How To Successfully Design A Kitchen Using Ikea

Ikea is a great place to turn to when remodeling your kitchen. Here's what you need to know to get it done right.

When it comes to saving money on a kitchen remodel, many people turn to Ikea for good quality, low cost goods. On average, remodeling a kitchen can cost anywhere from $19,000 on the low end to $113,000 on the high end (or more), so Ikea can provide a budget-friendly way to make a big impact on your home without spending too much money. Their kitchen products are inexpensive, ready to ship, offered in a variety of styles, and perfect for both small and large spaces.

From cabinetry to appliances, countertops to sinks, you can basically outfit your entire kitchen remodel (including dishware and cookware) using Ikea products. Although their website and catalogs are comprehensive, it’s always a good idea to visit a store in person to see the colors and textures before you make your final purchase.

Designing and remodeling a kitchen can be an overwhelming process, so here is a good list of tips to help you use Ikea to design your kitchen.

1. Measure your kitchen, twice

You’ll want to carefully measure your kitchen before you start shopping for cabinets and appliances. This is really easy to do if your kitchen is empty. If you kitchen hasn’t been torn apart yet, it may be challenging to get the exact dimensions. It’s important that you account for baseboard trim, outlets, door swings, window openings and any other features that would interfere with your kitchen.

Mis-measuring is an easy mistake to make, and could lead to expensive or time-consuming fixes. Read these measuring tips from Ikea.

2. Plan your kitchen zones

It’s helpful to take an inventory of your goods and make decisions about where you want to keep everything. Many kitchen designers advise thinking carefully about the efficiency of your kitchen.

For example, dishwashers should be placed next to the sink, cooking utensils should be placed near the cooktop. In fact, if you have particular appliances in mind, make sure you have their dimensions during this planning process. Cabinets generally are planned around appliances so these larger objects need to be accounted for from the beginning. Appliances can include items like ovens, cooktops, ventilation hoods, refrigerators and dishwashers. Ikea sells all of these appliances so you can easily shop for the right piece for your kitchen. Consider how you like to prep and cook, and how you like to store your dishware and pantry items. Professional kitchen planners spend time with these details to ensure that the kitchen will function well. You’ll want to do the same, and it can be a fun process to go through. This is your chance to design a kitchen that really works for you and your family. You may want give up countertop space in order to have one really tall pantry, or you may want to have pullout drawers instead of adjustable shelves. With Ikea, you may not be able to customize your entire kitchen however, you do have a wide range of choices to create an efficient kitchen.  Read more kitchen planning tips from Ikea.

3. Ikea cabinets: low cost, good quality

Most homeowners choose Ikea cabinets because of the cost savings. Custom cabinets or solid plywood cabinets are a lot more expensive, and considering the interior of the cabinet is hardly ever seen, some people don’t want to spend the money on it. The Ikea cabinets are made from particle board covered in a white laminate. This professional kitchen designer (who has a great article on the pros and cons of Ikea cabinets) actually likes the stability of the Ikea particle board. Ikea cabinets are offered in standard sizes and can’t be ordered in custom widths, so you may need to use filler pieces if you have a few inches of leftover space in your kitchen. Using the Ikea 3-D planning tool is great for moving cabinets around like puzzle pieces, making everything fit as well as possible.

The cabinets at Ikea come with a good selection of internal organizers and options like adjustable shelves, pullout drawers or other features. The drawer dampeners, which give a drawer a soft close, are worth the money and will save you from hearing the “slam” of a drawer every day. Ikea now also offers interior lighting for some of their cabinets so be sure to read through their entire collection online

Base cabinets

Ikea’s base cabinets (the lower cabinets underneath the countertop) are offered in two depths: 15” deep and 24” deep. You’ll want to use the 24” deep size for your standard kitchen layout; the 15” depth is for narrower areas, like a pass-through area of the kitchen or when you’re creating an island with storage on either side. Most under counter appliances like dishwashers and ovens are also designed for a 24” depth kitchen. Depending on the depth you choose, you’ll have a selection of varying widths as well as internal components and fronts. Choosing the right base cabinet takes careful consideration, and many find that this part of the process is quite time consuming. Some cabinets will be easy to select like your sink cabinet, corner units or cooktop cabinet. But choosing the right type of base cabinet for your kitchen means that you need to decide what objects go where and how you want to access them.

Wall cabinets

Wall cabinets are designed to hang on the wall, above the countertops, but you can also choose to hang them on the wall below the countertop. Most of the Ikea wall cabinets are 15” deep, which is a standard depth for wall cabinets. There aren’t as many internal options for wall cabinets; most of them come with adjustable shelves and can accommodate various types of door fronts. There are other wall cabinet designs like corner cabinets, above refrigerator cabinets, shelves and wine racks. Just like the base cabinets, you’ll want to consider what kitchen items will be stored in these cabinets and how they will coordinate with your base cabinets in terms of functionality.

