Thanks so much for all your kind comments about our kitchen tour yesterday.
One of the most-frequent questions I get about our house is how we like our IKEA cabinets. We’ve lived in our kitchen for more than a year, so I thought it was a good time to come back to this question in more detail.
In short: I LOVE OUR IKEA KITCHEN.
In fact, we love this kitchen so much that we will likely use IKEA cabinetry for our next home, when that time comes.
But, I know you are looking for more scoop. More dirt. More details. Well call me Perez Hilton because I’m here with more information than you ever care to know. I figured out why I’ve put this post off for so long. It’s really lengthy, but I wanted to keep it to one post for those of you who are really interested.
When we were planning for this kitchen remodel, I knew I wanted white and I knew I wanted a Shaker-style door. Because this is not a forever house, we were looking for a basic cabinet and nothing too expensive or custom.
I had decided that I wanted white laminate, which is both cost-effective and easy to keep clean. So that just left me with the small task of picking a cabinet in our budget.
In our last kitchen remodel, we went with a local cabinet shop to get maple, Shaker-style cabinets. But when we went back to get a quote for this house, it was looking like it would be more than $9,500. That was nearly half of the entire house remodel budget. Not. Happening.
I started shopping around. I went to Home Depot, Menards and Lowe’s. I talked to kitchen designers at each to get some ideas and prices. There wasn’t a huge variety of options for the space due to the narrowness of the room and budget, which made it easy to compare apples to apples.
The base grade cabinets in white laminate were running about $6,500. Still a bit more than we wanted. And we were also running into some issues with my desire for the farmhouse sink I picked up on Craigslist. (Most basic grade cabinetry didn’t have an option for a farmhouse base.)
I had read good things about IKEA cabinetry online. And if it was good enough for Sarah Richardson, it was definitely good enough for me. So, I started playing around on the online Kitchen Planner.
It took me a little time to get the basic dimensions and layout into the program, but once I did, I quickly saw that the price was a fraction of what I was quoted elsewhere. (See the bottom of this post for our bottom line.) So, we took a little road trip to see the cabinets in person.
I loved the look of the Adel doors in off-white and I really liked all the customization options for drawers and cabinets. Coupled with the price, we were sold.
The prep work.
Before stepping foot in IKEA, I had spent a lot of time with the kitchen design.
TIP: You cannot go to IKEA and have them design the kitchen “for you.” If you show up with no planning, my understanding is that you’ll be asked to use one of the computers there to do it. However, once your drawing is “complete,” a designer will walk through everything to order and confirm there are no major mistakes. (For example, I had the wrong door dropped in in one place and didn’t have adequate clearance in another.)
Since I’m 3 hours away from IKEA, I knew I wanted everything “done” when I walked into the store. I started online with the IKEA kitchen planner. It allows you to draw out your kitchen to scale and then drag and drop the upper and lower cabinets into place. The tool will tell you if you are planning things correctly to fit your kitchen, but you also have to know what you want.
TIP: I found it really helpful to have the kitchen designs from other cabinet shops before trying it on my own. I hate to recommend going to a kitchen store simply to do the work for you, but in my case, I was truly comparing prices and options at the time. By the time I was working on my kitchen design at IKEA, I had a layout that I knew worked in the space.
Once you have your online drawing completed, the planner will generate a shopping list. And it’s a long shopping list. (Think every door, drawer stop, etc.) It’s not a quick process, but the online planner really does streamline the process and help you along the way to your dream kitchen. The online tool even allows you to see the kitchen in 3D and from different views.
Buying your IKEA cabinetry.
The day arrived. Because I am lucky to have awesome friends, I somehow talked the awesome Jen at Onion Grove Mercantile into coming to Chicago with me to PICK UP MY ENTIRE KITCHEN.
(You can read about our little adventure to IKEA here. In which I paid Jen with a late Cheesecake Factory lunch and my company. Don’t you totally want to be my friend?)
In retrospect, this sounds insane. And I really don’t know why she agreed to it. But, we met up and hit the highway in my dad’s extended 8ft pickup to make the three hour drive in time to get there when IKEA opens at 10.
TIP: If you are going to get your cabinets on a weekend, get there right when IKEA opens. You can get your first pick of a kitchen designer and it’s not super busy (yet). Go immediately to the kitchen design area when you arrive and get going. This will take some time.
We immediately found a kitchen designer and shared the plan I had put together on the online kitchen planner. She took a look at everything very carefully, asked a few questions for clarification, and then went through individually and ordered the pieces I would need.
This will take some time. For us, it took a an hour or two for her to get everything completed, if I remember correctly. (It has been almost two years now and I barely remember what I had for lunch today.) Then, she ordered the cabinetry and I paid for it right there. My order would be pulled by IKEA staff for me over the next hour or two. (There were two pieces that were not in stock. That sucks, but I did have to drive back up a few weeks later to pick them up at a Chicagoland warehouse.)
The time it took to get everything picked gave Jen and I plenty of time to shop IKEA.
Once we were done shopping, my entire list was picked by IKEA staff. I could claim everything on the way out the door. There were three rolling carts of boxes. Around 60 larger flat boxes and 100 boxes in total (including hinges, small boxes, etc.).
That’s a lot of boxes. And before I could leave, I had to verify that everything I had ordered and purchased was there. So sweet Jen and I went through box by box and counted.
I love Jen.
By this point, it was raining outside. (Of course.)
So, Jen and I (mostly Jen because I’m a weenie), loaded my entire kitchen into the back of the truck in the rain. (Not to mention the few carts of other IKEA stuff we had picked up.) Oh, and of course the wood countertops were about 4,000 pounds and three inches too long for the truck bed because of the packaging. So, we had to open those boxes to get them to close the truck bed.
