In My Home Tour

Tips & Tricks for Buying an Ikea Kitchen

ikea kitchenI know that someone may fall upon our kitchen reveal in a few years time and will have missed all of the entertaining posts leading up the grand reveal that explained how and why we chose things. I’m going to create some posts that include a lot of information for readers who may be interested in renovating their own kitchen.For this particular post I’m focusing on the main element – our cabinetry, which is Ikea, and the door style is the Adel door. This post doesn’t go into the details of what we picked elsewhere (counter, tiles etc) that you can find in our “Kitchen Shopping Guide”. This is just a list of things to consider when designing an Ikea kitchen.  Warning. This is a LONG post.

If you read my blog regularly you’ll know I’m a fan of “hacking” Ikea things to make them look custom.  So my kitchen is no different. We’ve gotten creative with Ikea cabinetry and worked in elements from other stores – giving us a custom look at a better price than custom. Anyhow, without further delay – here is my summary of buying an Ikea Kitchen.  – Lindsay

#1| Why we chose IKEA cabinetry for our kitchen

The pros to an Ikea kitchen are pretty clear – they are economical, easy to buy, things are usually in stock so you can walk out with them the same day. The downside – your Ikea delivery may look like this and will be a little intimidating. And ….you’re really on your own to design and build your kitchen.I’m not going to go into the differences between custom kitchens and Ikea, there are a lot of factors in support of both – but for us the cost savings of an Ikea kitchen was very hard to ignore. For cabinet purchasing- Ikea really came in as the economical choice.  We ended up choosing the Ikea Adel door, a classic shaker that I think is the best profile they have.

#2 | Buying & Ordering Your Ikea Kitchen Cabinets

We’ve all done it – open the Ikea Catalog, seen kitchens that are economical and look like they could just be installed the next day. I wouldn’t say it looks easy to accomplish, but it definitely looks achievable for the every day homeowner. Which, is true. BUT, if you want it to look built in, a lot of pre-planning is involved.We spent a lot of time designing because we really wanted the kitchen to look built in, not just “installed”. This meant that we had to do a lot of planning, something that took us months and months. Aubrey stresses that you really have to pre-plan EVERYTHING when doing an Ikea kitchen and it’s a domino effect. Everything effects spacing – appliance dimensions, what crown molding you use, what height is the valance you use. Know everything you are going with before you start the design process.

Although we have a relatively easy space I found the design process stressful. The one downside to an Ikea kitchen is that although they have a very large selection of cabinetry – inevitably they are limited in cabinet sizes. So it’s a bit of a puzzle working out which cabinets should go where. In the beginning I did debate hiring a designer to help design the layout. I have read that many designers can offer select services – such as helping design layouts – which may make it an economical opportunity for a homeowner. (For example, Carol Reed offers this service) In the end Aubrey and I worked it out – I’m pretty creative, and Aubrey is great with numbers/measurements.  I can break our designing process into three important steps/stages.

  • Researching Ikea Kitchen Pictures: I spent a few hours going through Carol Reed’s blog, soaking in some of her designer tips of working with Ikea kitchens. I also googled a lot of “Ikea Kitchens” and tried to really spot what I did, and also what I didn’t like of Ikea Kitchens.
  • Ikea Kitchen Designers: We took advantage of the staff at Ikea in the Kitchen Department. They were great. With our measurements in hand, they helped get set started using their kitchen design tool. That initial meeting with a kitchen designer set us off on the right foot. You still have to do the design yourself, but the kitchen staff will helped start us off with their design program.
  • Ikea Online Kitchen Design Tool: The last step for us was tweaking the design that we did in Step #2, at home. When you go home, you can tweak the design using their online design tool. I found the online tool confusing and frustrating so Aubrey ended up taking over and handling it. (Guess which one of us has more patience in the relationship)

TIP: Be creative and think outside the box. You can hide some empty spaces with “Filler Panels”. One great example is shown below. I wanted to connect the “Eat in Kitchen” with the Kitchen we brought the counter further into the eat in area. The space for cabinetry in the kitchen area allows for normal depth cabinets. But the eat in kitchen is an extension, and the wall is actually further set into the room. We couldn’t maintain the same base cabinet size along the run. So to maintain a straight line of base cabinets into the eat in area, we had to fake it a little. We added in less deep base cabinets into the eat in area. We added in a brace for counter top, and knew that “cover panel” would hide the wasted space behind – and in the end, seamlessly blend in.

