The first house we ever purchased had no dishwasher and no garbage disposal! It was a 1950s home that had most recently been renovated in the ‘70s. This was 2007. Since we had just bought a home, I was hard-pressed to find an extra $10-20,000 lying around to redo the kitchen. So we had a wild idea: What if we did it entirely on our own? Thus started our quest to plan a new kitchen using Ikea.
Although the DIY approach had some drawbacks, namely the time and the labor, we’d save a ton of money, and we could parse out the project as we could afford to pay for it, instead of taking out yet another loan.
We decided to gut the entire kitchen as soon as we got ownership of the house; we still had our apartment for another month, so we could complete the flooring and kitchen base before we moved in, and then do the wall cabinets when we had more money.
First, we tiled the floor. The flooring was broken up awkwardly, with peel-and-stick tile in the kitchen and carpet in the tiny dining area. We wanted to tile before we did anything else so that the flooring would be done right.Next, I got online and used Ikea’s amazing kitchen planning tool. It’s extremely easy to use.
First, you need the measurements of every wall in your kitchen, and you select the kind of kitchen you have. Then, take the measurements of all boundaries of your kitchen: appliances, overhead vents, walls, windows, ceilings and openings.
Select any kind of cabinet: it’s very easy to mass-change your cabinet types, pulls and knobs later, but it’s fairly time-intensive to enter in all the cabinets.
To build out your kitchen, select the appliances you have first. You can select the custom appliance option and enter in your appliance dimensions, or you can choose from what Ikea offers.
As you design, Ikea will offer helpful tips, such as noting when you have cabinets too close together, too close to appliances, or doors that may block a window or doorway. They are things that you may not notice on a floor plan, but would cause problems in real life.
Once you have all the appliances in place, you choose your cabinets. Ikea makes it easy in that there’s only one type of cabinet. Then once you have all the cabinet sizes selected, you can choose form a huge variety of doors, from wood to hi-gloss finishes. There’s also a wide variety of hardware to choose from. If you need countertops, they also have a variety, from Formica to woodblock to higher-end finishes.
You can view the effect of all the different options by changing the view of your kitchen. While planning, the overhead floor plan view is most helpful, but when you want to survey the final product, the 360-degree 3-D view is really helpful. Although a bit crudely animated, you can get a feel for the final product and how it will come together, even figuring in countertops and hardware.
Once you have everything chosen, there’s a mass edit option that allows you to change it all again at once. You can compare the overall cost of different finishes and hardware types by clicking the “Create list” option. There, Ikea will generate alist of every door, hinge, foot and kick panel needed to create your dream kitchen, as well as a final tally of cost. It’s a great budgeting tool, and the list can also be handed over at your local store so the associates can grab everything on the list and have it ready for you.
Assembling the first cabinet was kind of a headache, but once you get the hang of it, it goes fast. And honestly, why on earth would you want to pay anyone to do something so simple? We got everything assembled and moved into place, and then had my father-in-law cut the hole for the sink out of the $20 countertop I found in the scratch and dent section—yep! Ikea has a wonderful scratch-and-dent section and we found an 84” piece of reversible countertop that had a scratch on one side. We simply flipped it over. Score.
We did hire an amazing handyman we found on Craigslist to hang the top cabinets. I just didn’t think we had the patience to get them hung perfectly straight. He hung them in about an hour, and I couldn’t believe the difference. It was amazing. From ancient built-ins to a modern, new, completely custom kitchen for $5,000 and absolutely no debt incurred. That’s a real-world home makeover.