to be extra-tidy.

Kitchen makeover -

The long, empty wall on the left side of the kitchen was the perfect spot for the larger STENSTORP cart. This is where I do most of my heavy-duty chopping and mixing when I’m cooking. STENSTORP has been a favorite of mine since I put the kitchen island in my Brooklyn apartment last year. Funny—back then, I was worried about the design of its legs being too old-fashioned for my contemporary kitchen, but in this house, it’s a piece that makes the room feel more modern. It really can work anywhere, apparently! Quite the chameleon.

Kitchen makeover -

Kitchen makeover -

While I definitely could chop directly on the top of the STENSTORP carts since they’re solid oak, I choose to use separate boards instead for the ease of transporting ingredients from the sink and to the stove. The SKOGSTA chopping board is nice and thick and over 2 feet long (!!!), but since it’s only about 10 inches deep, it’s easy to pick up and maneuver over pots and pans.

Another old favorite of mine that I’m happy to be putting to use again in this house is the KNODD bin. KNODD is an IKEA classic! Years ago—at least a decade—I used one for storing ferret litter. Alas, today I have no ferrets, but KNODD also works really well as a recycling bin. I like that it has a subtly vintage look without being too cutesy. It’s just right.

Kitchen makeover -

And finally, I’d like to take a moment to mention my ANVÄNDBAR sprouter. The latent food hippie in me has been wanting to, you know, sprout stuff lately, and I figured I’m more likely to do it if I have a cute, designated vessel for doing it in. If you haven’t seen it yet, the whole ANVÄNDBAR collection is adorable—and designed with kitchen economics and sustainability in mind. The combination of porcelain and terracotta is right up my alley, so I went for the sprouter.

Friends, I failed in my first attempt at sprouting. I failed miserably. I decided to try for sprouted red lentils, because I love red lentils and I thought I’d make hummus with them and put them in salads and be all healthy, but instead of sprouting lentils, I got something which was headed toward being lentil moonshine. Fermented lentils were not what I had in mind. I suspect that the culprit here is it being summer in New Mexico, and my sprouter just got too hot sitting near a sunny window. I’ve since moved it under the cabinets, away from sunlight, and I’m going to try again—this time with chickpeas. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Kitchen makeover -

Kitchen makeover -

I am a Brand Ambassadör for IKEA U.S. This is a sponsored post.

IKEA is a registered trademark of Inter IKEA Systems B.V. and is used with permission. The views, ideas and opinions expressed here are my own.

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  • Reply Taste of France July 19, 2016 at 11:26 am

    Really, really nice. I totally agree about the dishwasher.
    No fan above the stove? Thinking about it, I guess my grandma’s house didn’t have one either. Vents are on my mind lately (I went to Ikea yesterday! Kitchen reno!)….

    • Anna @ D16 July 19, 2016 at 11:33 am

      I didn’t have a fan above the stove in the Newburgh house, either—in fact, I think I’ve only ever had them in one or two apartments. I’ve never felt like I need one. Maybe because I don’t cook meat?

    • Gordon July 19, 2016 at 11:59 am

      I’ve had a stove fan in most of my apartments… but I’ve never had one that vents outside. Without the vent all the fan does is make sure that any smoke goes straight into my eyes.

    • Anna @ D16 July 19, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      Hey, the stove fan on Atlantic Ave vented outside through the roof! Which is also why the microwave would fill with water after it rained, and why the ceiling was infested with black mold. Good times!

    • Gordon July 20, 2016 at 10:05 pm

      Heh, forgot about that one.

    • christa July 19, 2016 at 6:33 pm

      Here in California I find I rarely turn my vent on. I do all my smokiest cooking outside on the grill.

  • Reply Caroline July 19, 2016 at 11:48 am

    What fun for you and your readers! Do you/will you have a roommate in this house?
    I love original 30s – 40s kitchens! For me, the downside of a vintage kitchen really is the lack of clearance under the upper cabinets – obviously, you can add attractive, affordable work space and storage to resolve the other typical issues.
    I would like to grow alfalfa sprouts (yum!) but my IKEA doesn’t have the sprouter in stock. We don’t always get the good stuff at the East Palo Alto store (rats! Are we not cool enough here???).