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There are more tips on the design process below in section D.

#3 | Buying & Ordering Your Ikea Kitchen Cabinets

Here are some tips on ordering your Ikea Kitchen.

  • DO ask for help from the Ikea Kitchen Staff.
  • DO Take advantage of the Ikea kitchen sale. You get 10% back in Ikea gift cards when you buy Ikea cabinets from the store during the sale.
  • DON’T plan your kitchen design in the middle of the Ikea Kitchen Sale. It’s going to be crazy busy and getting one on one assistance (uninterrupted) from a Kitchen specialist will be impossible. Plan and design your kitchen well before the sale happens.
  • DO ask about their sale policies. We found out that Ikea will honor the 10% sale discount if we bought up to 45 days prior to the sale. [Call the store and ask what their policy is on honoring sale prices] We ended up getting back $400, in gift cards but skipped the mad rush of the sale in the store.
  • DO call your order in vs. going into the store and picking each piece out of the warehouse.
  • DO have your order delivered. We had a bad experience with the delivery company that Ikea used/uses. Ikea called for feedback (standard policy) after the order was delivered, and Aubrey gave an account of what happened and we did receive an apology. But still, just be ready to instruct the delivery guys/women on where to put the order and be prepared for your delivery to look like this.

#4 | Building & Installing (It’s ok to hire some help!)

You can hire a company to build and install your Ikea cabinets. When we priced this service out it was going to cost approx $100 per cabinet. So if you have 20 cabinets (which is normal) you’re looking at $2,000 for this service. Because we were watching where our money was going, we decided to do 1/2 the job ourselves. Aubrey built the cabinets, and hired a company to just install. Be warned…..Some companies won’t do this – they only offer the Build AND Install combo. So call around before you start to build your cabinets. Either way – I thought it was really valuable to hire a company to help with the installation. Ask whether the company will install the cover panels/filler panels – these little details are what finish off your design. It’s ok to hire help, and there are a lot of reputable companies that are around that will help you install.

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#5 | Finishing Details (You’re Almost there!)

Here is what I think are important tricks for making an Ikea Kitchen look custom.

  • DO BUY the tallest cabinets possible, so that they go as close to the ceiling as possible. I think wasted space above the cabinets always is an obvious sign to the fact that you bought “store bought” cabinets.
  • DON’T BUY any of the trim from Ikea. Build your own valance. You need to have the right tools, but this kind of detail makes a HUGE difference. If you don’t have the tools, maybe hire a handyman for the day.
  • DO consider adding in crown molding. I think crown molding gives a gorgeous “finished” look. [See photos below for examples]
  • DO Paint the trim to match the Ikea doors. Ikea Adel
    door paint match is Benjamin Moore Paper Mache.
  • DO BUY an Ikea door to bring around town with you as you try to match elements for your kitchen. That one Ikea Adel door stayed in my car for a month as I went looking for counters, tile, etc.

I guess my analogy is this – I think buying Bedroom Sets from a store doesn’t result in a very nice look. It looks too matchy matchy. (This is totally a personal style, so don’t take offense if you have a matchy-matchy bedroom set.) They sell them as sets because people like them, and need them. But for me – I think things look more unique and custom, when you mix and match from different stores. The same goes for Ikea and their kitchens. Buy the cabinets from them but look elsewhere for everything else. It likley won’t cost you more, but it will take you some time to source things.

