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An Honest Review of My IKEA Kitchen Remodel

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My honest-to-God plan was to just repaint the cabinets, install cheap countertops, and call it a day. Why? Because my husband, Tyler, used to call this house our “five year plan” house. When we got pregnant with our third babe, Tyler tried accelerating our five year plan, but bigger houses come with bigger payments. We are already toy poor [e.g., when your redneck husband has all your money tied up in trucks, campers, boats, hunting dogs, guns, heavy machinery and power tools, he has rendered you toy poor]. The only reason we could afford to be toy poor is because we have a super affordable mortgage [thank God for fixer uppers and 3.25% interest rates, can I get an amen!]. So after a come to Jesus meeting wherein we decided we’d rather be toy poor than house poor, the “five year plan” house became the “forever house”, and just that like the projects we had planned went from being “cosmetic to improve resale value” to full fledged gut jobs.

The Old Kitchen

I think it started one afternoon when I was hugely pregnant and cranky and nesting super hard. I had the most overwhelming urge to see what was behind the hideous yellow soffit in my kitchen. Thankfully Tyler requires no convincing to demo anything, so down came the soffit that night. It made such a dramatic difference. The whole room looked like it doubled in size.

A Panorama of the Original Kitchen
Original Kitchen After the Soffits Came Down

Our kitchen isn’t particularly large, and before the remodel, only half of it was being utilized. Decorative soffits are a huge waste of space. May the good Lord forgive all the people that installed soffits in kitchens in the 1990’s. Another big waste of space? The corners of the base cabinets were completely closed off. There was no pantry. The drawers and cabinets were difficult to open and use because they were poorly designed. Even the space above the fridge was rendered useless because the cabinet was too far back to reach. The result of all this wasted space and bad design? My counters became a storage area and were cluttered with food and kitchen items 24/7. I will admit that there was a slight possibility that I had way more stuff than I actually needed. Who needs four, yes four, sets of measuring cups? Apparently I thought I did.

Choosing Ikea

We ended up designing our kitchen ourselves with Ikea’s online kitchen planner tool – it’s actually easy to use once you get the hang of it. You just need your room measurements to get started. Why did we go with Ikea? Simple. They have amazing ratings. They have a 25 year warranty. They are super affordable. The quality is absolutely fantastic. And if you’re handy, you can design it and put it together yourself, saving yourself thousands. The total price tag at Ikea for cabinets, counters, sink, and faucet… about $8,000. We’d gotten quotes from other businesses that were double and triple that.

The Design

The first thing we did when we designed this space was to get rid of the upper cabinets on the right and left walls. We regained storage by framing the entire sink wall with cabinets from the countertops to the ceiling. The high drawers are perfect for keeping sharp utensils out of reach from the littles. The glass cabinets were an absolute must for me to display my white dishes – all of which we use on a daily basis. These cabinets are both decorative and completely functional. And the extra-large high cabinets with horizontal doors hide crock pots, pan lids, and our collection of Yeti tumblers and paper plates out of view. The cabinets create a sort of picture window effect above the sink, and makes the whole room feel ten times larger.

The base cabinets all have either drawers or pull outs. This was so important to me. I loathe having to squat down to dig things out of base cabinets. That’s just so impractical, and for me at least, becomes something I avoid doing so stuff winds up on countertops. I wanted to be able to just pull out a drawer, see everything all at once, and pick out what I need without bending over and removing half the contents of the cabinet first.

Easy Access to Deep Corner Cabinets

We gained a ton of space putting in these super-sized corner cabinets with lazy susans that pull completely out. They are so sturdy and make getting to pots and pans a breeze. We also gained storage on top of the fridge with an appropriately sized horizontal fridge cabinet. Since it’s plenty big enough, we no longer junk up the top of the fridge like we used to.

The Buffet Doubles as a Food Pantry

We addressed the no-pantry issue by adding this shallow buffet against the back wall – previously this entire half of the room was wasted space. The drawers are huge and hold all of our food, and secret drawers keep junk hidden. Finding food items is so much easier in this pantry, and I find that I am no longer over-buying items that have gotten lost in the back of a cabinet.

