Coming Soon to the US. An Entirely New IKEA Kitchen System

Just a quick note.

No worries if you need a kitchen this year, the Rationell-Akurum system all of us in the US know as "IKEA kitchen cabinets" are wonderful, quality cabinets.  But, already introduced in some European countries, a new IKEA system, called METOD, should be arriving to the US within a year or so.

From what I have seen, the new system has much more flexibility, and a more modern, European look.

Here is a short video ad for the new system.

How to Find a Contractor for Your IKEA Kitchen Project

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Quite a few people write me asking for help finding a contractor in their area. I can sometimes find a past design client who is nearby and who will share their contractor info. But, given how many cities, even countries, we provide design services for, it's hard to cover every area.

Still, we try, so write me and I'll try to help. If you are in the Southern California area, I have many clients and excellent contractor referrals for you.

What to do if there doesn't seem to be an IKEA installer or a general contractor who knows IKEA products in your area? Should you use the IKEA store-provided services? Two good questions.

First, insofar s IKEA store services, which I've written about earlier in this blog, I would never recommend them as a first choice. Most important is to know that each store has it's own local service companies, or perhaps several stores in an area use the same service company. But always those companies are fairly small, local contractors who have managed to secure some sort of relationship with IKEA. There is no guarantee that they will provide good service at a good price, and IKEA does stand behind their work. You have to hire and contract with these providers just as you would any other contractor. These IKEA-referred providers do have pricing set by IKEA for installation of IKEA products, but for other work, like electrical and plumbing or wall repair, flooring, etc., these companies will often subcontract the work and the prices may be higher than average since they have you hooked, if you get my drift. 

It's always worth making a few calls to find an independent, licensed general contractor that has good references and whose license data you can check on your state' contractor board website. ALWAYS do this. It is not difficult, and it is completely socially acceptable, to do a thorough check into a person you are hiring to come into your home, tear it apart in ways they determine, and who you expect to pay thousands of dollars. 

Personally, I don't give much credence to online reviews, Angie's list, and those sort of things. This is because there is always a profit motive behind them. I much prefer to make calls, talk to real people, and see how they respond. Do they answer calls or emails quickly? Do they seem sane and honest? I feel that my own perceptions are trustworthy and I recommend you trust yours. The only other resource you need is knowledge of local contractor and home repair laws and rules. 


IKEA's SPRING 2014 Sale

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The spring sale has been announced. If you plan to order your cabinets during this sale, it's time to get planning and design underway. I always hope I've written enough blog posts to steer homeowners in the right direction. I always want to offer my company's professional design services, but also my offer of a free 30-minute phone consultation. I've worked on over 500 IKEA kitchen installations, and thousands of IKEA kitchen design cycles, so I can usually answer a few questions, at least.

Also, make sure to request my free eBook, How to Budget for an IKEA kitchen remodel. Or buy it on Amazon for a buck, either way.


Modern Family Kitchens-Expert IKEA Kitchen Design Services

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IKEA Kitchen Sale is Coming!

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It's late befruary and we've placed our bets that a Spring 2014 IKEA kitchen sale will be announced shortly. If you're waiting for the sale to order cabinets, here are some tips:

1) Get started with your research: Read up on appliances, tile, countertops, permits issues, local contractors, your city or state contractor laws, etc. My blog is a good place to start because I've written posts on all these subjects as they relate to IKEA kitchen projects.

2) Get your design work under way NOW. Don't wait for the sale to start. Even if you later decide to hold off on your project, you'll have the design work done and it can be inspiring and helpful to know how your finished kitchen will look. A finished design will help you get good bids on the contractor services. Contact Modern Family Kitchens for the best, most elegant and professional IKEA kitchen design in the world. Oh, humble-est also.

3) Work out your budget. Request my free IKEA kitchen budgeting eBook. There are sample bid sheets, and lots of data about the real costs of an IKEA kitchen project that comes from my experience with over 500 installations and the design of many hundreds more.

4) Window shop. Go look at appliances, tile, flooring, lighting. By the way, you don't need to buy IKEA appliances. Any brand will work with IKEA kitchen cabinets. Same with countertop. But note that the sale discounts sometimes depend on either the total purchase or how many IKEA appliances you buy. Also note that IKEA appliances are actually the Whirlpool Gold line.

5) Magazine shop. Treat yourself to print and web magazine reading time. Look on Pinterest and Apartment Therapy. There are some fabulous IKEA kitchen ideas out there. With a good designer and a skilled installer, you can do many types of customizations that the IKEA online planner will not even being to allow.

6) That's worth a special note. Don't settle for the layout design that the IKEA online planner limits you with. Invest a few hundred bucks in professional design. It is SO worth it.

7) Start asking your friends, relatives, neighbors for recommendations to trustworthy contractors. Try to interview and get bids from three, at least. The comparison will help you. Don't get one bid, and don't choose the cheapest just because it's the cheapest. If you are tempted, write me and I'll put you in touch with design clients who did this and were sorry they did. Let's just say it will cost you more to go with the cheapest bid.

8) Dream. Envision your dream kitchen. Write down what is essential, what is wanted, what is just something you'd like to have but isn't necessary. Align these ideas with your budget but ask your designer to work out a way to have your dream kitchen within your budget. That's what designers do.

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. 


Terrible Kitchen Designs with the IKEA Planner

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There are many things about the online IKEA kitchen planner that people complain about. It's slow running, difficult to move cabinets precisely, lacks a "select all" function so that you can change ALL the doors or ALL the handles to another style (a MAJOR software flaw), and is, overall, not a fun or easy tool to use for a creative process.

Working with professional kitchen designers for many years has made me even more antipathetic to that online planner. It's not just it's clumsiness or lack of fine tuning features. It's not just the poor quality visuals it offers. You could say that my basic protest is that it is there at all.