Tall cabinets

The Ikea tall cabinets are perfect for when you need to add a lot of storage space in the kitchen. They sit on the floor and come in heights of 80” or 90”, with a variety of internal storage options like adjustable shelves, pullout drawers or compartments that hold specialty items like a microwave or wall oven. Just like your other cabinets, you’ll want to know what you’ll be storing as it will influence your selection.

Cabinet legs and toe kicks

You’ll want to decide if your base cabinets should have exposed legs or if you want a traditional toe kick, which covers up the legs. It can be difficult to clean underneath a 24” deep base cabinet, which is why many homeowners opt for a toe kick. But exposed legs can give cabinets a lighter and more modern appearance. The choice is entirely up to you but your decision will affect the look as well as the price.

Cabinet fronts and pulls

Although your choice of cabinet fronts and pulls has little to do with the functionality of the kitchen, it does have everything to do with how the finished kitchen will look. Ikea sells a wide range of colors and materials for their cabinetry fronts and if you tire of a particular color in the future, you can swap it out for a different one. Ikea occasionally discontinues certain styles and colors, so you may not be able to add on a matching cabinet door or pull later on. If you don't care for the selection of doors or hardware at Ikea, there are actually companies that make custom cabinet doors specifically for Ikea cabinets, like Semi Handmade in California. They can use your online Ikea 3-D planner to help create a customized look to your Ikea box cabinets. This option may cost more but it can make your Ikea pieces look really unique.

4. Countertop and backsplash

You can easily blow your kitchen-remodeling budget with your countertop selection. Although the trend is towards natural materials like marble, granite or quartz, these materials are much more expensive than other choices. If you can, go to your local Ikea store and see the countertop choices in person. You’ll want to have a clear understanding about the colors and hand-feel as well as the performance, durability and edge detailing. There is generally a trend towards installing one type of countertop material above the base cabinets and another type of material for the kitchen island. Just like ordering custom cabinet fronts, some homeowners actually put their Ikea cabinet savings towards a more expensive countertop. At this point in time, Ikea does not sell tile for backsplash. You can order sections of countertop material to be used as a backsplash but some people simply purchase backsplash tile at another location. Just like the countertops, some homeowners choose to splurge on the backsplash as it is one of the more eye-catching features of the kitchen.

5. Using Ikea’s online kitchen design planning tool

The Ikea 3-D kitchen planning tool is easy to use. The best part is that once you’ve entered in the overall room dimensions layout (including features like doors and windows) you can easily move cabinets and appliances around the room. This is one of the features that homeowners like best – it allows you to actually “see” what your kitchen might look like. Because the kitchen is the true workroom of our home, and because we spend so much time in the kitchen, this planner can help you imaging working and entertaining inside this new space. It’s easy to see the various cabinet choices and keep track of costs and materials. I highly recommend spending time planning out your new kitchen online at home and then head to Ikea in person to verify the pieces you’ve selected. For example, you’ll want to test out the drawers, cabinet colors, heights, etc. to ensure that these are the pieces that will function best in your room. Ikea has many completed kitchens on display as well, giving you the opportunity to see how a finished kitchen could look like. Ikea staffs their kitchen departments quite heavily, as they understand that there are many questions that come up during this planning process. If possible, visit your store during the week right when they open in the morning; this is the very best time of day to get personalized attention and have fewer crowds to contend with.

6. Putting the kitchen together – consider hiring an expert

It’s recommended to have your Ikea kitchen delivered to your home instead of piling it all in your car. Don’t be surprised if even your modest kitchen design consists of 100 or more boxes. Ikea is famous for it’s flat-pack delivery and as you can imagine, everything comes in it’s own box and it can be very frustrating to try and locate the right pieces to put together. Because of this, I also highly recommend paying to have your Ikea cabinets put together by a recommended service company. Because these cabinets need to be assembled on site, the performance, durability and stability of these cabinets comes down to who put it together and who put it in place. If you know that you don’t always put together your other Ikea furniture very well, don’t expect assembling an entire kitchen to be any easier. Some pros even add glue and other fasteners to ensure greater durability, and uneven floors will require adjustments to the legs and possibly the doors. Many Ikea locations can recommend a local team of independent experts who know how to put the pieces together very quickly. Or maybe you are considering hiring a professional contractor to put all the pieces together. Just like many other complex improvement projects in your home, always consider hiring a professional if you feel like you’re in over your head.

How to Design an Efficient Kitchen