The Ugly House kitchen took a giant leap forward this weekend. My husband and I made a painfully quick trip to Ikea (longest 12 hours of my life) and bought all the kitchen goodies I've been dreaming about: cabinets, countertops, sink, faucet, and microwave/hood.
I thought I would share a bit about the Ikea kitchen experience for those who aren't Ikea regulars. I've only been twice, and it was the first trip for my husband.
Sorry if this is a bit long winded, but I'd like to pass along our hints on making the process quick and easy.
How to Buy An Ikea Kitchen.
1. Plan Ahead!
We did a ton of research about cabinets before deciding on Ikea. I did my due diligence checking out local options, RTA cabinets (Ready To Assemble), and custom cabinets. The best price I found was at a local big box store. However, those cabinets weren't as good quality (thinner "wood") and the price didn't include a sink, counter top or drawer pulls. After researching people's love for Ikea, I decided that was the best option for our family. The style was what I was looking for in my kitchen (modern farm house) and included extras like large drawer units and soft close drawers (drawer dampers) and cabinets.
Once we had decided on Ikea, I started using their planning software. It's a bit glitchy, but it got the job done. I was lucky that my current cabinets are fairly standard sizes, so we'll just replace those units and then add an island. There wasn't any new layouts so we had it a bit easier. Use the software! It's exactly what the Ikea kitchen planners use, and you'll be eons ahead if you get everything set out before you go!
If you're going to buy an Ikea kitchen, you want to have your game plan before you head into the store ESPECIALLY if you are going in during the kitchen sale and on the weekend (as we so bravely did today).
To give you an idea of what the plan is, here is how it looks today with our new furniture.
We're going to remove that wall and add in an island. The kitchen needs counter space and storage space dearly.
So, you start using the online tools, you decide on the layout and all the extras like color, drawer pulls, and counter tops. Now what?
2. Watch for the Semi-Annual Kitchen Sale.
Ikea generally does two kitchen sales a year. I did some research and found that they are usually done in July/August time and in the winter months. The sale usually (of course, this could change) works like this. If you hit the $3,500, you get 10% off, and if you hit $4,500, you get 20% off. The cabinets, sinks, faucets, counter tops and appliances are included in the sale. The only thing that isn't included really is the more accessory type items like dish towels and hanging racks.
We decided early on that we needed a new sink. (That was a "me" "we"...I decided we needed a new sink). So, once we added that in, we were sitting in the middle of those two tiers. We did the math, and it made total sense to bump up to the next threshold. When we did that, we essentially got $400.00 of free stuff. Great huh?
So, you made your kitchen but you don't know what to add to get bumped up to the higher discount? First, meet with your kitchen planner (see below) and make sure you got all your panels to cover exposed ends and any filler pieces. Then think organization. Finally, think about appliances.
We looked at the drawer organizer systems, but we don't know what we're going to use our island for just yet. It didn't make sense to buy the systems and not use them. We wandered around a bit and saw the microwaves. I've had my heart set on an over the stove microwave since we moved in, but it was fairly low on the priority list. There isn't much space on our counters, and our microwave is super small and old. Ikea has the Whirlpool team make their appliances, and we felt confident getting one of their microwaves. That item bumped us up. I basically, after discounts, got my sink, fancy faucet and microwave free, just because we made the time during the Semi-Annual sale to make a trip to Ikea.
It's crazy in the kitchen section during the sale, but the extra savings make it worth it. If you can swing a day visit during the week, you'd probably avoid a ton of people.
3. Plan Your Trip.
We live about 4 hours from the nearest Ikea. We wanted to take advantage of the sale, so my husband organized some childcare (the in-laws). We planned to leave at 6 am to make it there by the 10 am opening, but we were running late, which isn't a terrible thing (as you'll see below...we timed our lunch perfectly). We borrowed my father-in-law's truck and were ready to go. The traffic was terrible once we got to the Twin Cities, so we should have factored that. I brought my printed out plan from the online Ikea kitchen planner and a list of items we might want to purchase in addition to the cabinets. I also noted if I was going to deviate from the plan at all. I had decided to alter my counter tops a bit so I would have an overhang for seating at the island. I tried to mark anything I wanted to see in person before buying. (Faucets in my case)
It was crazy busy. It was practically wall to wall people, but thankfully Ikea knows how to manage that much traffic. Oh and don't forget a phone charger...I did and didn't get to take any pictures of us shopping for our stuff. :( Certainly sad from a blog standpoint, but I also couldn't coordinate with my husband for when our stuff was ready for pick up. Having a phone sure makes it easier to divide and conquer.
