Like some other home products retailers, IKEA offers a software planning tool that can help you plan your kitchen. Ikea's planner tool is called 3D Kitchen Planner and is found within its overall Home Planner, an online design tool. After setting the size and shape of your room, the Planner allows you to rearrange items and view the room from a 3D perspective, then print out the plans with measurements. The Planner also provides a list of all IKEA products required for your remodeling project.
Once you've created your design, you can email your plans and list to your nearest IKEA store, where a consultant is available to give you further advice before you buy products to bring your 3D plan to life.
A Marketing Tool, Not a Stand-Alone Design Program
It's important to understand that the IKEA 3D Kitchen Planner exists as a marketing tool aimed at selling IKEA products. This is a free product, after all, and it does not offer the full range of capabilities found in commercial space-planning software. Nor does the Planner and the in-store IKEA design consultant together offer the kind of full-fledged planning abilities of a professional kitchen designer working with genuine CAD software. This is not terribly surprising, considering that both the Kitchen Planner and IKEA's in-house design assistants are free, and are offered by the company to help sell IKEA products, especially cabinets.
Still, the 3D Kitchen Planner offers merit as a basic planning tool. Base and wall cabinets come in standard sizes from virtually all manufacturers, so if you develop a kitchen plan with IKEA cabinets, it is fairly easy to simply substitute cabinets and features from other manufacturers.
Pros of the 3D Kitchen Planner
- The planner has a clean interface, quite consistent with the IKEA philosophy. This online planning tool is very simple and easy to use.
- The planner compiles a shopping list as you drop items into the plan. It is easy to switch to the itemized view and find out your running cost total.
Cons of the 3D Kitchen Planner
- The items available to design with are predominantly IKEA products.
- The tool can be buggy, with a tendency to crash or fail to save work.
- You cannot "walk-through" the interior of the kitchen. The 3D views remain on the outside of the kitchen
- The working screen area in which you design the room is very small—only about 5 x 8 inches.
- There is no way to pan the "camera" or change the viewpoint side-to-side when in 3D view.
- Often an "item" (cabinet, appliance, etc.) will refuse to be moved or deleted.
- The 3D views are less realistic than with other planning software.
Alternative Planning Tools
If you are dead-set on buying an IKEA kitchen, then 3D Kitchen Planner is an indispensable tool, since it locks you right into specific IKEA items. But if you are not going in the IKEA direction and just need an online kitchen planner, IKEA's tool may be too rudimentary for your needs.
One option is to purchase kitchen design software, thus making your kitchen planning brand-agnostic. In this way, you plan will not be tied to IKEA, Merillat, or any other manufacturer. There are also free kitchen design software options, such as HomeStyler by AutoDesk and Google SketchUp. HomeStyler is about as rudimentary as IKEA's Home Planner, but SketchUp is closer to a true CAD program, offering infinite possibilities