    • Linda September 3, 2016 at 6:50 am

      You can grow sprouts in a mason jar. Strew some seeds in it, add a (very little) little water. Cover top with piece of cheesecloth and a rubber band. Lay jar sideways and shake the contents flat. Keep out of sun and heat. Small seeds should sprout in a couple days ; change water if necessary.

  • Reply Amy G. July 19, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Perfection. That kitchen speaks to me, too! You did all the right things to make it just right. Gorgeous!

  • Reply Katrina July 19, 2016 at 11:59 am

    I love your kitchen! So homey and looks like it could be in a magazine at the same time. One of my favorite parts is the trash can, looks very sci-fy! Love it!
    Are the hinges on the cabinets painted?!? Why oh why do people do that?

    • Anna @ D16 July 19, 2016 at 3:40 pm

      Yeah, the hinges are painted, but it’s at least a good paint job…sprayed, I think. Maybe someday I’ll strip ’em!

  • Reply Kim July 19, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    Love it! I so wish that seagrass rug was available in 4×6 — it would be perfect in my kitchen!

  • Reply Staci July 19, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    I love the teal tile in your kitchen. I am a huge proponent of keeping vintage kitchens intact if they are in good condition. Most people would have torn out the 1969 kitchen in my condo but it is pretty much in mint condition and I love it. IKEA does a really nice job of bringing 1930 into the present. LOVE.

  • Reply heather July 19, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    So excited for you – this kitchen is wonderful! We have that same green tile in one of our bathrooms but it’s in terrible shape. It looks amazing in this kitchen. I love everything you did here.

  • Reply Caitlin July 19, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    So beautiful, I love everything you have done! I just have two questions for you…

    1. Where did you move the refrigerator to? Is it in roughly the same spot and you just cropped it out of the photos?

    2. Is that a little slide-out pink (?) cutting board to the right of your sink? It is visible under the photo of your sprouter…

    • Anna @ D16 July 19, 2016 at 3:42 pm

      The fridge is in the same spot, I just didn’t take any after photos from that angle. And yes, that’s a built-in cutting board! I painted the edge pink.

  • Reply Emma July 19, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Hi Anna–your new kitchen looks fabulous. Congratulations on finding such a great spot. Where did you get your triangle hand towels? They remind me of the Bookhou bag I bought off Etsy (after seeing it on your blog; thank you!) and I’d love to get some for my kitchen. Thanks!

    • Anna @ D16 July 19, 2016 at 3:08 pm

      Good eye—that’s a Bookhou tea towel. 🙂

  • Reply Geninne July 19, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    Cutest kitchen everrrr!

  • Reply Danielle July 19, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    YES! I have a mint green bathroom in my 1948 bungalow that I LOVE and never want to change! People thought I was crazy when I told them I was leaving it and not remodeling. It is just too charming, just like this adorable kitchen, to change!

  • Reply Katie M. July 19, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    I’m so intrigued by the coffee maker. It looks like you can do like 8 different things with it.

    • Anna @ D16 July 19, 2016 at 3:43 pm

      Haha, as far as I know it only brews coffee! It’s a Technivorm.

  • Reply barbara July 19, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    What a wonderful soulful place. But here is the big question, perhaps the most important question- what does Fritz think?

    • Anna @ D16 July 20, 2016 at 9:59 am

      Haha!! Fritz LOVES it. Walking here is a lot more fun, too. 🙂

  • Reply Kim B. July 19, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    You move fast, girl! I just know this new/old house is THE space for you!

  • Reply Anna July 19, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    Hi Anna! Greetings from a long time reader (and another Anna.) The kitchen looks lovely, you’ve done so many great things and have just enhanced it’s original charm. I’ve been thinking about splurging on a Vipp…any thoughts/insight you could share? I would really appreciate it.


    • Anna @ D16 July 20, 2016 at 9:58 am

      Hi Anna! I have nothing but good things to say about Vipp trash cans. I bought a small black one years ago as a major splurge for my former bathroom, and it was love at first use. Soon after, I lucked out and found this one as a heavily-discounted floor model at the Design Within Reach outlet. They are very, very solidly made, and it’s honestly a pleasure to step on the pedal every time I use it. They are really pricey, I know, but if you can swing it, I can’t imagine being disappointed. One thing, though: Pay attention to the size you buy. This is a medium, and it’s really not big enough for more than one or two people because the capacity is quite small. It holds about the equivalent of 1.5 plastic grocery bags’ worth of trash, for reference.

