This Stunning Kitchen Makeover by Chris Loves Julia Features an Ingenious IKEA Hack

Photos by Chris Loves Julia

When Caleb Fullmer and his wife purchased the family home that he grew up in, they knew they'd have to renovate the kitchen sooner or later. Though they painted the '60s cabinets white and added a subway tile backsplash a few years ago, the space, marked by a disjointed layout and dated appliances, was in desperate need of a major overhaul. With their fourth child on the way, the Fullmers turned to friends and neighbors Julia and Chris Marcum of Chris Loves Julia to update the space before the baby arrived.

"We really focused on infusing the kitchen with warmth and light," Julia Marcum tells Hunker. "They are a growing family and cooking is a large part of everyday life — we really wanted to give them a space that it would be a joy to cook and gather and entertain." To accomplish that, Chris and Julia went all out, making as many structural updates as possible: demoing a wall to open up the floor plan, laying down new hardwood floors, installing modern kitchen cabinetry, and replacing dated appliances.

Scroll on to take a tour of the recently transformed kitchen, which (spoiler alert) includes the most genius IKEA hack.

kitchen with Ikea cabinetry and Semihandmade Supermatte White doors
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credit: Chris Loves Julia

Given that the goal was to create a light-filled, welcoming space, the kitchen's dark hardwood floors had to go. The plan was to rip up the original flooring, but when asbestos was discovered under the existing floorboards, Chris and Julia shifted gears and installed engineered wood floors from Stuga Studio in Moonlight, a shade of light oak, instead.

To further brighten up the space, they installed a subway tile backsplash using Bedrosians Cloe wall tile in white. The gleaming backsplash extends from the counter to the ceiling — complete with a custom range hood clad in tile — and effectively refracts the natural light that filters through the windows to brighten up the entire kitchen.

kitchen with white subway tile backsplash and white cabinetry
credit: Chris Loves Julia

Rather than spending a ton of money on costly custom cabinetry, Chris and Julia opted for affordable IKEA Sektion cabinets, which she then covered with Semihandmade cabinet fronts designed to fit perfectly over IKEA doors.

"We've used IKEA cabinets so many times prior and they have a great warranty and are easy to assemble and install," Julia says. "Paired with Semihandmade cabinet fronts, it creates a budget-friendly, custom look for a fraction of the cost."

kitchen with Chris Loves Julia line of textured Shaker cabinet doors in Cove
credit: Chris Loves Julia

They outfitted the pantry wall and island with light wood cabinet fronts in Cove from their Semihandmade x Chris Loves Julia line, while the rest of the kitchen boasts Supermatte white fronts from Semihandmade's core collection.

kitchen with white subway tile backsplash and black framed windows
credit: Chris Loves Julia

To lend a sense of continuity to the space, they adorned the shaker-style cabinet fronts in both finishes with oil-rubbed bronze hardware from Rejuvenation. The refined drawer pulls and cabinet knobs perfectly complement the black-framed windows and contrast nicely with the light-hued cabinet fronts.

kitchen with modern chandelier installed above the kitchen island
credit: Chris Loves Julia

While it's commonplace to install a pendant above a kitchen island, Julia instead went with a modern chandelier from Rejuvenation. "I love taking a risk in every space, and here, the large chandelier above the island was a risk that paid off," she explains. "I love how it adds a modern element to the warm wood cabinetry. It's warm and light."

kitchen with white and brush bronze Cafe stove
credit: Chris Loves Julia

Although the renovation was done on a budget, there was one area where Chris and Julia splurged: the appliances. "Appliances are the workhorse of the kitchen, but here they were also the jewelry so a little more money was spent," Julia explains.

They equipped the kitchen with white and brushed bronze Cafe Appliances, including a professional range and hood insert, a French-door refrigerator, a built-in dishwasher, and a sleek microwave that seamlessly blends into the space.

kitchen with modern chandelier and white subway tile
credit: Chris Loves Julia

The end result is a stunning rustic-meets-modern kitchen that's fit for a growing family.


Megan Beauchamp

Megan Beauchamp

Megan Beauchamp is a writer and editor in Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in MyDomaine, House Beautiful, Bustle, and Brit + Co., among others.