As we shared a few weeks ago, we’ve officially decided to move forward with using IKEA cabinets in our kitchen reno… er… let’s use one of Greg’s computer geek words here and call it a “reinstall”. I have to say, I’ve been totally obsessed with the IKEA Kitchen Planning software since we decided that we really liked IKEA’s cabinets. For the “non-professional” who is reasonably computer savvy, with no formal training in kitchen design/architecture, the software is pretty easy to maneuver.  I am ecstatic that Greg and I are actually getting to choose the cabinet sizes and types that will go in our very own kitchen, and IKEA’s software makes the visualization of those choices extremely easy.

Though it’s been fun playing kitchen designer, a few things are really bugging me about the plans thus far. We’re still in the process of working out the kinks (what you’re about to see is a very rough draft), but since we’re all about sharing the “real story” behind our home renovations (and reinstalls!), we’d thought we would share a few screen shots of how the plans look right now.

As for the things that are bugging us…

  • The wasted space between the cabinets and the windows. Some space there is expected, but it seems that’s a pretty substantial gap between the window frame and the cabinet — to the point where it may look odd. It looks like a left over cabinet hanging on an awkward-sized wall rather than a custom kitchen install. We would like to find some way to tie that set of cabinets into the rest of the kitchen a little better.
  • I want to add a subway tile backsplash to the rendering. I know it’s not necessary, but I just want to be able to really visualize the kitchen with as much detail as possible. As of right now, we only have subway tile on the far left wall in the rendering, and it covered the entire wall rather than just the backsplash area. Sure, it might look cool like that, but I’d like to try out some other options in that respect before we get too far.
  • We’re shopping for a counter-depth refrigerator, and we want it to look built into the cabinets. Therefore, the shallow cabinet above the fridge isn’t as “pretty” as I’d like it to be. If we could find a top cabinet that was the same depth as the counter, we would be set! We also want to add a panel on either side of the fridge to give it a built-in look. We’ve been told IKEA has both of those things — we just haven’t been able to find them on the software yet.

  • The two cabinets left of the hood look weird to me. Greg noticed it at first, too, but couldn’t put his finger on it. The one on the far left is about 3/4 of the size of the one next to it because it’s the only size cabinet that will in that space. Hopefully Greg and I can put our heads together and find something that will work a little better up there.

With all of these little frustrations with the software comes some natural doubt… Are IKEA cabinets really the way to go for our kitchen? I still think the answer is, “Yes.” We just need to spend some more time tweaking our design and getting it just right.  Then, we will probably take our plans and thoughts to the experts at IKEA so they can shed some light on our dilemmas. I’m sure our kitchen isn’t the first one they’ve seen with odd-sized walls. Fingers crossed!

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  • Reply
    March 23, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Would you consider the counter depth fridge from Ikea? Right now they have a sale on the kitchen which increases when you add appliances.

    I’m looking forward to your kitchen journey because I feel like we will be going through a similar “kitchen reno” soon.

    • Reply
      March 24, 2011 at 10:41 am

      Yeah, when we called IKEA yesterday to ask a few questions, they mentioned the appliances being on sale. Sounds like a good deal! Their counter depth fridge doesn’t have as many “bells and whistles” as the other ones we’ve been looking at but it’s definitely something to think about!

      Good luck on your future reno! You’ll have to share it with us when you’re done!

  • Reply
    March 23, 2011 at 11:46 am

    I love IKEA so much that I’ll play with that software even though I don’t own a house and have a perfectly good (actually really nice) rental kitchen right now. Good luck!!! Yeah I’d go in and see what the experts in store have to say. You can always listen or disregard all their opinions!

    what about making those 2 cabinets on the left equal size and open towards eachother? Is there something preventing this like a stud or whatnot?

    • Reply
      March 24, 2011 at 10:43 am

      We’re good in the stud department (luckily). We tried making the 2 cabinets on the left of the stove equal size, but they don’t have that size available. Huge bummer.

  • Reply
    March 23, 2011 at 11:47 am

    I can’t say from experience, but in my visits to Ikea I see employees working with customers on designing kitchens. They may orffer options that work to make their cabinets look more custom. Just speaking from my sake I would would to see everything to make sure I would be ordering the correct size/color, etc of everything. Good luck!

    PS. If you don’t mind, please let us know how the whole experience goes. Fingers crossed we may be doing a kitchen reno in a few years.

    • Reply
      March 24, 2011 at 10:44 am

      Will do! Thanks so much 🙂 And good luck on your future kitchen reno as well!

  • Reply
    March 23, 2011 at 11:48 am

    For the cabinets next to the windows, you could installl shelving (maybe rounded edges) on the wall. Make it look more built in and another area to display different things, or even plants for a “window” garden.
    Just a thought.
    I am new to your blog but so far I am really enjoying the step-by-step process of your design plans.