4. Once You Get To The Store.
Rather than peruse through the living room section, we made a bee line for the kitchen section. We took a look at the items I was on the fence on, and then we were ready to order. The next step is to meet with a kitchen specialist. I hear you can make appointments so you have a certain time. We were lucky to get in quickly without an appointment.
Once you're sitting down with your specialist, you're going to pull up your design from the online Ikea kitchen planner. She or he will go through and check to make sure you didn't miss something like an end panel or color choice. Our planner gave us ideas on how to meet the next tier of discounts as well little cheap ways to customize the furniture i.e. moldings.
Since you were prepared and have your design already done, the ordering process will go much smoother. I saw some people sitting down with their measurements, and they were there for hours. I took months to make my final decisions, so I can't imagine doing everything in one day. We only waited about 10 minutes for our specialist. She ran through everything within 10 minutes and then took 30 minutes to process things. While she was processing everything, we could go and look around other areas of the kitchen section and pick up our handles (which you need to get yourself).
When we came back a half hour later, she had checked to make sure everything was in stock. In our case, luckily, only one item wasn't available. It was a longer cut of countertop. Since we had traveled 4 hours and didn't foresee coming back in the near future, we just bought 2 smaller countertops to make up for the one large that was out of stock. We'll have extra incase our cutting technique isn't quite up to par.
Everything except the handles will be picked by Ikea. After your specialist has checked your shopping list to make sure it's in stock, they will add up your discount. You'll get a sheet to take with you to the registers for the discount on your handles (and other items you can pick yourself that are covered by the sale). Then you'll check out with the specialist to pay for the cabinets. Your cabinets are bought! Now you have to wait a couple of hours for everything to be picked by the Ikea crew.
5. Eat & Shop.
Since you've got some time to burn, this is a great time to grab some lunch or dinner. Our Ikea (and perhaps all of them?) offer you a free meal with a $100.00 home purchase. Since you probably just spent way more than that on your kitchen, enjoy your free meal. If you eat before you buy your kitchen, you just present your receipt for your meal to your specialist. If you eat afterwards, you can either give the receipt to your cashier when you buy your handles and they may allow you to take it off that, or you can go up to returns and get a refund of that amount.
If you're an Ikea Family member, you get free coffee and tea while you shop (I should have picked some up before buying the kitchen). You also get the current customer deals. I picked up two LACK side tables for $4.99 a piece. (Post to come soon about how we dressed them up!)
6. Pick up your kitchen!
Once you've done your shopping and/or eating, you can wait near the customer pick up area (usually after the registers) and wait for your order to be finished. To get an idea of how big our kitchen purchase was (to compare for how long it took to pick and the space to haul it back), we got four countertops, one large panel, a sink, microwave and 15 cabinets. It took about 2 hours to have everything picked. There's a TV screen that will tell you if your order is still being processed or if it's ready. Once your order is ready, don't pick it up right away (this was our mistake). Move your vehicle to the pick up area. Once you pick it up, you're going to have a lot of carts of stuff, and you don't want to have to keep an eye on it while waiting for your car to get parked. Our items took up 5 large carts.
7. Just About Ready To Go!
Now you just need to load up everything! All our stuff fit in the back of a standard pick up, but it was pretty darn heavy. I'd probably not do that again. I was worried the entire way home we were going to blow a tire or something. (Was that even possible? I was just guessing all the problems that occur from an overloaded truck). We had a topper on our truck, so we could fill it up to the top of the topper. It would have been difficult to tie it down with all the smaller pieces.
Before my husband loaded everything, I went through our shopping list and took an inventory. (That's the OCD part of me). I found three items that weren't there. I went and spoke with an associate, and he did a quick look. He didn't see them either, but we had packed up some carts at that point. He didn't make us unpack the truck. He promised that if anything was missing, they would UPS the piece to me. (I hope that is the case). Now, it's possible that I missed something, I was, after-all, in a hurry. We will see when we go to install!
So, that's how everything went. Hope you're still reading this! A little update on the status of our remodel (as if this post isn't long enough). We're still working on the tile. We're hoping to have it done this week, then patching, painting and then CABINETS! Some places there was a bit more damage to the dry wall than we'd like, but it still looks savable. We have wondered out loud if we should just resheet rock everything, but I think we're still on the saving the drywall stage. Check with me in a few days!