Well pals!  We officially have cabinets!

OK, so we are not completely done by any means, however, majority of the main cabinets have been hung and pieced together!  And you know me, I can't wait to fill 'em up!

Family obligations sort of took over last week, so installed cabinets are a giant win for this clan!  I think we are becoming quite use to cooking in a toaster oven and washing dishes by hand, it is just a normal way of life now.  Having a kitchen back within the near future will be such a luxury!

You may recall, we last left off with freshly painted walls and ceiling.  Sooooo pretty!

And on the other side, we started putting together the cabinet boxes and piecing things together.

Although we still have some a lot of finishing touches to add, we thought we would stop in today and share some of the things we have learned about installing an IKEA kitchen.
  • Most obviously, research.  Use materials available to you (like the Internet) to read ahead of time reviews and stories.  I loved reading experiences other bloggers have had and when we got confused during the process, searching Google for answers was our biggest help.  There are a lot of forums, blogs and YouTube videos with IKEA cabinet installation advice.
  • Be ready to wait.  Although you get to bring home a lot of the items the day you purchase your IKEA kitchen, the rest has to be ordered in.  We actually had two different shipments to a warehouse about an hour away.  Because we had so many other things going on before the cabinets could be placed, this wasn't too big of a problem for us (until later, more on that in a minute), but it is worth mentioning.  

  • IKEA provides a pamphlet with step-by-step directions and tips for installing your cabinets.  Do. Not. Lose. This.  And if you do, you can find it here.  I didn't know that they provided this initially until I started searching online and digging through my kitchen papers.  We found it halfway through the process and it would have been helpful having it right from the start.  Oops.
  • The cabinet box assembly was straight forward and simple enough any homeowner can handle.  However, plan on having two people to hang/install the cabinets.  
  • The upper cabinets are installed on a rail system.  At first, Bryan didn't not believe they would be sturdy enough to handle the cabinet weight and was questioning the entire process.

(example only above - the rail in the photo has not yet been installed)

  • The rail screws into your wall studs, and then the cabinets screw into the rail.  This does leave a small gap between the wall and the back of the cabinet, but if done right, it is fully secured.

  • The metal rail was cut with a carbide blade.  We took it outside to be safe.  You see the pretty snow glistening in the background?

  • It is always recommended to start with your corner cabinet first and work your way out.  We started with the upper corner cabinet as it was easier than reaching over an installed lower cabinet.
  • Once you have measured for the height of your cabinets, use a chalk line to ensure they remain level throughout the installation process.

  • IKEA's cabinets are installed on legs, which are later hidden by a kick plate.  What worked best for us is to screw the legs in all the way, and then back each one back out 1/4" to give you a little wiggle room once you go to set the cabinets to the wall. (This may have to be adjusted if you are installing on concrete or any other surface that may not be as level.)
  • IKEA's cabinet system utilizes a common frame, the outer edges and faces are all a decorative finish that you select in the store.  IKEA will provide you with enough decorative panels to cover any visible frame edge.  Be sure to install the panels on the outer edges of your pantry before setting your pantry, so the decorative panel runs all the way down (and doesn't have to be pieced in later).  Another lesson we learned the hard way, but it only required us to un-install the pantry, add the panel and re-install.  

  • Once your kitchen plan is completed with IKEA, they will print a cabinet guide list.  Because in typical IKEA form, they can't just put all of the pieces together in one box.  Every drawer face was packaged separately.  Every shelf was packaged separately.  Even the soft close dampers for the hinges.  It will show you each cabinet number and all of the pieces that belong with each cabinet.  Once the cabinet boxes were installed, I used this guide to place all of the remaining parts for each cabinet within the open cabinet cavity.  Every hinge, drawer guide, cabinet/drawer face, etc...  This helped the night we finally started installing those finishing touches (as seen in the rail photo above).

  • I would recommend doing a product inventory as early in the process as possible.  We are now as done as we can be, and realized that we never received the shelving unit for next to our upper corner cabinet.  After taking a trip back to IKEA, we had to order the piece because they never did the first time around.  So now we are another two weeks out from being able to finish the upper install.  Sigh...
  • IKEA cabinet sizes are pretty standard, but you may find that you need to have filler pieces where cabinets don't line up.  We needed to add a small sliver between an upper cabinet and the fridge frame.  Based on the information we received from IKEA, we weren't entirely sure what we were supposed to be using as filler.  Some reading online suggested using the toe kick, so that is what we did.  

