Monday, June 25, 2012

Professional's Tips on IKEA Kitchen Design

...and visit our website to find out about expert IKEA Kitchen Design Services

Here are some tips from a discussion I had with our expert IKEA kitchen designer recently. If you would like to consult with him about your own project, just email us:

Me: What do you think are the most important things a homeowner should know about designing an IKEA kitchen?

Designer: It's not about filling in the spaces with what seems to fit, and it's definitely not about "this is where my stove is now, so I guess I should keep it in the same place, etc." I approach the design with the idea of maximizing options for a more functional, more attractive, more appealing kitchen. 

Me: Why should someone get professional design help? Canʼt a homeowner do it with IKEAʼs online software?

Designer: A homeowner can certainly design their own a basic layout. Software is available online. However, most homeowners don't have comprehensive knowledge of the cabinets themselves, of their possibilities, and they don't know how to customize and use the cabinets creatively to make the most of their kitchen layout. 

Me: Can you work with an architect?

Designer: Yes, as long as the measurements are correct and the vision is clear. 

Me: Can you work with blueprints?

Designer: Yes, but most blueprints do not supply all the measurements that are needed, and they can easily be off by one or two inches. That is too much room for error when you are designing an IKEA cabinet layout. It can lead to installation problems. 

Me: Can a homeowner do a new IKEA kitchen for $5000?

Designer:  It is possible to do a kitchen, including cabinets and installation, for $5,000, but it would be a very small kitchen. More typical and workable budgets are from $10,000-$20,000. This is still a great bargain for a beautiful new kitchen. 

Me: Can you give us more data about costs?

Designer: The cabinets and countertop costs are sorted out during the design phase. Labor costs depend on what needs to be done. Will the flooring be replaced? Do we need to repair and patch drywall? Painting? A big factor is how much electrical work is needed. Same with plumbing. Susan's eArticle is helpful:

Me: Do you have any suggestions on how to keep costs down?

Designer: First, order cabinets during a sale. Second, choose a less expensive door and less costly countertop. Countertop can always be replaced in a year or two. Laminates and butcher block are very inexpensive. Also, although I know this sounds like self-promotion, the best way I know to keep the overall costs down is to start out working with a well-informed kitchen designer.  For a small fee you have an expert on your team, you gain knowledge and thus control. And you are most likely end up with a much better kitchen for the same money. 

Me: Can you design a kitchen so that the cost of the kitchen is within a given budget?

Designer: An honest, knowledgeable designer can work with any reasonable budget.

Me: What are the most important things to consider when designing an IKEA kitchen?

Designer: Everyday kitchen needs, entertaining needs, function, practicality, designing the layout so that you make the most of the space without feeling closed in by it.

Me: Are IKEA cabinets different, insofar as designing, than other cabinets on the market?

Designer: Most cabinetry on the market, including custom and semi-custom, have 1/4" to 5/8" frames. IKEA offers 3/4" frames. The frame is the box of the cabinet, excluding the door. This is really a technical point insofar as design. For the homeowner, this just means IKEA frames are sturdier, are likely to last longer. Some other cabinet suppliers do offer more door styles and finishes to work with, but the cost is so much higher. IKEA offers about 20 different door styles in various finishes, plus the glass door options. 

Me: Do you think IKEA cabinets are as good as those at Lowes and Home Depot?

Designer: Yes, in most cases...better.

Me: Is there any other brand youʼd recommend?

Designer: There really are no other cabinets with the quality and warranty IKEA offers that are also in the same price bracket. If a homeowner has $35,000 or more to spend, they can certainly look at other, more costly brands. 

Me: Do you recommend IKEA countertops?

Designer: Their laminates are great for work areas and garage applications. Their butcher block is great when trying to save money and for cooks who prefer a wood working surface. The Caesarstone and granite IKEA offers is usually through a third-party company which includes installation in the cost of the countertop. 

Me: Do you recommend IKEA appliances?

Designer: Their appliances are supplied by Whirlpool Gold, specifically for IKEA. 

Me: What can you tell us about tile, say for backsplashes?

Designer: IKEA does not offer tile. Just as a tip, if you work with a kitchen designer, often they will design the tile work as well as the kitchen layout and then use their designer discount for you at tile stores. I do this for many of my clients. 

Me: What about lighting and flooring?

Designer: IKEA has few lighting and flooring options so you'll probably go elsewhere for these materials. It is best to consult your contractor about lighting so that you purchase lights that will meet code requirements in your area. As a note, flooring can be installed under IKEA cabinets, but it doesn't have to be. In other words, you can save on material and labor by installing the flooring after the cabinets are installed. You do need flooring under appliances, but not under cabinets. The toekick (bottom trim) is then installed to cover the seam where the flooring meets the cabinets. 

Me: What can you tell us about islands?

Designer: One tip as you design the kitchen is to keep in mind that you should have a minimum of a 36" walkway all around the island, or a 42"walkway in homes with 3 or more bedrooms.

Me: Any tips for when the kitchen is really small?

Designer: Then it's even more important to make sure the design is planned carefully to include all the homeowners' everyday needs.

Me:  On the other hand, how do you use cabinets to divide up a big, open space?

Designer:  Island, bar area, high cabinets back-to-back, and other ways depending on what the homeowners need and want. 

Me: Do you use kitchen cabinets for bathrooms or IKEA bathroom cabinets?

Designer: Usually I use kitchen cabinets modified to fit the bathroom space. They are stronger and offer more options than the bathroom cabinet line.

Me: Are there any sinks or light fixtures or types of tile you recommend?

Designer: With solid surface countertop, an undermount sink is best. With light fixtures and tile, it's really a personal choice. I like IKEA's low-wattage Dioder lights, which are very affordable, and Interstyle glass tile, which have a wide range of colors to choose from. 

Me: Thanks so much for all these tips. One last question. I have baking pans and I can't find an IKEA cabinet that will hold them. Do you know of a solution for this?

Designer: IKEA sells tray dividers. These will easily fit in the cabinets that go above the refrigerator.

If you'd like to discuss your project with us, I can offer you a free, 30-minute phone consultation. Here's my calendar, just pick a time that works for you.


Our company, Modern Family Kitchens, offers an IKEA kitchen design service. We can provide this service locally, or remotely. We think you'll spend the least and get the best results when you invest in expert design. Call or write us to discuss your project. 877-550-1753.