11 July 2011

Guest post by Becky Shankle: Three reasons to buy an Ikea kitchen

Being that Gold Notes celebrates its third anniversary this month, I’m running three posts a week, not just one, throughout July. This one was contributed by one of my favorite Twitter “tweeps,” @ecomod, aka Becky Shankle.

I met Becky about three months too late. I had an architect client last winter who really wanted IKEA kitchens for the condo building he designed. He just didn’t want the hassle that comes with managing all the parts and pieces and having them assembled on site. Becky would have been the perfect resource for that project.

Becky’s kitchen design and installation company, Eco-Modernism, makes IKEA work for her clients around the country. She knows how to design in, assemble, install and, when necessary, modify these popular cabinets. Being as hands-on smart as she is with IKEA, I asked Becky to write a guest post for Gold Notes readers on the pros and cons of an IKEA kitchen. Here are her insights in the first of two guest posts. This one focuses on the pros, rather than the cons.

Frameless/Euro style cabinet construction

Frameless construction uses less resources. There is no face frame on the front of the box, which means there are also no obstructions to visually scanning cabinet contents, or accessing them.

No face frame equals less materials and less labor to build. Most cabinets have full overlay doors these days, which means you can’t see the frame. Why spend money where it won’t be seen?

Shelves can also span the full cabinet depth, instead of stopping short because of the face frame. Three-quarters of an inch doesn’t sound like much, but multiply it by 24 inches and that’s a loss of 18 square inches of precious storage area per shelf. Multiply that by three shelves and it’s a whopping 54 square inches [four and a half feet].

Under cabinet task lights can span more than one box, because the cabinet bottoms are flush. This means you can get a single longer light in lieu of two or more separate fixtures. Less wiring equals less labor to hookup.


Not the pretty stuff on the outside. The robust, beefy stuff on the inside. Like concealed hinges, drawer slides and soft closures. IKEA uses Blum Tandembox Plus drawer slides with Blumotion closers. That means you can load up 50 kg (90ish pounds) in a drawer and it won’t pinch your fingers or wake up the neighbors when it closes.

Swinging doors have Blum’s soft closers also. And unlike a custom shop, these bells come standard on every box; there is no upcharge per hinge or drawer.


The average kitchen that comes from IKEA is about 14 boxes and retails for about $3600 to $4000 and installation. That includes all the cabinets, toe kicks, light skirts, cover panels, fillers and hardware. An identical kitchen from Lowe’s with similar construction is $16,000 installed.

Modern cabinet style lovers can have the look and functionality of much higher-end product lines like Poggenpohl and Scavolini at a fraction of the cost and delivery time. IKEA usually delivers in less than 10 days.

Good stuff: IKEA kitchen by Becky Shankle and Eco-Modernism

IKEA warranties their cabinets for 25 years. That’s enough time for avocado green and harvest gold to come back in style. In other words, most kitchens get a face lift every couple of decades, on average. [So this warranty comes pretty close to many higher-priced manufacturer's lifetime warranties for cabinets costing much less. Many discount manufacturers only offer five-year warranties. JG]


Next up: Three reasons not to buy an Ikea kitchen


  1. well...hmmm...I am going to have to say that for the short term Ikea may seem like a good deal...however for the long term...that so called 25 year warranty is rather vapid....I have done many a customers kitchen after several years of them living with their Ikea kitchen as the components do not hold up...and the materials and finishes do not hold up...and the customer is finding their cabinets do not stay up....So after a few years of what feels like great savings...slowly after use...as it says in the nursery rhyme..."they all fall down". Yes they have great contemporary design style...but hey..they are not the only supplier who makes frameless cabinets...up here in Canada...most of our cabinets are just that..frameless...but do not fool yourself...it is only a quality constructed product that yes is more expensive...will last after being overloaded...stay on the wall as it is suppose to...and have quality inner material and parts...like hinges that are made of excellent castings...and screws and joiners that catch more than the minimum. Be careful Mr. and Mrs. Consumer..price may be the attractive way to buy...but to last you need quality components...Did you ever wonder how they get the price so low...think about it for a moment...Oh and no I do not work for Lowe's...but a private company
    I will remain anonymous as this post may be a conflict of interest....and no I do not work for IKEA either...:)

  2. you know . . . I have done a few cabinet installs in my life... and when I got hired to do a few "Ikea kitchens" a few years back, I was very skeptical . . . I mean I always thought they looked cool, but I was a little worried about construction and this . . . weird way of hanging the upper cabs. they were hung on a rail. . . (and not sure if they are still doing) and Becky may not speak to this -- but once the cabs were assembled -- it really was a snap to set them ... one person -- couple hours = done. anyway you guys make a great pair here. and for the record -- I have since employed that idea (of a rail) in hanging a credenza and even with heavy art... it is always much easier when you start with smart. thanks. jb

  3. Thanks for adding your voice. You may be interested in the second post of the series, which addresses other issues Becky has identified.

  4. JB, I agree that the hanging rail system is pretty innovative. Thanks for your thoughts, and for your kind words!

  5. Looks like a great option in this budget driven market. One question, you say "$3600-$4000 and installation". I'm assuming you have to add installation to that price and since this will also include assembly, your install cost will be about double that of a pre-assembled cabinet, no? So apples to apples where are we at vs. that $16,000?

  6. Gloria, I'm forwarding your question to Becky for her input. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Howdy - as to the question about installed cost from Gloria - good one! Apples to apples, we're looking at an average installed price of $11 -12k & up. (The $3600-$4k cabinet cost figure is a few years old & they run a bit higher than that now.)

    In response to the first commenter: during my survey period in which I interviewed comsumers' experiences w/ Ikea, a whopping 95% of the naysayers had no direct experience with Ikea cabinet products on a daily basis. It's easy to bash something you've never touched.

    Of the folks I surveyed who own Ikea cabinets, the longest durations of quality retaining lifespan that were shared with me were 15 and 22 years.

    Additionally, I think Blum (standard on all Ikea cabinetry) may take issue with the referral to their hardware as less than "quality casting" however that may be defined. :)

    It's not a perfect product - there are maddening issues as with any modular system (no 33" sink cabinets, for example). And limitation of finishes. I also think there may be some borderline labor practices in some cases.

    I'm 4 years in & going strong so far.


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