Are IKEA Kitchens Any Good?

Are IKEA Kitchens Any Good?

Despite having originated in Sweden, by now, people all around the world have heard about IKEA. Even here in the Bay Area, we have all heard of the minimalist furniture they produce and repeated jokes about their incomprehensible how-to guides. IKEA is not limited to just individual pieces of furniture. They also make cabinets, countertops, and other components for your kitchen.

Yes, IKEA kitchens are highly advised for people concerned with:

  • Reasonably low prices
  • Utilizing helpful website design tools
  • Size and variety of available selection
  • Finding a one-stop-shop for the entire kitchen project

IKEA’s reputation doesn’t often focus on their cabinetry and appliances, but this article will cover the ins and outs of using them in your kitchen. If you are considering IKEA products in your kitchen, we have compiled all of the details for you to consider in this article.

What Makes IKEA Kitchens Worth It?

There are many aspects of IKEA’s offerings that make them ideal for someone looking to remodel their kitchen. We are going to dive into the specifics of their affordable prices, the design tool on their website’s functionality, the overall size and variety of the selection available, and how IKEA saves you time and energy by being a one-stop-shop.

Problem IKEA’s Solution
Expense Cheaper products and frequent sales
Design 3D Kitchen Planner tool
Variety A wide selection of products
Location One-stop-shop

Low Prices

IKEA is generally well-known among furniture buyers who are looking for savings. College students moving into dorms and people decorating their first apartment are frequent shoppers at their local IKEA stores because of the low prices. You can find the most basic faux-wooden tables, shelving units, side tables, and more for very affordable prices.

That does not change when it comes to their cabinetry and other kitchen products. Like everything else, your overall cost depends heavily on your planned kitchen’s entire size and what additional features or fixtures you have been contemplating. IKEA’s cabinets are made to be placed into just about any configuration you can dream up.

Typically made of particleboard wrapped in melamine instead of real wood, these cabinets help you stick to your budget from the very beginning. Plus, the way the cabinets are designed means that you can use all of the space inside each cupboard to maximize your storage capabilities. 

However, no matter how many extra things you stack on your kitchen wish list, your appliance and cabinetry cost is going to be far less than commissioning custom cabinets or even opting for semi-custom cabinetry. For a large space with high-end appliances, you could easily save thousands of dollars on your kitchen remodel. Your wallet will certainly thank you.

Kitchen Events

If you are looking to get even more bang for your buck and aren’t on a strict time frame, you can wait for one of IKEA’s Kitchen Events. They usually happen two or three times a year and provide even more savings on many of their products. 

Those savings work by giving you gift cards to use on either appliances or other furnishings from their store, so you can get everything you need without breaking the bank.

Website Design Tools

The 3D Kitchen Planner on their website helps customers visually plan their kitchen before buying a single piece. Suppose you are willing and able to go to one of their locations. In that case, their customer service representatives can also use the program on their tablets and walk you through the entire process while providing handy insight into the installation itself.

Once you have created your kitchen in the 3D Kitchen Planner, either online or in the store, the website extracts the data from your design and makes a list of what you need to buy. Because IKEA tends to sell products disassembled, the plan may be daunting at first, but you know that every aspect has been covered and you won’t discover, partway into the remodel, that you forgot to buy a few crucial pieces that you had been counting on.

Size of Selection

IKEA has a wide range of options to fit almost every style without taking a toll on your budget. It is somewhat surprising for some customers that they have so many options for designs and finishes for their reasonable prices. They have 24 different kitchen cabinets alone, to say nothing of their backsplashes and appliance lines.

Of course, because they are not custom pieces, there is a limit on your selection. IKEA does make an effort to offer currently trendy options and more classic styles to satisfy people of all tastes. When you select the design, you then move to pick the finish and color. Some designs offer more colors or finishes than others, so it’s in your best interest to check around.

If you are the type of person who gets overwhelmed by lots of choices, IKEA simplifies that process and allows you to speed up those decisions. 