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Our kitchen – Note the crown molding is painted the same colour as the doors. Have your local paint store help match paint. Benjamin Moore’s PAPER MACHE is a perfect match for Ikea Adel Doors.

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#6 | Done! And my final thoughts on Ikea Kitchens after our own reno?

We likely spent more hours designing than the majority of people would but we really wanted it to look built in. Do you need to spend as many hours as we did designing? No – but it’s worth it in the end. As Aubrey stressed when he saw me writing this post – it’s imperative that you know everything you’re working with before you start designing. The cost savings of choosing the Ikea cabinets made it worth it. And, they look fabulous. In my mind, go with the Adel doors, they are so classic.

I’m sure I’ve missed certain things. I appreciate this isn’t a buider-guide-how to, but at least you get the inspiration to take away to create your own kitchen, and see the tricks we used.

I hope this has helped!

xo Lindsay

Disclosure: Because of the extensive (LONG) review, I feel as though it is worth noting that this post was not sponsored by Ikea.

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  • Reply
    August 22, 2016 at 10:10 am

    You’re kitchen is beautiful and has given me so many great ideas for the one we are working on. Thank you! I was wondering how long your pulls are on the longer cabinets (30″-36″). I love these pulls, but don’t love the price tag on the 8″ ones when I need 15 of them. Thank you for sharing all of your tips, it’s helping to make my ikea kitchen remodel that much easier.

  • Reply
    September 14, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    Did you order your counter top through ikea as well?

  • Reply
    September 26, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    Your Ikea info is so very helpful. We’ve been exploring this option for our family room, downstairs but like you, want it to look custom. Such great tips!

  • Reply
    October 24, 2016 at 10:18 am

    Hi Lindsay,

    Thank you for this info. My fiance and I are about to purchase an Ikea kitchen within another week or so this I really appreciate your post. We included the crown molding from Ikea but after reading your post we will definitely reconsider. I was standing in front of my kitchen sink last night thinking to myself that I don’t want a regular size cabinet above the sink as would like to get a tall faucet. I noticed you have an short open cabinet above your sink and that’s something I’m looking for as well. We’re going to revisit our kitchen design and make some adjustments. Great info.

  • Reply
    chloe | boxwood avenue
    November 2, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    Hi Lindsay, I have a question for ya! For your cook book shelf, did you simply not put the cabinet door on? Thanks!

  • Reply
    January 28, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Does Ikea make the Adel door anymore? I like the Grimslov door (is this the replacement for Adel?) and was wondering if Benjamin Moore Paper Mache is the match for this as well?

    Your kitchen is stunning, looks custom for sure!

  • Reply
    February 14, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    Love your kitchen! We are in the middle of designing our IKEA kitchen. The most frustrating thing is the IKEA home planner software! I think I am going to have a lot of early mornings and late nights to be able to use it at “off times”. Blogs like yours give me the inspiration to keep at it!!! Thanks for taking the time to post all of this information to help out all those that follow in your footsteps.

  • Reply
    March 6, 2017 at 10:09 am

    Your kitchen looks great! We are going with Ikea for our kitchen as well, after getting a quote for double the price from a furniture company for the same quality. Considering we have a two bedroom two bathroom to finish and furnish top to bottom, I would rather put my hard earned money elsewhere. So I have been spending the last three months designing, twitching and redesigning our Ikea kitchen. When I get some spare time in the evening, this is what I spend it on. The tool has a learning curve indeed, but after spending so many weeks on it, the way the cabinets are designed to work together is very clear and I even managed to find solutions to issues I thought we could only fix by having our kitchen custom made. Besides, it forced me to take a really good look at my current kitchen and what I have in it and find the best place for every item in the new kitchen and really make it work for us.

  • Reply
    April 10, 2019 at 11:30 pm

    Question; after a few years, how have the cabinets held up?? Thanks for reply and for the tips!!

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