I kid you not, we barely had room to fit ourselves into the cab of that truck. (Okay, in full disclosure, we also fit a few Crate & Barrel bags in there.)
TIP: You may want to bring an extra vehicle. Or pay for shipping, if it’s offered. (I’m too far away for that to be an option.)
I really didn’t think that everything would fit. But it barely did.
It’s assembly time.
There are big differences between IKEA cabinetry and cabinets you purchase from a home store. (And obviously from custom cabinetry, although I cannot speak to that because that is well beyond my budget.)
But you know that and are willing to suffer through assembly and installation for the perks. Namely cost. So get that Allen wrench ready. (Kidding. You don’t really use an Allen wrench.)
Now it’s time to resurrect a favorite NewlyWoodwards quote. From Renovation Progress Report Week 43, when we were assembling IKEA cabinets:
Warning: IKEA cabinetry instructions are about as clear as mud. Unless you read hieroglyphics, in which case YOU ARE GOLDEN.
Classic. Moving on …
This is a good time to reiterate that IKEA cabinets are flat-packed.
Let me say that again.
IKEA cabinets come packed in flat boxes like everything else at IKEA. And there are several boxes for EVERY individual wall cabinet, floor cabinet and drawer. When my dad caught a glimpse of the boxes, his jaw dropped. “I thought you were kidding when you said we had to put them together,” he said.
Ha. Ha. I don’t kid about something so serious.
When we unloaded them into the garage, Ryan and my dad stacked them together together by cabinet to make it easier. (Also, something strange we noticed is that the numbers on the pick sheet from IKEA did not match the numbers on the boxes. That made it a little confusing at first but we got the hang of it.)
That is a LOT of boxes, friends.
The cabinets and drawers aren’t difficult to assemble, but the process is definitely time-consuming. All of the holes are predrilled and truly, everything pretty much screws into place with a screwdriver. Even the doors have the holes for hinges. Of course, I didn’t assemble a single piece. But once my dad and Ryan had a few together, it seemed to be pretty speedy. There was a lot of eye-rolling at me for subjecting them to assembling all the cabinets and drawers.
Once they were assembled, it was time to get those puppies up.
Which brings us to a downside. There has to be a downside. The main thing Ryan did not like with IKEA cabinets were the way the cabinets were installed.
The uppers were mounted using a metal bracket that the cabinets slid onto one-by-one. This makes the installation quite a deal easier than “normal” cabinet installation. But, Ryan prefers mounting them directly to the wall to keep them flush. It’s not noticeable to me, but this in a downside to the installation, in my handy husband’s opinion.
The bottom cabinets are also installed a bit differently than normal cabinets. They sit on plastic legs instead of having an integrated toe kick. (There is a piece that covers the legs, to mimic the look of the normal toe kick.)
In theory, this makes them easier to level in an old house (like ours). But Ryan thought they seemed chintzy. We haven’t had a lick of trouble with them, but I thought I’d mention this in the interest of full disclosure.
In no time at all, the guys had the cabinets installed and they were looking goooooooood.
Bippity boppity boo – add some appliances, some hardware, some window trim and the countertops. (All of these steps are detailed in our weekly progress reports for the renovation, if you are interested.)
The down low.
All-in-all, there are a lot of things to love about IKEA cabinets.
- They really look nice. We always get compliments on them. They have a really classic look and clean, modern lines.
- Drawer stops give all the drawers a soft-close mechanism.
- Door stops give the doors a soft-close mechanism.
- The metal drawers are super easy to clean and are really sturdy.
- The drawers are much deeper than normal drawers from other basic cabinetry manufactures. They never get stuck by overloading them. (And I have a tendency to overload drawers.) I love the drawers so much that I think I’d do all drawers for lowers in our next kitchen.
- The cabinets are available in a wide variety of styles and sizes – including extra tall uppers, extra deep drawers, farmhouse sink bases, pull-out pantries, etc. There are also some really great options for tight spaces
- They are really easy to keep clean and wipe down.
For these reasons, I actually prefer them to the cabinets I had at our last house, which were from a local cabinet shop.
Now, I think it’s worth mentioning – these are not heirloom-quality cabinets. They aren’t crafted by an artisan by hand. They have particle board. But, they are really sturdy and I’ve been very impressed with the quality over the past year. I’m confident enough in their durability to use them again and recommend them.
The bottom line.
We saved a ridiculous amount of money on this kitchen. I mean, seriously. Ridiculous. Nearly laughable.
For a cost comparison sake, we were quoted $6,500 at Lowe’s for the baseline white cabinets. (Lower than the $9,500 we were quoted at the local shop.) This was cabinets alone – no countertops, sink, etc. And these cabinets would have been comparable in quality to the IKEA version – meaning particleboard, melanine, etc.
On the other hand, we paid $2,600 for the entire kitchen at IKEA, including the countertops (we went with Numerar oak) and a new sink (we went with something very similar to the DOMSJO single basin apron-front sink).
I ended up selling the other farmhouse sink from Craigslist, which netted us around $100.
That brings the cost of the entire kitchen to around $2,500.
That’s a $4,000 savings over Lowe’s, before factoring in countertops and the sink. This gave us more than enough wiggle room for the hardware, appliances, faucet, and … our entire renovation. For $4,000, we can justify the work it took to get the cabinets ordered, transported and put together.
And that, my friends, is all there is to know about our journey towards a new kitchen with IKEA cabinets. It wasn’t a short journey, but I think it was worth it.
What do you think? Was it worth all the effort?
(Also, did I miss anything? If you have a question, please leave it in the comments and I’ll do my best to get you an answer.)
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