Overview of IKEA's Kitchen Base Cabinet System

Ikea kitchen cabinets

 Ikea

IKEA's kitchen cabinet system offers a great option for remodeling a kitchen, but at times, the terminology can be confusing. This quick primer on the basic elements of the system will help you navigate through the many options.

What Is SEKTION? How About AKURUM? Or VARDE?

SEKTION is the name for the only base cabinet system that IKEA now offers. For more than two decades, IKEA's modular kitchen cabinet system was known as AKURUM. In 2015, AKURUM was discontinued and SEKTION took its place. While IKEA will support owners of AKURUM products to a limited degree, it is largely a dead product line.

SEKTION, is a frameless "built-in" kitchen cabinet system with two main virtues: 

  • Built-In: Clean, unbroken horizontals with legs covered by toekicks (if desired). Countertops can run unbroken along the entire spread of the base cabinets (except for intentional breaks, such as for sinks).
  • FramelessFrameless cabinets have doors that cover the entire front face of the cabinet.

Cabinet Sizes

Base cabinets always sit on the floor and, as the name says, act as a base for other things, such as countertops, cooktops, microwaves, and ovens. Since base cabinets occupy floor space, they effectively define the footprint of your kitchen.

  • Widths: IKEA base cabinets come in the following range of widths: 12", 15", 18", 24", 30", 36", 38", and 47". Most kitchens make heavy use of cabinets in one of two widths: 30" or 36" wide. These are considered the "meat and potatoes" of any cabinet system, as both can accommodate sinks (although IKEA's 24" wide cabinet can also hold a small sink). The three smallest sizes: 12", 15", and 18" tend to be filler or end cabinets. The largest sizes: 38" and 47" are corner cabinets.
  • Depths: Depth means the distance from the front (leading) edge of the cabinet to the back wall or backsplash. Standard depth for kitchen cabinets is about 24". IKEA's options for cabinet depths are: 15", 24", and 24.75"
  • Height: You have no choice on height. All base cabinets are 30". After you add the legs, the total height becomes 34.5". This height is largely a matter of standard architectural practice, as this has been determined to be the most practical height for most people. Other types of cabinets, like tall pantry units and wall cabinets, come in different heights.

Sink Base Cabinets

Sink bases are a special type of base cabinet. They don't have drawers or other obstructions at the top, in order to have space for a drop-in sink. Here are the options for IKEA sink base cabinets: 

  • SE SBJ2D: This is the standard sink base with two lower doors. It is 36" wide, 24" deep.
  • SE SBP2F: This one includes one huge drawer to accommodate trash, recycling, etc. It is 24" deep, and is available in both a 24"-wide or 36"-wide model. 
  • SE SBP3F: Like the one above, this base cabinet has a big lower drawer, although this one is shorter. Again, it is 24" deep and available in 24" wide and 36"-wide models.
  • SE SB1D: This is a simple 24" x 24" sink base with one door. 

Corner Base Cabinets

Corner bases are L-shaped cabinets that fit neatly into the corner of rooms. If you have a galley style kitchen, you do not need corner base cabinets, but other kitchen layouts can make use of them. Most corner base cabinets can be ordered with either right-opening or left-opening doors. 

  • SE CBP: A 47"-wide cabinet with pull-out carousel (indicated by the "P")
  • SE CBC: A 38"-wide cabinet with carousel (indicated by the "C")
  • SE CBS: A 47"-wide corner cabinet with shelves (indicated by the "S")
  • SE SBC: A 38"-wide corner cabinet designed for a sink (indicated by the "SB")

Frame Color 

"Frame" as used by IKEA labeling refers to the color of the cabinet box, and you can choose either white or brown. While this choice matters, it is less important than it may seem. Most ends of your cabinets will butt up to other ends or to appliances, so you will never see them. At the very most, you will have two exposed ends; often, you will have none.

Frame color matters most on the inside. Do you want to continue the wood-look into the box? Or do you want a clean white interior?

Doors and Drawers

IKEA's names for door and drawer front styles are not descriptive, so you have to sort them by sight alone. There are many different door and drawer fronts that work with the SEKTION base cabinets. Always look for any notes on the product description to make sure the doors or fronts are compatible with the cabinet boxes and with specific types of hinges and other hardware.

Legs and Toekicks

Legs and toekicks are sold separately. Legs are required to keep the cabinet boxes off of the floor. Toekicks are optional and are not used with all legs.

  • Legs: The basic legs are made of plastic and are adjustable to help level the cabinets on uneven floor surfaces; these are hidden by the plinth strips. There are also metal legs with screw-type adjustment and sturdy bases; these are more like furniture legs that you don't cover.
  • Toekick: Also called a "plinth" by IKEA, this is a narrow strip of plastic that covers up the legs; these serve the same purpose as toe kick boards found on conventional cabinets.