Understanding IKEA's Kitchen Base Cabinet System


IKEA's kitchen cabinet system offers a great option for remodeling a kitchen, but at times the terminology seems determined to frustrate any attempts at understanding. So here are some basics:

What is SEKTION? How about AKURUM? And 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, but in 2015 AKURUM was discontinued and SEKTION took its place. While IKEA will support owners of AKURUM products to a limited degree and even take the products, it is largely a dead product line.

Another mostly discontinued cabinet line is VARDE--a freestanding cabinet system with visible legs. You'll find a few free-standing cabinets in the form of kitchen islands and carts, but that's about for freestanding. The current product line, SEKTION, is a frameless "built-in" kitchen cabinet system with two main virtues: 

  • Built-In: Clean, unbroken horizontals with legs covered by toe kicks, or as IKEA calls them, plinths. 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. cover the entire front face of the cabinet.

Understanding IKEA Base Cabinet Names

IKEA has a fairly logical system for naming its base cabinets. All cabinets names begin with "SE," which stands for SEKTION. The next two letters pertain to the type of base cabinet. For instance, you can tell that SE SBJ2D is a sink base cabinet because of the "SB." The "2D" tells you that this cabinet has two doors.

Cabinet Sizes

Base cabinets always sit on your 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 also can 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 are 30". After you add the legs and plinth (the decorative board that covers the legs), the total height becomes 34.5". This height is largely a matter of standard architectural practice, as this has been determined to the be the height most practical for most people. 

    Sink Base Cabinets

    Sink bases are a special type of base cabinet. They have no 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 mostly 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 here mean very little. While the rest of the cabinet world uses terms like "Shaker" or "Slab" to define door styles, IKEA has its own language: 

    • Shaker-Style doors include:
    • Slab-style doors include: 
      Veddinge M
      Marsta (slab with an incised handle)
    • Beadboard-style doors include: 
    • Raised Panel doors include:

    Legs and Plinths

    Both of these items are sold separately, but are required. Do not forget to buy them. 

    • Legs: The legs are cheap UBS plastic and, unfortunately your cabinets cannot function without them: a required purchase.
    • Plinth: Plinth is the thin, narrow strip of wood that covers up the legs.