Like many of you, I was TOTALLY skeptical of Ikea cabinets. When Ty and I got married and moved into our first home, we did the whole "furnish the entire home with IKEA" thing. We were newlyweds with student debt and an empty house. 1,307,682 pieces of wood, screws, bolts, and hours of building later, and our home was furnished. Our angst for IKEA grew months later when our furniture began to fall apart. We needed a long break from IKEA. (Insert : Taylor Swift "We-e-e are never - ever - ever getting back together...")
Fast forward a few years. I knew before buying this home, that I wanted my next kitchen to have slab cabinets (with no shaker detail). After two white kitchens, I also knew that I was ready to change things up with an unpredictable choice, black. I began researching black slab cabinets, and found that the kitchen I wanted was going to cost FAR more than we had budgeted. One evening, while browsing Pinterest (follow us on Pinterest here!), I stumbled upon this article, which was about IKEA's new matte black KUNGSBACKA cabinets made from recycled wood and water bottles. These cabinets were brand new to IKEA. I decided right then and there, that I found my kitchen. (It wasn't difficult to combat Ty's skepticism - all I had to do was show him the quote from IKEA, then the quote from another cabinet supplier that was three times the price). Let's talk about IKEA cabinets.
The cabinets in our kitchen came in just under $3000 (compared to $10,000; which was what I had found for something similar elsewhere). We did half of our kitchen in KUNGSBACKA, and the other half in VEDDINGE. First, I measured our kitchen, and then designed the space using the IKEA kitchen planner (see below). Tip : I found that this online tool works MUCH better in chrome than safari.
After altering the design one million times, I went to IKEA to place the actual order. Before doing so, I met with an IKEA associate who helped me go through this design with a fine tooth comb. We made a few changes (Ie. switching some interiors from shelves to drawers; adding panel pieces to the side of the fridge, and adding the toe kick). Be extra nice to the associate, because they are well versed in this process and can save you a LOT of headache if they provide ample input. Next, I placed the order. Because we live 2.5 hours from IKEA, we opted for the delivery service at $99.
We hired our carpenter to install and build the cabinets, He charged an additional $800 to the installation cost because the cabinets were IKEA versus a prebuilt cabinet. Now, after the kitchen was completed, there were a few a things I wanted to add (like an interior drawers in a cabinet, etc). I picked up these items and installed them myself, as the carpenter was done with our home. It was SO simple that I wish I would have built of the cabinets together myself, and then had our carpenter only set them (I'm not sure I could trust myself to set them level enough for the quartz countertop). I have a long list of tips regarding ordering and installing an IKEA kitchen in a furniture post. Today, let's discuss our review of the cabinets, post install :
First, let me start by saying that I like the black cabinets much more than the white. I would not have done our kitchen different as I like the mix of the two; but I do feel as though the black cabinet looks far more "high end" compared to the white.
1. Endless Configurations
There are SO many options - for example, for the tall pantry cabinet next to the fridge, we could have gone with two long 70" doors, two tall doors with one drawer underneath, etc. We opted for two 30" door cabinets and two 15" drawers. We knew we wanted our microwave hidden, and that having it at a 36" height would feel natural, so I designed the cabinet as such. I LOVE that IKEA provides endless combinations to suit your needs.
2. Interior Organization
This one aligns with #1. Beyond having options for the exterior cabinet configuration, you can also customize the interior of the cabinets. To boot, you can change these things after living in the kitchen for a while! I decided that I wanted to add two more drawers after living in our home for a few weeks, so I added them! It took about 15 minutes to build and install the drawers - so simple!
3. Soft Close Doors
We did not have soft close doors in our last place. Every time I opened the microwave cabinet to heat my coffee (for the fourth time), I would cringe as the door hit the base. This is also hard on your cabinets. IKEA sells soft close dampers for $4 for a set. I repeat : FOUR DOLLARS! Next time you read a real estate description that boasts about soft close cabinets, you can laugh out loud; "Congratulations on your $32 upgrade." After learning how cheap dampers are, I am pretty appalled that they aren't automatically included in cabinets everywhere. (In my insta highlights, I have a short video where I install one of these dampers in about 15 seconds), NOTE : the drawers are also soft close, and glide beautifully.