    • However, it is a bit brighter white than the cabinet faces, so we are going to add a sliver of the decorative side panel instead. To install we used a clamp and screwed in to the side from either direction. Whenever cutting the toe kick or decorative side panels to size, we always used a strip of blue painter's tape along the blade edge to prevent any chipping.

    • Sandwich baggies will be your best friend!  We used them to organize and divide out all of the extra pieces that we may need later.  We also love this magnetic dish when working on any type of project with a lot of hardware.

    • I never recommend purchasing a kitchen from IKEA when they are planning on changing their entire kitchen system the following year.  Now any piece that we are missing, has become special order.  We are also unable to easily locate products and their specs on their website, as they have already been removed.  We have been able to track down what we need and navigate around it, but it is something that has delayed things a bit.

    Overall, IKEA kitchens are fairly simple to install, however, there may be a few questions or frustrations along the way because it is not as simple as typical IKEA furniture, there is a bit more planning and tool using involved.  With two people working on things, we were able to get all of the cabinets built and installed within exactly a week; working a full weekend day and four weekday evenings.

    But you know what my favorite part is?


    I know those are the most anti-climatic videos in the history of videos, but soft close makes my heart dance.

    A few more kitchen notes...

    We still have a six foot row of 12" deep lowers and uppers to install on the old stripe/hutch wall, which will be oh-so-pretty and great for storing entertaining and party items.  We also plan to install decorative crown moulding to the tops of all of the cabinets as well as finish off the ceiling edges where the planks meet the walls.  The floors will be installed after the island is set, as the island/cabinets should not be installed on top of a floating floor (to prevent the floor from shifting/buckling).

    The panel for the dishwasher?  That was a little extra drama because the day we went to order our kitchen, IKEA had completely sold out and stopped restocking their integrated dishwasher.  We decided to keep the panel "just in case" because we knew we could return it if we couldn't make it work. After researching other integrated options, which were ouch-expensive, we decided to purchase a regular dishwasher and I was fairly bummed.  We aren't upgrading our kitchen to the level of integrating all of our appliances within our cabinets, but it would have been nice to have the seamless dishwasher.  But you know what?  IKEA recently brought back their integrated options which still work with our panel, so the hope is to snag one of those this week!  We called today and the other dishwasher can be returned as it was never used or damaged.  Wah to the hoo!  This girl has happy feet!

    We also integrated a trash can!  I never realized I could be so excited about the little things! 

    We are still waiting on the final drawing for our center island, as that is where our cooktop/oven will be installed.  We are working with a cabinet company to have something custom created to fit our space and storage needs and I feel like a kiddo on Christmas Eve waiting to see what they come up with.

    You may remember, when we were initially scheming up kitchen plans and ideas, we were questioning the need to use a microwave.  We really don't use them very often, however, with three growing boys, we decided that a small one to heat up soup, leftovers and veggies was probably a good idea.  We were able to have an outlet installed within the pantry to store it in there.  I like that it will be concealed, however, still easily accessible for the entire family.

    IKEA didn't have pull out drawer options for the 30" wide pantry, however, we hope to DIY some down the road.  The shelves are nice and deep, but that can also equal an organizing disaster.

    To install the left panel of the fridge surround, we installed the panel on top of a piece of underlayment and flooring, then removed it after the panel was secure.  We did this to get the final cabinet installed for over the fridge.  The final side of the fridge panel will be installed once the floor is in place.

    And on a final note, IKEA cabinets are really challenging to open without hardware.  Hopefully it doesn't take me as long to pick that out as it did to finally select a paint color (which has really grown on me btw).  

    P.S.  Glass door cabinets are my jelly jam.  

    It is so fun to finally see a real kitchen forming!  It has been worth every late night and every meal made on the nearby folding table.  If you have any questions regarding IKEA kitchens and the installation, feel free to ask.  I know first hand how nice it is to hear real life experiences from fellow friends.

    You can follow all of the kitchen progress here.

    P.S.  Thank you SO much for nominating iHeart Organizing for the Better Homes & Gardens DIY Blogger Award!  You can cast your vote here throughout the next six weeks.  Bryan and I are continuously grateful for all of your support!  Smooches!