Like some other home products retailers, Ikea offers a software planning tool that can help you plan your kitchen. One of their online home planning and design tools, the 3D Kitchen Planner tool sets the size and shape of your room and lets you rearrange items and view the work in three dimensions. It also provides a list of costs for all Ikea products required for keeping your remodeling project on budget. After figuring out the measurements, colors, and perspective, you can print out the plans with measurements included.
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.
The planner has a clean interface, quite consistent with the Ikea philosophy.
The planner compiles an itemized 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.
This online planning tool is very simple and easy to use.
The items available to design with are limited to 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 five by eight 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.
A Marketing Tool, Not a Stand-Alone Design Program
It's important to understand that the 3D kitchen planner exists as a marketing tool aimed at selling Ikea products. It's free, after all, and does not offer the full range of capabilities found in commercial space-planning software. Nor do the planner and the in-store design consultant together offer the kind of full-fledged planning abilities of a professional kitchen designer working with genuine computer-aided drafting (CAD) software. This is not terribly surprising, considering that both the kitchen planner software and the in-house design assistants are free, and offered by the company to help sell their 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.
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 branded 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.
One option is to purchase kitchen design software, thus making your kitchen planning brand-agnostic. This way, your 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 SketchUp. HomeStyler is about as rudimentary as Ikea Home Planner, but SketchUp is a true CAD program, offering infinite possibilities.