In addition to their customer service representatives in store, who can provide valuable advice about kitchen designs, their 3D Kitchen Planner allows customers to answer a few design questions and then recommends a few plans to choose from or modify to fit your needs better.


One of IKEA’s best aspects, in our humble opinion, is the ability to buy everything you need for your kitchen from a single store. They have everything: cabinetry, backsplashes, sinks, faucets, appliances, countertops, lighting, pantry, wall storage, and even some decorations, too. 

One major bonus is their line of appliances. You can find your countertops and matching cabinetry, but you won’t need to look elsewhere for ovens, cooktops, dishwashers, refrigerators, or ranges. 

It is beyond convenient to have everything you need in one store, especially at IKEA’s low prices. You know your appliances will match the rest of your decor when you buy them all from one store.

If you want something that you can better visualize, IKEA also has three pre-made kitchens that you can look at on their website and see exactly which products were used and their configuration. It’s easy to estimate your total cost and then recreate the look. That way, you can avoid the pitfalls of having multiple small expenses pile up and surprise you at the end.

What Are Some Drawbacks to Using IKEA for Your Kitchen?

Like all things, there are inevitably some cons for utilizing IKEA as your sole go-to shop for your kitchen project. However, the two main drawbacks only apply to people planning to install their kitchen appliances and cabinetry themselves. By using a contractor to install your IKEA kitchen professionally, you can circumvent these issues.

Although we’ll dive in for more detail, these issues include:

  • Difficult installation
  • Nothing high-end
  • Lower durability
  • Not custom made

Difficult to Install

It might be intimidating to walk outside one morning and see hundreds of cardboard boxes multiplying in front of your door, but that is the nature of IKEA products and how they are packaged. 

For people who want to DIY install and remodel their kitchen, the sight may be enough to deter you from following in their footsteps. Luckily, professional installers are used to the process and can take on the hassle for you.

There is a lot more at stake with installing kitchen products than just putting together an end table or bookcase. When you assemble the cabinets and hang them, it is crucial to ensure that they aren’t at an angle. That will affect all of the subsequent cabinets surrounding it and may impede your ability to utilize the space you have effectively.

IKEA is renowned for including tons of tiny parts that are difficult to track and hard to know when to use. There is also a reason why everyone jokes about their instruction booklets. They typically don’t contain very much information and have an abundance of unhelpful drawings that are difficult to read. 

Lack of Labels

On top of that, many parts come without labels, leaving you to squint at the instructions, comparing tons of tiny pieces to the illustration, and hoping that you picked up the right one.

Plus, if you are in the middle of renovating and notice that a part is missing or wasn’t included in the packaging, many customers have found that IKEA’s customer service is somewhat lackluster in this department. You might find yourself waiting endlessly on hold or still confused by the hoops you need to jump through to order a specific piece.

A contractor can assess the products and know immediately if something is missing and crucial to the installation.

Wait Times May Vary

As the previous section indicated, installing IKEA products yourself is a labor-intensive exercise of long hours and patience. Just acquiring the pieces can be difficult if you plan to pick them up directly from your nearest store. 

Although IKEA does deliver, many people would prefer not to wait and pay for shipping. However, you will likely need a large vehicle and a small army of your most muscular friends because you have to load everything yourself and want to avoid extra trips back.

Many people suggest renting a small U-Haul to fit everything comfortably in one trip. Each piece is disassembled and laid flat within the cardboard boxes. That can make it easier to pack a lot of them in the truck at once, but that also means that each box weighs quite a bit more than you might expect.

The installation process will likely take more days than you allotted for yourself when you consider tracking down small parts, waiting on hold with the customer service line, and figuring out the elaborate instruction pamphlets. 

Not Particularly High-End Products

If you are looking for something unique, highly customizable, or mostly high-end, IKEA is not the store for you. Cabinet doors are noticeably lighter than real wood, so your houseguests won’t be tricked into thinking you spent more on the kitchen cabinetry than you did. If you know that it will bother you down the line, you might consider other companies.

