IKEA provides homeowners with cleanly styled kitchen cabinets and other items for the kitchen and bathroom at a reasonable cost. IKEA, with its flat-packed items and easy-to-follow instructions, is very much a do-it-yourselfer's paradise.
Like many other home products retailers, IKEA offers a software planning tool that can help you design your kitchen, as well as the rest of your home. It's a tool that is invaluable if you know that you want to remodel your home with an IKEA kitchen. But is the tool worth using otherwise? And can you use the IKEA kitchen and house planner as a general-purpose planner?
What Is IKEA Kitchen and House Planner?
IKEA's kitchen planning tool is part of a larger software suite called IKEA Home Planner. This free tool will set the size and shape of your room and will let you rearrange items. Once the room is populated with items, you can view the work in both 2D and 3D.
The planner also provides a list of costs for all IKEA products required for keeping your remodeling project on budget. After determining the measurements, colors, and perspective, you can print out the plans with measurements included.
Once you have 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.
Similar to other retailers' software products, the IKEA planner is a marketing tool aimed at selling IKEA products. It is not designed to offer the full range of capabilities found in commercial space-planning software, nor does it include products from other retailers.
Still, the IKEA planner can be helpful 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 and Cons
If you want to purchase an IKEA kitchen, it is highly recommended that you use IKEA's online planner. One alternative is to have the IKEA consultant plan the kitchen for you in the store. Or you can design your kitchen on paper.
The planner's interface is clean and spare. Like many other online planners, the IKEA planner keeps a running total of the items selected, along with their costs.
On the downside, the IKEA kitchen and house planner requires acceptance of a software agreement that is not available on the IKEA site for viewing. A plug-in, too, is installed on your computer. The program is heavily buggy and prone to freezing up your computer or crashing. The working screen is very small and difficult to use, and panning in camera mode is hard to do.
Often, items placed in the planner thwart the sizing constraints: cabinets may overlap, for example. Items often cannot be removed or changed, and attempting to do so sometimes can crash the planner.
Some of the IKEA products found on the online planner are outdated and unavailable. For example, the planner lists IKEA METOD kitchen items, yet METOD hasn't been sold for the last several years.
Compiles an itemized shopping list as you drop items into the plan
Simple and easy to use
Easy to switch to the itemized view and find out your running cost
Buggy and prone to crashing
No walk-through mode
Small working screen
Difficult to pan or change the viewpoint
Items often cannot be moved or deleted
Unrealistic 3D views
Required acceptance of software agreement that cannot be viewed
Often contains outdated and unavailable IKEA products
Other Kitchen and Home Planning Tools
If you know that you will buy an IKEA kitchen, then the 3D kitchen and house planner is an indispensable tool, since it locks you right into specific IKEA items. But if you are not going in that direction and just need an online kitchen planner, IKEA's tool may be too rudimentary for your needs.
Another option is to purchase standalone kitchen design software, freeing your planning of brand limitations. This way, your plan will not be tied to IKEA or any other manufacturer.
There are several free and paid kitchen design software options, such as SmartDraw, Prodboard, Punch!, and SketchUp. Formerly a Google product, SketchUp is a true CAD program, offering infinite possibilities.