    • Reply
      March 23, 2011 at 1:04 pm

      This was my thought too–a display shelf flanking the window. But I also wonder if a narrow open shelf could be installed at the other end of the cabinets as a wine shelf or a cookbook shelf–does Ikea have anything like that? Of course that would not work in the left corner. I think once window treatments are up the space would probably not bug as much.

      • Reply
        March 24, 2011 at 7:42 am

        We’ve done the Ikea cabinet kitchen, as well as another brand in a different house—twice. I need to quit moving! On the left: Split your options into 2 or 3 cabinets, or one with double doors and one with single. The doors are the key feature, not the cabinet size, and Ikea has some really cool glass door options.

        Can you slide a narrow box down in at the end opposite the window? Remember that the cabinets are frameless and you can get away with just leaving the door off if you want. That said, narrow box cabinets are a major pain to keep clean. I’d do shelves by the window, so that I could grow herbs—yum fresh rosemary!–in thos nifty baby galvanized pots that ikea sells.

    • Reply
      March 24, 2011 at 10:45 am

      @Christy + Lisa I love the idea of a window garden with herbs. That would make me make me happy 🙂

      @Val IKEA doesn’t offer anything that custom, however, I’m sure it can be “hacked”, haha.

  • Reply
    Kerri McConnell
    March 23, 2011 at 11:52 am

    What would happen if you flipped the small cabinet and big cabinet around? I have a similar situation in my kitchen and that what we did.

    I also would not recommend small skinny cabinets flanking the window. We were talked into that by our kitchen person and ended up hating it. We actually had them removed.

    • Reply
      March 24, 2011 at 10:51 am

      That’s a good idea.. we’ll add that to our list of possibilities! We’re also thinking about moving the stove down to the left a little more to allow more counter work space to the right. We shall see!

  • Reply
    March 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    I hope you update more about your Ikea experience. We decided to go with Ikea as well for our kitchen and are in the final stages of our planning. We want to make sure we get it done so we can take advantage of the 10% off deal.
    I think it’s funny that you mentioned the refrigerator panels because we can’t find those either! Or some of the cabinets are upside down in the program…argh!
    It’s fun though, hope your kitchen goes well 🙂

  • Reply
    Courtney McWilliams
    March 23, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    I play around with the software too, Robin! haha! That is too funny!

    Maybe they have wider cabinets for either side of the window so there isn’t so much of a gap? And make sure your measurements are dead on. I think I read that Ikea comes out to measure your space for a small fee. That would be something to think about!

    • Reply
      March 24, 2011 at 10:53 am

      We wish they did have wider cabinets, but they don’t. We’ll definitely be double and triple checking the measurements, for sure. That would be bad!

  • Reply
    March 23, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    What about open shelving where the cabinet is an odd space apart from the window? Just a thought. 🙂

    • Reply
      March 24, 2011 at 10:54 am

      Yep, that’s on our list of possibilities.

  • Reply
    March 23, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    I don’t blame you for not buying the Ikea refrigerator. Every time I’m in the store, it looks nice but it feels kinda cheap. I’d definitely go for a Kenmore, GE, Electrolux, etc.

    Can’t wait to read more about your kitchen journey!

  • Reply
    Ellen Manning
    March 23, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    That awkward space would look good with open shelving

  • Reply
    March 23, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    I’ve seen a few kitchens from the 40s with similar upper cabinet/window issues. The solution that I thought best worked in those rooms was rounded open shelves that took up the space and were used for displaying the owners’ favorite things.

  • Reply
    March 23, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Have you tried Google Sketch up? (Or if you google free kitchen design software)You may be able to play with just the design a little easier. Not knowing the wall space available to the left of the hood – are there 2 cabinets that would work better than those in your design? (ie: 2 24″ wide cabinets or 1 24″ wide & 1 21″ wide)? I would suggest a tall full depth panel on each side of the fridge & a 24″ deep cabinet over it but make sure you leave at least 3″ of clearance between the cabinet above & fridge, get a piece of molding that can fill it but be removed later if you wish (most issues that arise later is if the fridge has a problem and there is not enough clearance between the cabinet & the fridge for a replacement)

    • Reply
      March 24, 2011 at 10:56 am

      Yeah, we’re definitely wanting to have the panels on either side of the fridge as well as the counter-depth cabinet above. Good call on the fridge clearance space. Those are little things you have to remember when designing your own “out of the box” type kitchen like an IKEA kitchen.

      I haven’t tried Google Sketch Up? Sounds fun! Off to check it out now…

  • Reply
    sarah bragg
    March 23, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    We just installed our Ikea kitchen. We did some custom work on it and it looks INCREDIBLE! Keep with the Ikea!! I would suggest putting open shelves on one or both sides of the window. We have the same issue with the space so we put open shelves on the right side and a cabinet on the left but i wish I’d put open shelving on both sides of the window. We also got a Kitchenaid counter depth fridge at a Sears Outlet for super cheap!