The Bench is a Beautiful and Functional Addition

Last but not least, the storage bench – while not IKEA – really gave us a lot of bang for our buck. It stores so much stuff that didn’t really have a home before. And it’s just a great spot to sit and do homework, type blog posts [seriously, I’m sitting here now], and eat meals.

Ikea Kitchen Tips

I have some tips for anyone interested in going the Ikea route for their own kitchen remodel.

  1. Go to the store and look at all the materials in person before you buy. Trust me. Things are always just different in person than they are in pictures and you WILL change your mind, or discover configurations you didn’t know were possible.
  2. Do all the planning ahead of time using the Ikea kitchen planner tool on their website. Otherwise you will need to get a hotel and plan to spend 2 days there. Seriously, even with our plans done, it took 8 hours to purchase them!
  3. Almost all of the drawer fronts and half the butcher block counters were backordered. What does that mean? We had a half finished kitchen for about 6 weeks while we waited for the rest of our cabinets. Oh, and you have to go pick up the backordered stuff yourself. Trust me, they won’t deliver it no matter how much you beg them to. It’s a huge inconvenience if you live far away from your closest Ikea, like I do… 4 hours each way, 3 trips total.
  4. If you plan to use the Ikea credit card to get the 5% back, you have to set it up at least 10 days before you shop, or they cap you at $2500.
  5. You must create an Ikea rewards account. Not only do you get the rewards, but this is important: if the kitchens go on sale within 90 days of your purchase, you can bring your receipt back to get a refund for the discount! Of course, kitchens did not go on sale within 90 days of my purchase – bummer I know – but you can’t bring back your receipt if you didn’t make the purchase with your rewards number.
  6. Each cabinet is equal to about 15 separate boxes, each with its own set of picture-only instructions, that have to be assembled in a very specific order. It took three hours to get the first cabinet put together [look at poor Tyler, have you ever seen anyone look so defeated?]. After a few rounds it started getting easier until we eventually became cabinet assembly professionals. Don’t get frustrated. Just take your time and get the first one right so you can cruise through the rest.
The First Cabinet is the Hardest

Counters, Dishwasher and Sink

Now let’s talk Ikea’s butcher block counter tops. Ikea has a couple variations of butcher block, most of them are veneer (like mine), a few are true solid wood. The solid wood variety is on back order most of the time it seems. We just said to-heck-with-it and got the Walnut veneer. Honestly, it’s beautiful and has held up very well so far. I oil them once a month and try to keep standing water off of them as much as possible. There are few dents and scratches from power tools falling on them during the remodel, but other than that we haven’t noticed any scratching just from day to day wear and tear.

Butcher Block Counters Are Beautiful and Durable

I discovered that you have to have a special dishwasher if you want to attach a cabinet front to it. it just so happened that we got ours on sale at Ikea for 50% off that day, and were able to resell our old one (which was a very nice condition stainless Samsung), for around the same price. I love how this new one blends into the cabinets, and I love even more that it’s better than my old dishwasher at cleaning dishes. All Ikea appliances are Whirlpool, in case you’re wondering.

An Apron Front Sink Adds Farmhouse Charm

The apron sink is probably my favorite of all. I’ve always wanted one. I actually had one that’s been sitting in my garage for almost three years. I would have just used it, however, you have to have the Ikea counter for the Ikea sink base, but Ikea sinks are ridiculously affordable so we just bought a new one and sold the old one. The faucet was a compromise… my husband was upset that I had picked everything so I had to let him pick out the faucet. I actually love it, my only complaint being that it doesn’t have a sprayer for awkward dishes. But I make due and he doesn’t complain so win-win.

A Vent Hood That’s Affordable and Functional

The vent hood, believe it or not, was from Amazon and only about $150. You can’t beat that price and it works great! Ikea didn’t have any solid black ones, and I was pretty set on black in case I ever changed the finish on my appliances, I didn’t want to be stuck with stainless steel. I figured black would match anything.

So there you have it, my Ikea kitchen. What do you think about the choices I made? Do you have an Ikea kitchen or do you want one? Anyone out there in the process of installing one? Hit me up in comments, or follow me on Instagram for even more pictures!

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