IKEA has many different cabinet door fronts to choose from, but the skeleton of the cabinets are the same no matter what door you choose. What's the benefit of this? Well, if we were to decide to change the white cabinets in our kitchen to a wood tone, we could simply remove the doors and replace them without tearing apart the actual cabinet skeleton, or messing with quartz countertop. No painting required, either. As a designer who is always changing things up, I was immediately attracted this potential. NOTE : If you have not heard of the company, Semihandmade, they create door fronts that are made to go on IKEA cabinet bases (called SEKTION, by the way). So, you save $ on the cabinet bases, and invest in high end designer front. They also make fronts for IKEA bathroom vanities, and we plan to order some for our guest bath!
After finishing the kitchen, we had a LOT of returns. I changed my mind on a few things, so we had a bunch of left over material (like $1600 worth!). We showed up to IKEA with two carts filled to the brim with hinges, wood, doors, etc., all from 8 different receipts. It took a while, but the associate was able to return every single item, and was entirely gracious about the chaos (she said they do returns like that every single day). They even returned stuff that was unpackaged and half built. Also - 365 day return policy. Yes, a FULL YEAR!
6. Integrated Dishwasher
We hid our dishwasher and trash behind a cabinet front. I LOVE this feature. Integrated appliance make a kitchen feel cohesive and modern. For reference, the Whirlpool dishwasher we were going to use was $525. The integrated dishwasher from IKEA was $700. The trash insert cost about $25.
Overall, we are shocked by the quality of these cabinets. The drawers glide beautifully, the organization is top notch, and the matte finish feels like high design, I surprised to love these cabinets this much! These cabinets, along with the ways we customized the function achieve a "custom kitchen look" for a fraction of the price.
1. Dealing with IKEA
We dread going to IKEA. If you've read about our minimalist lifestyle, you've learned that we have cut most shopping out of our lives. IKEA, and all of its crazed shoppers, is an overwhelming maximalist experience and we hate it. Ty actually told me when we got married, that he would love me forever and do anything for me, EXCEPT go to IKEA with me. (oops, sorry babe!). I do think IKEA is brilliant, and for such a massive operation, they have an incredibly organized system. But that does not mean it is fun.
2. Not local
I love supporting local when possible, especially when it comes to things like flooring, cabinets, counters, etc. We went local when possible with out home! The other headache with working with a company not local to GR was the distance. We had to drive to IKEA three times for things we needed for the kitchen. Very inconvenient.
3. Incorrect shipments
We definitely got shipped some things we didn't need, and were missing some things we did need. I am not sure if this was due to the order that the kitchen associate placed, or if they just mis-shipped some things. Mostly, this refers to things like hinges, nuts, and bolts, etc. We were able to return a lot of the items, which was no big deal, but I do know that some things got thrown away by the carpenters, meaning we threw out some things we paid for because IKEA sent us too many.
With the cabinet shipment, you receive a long instruction guide detailing what goes where. Our carpenters used this guide to build the kitchen. However, after ordering the original cabinet layout, I switched some things around, making the guide irrelevant. I knew the kitchen design, but they didn't. I tried to communicate the change via sketches, but it was very confusing due to the giant pile of hardware and wood slabs in the garage. If we had 100% nailed the kitchen design the first time, it would have been no issue, but any change in the design will leave your carpenter very confused. (Another reason why I wish I would have built the cabinets myself).
5. Dishwasher Front
We have had NO issues with these cabinets except the dishwasher front occasionally separating from the dishwasher. It's not a big deal as we should be able to solve the problem with some construction adhesive, but it has been an annoyance. Other than that, we have been IMMENSELY impressed by the quality fo the cabinets!
To the left of me are the integrated trash and dishwasher!
There you have it, a full review of our IKEA cabinets. Most of the "cons" are in regards to the ordering and building process. Now that we have done it once, we are sure that we could be far more efficient next time, eliminating most of the headaches listed above. As for the cabinets themselves, we LOVE them. We will definitely be using IKEA cabinets again. I will be sure to share a post of tips for ordering the cabinets. Thanks for reading.
Hannah & Tyler
We are a home renovation and real estate duo sharing the renovation of our mid century tri-level, along with flips and new builds. We created this blog as a resource for our readers, helping home owners, travelers and future friends to learn how to renovate efficiently, and affordably!