Real-Life Kitchen + Dining Room Renovation: IKEA Planning

IKEA Kitchen Planning by Let's Eat Grandpa

After doing a lot of research, we decided that IKEA is the best option for our cabinets in our kitchen and dining room renovation. Their reasonable price, modular design, and modern aesthetic are perfect for us. Though we’re not planning on moving any time soon, this will probably be a rental someday and we don’t want to overspend.

We do, however, have a lot to address in our new kitchen and dining room. You can see the before pictures here. The big three are storage, workspace, and opening it all up to the existing living room. We are starting from scratch since our current cabinets aren’t worth saving, plus we want to rework our layout entirely, raise up the drop ceiling, and extend storage into the dining room. IKEA is the most reasonable option since we can’t afford custom cabinets.

I’d played around with IKEA’s 3-D kitchen designer on my own and I wasn’t exactly wowed. It’s not the most intuitive and it can be pretty buggy, especially when you don’t really know what you’re doing and when you’re on a laptop with a trackpad and no mouse. Figuring out how to deal with our kitchen’s quirks was tough — our kitchen wall bumps out 3.5″ from our dining room wall and I had no idea how to create that within in the program. So while we had a general idea of what we wanted (where we wanted appliances and cabinets), we weren’t walking into IKEA with physical plans of any kind.

The weekend before my foot surgery we headed to IKEA to design our new kitchen. We knew we’d be there a while, so we gave ourselves most of the day just in case it took a long time. We ended up being a little more than three hours, which included a little walking around time to make some final decisions on finishes and find a better solution for our dining room storage. Oh, and a bit of time to eat some meatballs and buy a stuffed Bernese Mountain dog for Gunnar.

We had measured our home before we went — our kitchen was incredibly simple to measure (no windows, no doors), but IKEA does offer a measuring service if you have a more complicated layout.

IKEA Kitchen Planning by Let's Eat Grandpa

We met with kitchen designer Kendra. She didn’t create our kitchen design for us, but walked us through the process and helped us use the IKEA design software. It’s the same design software that you can download, but having someone there who understands all the quirks and where to find everything made it approximately a billion times easier. She also had suggestions for additional storage, knew about zoning clearances, and showed us some ways we could save some money. For instance, we decided against the farmhouse sink — she said they scratch easily and we can get an undermount sink for less.

IKEA Kitchen Planning by Let's Eat Grandpa

You can see our final design in the above illustration. We’re super excited about it!

The basic layout is an “L” shape with a small island, with wall of cabinets in the dining room on the right. The cabinets are IKEA’s “Adel” cabinets. We decided to go with wood cabinets over white because we think they will be easier to keep clean and will hold up better in a rental. The warm wood will also be a nice warm contrast to the future cooler gray of the living room. We’re also thinking gray for the accents in the kitchen, like the pulls and the backsplash. We decided to use some glass-front cabinets in the dining room to make it feel more like a hutch and display some of our prettier serving ware.

And goodness. Look at those two tall pantries with pull-out shelves in the dining room. I can keep food inside the house. *happy dance*

The illustration is missing panel pieces, like on the sides of the fridge. Kendra calculated how many panels we would need, and it’s up to us to cut them down to size. We’re planning on doing the cabinet installation ourselves — it’ll be an adventure!

Overall, it ended up costing more than we thought it would. But after considering we chose one of their more expensive cabinet styles and had an entire wall of cabinets in the dining room, we thought it was reasonable and we could make it work within our budget. To save money, we’ll do the floors, counters, faucets, backsplash, and appliances through a discounter.

We decided not to order that day, so we could price out appliances and a sink and make sure we took the measurements into account when we bought our cabinets. Later that day, we stopped by Sears and were able to purchase a new white Kenmore fridge and white Maytag range (we’ll use our existing white dishwasher) on sale for significantly less than the IKEA appliances. Win! We went with the white because stainless steel is anything but stainless — even though it was pretty, I kinda hated it in my previous kitchen. Plus I feel like in a few years, stainless steel will be the new avocado — everyone will know it was a 2010s style. White should be timeless and easier to keep clean, plus it’s less expensive.

We’re crossing our fingers for an IKEA Kitchen Sale, which happens twice a year. We could save up to 20% on our purchase, which is significant when you’re buying a whole kitchen! Even if a sale doesn’t come up soon, our membership in IKEA Family means that we can take an advantage of a sale up to three months after the fact. Just bring in our receipts and they’ll refund our discount.

And that’s that! We’ll order in the next week or two and get started. I can’t wait to tear out the old grimy kitchen and put in something that I actually love using! If you have questions about the design process, leave them in the comments. I’d be happy to help in any way I can!


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  1. says

    I looked at Ikea software, got frustrated quickly and gave up. I would do the same think with counters and appliances. And good call on the white. I have that now and it’s peeling and yucky. AND…I just bought a new fridge (from Sears) and totally agree with you regarding stainless steel. White all the way…good luck!
    Diana recently posted..WIP Wed: My Attempt at ModernMy Profile

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