Why an IKEA Kitchen?
The decision to get an IKEA kitchen was very simple: Price. IKEA is like no other company when it comes to scale of economy in their home furnishings. I don't love every single thing that IKEA does, but when it comes to kitchen cabinets, I really didn't see any other way to get the size and style of kitchen we wanted.
IKEA cabinets are completely modular — you can buy them in any configuration and adapt them to your style to a rather astonishing degree, especially if you, like us, wanted a more modern and sleek look.
I understand that some people are suspicious of IKEA cabinets, since they are made of MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard). The low cost of the cabinets and their material are red flags to some folks who just really want the best for their kitchen.
But here's the thing. Most off-the-rack cabinet systems are also made of MDF. Any other cabinets we could afford (like the Kraftmaid cabinets or other lines sold at stores like Lowe's and Home Depot) are also MDF. You can go a step up and get cabinet-grade plywood, but there is some debate over whether that is actually superior to MDF. To go all the way to the top and buy solid wood cabinet boxes, well — that just wasn't feasible for us. It would have cost tens of thousands of dollars, money we couldn't justify even if we had wanted to. Our entire cabinet system cost much less than $10,000. (See my full price breakdown at the end.)
For me, the most key part of a cabinet is the drawer. If anything is going to swell and warp, it's a drawer. But IKEA's drawers are solid metal, with really superb hardware, hinges, and drawer dampers.
I read copiously on other homeowners' experiences with IKEA cabinets and talked to contractor friends. For the most part, they were uniformly enthusiastic. Yes, IKEA cabinets are cheap, but that doesn't mean they're shoddy or flimsy. Just like everything else, they have their limitations, but we felt that in the end the IKEA cabinets were by far the best deal. Here, then, are a few things we learned in the process.