{renovate} pros and cons of IKEA cabinets

Friends, I've had this post half-written for months! But before we get too far away from our kitchen being finished (!), I want to talk to you about IKEA cabinets. Before we ever demoed the kitchen, we spent a couple weeks just pricing out cabinet options - they really are the bulk of a kitchen remodel budget. We actually decided to price out a specific size cabinet - 30" x 12" x 22" - in as many different options we could. We priced out low to high range cabinets at Home Depot and a couple small custom cabinet places in the area. We weren't terribly surprised, but IKEA just blew everyone out of the water. Once I knew that, I started looking online for gorgeous kitchens that used IKEA cabinets. That's when I found this article. See I had it in my head that all IKEA kitchens look alike and I didn't want my kitchen looking like anyone elses. Seeing this collection of gorgeous kitchens helped me get over that fear.

So I thought I'd lay out what we found to be the pros and cons of choosing IKEA kitchen cabinets. Hopefully it'll help one of you decide whether or not these cabinets are right for you.

IKEA cabinet pros.

Price - Obviously, right? But besides the out-of-pocket costs, we needed to look at the resale value of our home. We are in an area that might not see a lot of increased value in the next couple years and a very valid concern of the kitchen remodel is that we'd price ourselves out of the market - or not recoup our costs. One major goal of any home renovation should be to increase the value of your home and get that money back when you sell. IKEA cabinets were not only friendly on our wallet, but friendly for our home value as well.

Love the look - the doors we chose for our cabinets - the Adel? I love them. They were exactly the classic look I wanted in our cute little 1928 bungalow.

Customizable - IKEA cabinets are so, so flexible. We love that there were options for filling every last inch of space in the kitchen and options for how to layout the cupboards - shelves vs baskets. We also opted to customize our counter height, and instead of using their 4" legs, we used 5.5" boards. It was seamless and very easy to accomplish.

Easy to order - We had the easiest time ordering. The computer system is so easy to use and the people working in the kitchen department were so helpful. We were taken under the wing of a woman and she really helped us know what we needed and what we didn't. We explained what we wanted to customize ourselves and she didn't even bat an eye - just removed the items from the list we wouldn't need.


IKEA cabinet cons.

The IKEA look - as I mentioned above, if you're not careful, your kitchen will look like it came straight from the store. There is nothing wrong with this look and I know some people are happy with this. But if it isn't your style, I think it can be avoided by making sure that not all your elements come from IKEA.

Construction - I think this is the main question people have when they're thinking about IKEA cabinets is the material they're made from. They are not wood. And if you want a custom wood kitchen, you aren't going to find this here. They are press board and that come with a whole set of long-term feasibility issues. But the crazy thing is that all the cabinets we looked at and priced at home depot? Same press board material. So this con is a con depending on what you're looking for - and so far the cabinets are incredibly sturdy and have held up to the construction all around them very very well. But in all honesty, I am curious to see how they hold up over the next few years.

Installation issues - IKEA markets their cabinets as being incredibly simple to install. In fact, we have an IKEA video that is how to install your IKEA kitchen in an afternoon. Realistically, though, the cabinet elements themselves are easy to put together (took an afternoon!), but how easy to install, or not, depends on your space. No rooms are perfectly square. I joke about this a lot, because our home in particular is completely out of whack, but in reality perfectly square spaces don't exist. But cabinets are perfectly square. Therefore, it's going to be more work to install your cabinets than IKEA let's on. According to my husband, shims are your best friend. I believe it. There are still cabinets - especially around the dishwasher - that we're trying to get straight.


IKEA cabinet helpful tips.

Here are a few things we learned through this process:
- Because we made custom bases, to raise the counter height, we secured the cabinets to the bases instead of the wall, which IKEA recommends. Securing to the wall didn't seem as .... uh, secure, to us as securing the bases. 
- It takes some careful measuring, but it's possible to add crown molding to the cabinets - even though IKEA says they're not build for crown.
- If you choose to the go the IKEA route, know ahead of time what elements you want to customize - do you want to raise you counters? Add crown molding? Add a different back to the exposed cabinets? All of this will effect the plans you draw up in the computer system, you measurements and your final outcome. It's so important to have thought through the entire process before you get started.

I hope that our thoughts on IKEA cabinets can help some of you when the time comes to choose your own kitchen cabinets!  Does anyone else have experience/thoughts about IKEA cabinets? I'd love to hear other opinions in the comments.

ps. I didn't get paid to write this post - Chris and I have just spent a lot of time with these cabinets over the past few months and I wanted to share our experience.


  1. Awesome, Jenn, thanks! We were just at ikea on saturday (getting some stuff for maura's room) and we were totally pleasantly surprised by all the kitchen stuff. Will definitely be considering ikea when we redo ours! (which is not that soon, but still fun to be thinking about!!)

  2. This is such a helpful post Jenn! I am working with a kitchen client right now who may end up going the Ikea route, so these tips are perfect for her!

  3. Very interesting post. Here in rural Ireland very few people use IKEA cabinets as we tend to have large kitchen/dining rooms and the nearest IKEA to us is almost an hour and a half away by car. Your cabinets look beautiful though. Love your work tops and the tiles are lovely. I have some imamges of my kitchen on my blog, it is a solid oak painted cream. I have accessoried with IKEA light fittings which I love.

    All things nice...

  4. Great post! I've been waiting to hear this information. Though we decided to go with a local cabinet maker (I was sold on the real wood drawers and mostly, someone else doing all of the measuring and installing for us!), I was curious your experience with IKEA.

  5. Unfortunately we don't get to replace our cabinets...depending on the level of difficulty that may be a good thing though too. I love your finished product and LOVE how you spoke about pricing them out for your home value...smarty pants :)

  6. Your kitchen turned out great, I'm always curious about how people kitchen experiences are with IKEA and other big box stores. We are in the process of getting a new kitchen, its both exciting and scary at the same time

  7. Nice recap Jenn - it's good to hear your perspective on this product.

  8. Great points to bring up, Jenn! I think you’ve hit the two main issues why people are iffy at getting IKEA cabinets: their material and the installation. Of course, most people don’t really tailor their home for IKEA standard cabinets, so when it comes to looking for them, they end up with square blocks on a round hole, so to speak. Then there’s the material. The common misconception is that IKEA cabinets are weaker than wood cabinets. And then, of course, there’s the custom wood style that, without a doubt, looks classy.

    Leeanne Dyson


Your comments make my day! Thanks for stopping by and sharing! :)