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#Faith s Kitchen Renovation: 5 Things We Learned While Buying an IKEA Kitchen

Renovation Diary: Faith's Budget Luxe Kitchen

September 2014 Update: SEKTION

IKEA has officially announced that they are replacing the AKURUM line of cabinets seen here with a new and improved system of cabinets — SEKTION. Read more about this change here:

Why an IKEA Kitchen?

The decision to get an IKEA kitchen came down to two factors: Price and modern design.

  1. Price - IKEA is like no other company when it comes to scale of economy in their home furnishings. I don't love every single thing that IKEA does, but when it comes to kitchen cabinets, I really didn't see any other way to get the size and style of kitchen we wanted.
  2. Modular and Modern - IKEA cabinets are completely modular — you can buy them in many configurations and adapt them to your style to a rather astonishing degree, especially if you, like us, wanted a more modern and sleek look. Their cabinets are frameless and easily adaptable to modern, flat-fronted doors.

How Is the Quality of IKEA Kitchen Cabinets?

I understand that some people are suspicious of IKEA cabinets, since they are made of particle board (similar to MDF — medium density fiberboard). The low cost of the cabinets and their material make some folks uneasy about purchasing.

But let's take a closer look.

Most off-the-rack cabinet systems are also made of some grade of particle board. Any other cabinets we could afford (like the Kraftmaid cabinets or other lines sold at stores like Lowe's and Home Depot) were also particle board. You can go a step up and get cabinet-grade plywood, but there is some debate over whether that is actually superior to particle board or MDF.

But What About Custom-Made Cabinets?

To go all the way to the top and buy custom-made, solid wood cabinet boxes — that just wasn't feasible for us. Yes, custom-made cabinets can sometimes be cheaper than you expect if you find local resources, but even so, for us it would have cost tens of thousands of dollars, money we couldn't justify even if we had wanted to. Our entire cabinet system cost much less than $10,000. (See my full price breakdown at the end.)

For me, the most key part of a cabinet is the drawer. If anything is going to swell and warp, it's a drawer. But IKEA's drawers are solid metal, with really superb hardware, Blum hinges, and drawer dampers for soft-closing. (We love the dampers — I'll explain more about them in the next post.)

I read copiously on other homeowners' experiences with IKEA cabinets and talked to contractor friends. For the most part, they were uniformly enthusiastic. Yes, IKEA cabinets are cheap, but that doesn't mean they're shoddy or flimsy.

How Complicated Is Your Kitchen?

Before I tell you what we learned, I wanted to point out one more thing about our kitchen renovation that gave us confidence using IKEA cabinets. We were basically starting with a blank slate. We were building a kitchen addition onto our house, so we didn't have to deal with odd corners or preexisting constraints. We had the luxury of a simple layout — basically an open galley with a long island and straight run of cabinets. There were no corner cabinets, and, for that matter, no upper cabinets either.

If, on the other hand, we had been renovating an existing kitchen without the ability to move walls and plumbing and with more challenges in fitting everything in, I would have been more likely to look into custom cabinets or at least get more help from a kitchen designer. But my "two straight lines" kitchen was kind of the ideal situation for IKEA's process.

Just like anything else, IKEA cabinets have their limitations, but we felt that in the end the IKEA cabinets were by far the best deal for our project.

Here, then, are a few things we learned in the process.

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