  • Reply Lillian July 19, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    I feel so happy for you about this move! Seems like such a good place to be, much better 🙂

  • Reply Chris July 19, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    Adorbs. But I’d destroy that rug in the first 5 minutes probably with something red and permanent.

  • Reply Dana July 19, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    THIS IS FANTASTIC. I’m gonna go explode my kitchen now.

  • Reply christa July 19, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    I love this kitchen so much! I adore 30s kitchens with original tile like yours, and have rented a few myself. So pretty and homey. Your updates go a long way for making it even cuter and more functional. What a cute, cute house.

  • Reply Susan July 19, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    Hey Anna! Congratulations on your wonderful new home and the success of your new(ish) freelance life. Your kitchen is beautiful (those windows – I’m dying!) and what you’ve done in there, you got exactly right. I can’t wait to see more of this charming place!

  • Reply Niamh July 19, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    Gorgeous, those green tiles are beautiful. Remind me of jade glassware, love, love them!! I also love the tray under your IKEA sprouter. Do you mind telling me where you picked it up? On the lookout for a tray to house my favourite liquor bottles! Thanks!

    • Anna @ D16 July 20, 2016 at 9:53 am

      Niamh, the tray came from Target a few years ago. It’s long gone from the store by now, which is too bad—it’s really nice and very heavyweight! I think it was from the Nate Berkus collection, if you want to try eBay.

  • Reply Julie July 19, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    Hey Anna! This is totally random/not related to this post at all, but have you seen the Newburgh Rug from Joybird? It reminds me of your aesthetic, and also Newburgh?! I think someone over at Joybird reads Door Sixteen!

  • Reply lisa anne July 19, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    love what you’ve done! love the seagrass floor! to cover my hideous kitchen tile I used Daniel’s idea of that black vinyl industrial mat. (cut to fit, it is perfect) I loved that idea and it’s working out well… looks great too!

  • Reply Jami Ann Murphy July 20, 2016 at 12:35 am

    Anna, is there a synopsis of your recent activities? I can’t seem to keep up with you. You need to post an Anna D. timeline so I can catch up with you. Maybe it should be called Where’s Anna? or Where In the World is Anna? LOL! I love your new, new place. Hope you are happy under that big blue sky in Albuquerque. X

    • Anna @ D16 July 20, 2016 at 9:50 am

      I think that’s what my blog is, haha. Or at least Instagram… 😉

  • Reply Phillylass July 20, 2016 at 7:16 am

    That kale print is the best! Where is it from? Lots of luck in the new place! I can’t wait to see how you settle into it!

  • Reply Carol July 20, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    Your house is adorable. Very happy for you. Love the cute kitchen. Best of luck to you in the new digs and city.

  • Reply Kali July 20, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    Anna, I love you so much. You made this look effortless and amazing. I don’t know how long you’ve been in this space but its almost not fair how easily it came together for you! I’ve been living in my house for EIGHT years and we’re really close to pulling the trigger on doing an IKEA kitchen remodel (I worked there in college and will never convert) but I’m feeling so bland about it.

    If you’re ever looking for an idea on a blog post I’d love to see how you start to pull a room together. I’m recalling your laundry room in the other NM house – how you had like a ‘board’ of ideas and products. It might seem totally easy and natural for you, but I’d love to see your process. Do you assess what you have first? Go to your go-to places? I’m a habitual over looker – which turns into being completely overwhelmed and not being able to make a decision…and I’m cheap so that doesn’t help either. Do you set a budget on projects? Too probing? 🙂 I’m happy for your new happy house – its so cute and amazing. I bet the rest will be just as charming as this kitchen!

  • Reply Paul July 21, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    What coffee maker do you have now? And do you prefer it over the good old Cuisinart Brew Central?

    • Anna @ D16 July 21, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      It’s a Technivorm, the same kind I had at the house in Newburgh for the last few years. It wins against the Cuisinart, but it’s very close! Cuisinart is definitely the best coffee maker for the money, but the Technivorm brews a truly spectacular cup.

