It’s been a heady few years for architect couple Hélène Pinaud and Julien Schwartzmann. The two, both 27, met as students at the Strasbourg National School of Architecture. After graduation in 2014, they moved to Paris and launched their firm, Heju, an abbreviation of their first names. They hit the ground running, designing apartments, boutiques, events, and a slew of clever DIYs: see, for instance, their Homemade Terrazzo Table, Metal Wall Organizer, and Tiled Plywood Side Table-Plant Stand with colored grout.
All the while, they’ve been living and working out of their own small apartment, a 538-square-foot garret near Place de la Republic. They sanded the wood floors and painted them white “to gain some sun.” And they overhauled the bedroom to their liking. But short on cash and time, they kept living with a Mediterranean-tiled kitchen that felt all wrong for them—until they decided to approach the project as “a giant DIY.” Their vision? A “minimalist design with clean lines and natural materials,” homemade rather than Big Box. But being extremely budget minded, they turned to Leroy Merlin, the French equivalent of Home Depot, for materials and parts. Come see the results and scroll to the end for an accounting of costs and a look at the kitchen as it was.
Photography by Heju (@hejustudio).
The enamelware pitcher is Ikea’s $14.99 Sockërart vase. For seating, they use four vintage Breuer chairs.
They say they chose Leroy Merlin’s cabinets because the store offered more widths than they found at Ikea: “We were tight on both sides, so we needed precise sizes. And even then we had to saw the units a bit so that everything fit; it was a dull, hard job but worth it.”
The appliances are all by Smeg from Leroy Merlin and include an Elementi Oven (with an Elementi drawer underneath it) and an induction cooktop, plus a dishwasher, under-counter fridge, and washing machine hidden behind cabinet doors. (The perks of having a big following: knowing the project would be featured on Heju’s website and social media channels, Leroy Merlin didn’t charge for the latter three fixtures.)
The Tally: Heju’s Kitchen Remodel Costs
- Leroy Merlin cabinets: €180
- Birch plywood for doors: €400
- Laminated plywood counter: €500
- New window: €300
- Ikea Sink: €94
- Brass faucet: €500
- Smeg oven: €449
- Smeg induction plate: €369
- Under-oven drawer: €29.90
- Table €820
Total: €3,641.90 (approximately $4,204)
Looking to upgrade an Ikea kitchen with custom cabinet fronts? Take a look at 11 Custom Cabinet Companies for the Ultimate Ikea Hack.
More ingenious budget kitchen overhauls:
- 13 Favorite Cost-Conscious Kitchen Remodels from the Remodelista Archives
- Before & After: The $350 DIY Kitchen Overhaul in Two Weekends
- Steal This Look: A Cheap and Cheerful Fire Island Kitchen