IKEA Kitchen Sale: Notes for the Bargain-Minded Among Us

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I'm a bargain hunter. I admit it. I want beautiful things but I love the bargain aspect almost as much as acquiring something wonderful. IKEA kitchens are a case in point. Every day I see really elegant kitchens created by the designers I work with. I want all of them. I totally understand why the homeowners for whom these designs were created are, many of them, awaiting the Spring Sale. You can get a truly wonderful new kitchen at IKEA at a great price generally, but come sale time, it's really unbeatable.

With the bargain-hearted in mind, as part of your group, I put forth one or two caveats in regard to saving dough on a kitchen remodel.

First, don't let the savings of a sale push you to do your project when the timing is poor. Maybe the only really workable time for you to tear your home apart and invite sweaty workmen inside for three weeks is in June. No sale that time of year. Is the $800 savings worth the huge inconvenience of doing it in Spring?

Second, don't go cheap when it comes to design. I had a friend, a really smart guy, who in his 20s built a house on a hill without architectural drawings. In those days, in his community, you could get away with such things legally. Anyway, he ended up with a 4 story house of only 1100 square feet. Think about it. It has 54 windows. My point? Don't use the IKEA online planner because it will allow you to create a kitchen with too little counter space, too much wasted space, and dangerously arranged appliances. Worse yet, it will let you buy $6000 worth of brand new cabinets that won't look elegant when installed. You really want to have a beautiful kitchen at the end. Even if you think you just need a BETTER kitchen, you deserve to have it be elegant, too. That's the sizzle that, someday, a potential home buyer will notice is missing. As a client once told me, do-it-yourself kitchen design is a false economy. There's no real savings at all, not in long run or the short run.

Third, watch out for cheap design. OK, so you listen to me and you find a contractor who will do the design for free if you hire him to install the kitchen. Having been a contractor with 500+ kitchens remodeled, I can tell you with certainty that unless you have the dough for a design-build firm, don't let a contractor do your design. Boy oh boy is there a conflict of interest. Hand any contractor who bids your project a finished design and you'll get a better bid and you'll have much more confidence. YOU tell HIM, "this is what I want, now how much will you charge to make it THIS way." Don't let a contractor or an installation company design your kitchen, free or -$50 or 3 yen, don't do it.

Then there is the bare bones services IKEA offers in some areas and some stores. Why would you pay a store employee a couple hundred bucks for design? They call this "professional design" but I can tell you that it is impossible to do a professional design using the IKEA planner and, of course, that's what all the IKEA design people use. I will upload some sample files that we do for clients and this entire issue will become very obvious to you. Or email me, and I'll send you some samples of what we do.

It is very cathartic to write this down. I hope it is helpful. I hope you hire my designers or other comparable professionals. They deserve your business, they will work hard for you, and you will have an elegant, professionally designed new kitchen to enjoy and be proud of for years to come.

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Preview of IKEA Metod Kitchen Cabinets (PHOTOS)

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As you may have heard, in this blog or elsewhere, IKEA is replacing the current Akurum system of cabinets with a new system, named Metod.The exact release date in the US is estimated to be late 2014 or spring 2015, but there is no official or confirmed data on that from IKEA

If you plan to do your kitchen in the next few months, 2014, you can use Akurum confidently. It is pretty rare to need an extra part or two years after you install your kitchen. And you may not even like the Metod system.

Years ago, IKEA introduced the Akurum in the same way, with mystery and a gradual release around the world. Parts remained available for the old system for awhile. Ultimately, it just is the way is and only if you fall in love with something Metod and decide to wait, are you caught up in a waiting game.

To get an idea of the difference between Akurum and Metod-based kitchens, you can view the Metod line on IKEA websites for countries where Metod has been released. Because it is written in English, the best I've found is IKEA Egypt.


I am sure you will enjoy looking over the photos.


IKEA Kitchen Project Costs

I have several blog posts on the cost of an IKEA kitchen. But since so many people ask about this, I know it is really important to continue to clarify and help sort this out. (This is one reason we offer a free consultation and why I give away my eBook). Although each project is unique, there is some basic data that can help a homeowner who is doing a kitchen project with IKEA cabinets.

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The problem is that walking into an IKEA and looking at the display kitchens can give a false idea of the actual cost of an IKEA kitchen project. I think most people understand this, but those kitchens are so pretty and the prices look so affordable, it's easy to forget that IKEA sells MATERIALS only, and that LABOR costs can easily be more than half the cost of a project.

The most basic tip is to first figure out if you have the money (and the time) to do your project. Rush projects or those with very tight budgets, are very stressful and usually end up costing more than they would have in a more relaxed context.

