When friends offered Nora Eisermann and Laura Muthesius the use of an apartment in a farm village just beyond Berlin, it came with a shared garden and a challenge: Set in an 1880s romantic ruin, the flat hadn’t been occupied for more than a decade and lacked a kitchen. The couple longed for a retreat from Berlin but couldn’t live on takeout: Nora is a food stylist and Laura is a food photographer. And since 2013, when Laura discovered her gluten and histamine intolerance, they’ve been cooking healthy vegetarian meals together and sharing the results on their blog, Our Food Stories.
How to create an affordable, high-functioning, great-looking setup in approximately 183 crumbling square feet? They installed Ikea cabinets, fixtures, and appliances while preserving the house’s strong suit, its “rough aesthetics.” Take a look at the just-finished results.
Photography by Laura Muthesius, unless noted, courtesy of Our Food Stories.
Above: “We wanted a rural style but with a modern look,” says Nora. The black cabinetry is from Ikea Metod and Laxarby collections—Sektion is the closest US equivalent—and the butcher-block counters are also Ikea (see Architects’ Budget Kitchen Countertop Picks) as are the Fagleboda bin pulls. The couple were given Ikea components in exchange for publishing the results, but were granted complete creative freedom.
Above: An Ikea range with induction cooktop (see the Nutid). Laura and Nora personalized the design with their own accessories, including a rustic knife rack and scissor lights that they found on eBay (for a similar design, consider the Bruno Scissor Arm Pharmacy Sconce and see more options here).
Above: The setup is just under 10 feet long: “We had to think carefully and plan which elements and storage space possibilities are the best. Very quickly we agreed that we wanted to use almost exclusively drawers (instead of base cabinets with doors): It’s not only more convenient but the storage space also exploits maximum good.”
Above: The modern farm sink is the Domsjö and the black faucet is the Glittran, both from Ikea. Laura and Nora’s furniture maker friend Philipp of NutsandWoods built the standing metal shelf. (They also collaborated with him on their signature Oak Cake Stand.) The vintage hanging shelf is fitted with wood found in the garden.
Above: The kitchen has immediately been put to use as Nora and Laura’s country lab and photo studio.
Above: The table is situated under a window overlooking the garden and surrounded by a wall partially preserved in as-found condition. The painted wainscot is in Farrow & Ball’s Railings. “We really liked the concrete floor, but it was red,” they told us. “We decided to paint it gray.”
Where’s the fridge? It’s tucked in the black cabinet next to the entry: “It was the only space left; we have a large fridge and a shallow but tall cabinet with shelves and drawers—and are really excited about all that storage in such a small kitchen. Initially we were afraid that a black cabinet might seem a little clunky, but we were pleasantly surprised.”
Above: The perfect rustic backdrop for Our Food Stories’ plum cake.
Above: The table, hanging light, and some of the chairs came from J&V, the couple’s Berlin haunt for vintage industrial furniture.
Above: A vintage cart, also from J&V, serves as the coffee station.
Above: Laura (L) and Nora (R) at their outdoor table with Collin, their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Just outside their building, they report, there are “apple and pear trees, berries, cherries, walnuts, elderberries and fresh herbs.” Photograph by Ezgi Polat.
Above: The space came with atmospheric two-toned walls, replaced windows, and windowed doors—and nothing more. Go to Our Food Stories for a detailed accounting of the makeover, plus the plum cake recipe.
Explore three more inventive Ikea kitchens: