We think it might be safe to say that we’re at the garden kitchen’s halfway point. Yeah! The walls have been rearranged, layout planned and, as of last week, the IKEA cabinets are in! This is the first IKEA kitchen that we’ve put together, but luckily, there’s a good amount of knowledge floating around the internet on how seemingly simple they come together. But! Despite having landed on a floor plan that we love, a positive in-store experience during the purchase process and a relatively painless delivery, we were still a bit nervous.
Maybe that’s because, until recently, this is what our IKEA kitchen looked like:
On delivery day, we had the freight company drop off all the boxes in one of the garden bedrooms. In the following weeks, we only added to the mess by stacking light fixtures, waste bins and new window treatments wherever they’d fit. Needless to say, this bedroom became a maze of cardboard chaos, and the very thought of rummaging through the piles for cabinets or doors or hinges made our heads hurt.
The good news? It took only 30 minutes of determination to empty the room, organize the piles and create a kitchen staging area! Boxes were divided into several stacks – upper cabinets in one, base cabinets in another, followed by doors, drawers, side panels, shelving and, finally, hinges and small parts (think: sink drains and conversion kits).
We spent two weeknights building the cabinets (both uppers and lowers), and as we finished them, we lined them along empty walls, making sure to keep the corresponding packs of screws and mounting hardware with each one.
When we purchased our IKEA kitchen, we received a folder with a lot of information. In addition to our receipt, we were given an itemized list of all the parts and printed layouts (from every angle!), but the most important packet in the folder had to be the breakdown of the individual cabinets (and sink, dishwasher and all appliances). In conjunction with our stacks of organized boxes, we used this to track down every last do-dad, from drawers to hinges to screw kits. Quantities are listed alongside diagrams, and it was the by far our most used information sheet throughout the process! During installation, I made sure to cross off each cabinet as it was completed, which was equally helpful in keeping track of our dwindling inventory, too.
IKEA provides two options to install cabinets, either directly to the wall or by using their rail system. We started by loosely putting the appliances into place, and we decided that we’d have more wiggle room with the cabinets by using the rail system. The rail system allows us the flexibility to move cabinets side-to-side – a huge perk!
To install, we cut down the rails to the proper width and secured them to every stud we could find. We did have to create our own holes every so often to ensure alignment with the studs, and we used the provided small washer-like plates that help to distribute the weight. Once the rail is on the wall, the cabinets simply hang on a small lip, and we can easily move them to the left and right as necessary.
When it came time to hang the cabinet above the refrigerator, we made spacers using scrap 2 x 4s. This cabinet is 24″ deep, however, we wanted it to align with the front of the fridge, which was about 31″ in depth. By aligning it with the fridge, we think it creates a more custom look overall, and the spacers will be completely hidden by the cabinet and side panel. Tip: We still used the rail system by installing it directly to the 2 x 4 spacer.
With all the upper cabinets installed, we moved on to trimming the refrigerator side panel. Using a circular saw, we needed to rip a section off along the length of the panel. Because the scrap piece would still be used for fillers down the road, we measured twice (thrice?), and we ran painter’s tape along the cut, which always helps to prevent the board from splintering while the cuts are made:
Finally, we could begin securing the cabinets! We started by attaching the side panel to the fridge cabinet, after which, we snugged the neighboring cabinet up to the panel. Ensuring level along the way, we attached that cabinet to the panel as well. From there, we clamped each of the cabinets together, and one by one, we used the IKEA provided screws to connect all the uppers. With the cabinets in place, we then secured the cabinets to the rail once and for all, following the IKEA instructions.
We brought in the lower cabinets last, using the same rail system to secure them to the wall. The only difference here is that each of the base cabinets have 4 1/2″ legs, which can be raised as much as 6″ to account for uneven floors. The base cabinets are 30″ tall, so in addition to the 4 1/2″ legs and a 1 1/2″ countertop, the overall height will be brought to the 36″ standard. Eventually, the adjustable legs will be hidden behind toe kicks.
We fell into an easy rhythm where Scott hung, attached and secured the cabinets, and as each one went up, I followed behind with doors, drawers and shelves. After a weekend’s worth of work, we had all the main components in place, and it was so, so rewarding to see our little galley kitchen come to life! Side note: All the appliances still have their protective plastic coating, which is why they might look blue and/or bubbled/scratched.
The stove wall might be our favorite; the lower drawer storage is an absolute dream. Each of these cabinets are a full 36″ wide, and we can only imagine how many pots, pans and rows of silverware can be stowed away!
The half wall has turned into the sweetest detail. I’m shooting the photo below from the laundry room, but you can see here how it keeps the galley kitchen feeling open. Not for one second does this room give off the feeling of being too cramped, rather, it really feels as though we’ve squeezed out every last ounce of functionality into this small space.
We still need to install the pantry and add in the gray fillers, cover panels and toe kicks, which will hide away every last bit of exposed white cabinetry. Afterwards, it’s on to countertops, tile and hardware!
For anyone else who’s installed an IKEA kitchen, what were some of the challenges you’ve faced? I told Scott that the hardest part was assembling the drawers (yowza!), but overall, we felt like IKEA really has their system down to a science. What do you think? Any tips or tricks to share?