As you know, we chose to go with mostly Ikea products for our kitchen remodel. (You can read more about the design, purchase and installation of our kitchen here, here and here.) Before making the decision, we did a ton of research online. What was the price comparison between Ikea and other cabinet sources? Could Ikea cabinets support granite? How would the frames hold up long-term? How easy / difficult was DIY installation? What level of quality should we expect with Ikea cabinets and appliances? Which items should we look to buy from other sources? Soft-close hinges sound nice but are they worth the hype? And so on. We had so many questions and, surprisingly, so few answers. I wish there had been more access to personal stories regarding Ikea kitchens.
In an effort to bring those stories to light, I would love for House*Tweaking to become an unbiased medium for sharing Ikea kitchen experiences. Even though our kitchen remodel is finished, I love a good kitchen renovation and it’s fun to see all the ways others have used Ikea products to meet their needs and style.
The first story I want to share hails from a reader who chose to go the Ikea route after reading about our kitchen. Leigh and her family purchased a foreclosed summer home on a street lined with beautiful houses. It was the worst house on the street, she says, which put it well within their budget.
Though outdated and cramped, the kitchen was livable so the homeowners simply gave it a facelift by painting the cabinets, laying peel-and-stick linoleum and purchasing new stainless steel appliances while they focused their attention on other projects and saved for a full-on kitchen renovation. They lived with the kitchen like this for two years taking mental notes of how the space did / did not work for them. Then a little over a year ago, they plunged into a complete remodel. They researched blogs for inspiration and decided it would be best to take down the wall that separated the kitchen from the living room to create a bright, family-friendly kitchen.
I asked Leigh several questions about her kitchen remodel. You can read her answers and find “after” shots below.
Which items in your kitchen hail from Ikea?
Cabinets, doors, drawer fronts, hardware, microwave, hood vent and countertops.
What made you decide to source these items from Ikea?
We were redoing the kitchen in our summer home and looked around at various cabinet makers and determined that Ikea was the best quality for what we were looking to spend. Additionally, there was very little time between placing the order and delivery where some of the other semi-custom lines would have taken up to 18 weeks for delivery.
Who designed your kitchen? What aesthetic were you aiming for?
We designed it ourselves using the Ikea kitchen planning tool. We also got assistance from the kitchen reps at Ikea who were very helpful and informative.
Did you assemble and install all Ikea kitchen components yourself? If not, what did you seek help with?
We assembled the boxes and some of the install by ourselves (or should I say my husband did). It was last winter when we started to assemble it and my husband was a trooper doing all of the demo and assembly in an unheated house with no running water! We did seek help from a local specialist in the area who installs Ikea kitchens for the Cape and islands and his price seemed to wash out the savings we got by buying Ikea cabinets.
My husband was determined to save the money for something he could do himself. He is not a trade specialist by any means but he has a hard time paying people to do things he can to himself. He was very overwhelmed when the boxes arrived and numerous times said there was no way he could do it. Through determination and hard work, he assembled them all himself. He bought some new tools to do the assembly. He did do most of the install as well. Once everything was in place, we hired a finish carpenter to come in and put moldings above the cabinets. We had planned to do this from the beginning to give the cabinets a finished look. We didn’t like the moldings that Ikea offered.
The finish carpenter was a bit of a perfectionist and he ended up pulling out a lot of what my husband had thought he had leveled out and redid it. All the cabinets that were hung were great but the lower cabinets were apparently a bit off. He told us that when they came to template for the countertops, they may not have signed off on the template because there would have been gaps. We felt very grateful to have worked with the finish carpenter; he was excellent. He built a custom cabinet for the refrigerator that matches the Ikea pantry. Although we had purchased Ikea panels to wrap the island and end cabinets, he suggested we do those custom as well. We agreed and couldn’t be happier with the way everything turned out. We feel that it really made the kitchen look more expensive and more custom than it actually is.
How did you customize your Ikea kitchen to suit your needs and preferred aesthetic?
