How to Save Money on an IKEA Kitchen

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“It is not unusual for labor to cost more than materials in an IKEA kitchen remodel. In fact, it is likely.”

Here are my top three tips for saving money and staying within your budget when remodeling with IKEA kitchen cabinets.

Order during a sale, only if and when the timing is right. This may seem obvious, but sometimes a project can’t wait for a sale, or in other some way the timing isn’t right. Unless you can safely store the flat-packed boxes (a dry storage area) in which your cabinet components are delivered, it’s best not to order far ahead of when you’ll be ready to install the cabinets. You can save $500 and then find your stored cabinets have warped in damp storage, or that your plans have changed. 

Typically, your IKEA order is delivered about two weeks after ordering. During sales this timeframe can get longer but sometimes, in non-sale periods, it can be just a few days. 

Some door styles are kept in stock so if you choose one of those for your kitchen, it’s possible to bring your own truck and take your kitchen components home the day you order. The IKEA kitchen catalog shows which styles are kept in stock. Because of the sheer volume and weight of boxes for a typical kitchen order, and because most IKEA stores have very reasonably-priced delivery service, most homeowners are likely to choose to wait for home delivery.

Sometimes, the sale discount is irrelevant. If you are not buying IKEA appliances and countertop, the sale discount may not be worth waiting for. A typical sale requires the purchase of one or more IKEA appliances and your discount can vary with how many you buy. Sometimes the sale requires a minimum purchase, say $2500, so if you have a small kitchen and you are not buying appliances, your total IKEA cost may be under this amount. 

When the discount is based on how many IKEA appliances you buy (which is not uncommon) consider buying a $200 IKEA dishwasher, or even two such appliances, to get the discount up. If you are buying $12,000 in cabinets and countertop for a large kitchen, a 10% discount of $1200 puts $800 in your pocket after paying for two $200 appliances. Sell the appliances on Craigslist, or give them as gifts. 

Invest in professional design. This may sound like a vested interest since my business ( is a pro IKEA kitchen design service. But even if I wasn’t in this business, I would strongly recommend working with an expert on the kitchen layout. Although you’ll spend a few hundred bucks on a design fee, you can save more than that by having a well-thought through plan.

As a former contractor installing owner-planned kitchens, I have seen many plan errors that cost the homeowner time and money. Even if you have measurements taken by a contractor, there can be variances that the measurements don't take into account and an inch or two can make a difference in both design and installation. Many homes, new and old, are less than perfectly level and plumb, which can make a room 2 inches wider on one side than on the other. 

A ceiling height taken in a corner that would allow for an 18 inch cabinet above the fridge, turns out to be an inch lower in the central area where the fridge is. A pro designer knows this can happen and can not only help you avoid the problem in the first  place, but can help you order some optional parts so that if you run into this, you don’t have to stop the project to get different parts. For homeowners more than an hour or two from an IKEA store, this is absolutely vital. 

One of the few downsides of IKEA cabinetry is the limited number of cabinet sizes and configurations, compared to other brands. I could go on for pages about how many times an installation was hung up on measurement issues that our designer resolved in a few minutes. With an expert and knowledgeable IKEA designer on your team, you can customize and alter cabinets to solve a wide variety of installation problems. We found this to be vital to get the kind of custom look and elegant installation result our customers demanded. I recommend design help as a key way to save time and money on your project. 

One of our designers is an IKEA kitchen “ordering genius.” He knows the ins and outs better than anyone I’ve ever met. He’s save people thousands of dollars by knowing how to buy components and how to use the sale discounts optimally in planning the kitchen. This is just a minor feature of our Design Service and yet it packs quite a punch for those on a tight budget. 

Work out all your costs before buying anything. Many homeowners visit IKEA, see the impressively affordable price tags on the display kitchens, and decide to move forward on a kitchen remodel before looking at labor costs or considering other materials than might be needed. 

It is not unusual for labor to cost more than materials in an IKEA kitchen remodel. In fact, it is likely. Although cabinet assembly and installation is not expensive (estimate $100 per cabinet), there is always more labor involved in a kitchen remodel. I’ve written other posts about typical labor costs and I have an eBook which you can get on Amazon  for 99 cents that is a comprehensive IKEA kitchen budget guide.

To stay within a budget, you really do need to know labor costs ahead of time. You might find that to remodel the kitchen, you need to replace your electrical panel. This is not unusual because most older homes have 100 amp panels which are simply inadequate for modern lifestyles. An average cost to replace a panel and rewire is $2000. It can cost twice that in some areas or in large houses where the wiring is bad or where the kitchen is far from the panel. 

The point is that you need a close look at the labor before you move forward. It is best to estimate that the labor will cost as much as the materials, at least. Often labor costs are higher than materials costs. 

The way to save on labor is to get a really comprehensive bid, not an estimate, before you start. A bid is a line item, detailed list of all services your contractor sees will need to be done to complete your project. It is not a promise that the list is complete, but am honest contractor will do his best to make it so. 

An estimate is rarely useful. I can look at a kitchen photo, and the layout for the remodel, and quickly estimate the remodeling labor costs. But without seeing the electrical, looking closely at plumbing and wall integrity, it’s just a guess. 

One thing to know is that change orders, which are additions to the contracted specs of  project, are typically more costly than items on the original contract. I won’t go into why this is, but I can say that, as a contractor, one makes more money on change orders. In the middle of a project, a plumbing problems is discovered that has to be remedied before the project can go on. A homeowner is unlikely to argue or, if the contractor is doing a good job so far, to get other quotes for this additional plumbing work. This is not dishonest or unfair. It’s just good to know, as a homeowner, that your own understanding of remodeling and the condition of your home, and a carefully done comprehensive bid from an honest contractor, are key ways to save on your kitchen remodel.

If you'd like to discuss your project with me, I can offer you a free, 30-minute phone consultation. Here's my calendar, just pick a time that works for you.