kitchen cabinets

February 9, 2010

When I first started the renovation process I was determined to go with an Ikea kitchen.  I did all the research, including exhaustive reading on Apartment Therapy.  I looked at hundreds of pictures of kitchens and read every comment that had the words “Ikea” and “kitchen” in the same paragraph.  Here’s what I learned – people love their Ikea kitchen cabinets.  I was all set to love my Ikea kitchen cabinets too.

So Paula and I hauled ourselves out to Schaumburg a couple of Saturday afternoons ago and waded into Ikea*, along with every other living person in the entire Chicagoland area, and all you need to know about that experience is pretty much summed up by the ocular migraine that came on out of nowhere in the middle of the lighting department.  I had to go sit down until I could see properly again.

Sad thing is, here’s what I saw: kitchen cabinets that I only partially liked.  There were a few door styles that I thought were very nice, but nothing that felt quite right for the kitchen in this project, and while the cabinet frameworks were good, I had a harder time with the drawers.  The drawers do not have plywood or wood or even MDF sides – instead the drawer is formed by a sort of molded metal on all sides, with a wooden front.  Metal drawers are actually probably better than wooden drawers but aesthetically I was struggling a bit.  I shut the drawers, I opened the drawers, I looked all around and finally I asked an Ikea kitchen designer if they had other types of drawers?  Like drawers with other sides?  Wooden drawers?  Anything other than these drawers?


Literally, that was all she said.  Ok.  Damn it.

I wound up sitting down with a different kitchen designer who did a rendered sketch, based upon the kitchen measurements I had brought with me, and finally gave me a total price for the 11 cabinets that I need for this renovation – $2100.  Kind of amazing.  Though it turns out that part of that amazing price involves putting the kitchen cabinets together ourselves and maybe it was the remnants of the migraine but it all just felt very….well….very, “maybe this will be ok, but maybe there’s another kitchen out there”, so maybe I’ll shop around a bit.

Which I did. I wound up at Home Depot and let me be the first to say that I never thought I’d buy my kitchen at the big HD.  But I sure did.  If you need a kitchen and you don’t have an enormous budget and if Ikea gives you migraines too, go to the Home Depot on Lincoln Avenue, the one just off Devon and ask for Kurt.  He’s a kitchen designer there and he’s fantastic.  I met Kurt, and I told him all about this little condo and then I told him about my little budget and then he showed me the 3 lines they carry, and it’s really easy – they go from kind of cheap, to not so cheap, to pretty expensive (for Home Depot) and then I picked out the style I wanted (which is about sixteen kinds of fun).  He and I sat down together and I got a big lesson in the standard builder sizes of kitchen cabinets and he sketched out my entire kitchen on this 3-D revolving program of amazingness and when I left I had pictures of my cabinets, and we’d even thrown a sink in there and I had 3 different counter top samples to take away with me.  11 cabinets were twice the price of the Ikea cabinets, but I felt twice as good about them and really felt that – taking into account this project and this budget and what I want for this place – that economizing up was the right decision.  I’ll chop away at some other line item to make up for the difference.

Do you want to see my new kitchen in it’s beautiful Home Depot rendering?  I’m kind of in love with it.

Stove view

Sink view

I don’t have a picture of the cabinet doors I chose, but I found the same style on the manufacturer’s website and here is a sample of the doors for this project:

This isn't my kitchen, this is someone else's kitchen.

Here are the details – the entire kitchen is only about 80 square feet, and I focused closely on maximizing storage in all corners.  There is a single 8 foot cabinet in the corner, 12 inches deep and Kurt and I had a long conversation about the importance of making sure one of the cabinets was all drawers.  Finally, my intention was to put seeded glass doors in the cabinet above the sink but oh my god is it shocking what that does to the price.  Bye bye glass doors.

There’s also a small butler’s pantry between the kitchen and the dining room and it’s also getting new cabinets and shelves, but that rendering will have to wait – I forgot to ask Kurt to print it out.  Next up in this project is bathroom tile and a bathroom sink.


*Can I just throw out there that the Ikea in Schaumburg is ridiculously hard to find?  Would it be so hard to guide the pilgrims in from the highway?  Put up a sign, Ikea People.  Put up four.  DO SOMETHING.



  1. Kitchen cabinets–sooo exciting! These look beautiful. I want a Kurt to hold my hand and redesign my kitchen. Then I want my fairy godmother to pay for it.

  2. I love it! I’m in Milwaukee and on NYE of 08 my husband, daughter and I made the trek down to Ikea to see what the fuss was all about. We were not impressed. At all. We were looking for dishes, hated every single one of them. We left with a vase and 4 sticks of lucky bamboo (we didn’t want our trip to be a complete waste of time). We also couldn’t find Ikea to save our lives and wound up on the other side of the freeway, it was a nightmare.

    We bought our kitchen at Home Depot when we remodeled at our old house, those designers at HD know a lot more than I thought they would, and the 3D model was awesome! Also had to scratch the glass doors off the list, as well as the wine rack. Who knew they’d be so pricey?

  3. This is a great, thanks a lot for sharing. This is what makes the web so great. We can find so much info on things we like. :-)

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