As mentioned above, we used custom molding at the tops of all the cabinets and also around the island and end fridge cabinet. To paint the custom pieces we first tried Benjamin Moore’s paper maché which was suggested by another blog. It did not match our cabinets so we took a cabinet front to our local paint store and had them color match it. It worked perfectly. The advice on the trash pull-out from Aubrey & Lindsay’s blog worked great for us. The only tweak we made was to fit a top slide out drawer above the trash bins for extra storage.
I bought all new white plates, bowls, etc. from Ikea. I have a few of the organization systems but have not found them to be terribly useful. The rubber mat rolls that ikea sells have been helpful and look nice at the bottom of each cabinet.
We splurged on some things to give the kitchen character. I had fallen in love with a few things I saw on other blogs including a glass tile backsplash. I contemplated doing white subway tile but decided on a family trip to the Cayman Islands that the color of the water made me so happy and I wanted to incorporate that into our plan. Of course, it is a beach house so something bright and fun was a good fit. We wanted nice countertops. I like the look of carrara marble but knew I did not want marble due to etching and the high maintenance. I did a ton of online research and visited a few stone yards before landing on Caesarstone. I learned a few months before that London Fog Casearstone was coming to the U.S. market while visiting one of the stone yards. I saw a sample about three months before it hit the market and knew that I had to have it.
Have you encountered any problems with the Ikea products in your kitchen?
We have not encountered any problems with our cabinets. We are really happy with them. We have more expensive cabinets in our kitchen at our primary residence and the Ikea cabinets are right up there in quality. We love the soft-close hinges – something our other kitchen does not have. I looked into other fronts for the Ikea frames because I originally wanted something that was a brighter white but am very happy with the color. In fact, I think a bright white would be too harsh. I do wish that Ikea had the option of a solid, off-white wood door front in the same style. There is a lot of humidity in the summer here so the laminate material will probably work better for us in the long run. Also, they are super easy to keep clean with kids and entertaining.
What is your favorite thing about your kitchen?
I love how open and bright it is. I love the design, the ease of cooking in it and cleaning up. I love the aesthetic. I love the island where people can sit and eat while we cook. I love that I don’t have to treat it with gloved hands and that my kids are learning to cook in the space. I love how it opens to the living room and our new porch. I love that it allows us to entertain when in our previous kitchen it was just too tight. I love that it is all of my favorite colors and designs. But most of all, I love that we did it ourselves and can enjoy our sweat equity!
Would you recommend Ikea as a source for a kitchen remodel? If so, which items?
Of course! I would suggest all the items they sell for a kitchen remodel. We only did a few select appliances because we were able to reuse the appliances that we bought earlier when we did a “band-aid” of the kitchen shortly after buying the house. I really do think that the quality at Ikea is nice and you can’t beat the value.
Would you consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel?
Yes, I would. Regardless of budget.
Resources of note:
countertops – London Fog Caesarstone
sink – Julian
faucet – Grohe
microwave – Ikea
hood vent – Ikea
refrigerator – Kenmore Elite, counter-depth
dishwasher- Kenmore Elite
stove – GE gas with electric oven
backsplash tile – Daltile Whisper Green
flooring – hardwood, refinished to match the rest of the house
lighting – can lights in the ceiling, wired above island in case we ever want to put in pendants. (We did not do under-cabinet lighting. We figured this was an area where we could save and we don’t miss them.)
window – Andersen 400 series
paint – molding is a custom color-match; walls are Benjamin Moore cameo white
Thank you, Leigh, for sharing your Ikea kitchen experience and allowing me to feature it on House*Tweaking. I know it will be helpful and inspirational to many people contemplating a kitchen remodel.
Okay, readers. How do you feel about me featuring real life Ikea kitchens from time-to-time? Of course, I don’t want it to seem like I’m forcing anyone to buy Ikea. I just want to scout out some of the inspiration and information that I wish would have been available when we were getting ready to renovate our kitchen. I think so many times homeowners swear off Ikea because they fear the end result will look “Ikea” but I really believe it’s an affordable, quality source that can be tweaked to meet different needs and styles.
Do you have an Ikea kitchen (it doesn’t have to be 100% Ikea) that you would be willing to share on House*Tweaking? If so, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration. Thank you in advance!