  • Reply S@sha July 22, 2016 at 4:28 am

    Maybe now that a Brand Ambassador lives in Albuquerque IKEA will build a store there and save devotees from having to drive to Phoenix. Come on IKEA!!! I don’t much like Rio Rancho, but it would be perfect for an IKEA. 🙂

    • Anna @ D16 July 22, 2016 at 9:56 am

      Alas, IKEA’s rule of thumb for determining possible US store locations is that there be roughly 2 million people within a 60 mile radius, so it’s not ever going to be likely for New Mexico…unless there’s a CRAZY population boom, haha.

    • S@sha July 26, 2016 at 2:39 pm

      Hmm. Well, maybe they should open a catalog store then to reduce shipping costs. I’m currently living in Crete and we don’t have a full sized IKEA, but we have a catalog store where we can order from the catalog or website and they ship things down weekly from the Athens store. The customer doesn’t pay any shipping costs. You don’t have the opportunity to see everything in person before purchasing, but its better than nothing!

    • Kimberly August 13, 2016 at 11:24 am

      IKEA opened a store in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with a population of 650,000. In fact, the entire province has only 1.3 million people. So IKEA does make exceptions…keep hope alive!

    • Anna @ D16 August 13, 2016 at 11:49 am

      I was referring to the US market in my comment—their practices definitely vary around the world.

  • Reply Junedotbe July 22, 2016 at 9:05 am

    I never considered putting a rug in a kitchen… before this post. And now I’m thinking of doing the same at home. I have beautiful 19th century cement tiles in my kitchen (, but it can be challenging decorating around their crazy pattern… So maybe a neutral rug might be the way to go…

    Your kitchen is adorable. And you did a great job mixing in the Ikea (and Vipp!). Very inspiring 🙂

    • Anna @ D16 July 22, 2016 at 9:57 am

      You’re not allowed to complain about those tiles!! 😉

  • Reply Annabelle July 24, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    Ahhh I love this. I have a 1931 kitchen in my brooklyn coop and when we bought it, made the contractor strip the cabinets and put on new hardware/repaint them. He thought we were nuts. Also had new cabs custom made to match and fill in gaps. Weird thing is that our cabinets are extra high, instead of extra low — my husband and I are super tall but if we ever sell… Well, buyers will think we’re crazy anyway because our gut renovated bathroom is black, white, and mint green

  • Reply Alison July 25, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    You had me at the shape of the window in the last post. And then that pretty blue! And hardwood floors! And elegant doorway shapes! Now intact vintage tiles… What a lovely house!

  • Reply dawn July 28, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    That green tile is wonderful. I love the geometric counter tile complement, as well.

    Do you have room for another one of those prep table carts? It would expand your storage and prep room along that wall.

  • Reply peggy July 29, 2016 at 11:20 pm

    Omigosh, the kitchen is adorable! Hello to Albuquerque (whew! hard to spell!) from Denver. It is Nirvana here. Congrats on your new cute place!

  • Reply peggy July 29, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    P.S. Better Call Saul is my favorite show!

  • Reply Harini August 4, 2016 at 9:04 am

    A little tip about the sprouting. Soak your beans for 6-7hrs in water and drain the beans well and then leave it in the sprouter over night. You will definitely see the sprouts next day.

  • Reply Stephanie Ciancio November 7, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    How did subsequet sprouter attempts go? I’m chasing down these sprouters as my husband and I have decided to fully embrace latent hippies and try to eat homegrown sprouts with every meal. I can’t imagine a more beautiful way to grow them than with this set.
    I noticed that nice glass foaming soap dispenser – is that from an older IKEA line?

  • Reply Laura March 30, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    Do you love your seed sprouter? I can’t find them anywhere now so if you ever want to sell yours, I’d be happy to buy it!

  • Reply Anona Whitley November 4, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    Nice kitchen! I’m wondering if you know of any kitchen designers in Albuquerque who will work with Ikea cabinets? I’d really like to hire someone locally. Thanks!

    • Anna Dorfman November 4, 2019 at 4:32 pm

      I don’t know any kitchen designers anywhere, unfortunately!

  • Reply Dana September 9, 2021 at 10:13 pm

    Love this kitchen! We are rehabbing a 1940’s charmer in Tucson with the same green tile and I want to paint the cabinets just like yours— do you know what color white was used? Thank you!

    • Anna Dorfman September 10, 2021 at 6:20 am

      Probably Valspar Du Jour.

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