  • Reply
    March 23, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    What about little shelves attached to the outside of the cabinets near the window, like in this house:
    They would be good for decorations or kitchen items you use often, and they would fill that empty space!

    • Reply
      March 24, 2011 at 10:58 am

      Thanks for the link! I’m a sucker for open shelving. 🙂

  • Reply
    March 23, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Definitely go into Ikea and have them help you with the software. They have lots of tricks and great suggestions. Also, we had the exact same issue with lots of space between our cabinet and window (almost the same exact kitchen layout!). We ended up tiling the entire wall around the window and it turned out beautifully! Check it out here:

    We also put a panel on the side of our fridge to make it look built in. Good luck!

    • Reply
      March 24, 2011 at 10:58 am

      Thanks for the link! Off to check it out now…

  • Reply
    March 23, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    I agree on the shelving around the window – make it look like built-in shelving for some pretty vases, plants, picture frames, or whatever you like! And what about some open corner shelves instead of that oddly sized cabinet on the left? You could do some sort of cool corner shelves for cookbooks or something. Just some ideas!

    • Reply
      March 24, 2011 at 11:00 am

      Thanks for the ideas! We haven’t been able to find any open corner shelves yet. But it may be able to be “hacked”, haha.

  • Reply
    Shani Ferguson
    March 23, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    If you must have the two different size cabinets to the left of the stove, use a door with glass panes on one of them to break up the big, asymmetrical expanse of cabinet.

    IKEA makes a counter-depth upper cabinet; we’ve got one. We’ve also got a pull-out pantry immediately to the left of our fridge, also counter-depth.

    Your rendering looks as though both of your cabinets above and to the right of the sink are hinged on the left. You’ll either want them both to have outer hinges, or both hinged on the right.

  • Reply
    Suzannah Pugh
    March 23, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    You could always beef up the molding around the window or the top of the ceiling. Don’t forget to visual the back splash there too. And will you hang a light pendant over the sink? That will all help!

    • Reply
      March 24, 2011 at 11:01 am

      Yep! A pendant will be going over the sink. We just haven’t picked it out yet 🙂

  • Reply
    March 23, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    I know you’re probably set on Ikea, but my husband and I recently remodeled our kitchen for 7k, new SS appliances, floors, granite, white subway tile backsplash and cabinets. The cabinets were cheaper than Ikea in most cases and shipping is free over $1500. The website is They will work with you and help you design your kitchen. We used the Tuscany Shaker Toffee cabinets and they turned out beautifully.

    • Reply
      March 24, 2011 at 11:02 am

      Wow! Sounds like a great deal. Off to check out their website now… thanks!

  • Reply
    kitliz @ DIYdiva
    March 23, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Another thought would be to a couple of specialty kitchen & bath places and have them do a design for you… not to use, of course, but just to see what ideas other people come up with when they have a fresh perspective. They don’t charge for this and I actually did my own plan and sat down with three different kitchen planers (and ended up with a mix of all designs) before buying our cabinets.

    It was definitely worth a couple of hours and didn’t cost anything.

    I, for one, actually like the space around the window. I think it opens things up a bit instead of feeling like every square inch is jam-packed with cabinets. I have a similar set up on either side of my range hood and decided on doorless uppers for both to hold all my cooking books.

    • Reply
      March 24, 2011 at 11:04 am

      Yes, that’s a great idea! We’re actually thinking about meeting up with a few kitchen designers to make sure IKEA is the way to go for us AND to hear their ideas. Since the kitchen is the heart of the home, it’s super important that it be something we love — and doesn’t have any awkward spaces, haha!

  • Reply
    play therapist mom
    March 24, 2011 at 9:09 am

    They look great! I had no idea Ikea had software like that!

  • Reply
    March 25, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Our kitche is from Ikea and we love it!!!

    Yes, there are fridge side panels and fridge dept cabinets becausde we have them, although I don’t remember where they are in the software. *no help, I know*

    I agree with those who have recommended the open shelving around the window

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    March 27, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    I had no issues making all the Ikea cabinets work in my daughter’s house, they really do have a large selection of sizes. I would love to play around with your kitchen space to see what I could come up with since I just did it for my daughter’s house. It is still fresh in my mind 🙂 My daughter and her husband love their kitchen and the quality is wonderful, especially for the price.

  • Reply
    April 29, 2011 at 9:13 am


    Cool blog. Congrats on the new house!

    Semihandmade actually makes custom doors for IKEA kitchens, but if you guys would just like some free advice or tips on navigating through the IKEA process, definitely get in touch. It’s what we do.


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