On average, and considering that the size and condition of your existing kitchen are major variables, you will probably need $10,000 and at least 3-4 weeks (starting with demolition) to change your current kitchen into a  new IKEA kitchen. Start planning and design at least 3-4 weeks before that.

If there are wall changes, projects typically cost $15,000 to $20,000 and, from demolition to final clean up, take 4-6 weeks.

It IS possible to transform your small kitchen for $5,000, or to do it in 10 days, but expect to do much of the labor yourself or to have a crackerjack installation team, and prep work, like electrical upgrades, done ahead of time.

Expect labor costs to be half your budget or, in an older home more than half.  The cost of cabinet installation is only a small part of the skilled labor needed to complete a kitchen remodel. Wall repair, electrical work, and appliance installation are needed in most kitchen projects.

Choice of countertop is another huge variable, since butcher block or laminate can cost $400, while solid surface counters such as Caesarstone, for an average US kitchen, can easily cost $4,000 or more.

If you are buying all new appliances, you could spend under $3,000, or upwards of $20,000, depending on brand.

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Best Price on IKEA kitchens? Krakow, Poland

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This is just a quick note to our European friends who already know how expensive consumer goods can be. IKEA is no exception, despite the reputation for affordable products.

When it comes to a set of cabinets for a kitchen remodel, waiting for a sale is one way to save. But just as an obscure tip, some IKEA kitchen cabinets are manufactured in Poland and for this and other reasons, they are considerably cheaper, for the same items, compared to other stores in Europe.

There is VAT to consider, and transportation costs, if you were to, say, rent a van and drive to Krakow to purchase a kitchen. But if the cabinets are a third the price of those at your local IKEA store, it might be a worthwhile adventure.

This data comes via a client who plans to make the trip to Krakow. I'll find out how she does and report back late. 

For the rest of us, the best tips for saving on a new IKEA kitchen are contained elsewhere in my blog. Reading this and other data, in other words gaining knowledge, is, in my opinion, the best tip for getting the best result for the least cost.

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An IKEA Kitchen Remodel: How Much Will it Cost?

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(updated January 2014)

It is common for a homeowner to see the beautiful display kitchens at an IKEA store that seem to cost just a few thousand dollars, and to conceive that IKEA price tag represents something it cannot: the cost of a new kitchen.

Modern IKEA kitchen
IKEA cannot provide remodeling advice, and is in business to sell you cabinets and some other materials components of a kitchen (countertop and appliances). They display those kitchens to sell you the products in them, of course. What most people need and want to know is the actual cost of an IKEA kitchen remodel. What will it take (cost) to get the type of result you see in the store? This will include ALL materials you need (not just IKEA products) and the LABOR to get your kitchen from where it is, to one that looks like those displays. You can figure out, and it is, in fact, vital that you do.

I've written an eBook, How to Plan a Budget for an IKEA Kitchen Remodel that I am happy to email to my readers. I think you'll find that it will provide detailed help to ensure you "know before you go." It includes detailed cost data for typical kitchens and has sample estimate sheets you can use to ensure you get comprehensive labor bids.

In my experience with hundreds of IKEA kitchen projects, homeowners can have unrealistic expectation of labor costs since the prices of materials, that is to say cabinets and sinks and tile and so forth can be confirmed fairly easily, but estimates from contractors are trickier to get, and to believe.

Which budget do you feel is most like yours?

$5000 budget for the project, including labor and materials
$5000 budget and you plan to do the labor yourself
$8000 and you don't know if this is enough
$10,000 budget, and you've estimated your cabinets to cost $4000
$15,000 budget, and you want some minor wall changes (removed, opened, added)
$20,000+ you expect to change walls, windows/doors and/or your electrical panel

IKEA attracts many do-it-yourself-ers and although it is certainly possible to spend $2500 or less on cabinets and countertop, and to then complete a modest remodel for $5000, it's not that common.  The cost to have an expert install the cabinets and countertop and appliances is likely to run a minimum of $1500 in a small kitchen. And there is always some electrical and plumbing work to be done in a kitchen remodel. For those with a $5000 budget, I'd suggest about half for materials, half for labor including permits and trash removal.

In the $8000 range, especially for a condo kitchen, say 8 x 10, as long as their is no major preparation issue, such as the need for electrical work or plumbing or major wall repair before the cabinets can be installed, you can move forward conservatively. In this range you really need to get close estimates of materials and labor and stick to your budget, or below it, when buying materials. Consider laminate or wood countertop that can be replaced in a year or two when you have additional funds. Consider adding tile backsplash later, too.

