Hi, I’m Erin – IKEA kitchen and cabinet addict. In all honesty, I have a lot of experience with IKEA. Having renovated my entire kitchen, bar, and two baths with IKEA kitchen cabinets, I’m here to share a few tips and tricks to make your life easier if you’re contemplating an IKEA project. I do not work for IKEA nor do I get any money for promoting their products or services. These are my opinions based solely on my experience with purchasing and installing IKEA products. Here are my SEVEN budget-friendly IKEA hacks for a dream kitchen!
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1. Purchase IKEA cabinets and kitchens during a ‘sale’ event.
This is a given if you have some time to wait. IKEA often has ‘sales’ or offers promotions in the form of gift cards when you buy kitchen cabinets and appliances. If you can wait, or can buy during a sale event, this is highly resourceful. Also, consider buying during the sale and then scheduling your delivery later to accommodate your renovation timeline.
We were able to buy during a 15% back (on a gift card) event and then applied that 15% towards the purchase of some needed furniture and an additional kitchen purchase. You can break your orders up into multiple kitchen orders to apply a promotional gift card towards part of your kitchen purchase as well.
2. Consider getting IKEA appliances as well.
I recommend IKEA’s appliances – they are Whirlpool appliances without the Whirlpool logos. I can attest that they have been reliable and are measured to fit into IKEA’s cabinets and work with their design software. When we designed our kitchen renovation, we purchased the convection oven, the glass stove top, the refrigerator, the microwave, and the whisper-quiet dishwasher. The appliances have been great and come with an extended five-year warranty.
After researching IKEA’s appliances before we purchased, I found that the prices were competitive and it made the most sense to buy them with our kitchen and receive 15% back in addition to the extended warranty.
3. Purchase countertops, sinks, faucets, and cabinet or drawer handles elsewhere.
These items are overpriced when purchased from IKEA. For example: when I was looking at quartz countertops for our kitchen, IKEA had a set price of $90 per square foot for quartz. We ended up purchasing our quartz countertops from a local countertop business for around $50/sq ft when it was all said and done. This also included installation. So, almost half the price of IKEA countertops. If you can find remnant pieces to fit your kitchen or bathroom needs from a local countertop dealer, you can find an even better deal.
I purchased Kohler faucets from Amazon and Home Depot on sale, and I purchased sinks from Amazon (Zuhne). You can read the description of the sinks to figure out the best fit for your cabinet. The countertop installer will need sinks before they cut your countertops, and can install the sinks when the countertop is installed (for under-counter sinks). Also, I purchased drawer handles from Amazon and Ebay which had packs of handles at a significantly cheaper price than IKEA. You can also find decent deals for handles at your local Home Depot or Lowe’s which are typically cheaper than IKEA. I do, however, recommend IKEA’s drawer and cabinet handle installation template. It’s a lifesaver and makes installing and drilling holes into your drawers and cabinets infinitely easier.
4. Make your own platform or base for the cabinets.
We wanted raised countertops; my husband and I are both tall and I was adamant about a proper countertop height. I thought: if we are going to re-do our entire kitchen and spend a considerable amount of money on this, I want countertops for my height. I received quotes on custom cabinets that would put the countertops at 39 inches instead of the standard 36 inches. The quote for custom cabinets, and ONLY the cabinets (not the appliances or the countertops) was around $30,000. That was completely out of our budget. This is about the point that I started thinking about IKEA and how I could make IKEA cabinets work for a raised countertop height. We ended up just putting the cabinets on a higher platform. I got this idea from another blogger who put her IKEA cabinets on a lower base to accommodate for her shorter height.
The amazing thing about IKEA cabinets is that they are completely customizable. If you are handy, you can install them on any sized platform or base and they can be shorter or taller – whatever works for you. For reference, we installed our countertops on 2” x 8” boards (actual measurement is 1.5” x 7.5”); so they sit roughly 7.5 inches off the ground instead of the standard 4.5 inches off the ground. The cabinets themselves are 30 inches tall, plus an inch to an inch and a half countertop thickness puts the top of the countertop at around 39 inches off the ground; perfect for taller people.
5. Know what you can DIY and what you should contract out.
My husband and I are DIYers, but there are certain things we needed help with. For instance, we hired an electrician to upgrade the electrical for our oven and to run electrical wiring under the ground to power our island. We hired a contractor to take out a wall in our kitchen and patch the ceiling. We handled the plumbing ourselves (to install our new faucets). Together, we installed the IKEA portion of the cabinets and island. A countertop company was hired to cut and install the countertops.
The more you can DIY, the more money you save, sometimes.
Factor in your hourly rate and then how much time you will actually spend by doing it yourself (sometimes, it’s a lot longer than the time and money you would pay for a professional to do it). Measuring and designing your IKEA kitchen is not as hard as it looks. Measure several times, err on the side of smaller over larger. You can always add a filler piece but it’s difficult to shrink a cabinet.
Have your design double checked by an IKEA associate in the store before you order. IKEA associates will know where to put cover panels, etc. You can also have an IKEA associate come to your home and measure for you. I almost did this but ended up just doing the measurements myself. Have confidence in yourself!
6. Use Home Depot or Lowe’s (or another local hardware store) to install cover or filler panels.
IKEA sells cover panels to bridge the gap between a cabinet and a wall. They recommend about a 2- 2.5 inch gap between a cabinet and wall, and they sell overpriced cover panels that you can cut to fit this gap. We skipped those and just used boards from Home Depot. The gaps between cabinet and wall were kept to 1.5 inches and we installed a 1 x 2 inch white board between the cabinet and wall. It was minimal cutting and we just painted it to match IKEA Grimslov white. The only time we used IKEA cover panels was on the sides of our island to cover the edge of a cabinet. Otherwise, working with boards from the hardware store was much less expensive and easier to work with to bridge and fill gaps.
7. Find out the limitations and size of your countertop slabs before finalizing your island.
When you get your countertops from a local seller, your price may depend on the number of countertop slabs used. We were completely re-creating our kitchen and tore out our existing island in favor of a different shape. The sizes of countertop slabs were unknown to us before we designed our island, and in hindsight, we should have checked that first. We designed our island and then went countertop shopping. Turns out, our island needed two slabs and this made our countertops extremely expensive. By modifying our island and shrinking it by 6 inches on one side (trading out a 36-inch cabinet for a 30-inch cabinet), we were able to fit our entire island under one slab, which is such a nice look. This cut our countertop price almost in half!
If you have an idea of a countertop design or a color that you like, call a countertop supplier and ask for a rough estimate on slab size.
This will give you a general idea of the size limitations of your island if you want to keep it under one slab. For us, it was the difference in needing two slabs versus three slabs for our entire kitchen, which was a huge cost savings.
IKEA Kitchen and Bath Final Thoughts
All in all, I would recommend IKEA kitchens and cabinets if you are confident in your ability to design your own space and install your own cabinets. IKEA can save you a lot of money if you are capable of some basic cabinet installation (It’s easier than you think!). I am sort of obsessed with little details and wanted to be super hands-on; I found that IKEA allowed ME to be the designer and design every last detail of my kitchen without having to go through a designer. I liked that I could pick how many drawers I had and configurations and sizes of those drawers, as well as make last minute changes to my designs and return cabinets when needed.
I can attest to the quality of the cabinets; my kitchen AND bathroom cabinets are holding up well in the Florida heat and humidity. With a little bit of planning and hard work, your dream kitchen and baths CAN be budget friendly and exactly what you want!