All of IKEA’s designs and materials are oriented around saving the customer money and providing decent functionality. By streamlining the design process, offering a limited number of customizations, and not assembling their products before you buy them, IKEA does its very best to keep the money in your wallet where it belongs.

Someone looking for more expensive, highly customizable countertops and cabinetry would be better off looking elsewhere for their needs. However, most people would instead save money when possible, and IKEA offers that ability without drastically restricting your choices.

A good compromise might be to buy the cabinets from IKEA but purchase cabinet doors from another company for a nicer finish. Alternatively, splurging on your countertop of tile flooring can also balance out the cheaper look for a refined in-between appearance that works for your budget and impresses your neighbors.

Lower Possible Durability

Durability is a variable that many people consider when purchasing furniture for a high-traffic area of the household. The saying that you get what you pay for might be cliche, but it still rings true. 

For example, less expensive countertops likely won’t have the long-lasting hardness that higher-quality companies would deliver. IKEA’s cabinetry and fixtures might be more likely to break down, but it is hard to predict their lifespans.

Some customers find that their IKEA furniture holds up, and others don’t. A lot of the durability comes down to how active your household is and how much your kitchen needs to handle. If you don’t spend a ton of time cooking or your household isn’t very large, you will probably see that IKEA furniture holds up well over the years.

Many people notice cosmetic wear and tear after just a year of using their IKEA kitchen. These might consist of paint chipping off, small scratches on the countertop, or other small bits of damage. 

Despite these cosmetic issues, their appliances don’t appear to break down quickly, and your kitchen remains functional. Only you know whether it is worth spending less on the actual piece and then paying for it to be repaired in the future. 

They Are Not Custom Built

Any kind of tricky corner area that needs a custom cabinet solution won’t find the answer in IKEA. Their cabinetry comes in a range of sizes, but nothing outside of those pre-defined ranges. 

Houses and apartments, especially older ones in the San Jose and Bay Area, are not always built with the economy of space in mind. You may end up spending some time with the 3D Kitchen Planner tool to find what products can fit in your space.

With IKEA’s cabinets, the main cost incursion happens with the door materials. IKEA sells its cabinet doors separately, which can either be frustrating or advantageous depending on the customer. 

They can do that because their cabinets are bought with some assembly required, meaning that IKEA can save money by not putting their cabinets together before selling them. That price reduction, and need for assembly, transfer to you, the customer.

Third-Party Companies

Some third-party companies specialize in making doors and fronts specifically for IKEA cabinets and frames, respectively. One popular choice, Semihandmade, sells cabinet fronts, floating shelves, decorative hardware, and other custom upgrades made especially for IKEA furniture and kitchens. 

Another option for customization comes in the form of paint. If you are willing to roll up your sleeves and get a little messy, you can paint their cabinets, regardless of whether they are made of laminate. 

It can be tricky because the lamination requires preparations like sanding and priming the surface before you get to the painting and then sealing the paint job after it’s done, but many people have found that the extra hard work really pays off. 

The options are there if you are looking for a way to mix and match your IKEA kitchen with higher-end upgrades, but you have to get them from other companies or do things yourself. That can be an inconvenience for people looking for a quick and simple kitchen remodel, especially considering how much of a one-stop-shop IKEA is otherwise.

In Summary


Affordable Difficult for DIYers
Design tool No high-end products
Wide variety of options Shorter average lifespan
One-stop-shop Not custom built


IKEA offers both complete kitchen solutions and individual pieces for people looking to remodel on a tight budget. You don’t have to worry about letting your lack of funds get in the way of having a brand new kitchen. Using their online design tool, you can preview your kitchen and ensure that you are buying everything you need to bring it to life. 

The main drawbacks to IKEA products are felt by DIY installers. They can be avoided by hiring a professional installer to worry about the tiny screws and getting everything to fit in your space while you sit back and relax.

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