To Ikea or Not To Ikea? That is the Question

If Shakespeare wrote Hamlet about our kitchen, this is how his famous soliloquy would start. He might also want to change Yorick’s skull into a measuring tape and skip the whole iambic pentameter thing (sooooo 1599).

See, when Scott and I started this whole kitchen renovation thing we had a plan. And that plan was to rip out the old kitchen, buy a new one from Ikea, build it, install it, and voila – instant kitchen. After several days of careful planning using Ikea’s kitchen software, we went off in my parent’s van to make our big purchase. What could go wrong? We triple checked measurements, finally agreed on a cabinet style (Adel off-white), and came in way under the allotted $5000 budget at $3200.

Well, let’s see. First of all, upon careful inspection, we realized that some of the measurements would be visually off. For example, because Ikea has set cabinet sizes, there would be no way to centre our sink cabinet underneath our window. The next drawback was our severe underestimation of all the extra pieces we would need – legs, handles, and finishing pieces to go around any exterior cabinets. This, coupled with flashbacks to past scenes of Ikea furniture building gone wrong, stopped us in our tracks. Building a flimsy $7.99 side table is one thing. Building 12+ cabinets that need to hold breakable objects? That’s just terrifying. Apparently, so is the cost of hiring someone to install them for you – $1200.

Based on this, we followed my mom’s advice and met up with the same custom cabinetry company (Ontario Kitchens) that built her kitchen. On the plus side, they were able to provide us with a layout that fit our existing kitchen features (like the windows and bulkheads) in a more symmetrical way. The one drawback was the cost. After adjusting for installation, the Ikea kitchen came to approximately $4600. In comparison, the custom kitchen would set us back $5300.

After some intense debating (and growing fast food fatigue), we opted to go with the custom cabinetry, for a number of reasons (no self-installation cough cough):

1) Symmetry. Our sink is centered with our window and our left and right counters are the same length.

2) An attractive solution to our bulkhead eyesore.

3) Durability. We were able to get soft close drawers for all of our pull out cabinets and heavy duty drawers for the two that hold our pots and pans.

4) Customization, such as a glass cabinet that fit with Scott’s style (traditional) and my style (contemporary).

5) A proportionate pantry that fit with our space and appliances.

Was that extra $600 worth it? Absolutely. Do I still freak out about getting stains on the white cabinets? Let’s just say that “curry,” “hot sauce,” and “soy sauce” are bad, bad words.