So, let me tell you a little something about my neighbor. She’s an architect. A Hah-Vahd educated architect. And her house is AH. MA. ZING. Anyway, beyond being a great architect, Lauren has been a great sounding board through this whole process. Though she probably rues the day when that bathroom flooded. Poor woman. Too much wine has been poured over this damn kitchen. I am sure at this point, she wishes for something a little stronger.
Anyway, because I’m a full on stalker, I invited myself over to Lauren’s house early and often while we waited out painters and other contractors when we first moved. When I first saw her great room and kitchen, I was floored. Totally something out of a magazine. I went through it all: Oh, I love your carrara marble. Oh, I love these handscraped wood floors! I love the laquered cabinets! So modern and clean! I felt like she and I would get along just fine. Especially when I noticed her fully stocked wine fridges. Yes, multiple. As I ogled and molested every surface available, imagine my surprise when she informed me her cabinets were Ikea. SOUL SISTER. I just about died on the spot.
So in the back of my mind, I always had an inkling we would go with Ikea cabinets during this renovation. However, due to our low ceilings and crazy layout issues, and since insurance covered replacing our custom cabinetry, we headed in that direction.
Until I realized that in this case, custom is not better. It’s just expensive as _____.
I wanted drawers, not cabinets. Open shelving. Frameless fronts. Pull outs. Soft-close drawers. Shelf dividers. A warranty. I wanted a custom look with my own ideas incorporated. Silly me.
What I got was a replacement for a 25 year old kitchen. Which means no drawers, but cabinets. And more cabinets. And incorrect placement of cabinets. The most basic framed door and drawer fronts available. 6 week lead times. And additional costs over and above our estimate. Crazy pants.
I do not recommend renovating a kitchen with two small kids. Moreover, I do not recommend extending that timeline to get “custom” cabinetry that doesn’t meet your needs or wants.
So back to Ikea we go.
Equipped with my measurements gleaned from my kitchen designer’s faulty plan, I simply plugged them into Ikea’s planning tool and started moving around cabinets and shelves until I got the plan I wanted. And even when I had that, I still played around. I had about 12 saved floor plans. Any configuration I could think of, I tried. So much fun. So much timesuck. Ikea kitchen planner surpassed Pinterest and Houzz as the biggest timewaster of my life.
I was beyond thrilled that when I tallied up my loot, which included new appliances, I had saved us the equivalent of compact car. Beyond that, Ikea is running their kitchen sale until August 25th, so 20% off for meeeee! Cha ching.
True to my nature, I did a ton of research before and during the decision making process, right up until I hauled myself to Ikea and placed the order (which, even with my advanced planning, took 2 hours! Don’t underestimate the allure of an Ikea kitchen.) In addition to the advice I received from Lauren and the staff at Ikea, who, and I can’t say this enough, were extremely knowledgeable and helpful and never once rolled their eyes at me (that I could see), I found great advice from people who own Ikea kitchens in forums like GardenWeb and Ikeafans. Seriously, those people know their kitchens. Definitely consult those if you are looking for information.
Along the way, one of the things I learned was Ikea uses Blum drawer slides that offer the soft close feature, which are superior hardware compared to other RTA (ready to assemble) cabinets and usually an upgrade on most custom designed kitchens. All those extras I wanted? Not a problem. Certainly Ikea is not charging me $300 for a shelf. Yes. A shelf.
I also found out that there are companies out there who make custom doors for Ikea cabinet frames, so if you aren’t all that keen on Ikea’s options, you can order from sources like Cabinetnow or Semihandmade Doors for fronts of your choice. You can easily customize your cabinetry, or “hack” it, and there are lots of tutorials for basically any modification you might want to do (though this voids the warranty on the specific piece.) Ikea offers a 25 year warranty, too, though, as Lauren pointed out, “Who even likes their kitchen after 10 years?” (God, she just gets me.) Which brings me to my next point: Kase also likes the fact that the costs are low enough that when I decide I hate the fronts I chose in five years because they are “dated”, I can pick up new fronts for a fraction of the cost and instant facelift!
Though you can easily DIY the whole shabang like Lauren and her husband, Kase and I know our limits. We lack time and attention to detail. And tools. Like a level. I hear that’s helpful. We are not architects or handy/ uber man/ engineers. Also? You can hire people to do it, and we like to keep the economy robust (uh-huh.) I did some quick Google research and also consulted Ikeafans.com and found a couple of companies who specialize in Ikea kitchen installations in our area. We are happy with our decision as we need some custom elements that we just don’t have the skills for. All said and done, the quote for installation lined up to what our cabinets and appliances came out too, so it’s definitely an area you can save money in, if you have the time to DIY.
Anyway, if it’s good enough for Sarah Richardson, it’s definitely good enough for me. I got a ton of design ideas from watching old episodes of “Sarah’s House” and “Sarah 101″- ideas like flanking your cooktop with undercounter wall ovens, to achieve that open, airy look. Sarah often uses Ikea cabinetry and decor, mixing it with high end finishes to make it custom. And yes, I am on a first name basis with her. In my head, we are besties who travel to Ikea every weekend with an unlimited budget and no children.
Ikea for the win.