3 Things to Consider Before Getting an Ikea Kitchen

Shoko Wanger
Photo credit: Brian Bohon

From House Beautiful

Those planning a kitchen renovation—or any home improvement project, for that matter—are likely well familiar with the practice of weighing pros and cons: granite countertops versus butcher block, hardwood floors versus tile, open shelving versus closed-cabinet storage. Deciding on an Ikea kitchen warrants its own round of considerations, and while it’s easy to pinpoint the positives—quality, affordability, endless customization options—it can be quite a bit harder to identify potential pitfalls.

In fact, when we asked designers whether Ikea kitchens show wear and tear sooner than pricier options, we were surprised to hear that when installed and cared for properly, they’re impressively durable. A stock cabinet, however, will never match the character or unique beauty of its custom counterparts. But besides the obvious, what are some challenges homeowners might encounter when working with an IKEA kitchen—and can anything be done to address those issues?

Below, we’ll explore three potential obstacles to be aware of before you begin.

There are a LOT of sizes and styles, but not infinite.

“Ikea cabinetry only comes in certain set sizes,” says Des Moines-based designer Jillian Lare. “Typically, the widths of stock cabinets come in increments of three inches, and Ikea's do, too, but they skip 27 and 33—that can make for real challenges when you’re trying to piece together a kitchen design. With a custom or semi-custom cabinet, you would be able to utilize all of your space, but with IKEA, you might find yourself needing filler pieces more often." Our advice? Chat with one of their pros to see how to troubleshoot the gap area.

Of course, as is the case with any big-box option, the range of available cabinet styles and colors at Ikea is finite. For renovators interested in incorporating more variety, there’s a wide range of custom front options to consider from third-party retailers, albeit at an additional (and sometimes considerable) cost.

They offer a great planning software—but you might need help using it.

Fortunately, Ikea has an online planning tool that even inexperienced homeowners can use to design the kitchen of their dreams, complete with 3D visualizations. But it will take some time and tinkering to get your design just right, even if you know what you're doing. Should you find yourself stuck or unsure how to proceed, consider leaving the planning to a digital service that specializes in Ikea spaces. Inspired Kitchen Design, for example, offers a complete design—including two revisions—for $295.

(And once the stores open back up post-Covid-19 concerns, you can always go in to discuss your kitchen design with one of their professionals directly!)

Installation is on you!

Ikea kitchens are designed to be installed by anyone, even non-professionals. But if you’re someone with limited time, experience, or patience (word to the wise: there will be a lot of parts and boxes to deal with), you might consider enlisting outside help.

Just be aware, Lare says, that this option comes with its own set of cons. “The problem is that you’re not going to see as significant of a cost savings if you don’t put the kitchen together yourself,” she cautions. “If you’re in a bigger metro area, you might hire a TaskRabbit or somebody at a slightly lower price point to install the kitchen for you, but if you’re using the same general contractor and carpenters [you’d use in a custom renovation], you’re not going to save as much.”


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