When I started shopping for kitchen cabinets, I quickly found that this would not be an inexpensive venture. You want quality. You want selection. You want beauty. You want things to feel modern, clean, and be extremely functional. I also wanted drawers, so many drawers… I wanted the bells and whistles. The crown molding, the soft close cabinets and drawers, the trash can drawer, the tall pantries with so much storage you run out of things to put inside.
I wanted all of the convenience of a $40,000 kitchen without paying for it. We shopped cabinets at Lowes, Home Depot and a few other local home improvement shops. I also had several contractors come out and give me quotes. The quotes for a much more simplified version of what I wanted came in between $9000-$14000. JUST for the cabinets. This wasn’t including any of the other work our kitchen needed. It just wasn’t doable. It just didn’t make sense.
I started using Ikea’s kitchen creator just so I could get a feel for my kitchen space. It really was the best and most functional tool online I could find. At this point, I was still planning on getting custom cabinets.
Then I started doing some research and found that Ikea cabinets actually have tremendous reviews. They’re affordable, well-made and seemed to make the planning and ordering process fairly seamless.
When I plugged in the numbers, it appeared that these cabinets would cost about half as much. So the decision was made. Ikea it is. I’ll give you a quick pros’ and cons for those of you who are just info gathering, and then I’ll dive into some details for those who want the inside scoop.
PROS OF AN IKEA KITCHEN:
- About half the cost of custom cabinetry
- Full extend drawers included (this would cost extra from most custom cabinetry makers)
- Soft close cabinets included (this would cost extra from most custom cabinetry makers)
- Soft close drawers included (this would cost extra from most custom cabinetry makers)
- Wide variety of cabinet types, sizes, depths and functions
- Storage gadgets designed to fit your cabinets perfectly
- Sinks & appliances optional
- High quality hardware and hinges
- Generally easy ordering process
- Excellent customer service for things that may be missing or gone wrong
- Helpful and generally easy to navigate kitchen planner online
CONS OF AN IKEA KITCHEN:
- Limited designs & colors (though you can use an awesome site called semi-handmade to make door fronts unique to you and your taste to fix this problem. however, it’ll add to your total bill.)
- Made of particle board, not solid wood. So, no sanding and repainting if you get tired of the color
- Expect to spend 4-5 hours in the Ikea store when ordering your cabinets
- Accuracy of measuring and planning is up to you. No contractor to blame if things don’t fit. Your fault and your problem to fix.
- Not DIY friendly, not that any new cabinets would really be (I’ll go into this more later)
- Not strong enough for concrete countertops. They’d need reinforcement if you were set on this route. (Granite and lighter stones are just fine, though.)
- If something breaks or is missing, the process halts until you can get a replacement
- Time consuming organization, construction and installation (depending on kitchen size and layout)
- Size restraints. The cabinets aren’t custom, so you have to make your kitchen fit the cabinets rather than the other way around. This can take some time and playing around with different sizes. Fortunately, Ikea does have little filler pieces for those awkward 2 inches of extra space in a line of cabinets. And, they have a wide variety of sizes of cabinets.
Let me tell you a little bit about the process.
First, you create your kitchen. You use Ikea’s online Home Planning Tool. In order to make use of this tool, you must ACCURATELY MEASURE YOUR KITCHEN. Include any pipe that sticks out or wall that protrudes. No detail can be missed and measurements must be as accurate as possible! I was really terrified about this piece to start with. In fact, it almost prevented me from moving forward. But in the end, measure once, twice, three times before ordering. It will be well worth it. (Because this step is so daunting, but important, I created a post JUST about measuring for an Ikea kitchen.) I loved this tool because it gave me the flexibility to look at several different designs (I think I had about 10 when all was said and done) and evaluate what would look best in our space. You also get to consider the functionality of your kitchen. Do I want long drawers near the oven for my cooking utensils? Would it be inconvenient to walk across the room for silverware? Where would I want my pans to go?
After you’ve created your dream kitchen, and you’ve checked measurements, thought through functionality of each cabinet and drawer, taken into account pipes, windows, lighting, electrical plugs, appliance placement, freaked out, screamed into a pillow, checked measurements again, took some deep breaths, love your kitchen. It’s time to
Order your Cabinets. You can do this online, but the delivery options and shipping costs are very limited depending on where you live. Our closest Ikea was 4-5 hours away, so online ordering wasn’t an option for us. If you go this route, I still suggest going to an Ikea in person before making your purchase to look at their kitchens in person. This will help your vision for your kitchen and give you reassurance that you like their cabinets and the styles you have chosen. Their kitchen experts are also extremely helpful. While I had planned this kitchen to a T, there were still small details I missed that the kitchen expert at the store brought up. She was very helpful and made sure our kitchen would turn out perfectly. Our process of ordering, while exciting, was very very long and exhausting.