With a $10,000 budget, as long as you don't want walls changed, you can often choose from the middle price range of cabinet door styles, and you can go with solid surface counters (such as Corian or Caesarstone). But get good labor estimates before you buy anything so you know what your materials budget really is. Consider waiting for an IKEA kitchen sale because a 10-20% savings can make a real difference here.

In the $15,000-$20,000 range, homeowners usually have more extensive preparation work in mind. By this I mean wall changes, moving windows, and, often, more than basic electrical work. (Tip: moving plumbing can be fairly inexpensive so don't rule out moving a sink if doing so would make a better kitchen. It is possible to run pvc pipe through or behind IKEA cabinets in many cases). When walls are being removed, the costs vary with whether or not the wall is a shear or load bearing wall. Although the labor and materials needed to remove a load bearing wall are not so great, you may need to have blueprints drawn up in order to get permits. The blueprints will specify the materials and manner in which the load will now be support. The drawings, the permits and the labor are costs to include in your planning.

One of the most commonly overlooked costs in kitchen remodeling is necessary electrical work. In a house built before 1960, unless it was replaced earlier, there is likely to be one 100 amp electrical panel for the entire house. To do a kitchen remodel you almost always have to add outlets to the kitchen (and you want to!) because codes in most places require a minimum number spaced regularly in a kitchen. If your panel is already "maxed out" such that you cannot add any more load to it, you are going to need to replace the panel before you can add the required outlets.

The labor and materials to have a licensed electrician replace a panel and run wires to the kitchen from it, have to be added to the budget, and these can be significant, perhaps $2000 as a ballpark estimate. The up side of this expense is that you'll have safer electrical, better resale value, and if you've had appliances shorting out on you, this could be handled by the upgrade. In any case, make sure any contractor bid you get includes an inspection of your electrical and the cost to bring it to code for the kitchen project.

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.


My company, Modern Family Kitchens, offers professional IKEA kitchen design services. I am confident that you'll spend the least on beautiful best results when you base your project on expert design. Don't risk plan errors or inelegant design. Call or write me to discuss your project. 877-550-1753. info@modernfamilykitchens.com

IKEA Kitchen Sale Spring 2014: Getting Ready

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Winter can be a good time for a kitchen remodel, in some cases. Contractors can have time on their hands, so labor costs can be lower and projects can be done faster. It's also pretty quiet at IKEA because there are no kitchen sales in Jan-Feb, in the US. You can window shop the store displays more easily, and pick out items you really like. I recommend taking photos of the items you like at IKEA so that if you work with a kitchen design company like mine, you'll be able to communicate what it is you really would like very easily. This tip isn't limited to IKEA. If you see a sink or appliance or even an arrangement of cabinets at Lowes, take a photo. For your designer, as they say, it's worth 1000 words.

In winter you can also prepare for a project you plan to do in the spring or summer. We can safely assume there will be an IKEA kitchen sale in the US starting in early March. If you are waiting for this sale, start your planning now, and start the design phase in early February. Call or write if you want to know about our professional IKEA kitchen design services.

Even before design, there is a planning phase. You could say this entire blog was written to help with planning. Get a copy of my IKEA kitchen budgeting eBook (free) and work out cost estimates for your project. Always keep in mind that labor is likely to be the same as materials. In other words, if you see a store display kitchen at IKEA with a $6,000 price tag, you'll probably need $12,000-$15,000 to turn your kitchen into one like it. So watch out for those IKEA price tags.

Sometimes, you can do some of the prep for kitchen remodel months ahead of time. For example, if you have an older home, find out the size of your electrical panel. A modern home needs 200amps. If you have a 100 amp panel, you might to need to upgrade it as part of your kitchen remodel.
Figuring this out now, and getting this work done ahead  of time, can be easier than having it done along with the remodel. Get an estimate or two from reliable electricians for replacing an old panel and doing any necessary rewiring.

You can also get bids for your project while you await the sale. About 100% of kitchen contractors (that's an approximate number...) will discourage you from using IKEA cabinets.

1) there is no wholesale line at IKEA. Contractors cannot get a discount so there's no profit for them in IKEA cabinets. They prefer to sell you a brand they can buy wholesale.

2) IKEA cabinets come flat-packed and require some expertise to assemble and install quickly. A contractor without IKEA kitchen experience is going to balk at a huge pile of flat, heavy boxes with pseudo-Swedish names and codes on them that have to be sorted out and assembled, before they can be mounted. Consider hiring a trusted general contractor to do your project, except for the cabinet installation. Hire an IKEA expert installer just for that part. Do your research and get bids in winter, and you'll find a good contractor who can agree to this happily.

More later this week. Rest assured, the sale is coming.


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