28 January 2010

Ikea: WHY wait? Or, I get served a helping of crow

This is me in an Ikea kitchen in Italy. Disclosure time: this is my only first-hand experience with Ikea cabinetry. I reported in August '08 that the kitchen in the photograph had one redeeming quality, it's location overlooking the Bay of Naples.

A couple of nights ago, I posted an old post up on Twitter. I do that from time to time. It's a way to get some exposure for posts buried deep in my archives that I think warrant some more attention. Considering that no one read my blog back then, I want them to get some attention for the first time. Anyhow, the other night I posted a little gem from August of '08, IKEA can wait. It was a typically ham-fisted and inflammatory slam on all things Ikea, but Ikea kitchens particularly.

Well in the year-and-a-half since that post ran originally, a lot has changed. I know a lot more people from all sides of the kitchen and bath industry and a really cool person I've come to know int he last couple of months (through Twitter of course) is Becky Shankle. Becky is a designer from Raleigh, NC. She's also a blogger, a dedicated businesswoman and she knows how to use Twitter. Becky's business is designing kitchens using cabinetry from Ikea and her work's fantastic.

Needless to say, my ham-fisted rantings about Ikea cabinetry stepped on her toes. She wrote the following on her blog, Eco Modernism, yesterday. I'm reprinting it here with her blessing. So here's Becky:


Ikea: WHY wait?
January 27th, 2010

Just the facts, ma'am.
Paul Anater's got a post about custom vs. Ikea cabinets over on his blog today. I have to admit that when I first started designing kitchens with Ikea components, I was highly skeptical. I did my own research on it, queried Ikea cabinet owning & using people, talking to the people at the store, checking it out myself.

Of the people who owned & used daily Ikea kitchen cabinets, they overwhelmingly said they would purchase them again, they have had them in place & in use with no breakdowns or visible wear & tear for as long as 22 years. The only negative report I got from the same group was that the countertops faded & scratched unevenly.

Here's some points to compare when shopping around for cabinets:

  • Hardware: Ikea uses high quality Blum hardware on all kitchen components. Full extension drawer slides & soft closure mechanisms are *standard* on all doors & drawers. (Are you being upcharged on those custom boxes for such bells and whistles?)
  • Warranty: Ikea warrants all cabinetry for 25 years.
  • Strength: Every Ikea base cabinet is rated to hold 1,100 pounds.
  • Organization: matching drawer dividers & other inserts made for their drawer system make small kitchens run as smoothly as bigger ones.
  • Price: The cabinets for an average sized kitchen from Ikea (about 14 boxes - walls and bases) runs about $5,000.

The old standby
As for the argument about particle board, which Ikea uses in all its cabinets, I did some research on that, too. See my post here.

Don't take my word for it.
Ikea is not for everyone. And not all things that come from Ikea are fantastic & high quality (some of their furniture comes to mind). They have, however, engineered their cabinet products very well, & stand behind them with a warranty.

If you have the money & want to spend it on extremely high end cabinets (whatever "high end" actually means), go for it. But don't knock Ikea if you haven't honestly looked at it. That extra $45k could come in handy as a downpayment for a nice cottage in Naples.


Point made, steaming plate of crow served. Check out Becky's blog, Becky's admirable business model and follow her on Twitter.


  1. The only experience I have had with Ikea K/Cabinets is when I purchased them twenty-two years ago for my Sewing/Hobby Room. (Lower base only - cupboards, drawers, countertops.) They still look and perform like new.

    Also when my children were in their 'tweens' their bedrooms were furnished with Ikea components that you could reconfigure for your personal use. When they left 'the nest' the furniture went with them and some of it is still being used.

    I would say....THAT'S A BANG FOR YOUR BUCK!

  2. I am hanging my head in shame Brenda. Not really, but I will concede that their products are not automatically bad.

  3. I have a few IKEA pieces that I've had for about 20 years that've held up really well and lately I really want one of their low platform beds for some reason. (maybe so the cat doesn't have to claw his way to the top of the bed when he wants up) I'm glad to see this post from you, I see enough IKEA=bad stuff when I read AT for amusement.

  4. Thanks for the post, Paul. It's all good! ;)


  5. Paul, I neglected to say my Sewing/Hobby room is in the basement. :)

    Re the 'tween' furniture; my son is still hoarding his twin tower units that have doors and extra deep pull-out baskets. He claims they are ideal for extra storage. His are housed in the laundry room of two-storey Condo. Most of daughters units are in her Children's Playroom....again....in the basement.

    Just thought I'd keep the record straight. Hah!
    HAVE A GREAT DAY!!!!!!!!

  6. I read somewhere that Snaidero actually manufactures IKEA's cabinets, but it's all very hush hush.

    If so, there would be little cause to worry about their longevity.

  7. Although there's lot of admirers here, I do remember the old days of flat-pack Ikea cabinets falling apart (the boxes were very lightweight), the screws stripping, and the shelves sagging. They were horrible quality but cheap.

    Fortunately, that was a long time ago and they've improved immensely since then. (Should I really mention I remember that? No! My...grandmother, she remembers, yeah, that's the ticket!)

    There are still differences that probably only someone in the cabinet business could point out, but there's different grades of quality to everything in life, and quite frankly, I doubt the average customer would care. And why should they? Comes down to budget, lifestyle, and choices.

    Sure, we'd all like to have the best in the world, but like Becky says, for the person who has a limited budget, that's a lot of money saved that could be spent on other things.

    Good post!

  8. Nim: Not everything from Ikea is bad. What do I own from Ikea? Hmmm. Nothing. I'm sure some of it's good though. :)

    Brenda: That's a very telling anecdote.

    Raina: LIES!

    Kelly: I'm with you 100% and that was the actual point of my original post. Ikea is Ikea and Johnny Grey is Johnny Grey. Each does different things and they shouldn't be confused.

  9. I don't have Ikea kitchen cabinetry, but I do have the PAX wardrobe system (i.e., cabinets) that we built into our bedroom and love them!! I would definitely consider suggesting their kitchen cabinetry to a client, especially if budget is an issue.
    Victoria @ DesignTies

  10. I have been shamed. I'm now questioning every core belief I have.

  11. Hi Paul
    Have you ever seen the Ikeahacker blog site? Much like the Steampunk movement they take Ikea items and modify them into other usable objects. If you haven't seen it you should take a look. Very interesting.

  12. I have seen that site. I'm waiting for the Ikea hack that will get me back to the villa in Sorrento where I'm standing in the photo at the top of this post!


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