We ended up with over 100 boxes. We received an itemized list of each little piece and while Matt loaded the trailer, I took inventory to see if we were missing anything. The loading process took about 1.5 hours because there were so many boxes. All together, we were at Ikea for 5 hours. First, ordering. Then waiting for our kitchen to be pulled and organized in the warehouse. Lastly, loading and taking inventory.
Take Transportation into Consideration. Depending on the size of your kitchen, you may need a trailer (like we did.) We actually used this whole trailer and the bed of Matt’s truck.
Bring a tarp and tie downs. We hit rain driving back from Ikea, which was a terrifying experience and resulted in many failed attempts to put a tarp over everything AFTER it was loaded. The pieces are in a box and wrapped well in plastic, but particle board + water is not a good combination, and we were biting our nails hoping the rain didn’t ruin the thousands of dollars we just spent on cabinets. We also forgot tie downs, so we used the cheap twine Ikea provides for free. It didn’t work very well and we lost one cabinet door front on the highway, which was immediately run over by another car. Not good. Learn from my mistake. Bring a tarp. Bring tie downs.
Organize & Install your cabinets. The cabinets come in flat boxes, all mixed together. You’ll get a comprehensive list that details what parts go where. Each item has a very lengthy ID that includes letters and numbers. You’ll have to go through each piece and organize what goes with what cabinet before you get started on putting things together.
Construction in the process
Can I do this myself? The short answer to that question is yes. You can. I’m an avid DIYer an I’ll try just about anything before hiring someone else to do it. But not on this. I absolutely do not recommend doing this yourself UNLESS you have previous experience, a lot of time on your hands, are not on a strict timeline to finish your kitchen, and you’re very confident in your construction/carpentry skills.
Here is why I hired a contracI needed this done as quickly as possible. Each cabinet will need to be constructed individually which can be tricky to figure out. We both work full-time, and I couldn’t go without a kitchen for any longer than I had to. Our contractor worked day in and day out to get this done.
- The construction is doable, but challenging. The instructions provided for cabinet and drawer construction are not very straightforward. I took notes on our ordering day, because the kitchen expert gave us some tips on how to read and understand them. I then passed this info to our contractor. Because of his general contracting knowledge, he was able to figure out the process quickly. For your average joe, it would be more frustrating and complex.
- Your walls aren’t straight. And your floor’s not level. Most houses do not have perfectly square, straight walls, or perfectly level floors. Your cabinets come with adjustable legs and they’ll have to be carefully and precisely adjusted so they don’t look wonky. You also want any space above your cabinet (for molding) to look even and clean. Because our ceiling was not perfectly level, our contractor spent a great deal of time figuring out how to make our cabinets be level but also look level along the ceiling line. If we would have tried to tackle this ourselves, it would have been a complete disaster.
- If you have an island or peninsula, it’ll need to be attached to the floor and be made square. I did not have the tools or know how to do this. My contractor did. Enough said.
- Lastly, you spent THOUSANDS on these cabinets. You’ll spend THOUSANDS on your kitchen. If I was going to spend that kind of dough on a new, beautiful kitchen, I wanted a professional to get the install perfect. And he did. Read my post, 20 questions to ask before hiring a contractor !
Love Your Kitchen! And get some money back. We didn’t order our kitchen during one of Ikea’s kitchen events. If you did, good for you! You saved money right away. If you didn’t, keep your receipt and go back the next time they have their 15% off event. This will give you a chance to return any items that went unused, and they’ll give you the 15% back on an Ikea card. So you can buy more Ikea stuff. YAY IKEA.
One of my favorite Ikea Kitchen items? The Sink. I will warn you, this thing stains and scratches fairly easily. But a farmhouse sink this big for under $400? I’ll take it.
I also love my faucet. Not an Ikea buy, but I love it. In general, I’ve had great experiences with Moen products.
Why I would Choose Ikea Again:
- I got everything I wanted in a kitchen for so much less than custom.
- The cabinets have held up really well. They do get dirty (because they’re white) but they have taken wear and tear surprisingly well and are easy to clean.
- The are quality cabinets. Even though they aren’t solid wood, these cabinets are built to be used and to last.
- They look amazing. They don’t look cheap or chinsy. They way they look and function is of high quality.
- Ikea has excellent customer service. From my experience, Ikea has been very helpful. I made sure to get the store’s direct number (not the 1-800 number) before leaving. They quickly replaced (at no charge) the cabinet front that was run over on the highway. We did have one missing hinge, and one broken hinge when all was said and done. Also quickly replaced by mail at no charge.
Final Kitchen Reveal & Source List coming soon to a screen near you…
Read more on our full Kitchen Revival