Spaces for Life

The ReTouch Home Improvement blog



Spaces for Life: IKEA Cabinets – Good buy or Goodbye?

By Lance McCarthy

It has been almost a year since IKEA became our neighbor down the road, and although the traffic isn’t quite as crazy around there as it used to be, it is still a popular place.

Many of our clients who are most concerned with budget are also very interested in whether IKEA cabinets would be a good choice for their kitchen.  That’s an important question since it is the most expensive part of the most expensive room in the house.

We just finished using IKEA cabinets on a large project, so here’s my review.

Quality of construction

The cabinet boxes are constructed of particle board with a plastic laminate veneer.  Particle board doesn’t like getting wet, but the veneer protects it well.  Although purists prefer plywood construction, particle board is pretty common.


I mean the hinges, slides, swings and other metal parts that do all the work in a cabinet. There are some great features now including adjustable pullouts, soft-close drawers and doors, drawer-in-drawers, and corner susans.  They seem to hold up pretty well to the heavy abuse that a normal kitchen takes.


This depends on your preferred aesthetic.  IKEA is more conservative and more modern in their style than a lot of other companies.  They do a European style cabinet where the front of the cabinet is mostly door and drawer faces.  A lot of people we talk to are looking for cabinets that look “clean” with “simple lines”.  The IKEA cabinet style choices would fit that description.


IKEA has really sexy downloadable software to design the kitchen.  Frankly it is pretty fun to work with (if you are into that sort of thing).  There are two down sides to IKEA design.

Since it is a collection of pre-made boxes, the more complicated your kitchen is, the more challenging it will be to design with IKEA.  A lot of the online pictures of their kitchens show straight rows of cabinets.  The more corners and exact widths, the more challenging they are.  Great for lofts, tougher for a modern Prairie Village kitchen.


You know how I feel about the Home Depot commercials telling people to remodel their own bathroom this weekend.  In the real world most people don’t end up with quite what they wanted when this happens.  Same thing is true for a kitchen, but more so.  In a kitchen, every inch matters, and all the different components have to be located in the right place to look good and to work well.  This is tough to pull off unless it’s something you do every day.  The solution? Get some professional design help.  This will be money well spent.


Remember that backyard playset that you thought you could assemble in a few hours (but didn’t)?  Yeah, now imagine that but more detailed.  Some people will love this process.  If you love tinkering and using instruction manuals, you might love assembling IKEA cabinets.

Since most houses in this area aren’t exactly “level” or “square”, installing any cabinets is something that can be quite a challenge.  Easy solution?  Hire this part out and go to Big Cedar Lodge for a few days instead.


Kansas City is fairly unique in the country.  Most places the cost of custom cabinets can be 2 or 3 times the cost of pre-made.  Not here.  Inch for inch, the IKEA cabinet is fairly similar to a base-grade custom cabinet.  Now custom cabinets can certainly cost more, but they don’t have to.  The basic custom cabinets wouldn’t automatically have some of the flashier features of the IKEA cabinet, but they would fit perfectly in the space.  That is a decision you will have to make.

Bottom line

IKEA is the perfect decision for the person who lives in a loft, wants a fairly straightforward layout, loves assembling things and is pretty handy, and has some time on their hands to tinker and make it right.  Custom cabinets are perfect for the person who has a complicated kitchen, doesn’t want to diy-it, and wants to spend a little more to get what they want and wants a cabinet full of features that fits their space exactly.  Normal people are usually somewhere between those extremes, so you’ll have to figure out where you lie on that spectrum.


Got questions?  Reach out and ask. We’ll be happy to help!

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