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7 Things That Surprised me about Building an Ikea Kitchen in 2022

I grew up in homes under construction, and I’ve tackled a fair number of DIY’s myself – including my spare bedroom to walk-in closet conversion, but doing an IKEA kitchen remodel in 2022 was an eye-opening experience, here’s why:

Keep reading to learn what surprised me about my IKEA kitchen remodel in 2022 and what I wish I’d known before I started.

  • An ugly white builders grade kitchen with a vintage sink, before remodel.
  • A dreamy green and white kitchen 2022 galley kitchen remodel.
  • An ugly budget kitchen before remodel.
  • Of forest green cabinets with stainless steel range and hood.
  • An ugly white builders grade kitchen with a vintage sink, before remodel.
  • A small galley kitchen featuring open shelving, glass front cabinets, and green base cabinets.
  • An ugly white builders grade kitchen with a vintage sink, before remodel.
  • A luxurious budget kitchen remodel for this small galley kitchen.

Even though I thought I was prepared for my kitchen remodel, and my kitchen design appointment at the IKEA showroom helped me know what to expect from the process, here are a few of the surprises and things I wish I’d known before my IKEA kitchen installation:

#1 My kitchen remodel wasn’t disrupted by backorders

Perhaps the most shocking element of my kitchen remodel, given that it was done in early 2022, is that no part of the process was delayed by out-of-stock parts.

While I did, during the design process, have to make some minor shifts to my plan to work around supply chain issues, all of the major parts and pieces were in stock or returned to stock within two weeks of placing my order- in fact, my backordered Sektion cabinet boxes arrived before the shipment of in-stock products!

While some recessed lighting parts and drawer pulls were out of stock, these were easily replaced by in-stock elements from other retailers. (And in the case of the drawer pulls and cabinet knobs, at significant savings)

#2 you really can assemble your own IKEA kitchen

IKEA has put decades of research and millions of dollars into developing flatpack furniture that can be put together by ordinary individuals. This became incredibly clear to me as I sat on my living room floor and assembled drawers, pullouts, and cabinets using only a hammer and screwdriver.

Because IKEA products are so popular, there’s a video tutorial for just about every IKEA products assembly process. The combination of the two resources made assembling my own kitchen cabinets no harder than putting together a challenging puzzle.

A process shot from assembling my IKEA kitchen
Assembling an Ikea kitchen while binging reality TV.

#3 I was surprised that IKEA cabinets feel expensive

While it’s worth noting that IKEA produces cabinets in a variety of price points, and I did purchase cabinets on the upper end of their price range, I was shocked at how the feel of IKEA cabinets is on par with high-end custom cabinets I’ve had in the past. Even monitoring my Ikea kitchen costs like a hawk, I’m super thrilled with the quality of my cabinets.

Easy to install soft close closures mean these hefty doors and drawer fronts close solidly without a clank – something that weirdly drives me crazy in kitchens most kitchens.

#4 I was surprised that the clearance of IKEA drawers

Oddly, this is may be my favorite feature about IKEA kitchen: Because IKEA’s cabinets require what’s called “full overlay” coverage in a frameless box (i.e. drawer fronts and cabinet doors cover the entire face of the cabinet, rather than leaving the edges of the box showing) there’s no trim between drawers. Without the dead space created by trim, drawers are deeper and have a higher clearance – I am astonished at how much usable depth there are in my IKEA kitchen cabinet drawers.

As you can see in this picture, I can actually store all of my cleaning supplies upright in my large IKEA drawers.

#5 I was shocked at how upper cabinets are hung

First off, upper wall cabinets in the kitchen are super heavy – I had no idea! After I put together my large glass front cabinets, I had new respect for how difficult it must be to hang them safely on a wall and secure them in place.

So I was surprised when I learned that wall cabinets (IKEA and other brands) hang by a french cleat on a simple rail screwed to studs. Sure, the rail is really strong, but I’d seen too many posts on r/mildlyinfuriating of fallen kitchen cabinets to be totally safe with using only IKEA’s hanging system.

To reinforce my IKEA wall cabinets, my contractor added a hidden cleat to the wall underneath each cabinet to help provide a little extra support for the massive weight of these heavy upper cabinets.

#6 I was surprised to find that IKEA offers white glove service

IKEA is synonymous with “put it together yourself and suffer” but I learned during my IKEA design appointment that – for a not unreasonable fee – a crew will come to your home, assemble, and install your IKEA kitchen.

While I ultimately, due to the limited availability of IKEA’s team at the time, chose to do DIY assembly and private contractor installation, it made me more confident about future interior design projects knowing that using IKEA products for a big remodel has the option to include professionals to assemble and install- it’s definitely something I’d want to know before I did another IKEA kitchen.

#7 Drawer fronts can be adjusted

A cool feature about IKEA kitchens that even many IKEA kitchen owners don’t know about is that drawer fronts and cabinet doors can be slightly adjusted with a simple turn of a screw.

Built-in adjusters allow a little bit of play so that cabinets can be perfectly aligned or even moved out of the way if they don’t have full clearance from other elements in the kitchen. In the case of my apron front sink, drawer fronts on either side needed to be nudged just a fraction of an inch away from the drawer front. With IKEA’s built-in adjustability, this was easy.

I was shocked that this premium feature was available on IKEA cabinets when even most custom cabinet manufacturers do not have this technology.

Final thoughts on things that surprised me about my IKEA kitchen

As you can see, installing an IKEA kitchen was a learning experience. Mostly, it was a positive experience and the surprises were all features that I didn’t know that I would be able to expect from an IKEA product.

While this certainly isn’t the extent of surprises I experienced during my kitchen remodel (after all, the cottage is 110 years old) these were all surprises that came along with the package and things I wish I’d known before I started my 2022 IKEA kitchen installation. Want more before and after photos? Check out my full write-up on the remodel.

This IKEA kitchen features green cabinets, glass front white upper cabinets, and rustic open shelving created from reclaimed hundred-year-old wood planks.
This kitchen renovation features forest green cabinets on the bottom and the combination of wood open shelving and glass front white cabinets on top.

Stephanie

Wednesday 15th of June 2022

Hello! So happy I’ve found your blog. I too am starting to plan a kitchen remodel. And also love those dark green cabinets! I did want to know, had the Ikea team been available, would you have chosen them over your private contractor? Would you mind passing along who you did use? Thanks so much!

Lindsayanne Brenner

Thursday 16th of June 2022

Hi Stephanie! Good luck with your kitchen remodel!

Great question! I think if Ikea's team had been available without delay, I probably would have signed on the dotted line and proceeded with Ikea installation. *However* if I was doing it all over again today, I would definitely have my private contractor install my Ikea kitchen again! That's mostly because I thought my contractor did a phenomenal job dealing with the challenges of my cottages's 120-year-old (and slightly-askew) geometry. I'm not sure the Ikea team would have had the ability to solve problems creatively.