The purchase process is based on a CAD program that Ikea uses and makes available to its customers, which then feeds the ordering process. However, I chose to draw my design on graph paper and then go to the store, where one of the kitchen specialists helped me to input it. She was tremendous, tweaking my design in helpful ways and making sure all of the right components were in my order. Very impressive and real value added.
A few days later, a delivery truck showed up at our house with 110 flat packs and packages! It took us about a week to take down the wall, demolish the kitchen and remove ceramic floor tile in the hall. The following two weeks were spent assembling the cabinet boxes, coordinating plumbing and electrical contractors, installing the range vent to the outside, and installing the wall cabinets and microwave. At that point, we were able to get the first round of four inspections out of the way.
I was surprised at how easily the boxes went together and how strong they are. Steel pins are screwed into pre-drilled holes in corner of one side and then cam locks go over them from the other side. Surprisingly the boxes all came out square with no effort.
Ikea has an ingenious and highly effective way of installing wall cabinets. You attach a steel rail to the wall and then hook a steel attachment on the back of the cabinets over the rail. When they are positioned where you want them, there is a fastener that locks them in place.
As we were beginning to install the wall cabinets, my wife made a very important contribution. I told her how difficult it was going to be to get the cabinets level around three sides of the room and, against my judgment, she convinced me to buy a laser level. For $120 I got a self-leveling laser that sits on a tripod and projects a sharp line on three walls at once! You just set it up in the middle of the room and turn it on, then move the tripod up and down until it's at the height you want. OMG! It made it so ridiculously easy to install the steel rails level I couldn't believe it. After that the boxes went up fast. The result is strong and secure. One person can install the cabinets without difficulty.
The next step is to install the doors, again a simple process. You just secure the hinges in a hole in the door, screw a plate into the predrilled holes in the side of the cabinet and snap the hinge onto it. Put on the handle and you're done. The hinges have three adjustments on them that make positioning the door easy.
We were just congratulating ourselves on how well we were doing when boom! Big problem. I held up the drawer for the diagonal corner cabinet and--it didn't fit. There was a gap of almost an inch along the side of the door and, since the doors are gray and the boxes are white, it looked just awful.
A call to the support specialist at Ikea wasn't reassuring. After taking me through a list of things I might have done wrong, she asked for pictures, which I sent her:
She called me back with the bad news that in some installations, including their own model kitchen, this gap does in fact exist. She was previously unaware of this and found out that they had used some specialty gray edge banding to mask the problem in their display kitchen. They don't provide it and don't even sell it, but did refer me to an online supplier where I could purchase it. Perhaps my expectations are unreasonable, but I was not pleased.
Again my wife came to the rescue. At her suggestion, we took one of our doors to the Home Depot paint department and asked if they could match the color. The guy said he could and put an electronic device attached to the paint computer onto the door. It generated the pigment formula to add to the base and, amazingly, it came out exactly correct, a dead ringer. We went home, sanded, primed and painted the offending cabinet edge and now it looks much better:
In my opinion, this is a better solution than the one Ikea suggested and we are satisfied. However, it was this experience that tipped me over the edge into wishing I had made my own fronts from the get go, rather than buying Ikea's. Obviously, I would have made the door wider rather than relying on a standard width. The actually remodeling wouldn't have taken any longer because I could have made the doors and drawer fronts in advance.
We're not finished with the base cabinets yet and I am hoping there are no further instances of problems like this, particularly ones we can't fix so readily. I do think our experience is a cautionary tale.
The bottom cabinets are attached to the walls the same way. In the case of a peninsula, you have to attach them to the floor because you can't use the rail. The lower cabinets come with adjustable feet that make leveling them easy. The toe kicks attach to the legs with clips.