I am a budget-minded person by nature. If I have $10,000 for a project, I am going to research and plan out each material purchase and get competitive bids for labor. I want the best bang for the buck. Thus, when a potential design client calls me, I naturally want the same for them, even though I know not everyone has the same viewpoint I do.

My point is that when someone is going to spend $8,000 or $15,000 or more on a kitchen remodel, basing the entire project on a layout plan they created with the IKEA online planner is, almost always, a sadly wasteful mistake. That planner just isn't a tool you can use to get that best possible result within your budget.

First, the planner will not allow you to do many things that can be done with IKEA kitchen cabinets. There are ways to mix and match cabinet component, for example. There are ways to use certain cabinets to create bench seating, islands and peninsulas of the correct size and position, custom stacked cabinets, or crown solutions, and much more.

Sometimes a simple alteration to a cabinet can save you hundreds, even thousands, of dollars on labor costs, but how would you know or show this as you create a layout upon which your cabinet order and installation is going to be based?

Just yesterday and nice man called me to ask about an installation issue. He had not yet ordered his cabinets but he was thinking ahead since he planned to install them himself. I can't really answer technical installation issues on the phone, first because I can't see the cabinet or panel or wall or window or pipe in question,  and second because kitchens have safety issues, code issues, different in each home and each city.

Anyway, the man sent me a link to his IKEA plan. He told me the staff at his local IKEA had helped him design it. Honestly, I was shocked to hear this. It's a truly terrible plan. Not just lacking aesthetic, but unworkable and actually dangerous.

Because the man had an accent and we might have had some difficulty understanding one another, I don't know if I'll be able to explain to him the problems with the layout he has. But I will try.

Unless I am successful and this man allows us to design for him, not only will he have a very tough time installing, but whoever is going to be using this kitchen is going to have an equally tough time. There's not nearly enough storage, the work areas are very limited, and it would be impossible to have two people in the kitchen at same time, comfortable doing separate tasks. The fridge door is going to bump into the adjacent pantry cabinet and someone is going to have to walk clear across the kitchen to take dishes and glasses from the dishwasher and put them way. Worse, any child who walks past the counter where he's placed a stove, is endangered.

Worse still, when this home goes on the market someday, the loss of tens of thousands of dollars is highly likely. Great kitchens sell homes.

I really hope you, my readers, understand that the IKEA online planner is to a great degree a disservice. If you were buying a few bookshelves you could use a layout program like this perhaps. But a kitchen remodel is a costly, complex and major project that requires, in almost every case, professional knowledge, experience and skill, to do well.

I hope you don't settle, no matter your budget or size of your kitchen. Base your project on a beautiful and correct design. If you'd like to discuss this with me, I can offer you a free, 30-minute phone consultation. Here's my calendar, just pick a time that works for you.


Click here to request my free IKEA kitchen budgeting eBook

Waiting for an IKEA Kitchen Sale

Click here to request my free IKEA kitchen budgeting eBook

In my experience, a lot of people who buy IKEA kitchen cabinets are smart and thrifty shoppers. With even cursory research, it's hard to miss the value, and many people spend months, even years, planning their projects, and researching products.

One factor in the thoughtful investment in an IKEA kitchen can be timing. This can relate to your family or work schedule. Some people want to remodel in summer. Others wait till they have vacation time. Some projects are dictated by finance, such as a rental remodel where you want to get the work done and the unit filled as soon as possible.

Overall, timing is as personal as a choice of colors. The one exception could be buying your IKEA materials (cabinets, countertop, and/or appliances) during one of their kitchen sales. I've written about this on several occasions but, given that the summer sale is over, and a fall sale likely to burst upon the scene in just a month or so, I wanted to mention some sale strategy.

First, waiting for a sale is not always worthwhile. There are different types of discounts offered during different sales. One structure is a discount based on total purchase, such as a 15% discount if you spend $3500, or a 20% discount if you spend $4500. Another structure could be based on how many appliances you buy, one gets you a 10% discount, two appliances earn you a 15% discount, or three a 20% discount. Sometimes using an IKEA card gets you a big rebate.

In other words, there are different offers. The recent summer 13 sale was based on the $3500/$4500 structure. A 20% discount on a $5000 purchase for a small kitchen, including solid surface countertop, is $1000 off. That's pretty worthwhile!

On the other hand, if, for example, you plan to order custom doors and to buy only frames/hardware from IKEA. You might only spend $1500 for your entire kitchen, in which case the sale just ended would be irrelevant.

Although IKEA does not announce sales weeks or months in advance, you can still assume there will be a fall sale mid-October to late November, a spring sale March through April, and probably a summer sale starting in July.

When you are planning out your project, try to wait for a sale to order, but consider this data and don't make the sale the top priority. A $1500 savings is very significant, but if ordering during a sale will make your life and project more stressful, wait a bit.

Note that in most cities, once you place the order (unless you are buying in-stock cabinets and taking them home with you in a truck), your delivery is likely to be within 2 weeks. That's another factor to consider. If you have a dry, indoor space to store the pallet or two of flat packed, heavy boxes, you can order any time. But IKEA won't hold your order very long and you don't want to risk getting your new components wet by storing them outdoors.

As with most aspects of IKEA kitchen projects, working with pros makes all the difference. When you have a correct and elegant layout professionally rendered, and a complete order list, down to the smallest components, ordering and receiving your materials is a lot more predictable. If you live far from an IKEA store, insofar as ordering, not to mention good design, this expert help is absolutely vital.

Write or call if you have questions. If you'd like to discuss this with me, I can offer you a free, 30-minute phone consultation. Here's my calendar, just pick a time that works for you.


Click here to request my free IKEA kitchen budgeting eBook