Saturday, June 28, 2014


 (Request my free eBook, How to Budget for an IKEA Kitchen Remodel)


Friday, June 27 – Sunday, August 24, 2014.

 ● Spend $3500 or more on your new kitchen and save 10% on your entire kitchen purchase
● Spend $4500 or more on your new kitchen and save 20% on your entire kitchen purchase

This includes cabinets, appliances, and counter tops!

Most homeowners starting an IKEA kitchen project have many questions. It's not easy to get them answered at IKEA! I can tell you that now is the time to start the design work and, during that process, to make calls to contractors and installers, to shop for appliances and other materials (if you are not buying everything at IKEA) and, most of all, to sort out what you really need and want. 

Finding a contractor?
Real costs? Custom doors?
Cabinet lighting?
Crown molding?
Pull out cabinets for trash and recycling bins?
Glass door cabinets?
Custom cabinets?
Island or peninsula? 

There are many options, even for small kitchens (which can be harder than large kitchens to design!). 

My blog readers are welcome to schedule a free, no-obligation 30-minute phone consultation with me. I am happy to offer you tips and guidance specific to your project and, if you are interested, I can tell you about our expert IKEA kitchen design services.

Let's talk!
FREE 30-minute IKEA kitchen planning consultation


Monday, June 23, 2014

IKEA SUMMER 2014 SALE! (corrected)

 (Request my free eBook, How to Budget for an IKEA Kitchen Remodel)
For those of you who have been waiting to hear about a summer sale, the announcement is coming! Look for a summer IKEA kitchen sale in US stores starting the first week in July!

If you have not yet planned the layout (kitchen design) or if you have not made at least a few calls to line up a contractor/installer, find some time this week to get these things underway.

Typical IKEA summer sales last six weeks, so don't panic. But do get your design work underway. We don't think that a design done in one day with the free IKEA planning tool is optimal. Homeowners need time to consider draft versions and options and to sort out finish details and much better renderings on which to base a major home remodeling project.

My company's IKEA kitchen design process typically takes three weeks. We take care with small issues. we cover every inch of the kitchen space, and we provide sophisticated drawings from high end software, as well as complete order lists. It's an entirely different experience compared to struggling with the IKEA home planner.

If you'd like help with your design work, write or call. I am happy to offer a free, no-obligation 30-minute phone consultation to all my readers. I can almost always offer some tips or guidance and if you want to know about our design services, we can discuss those, too.

 Here's a link to my appointment calendar:

FREE 30-minute IKEA kitchen planning consultation


 (Request my free eBook, How to Budget for an IKEA Kitchen Remodel)

Thursday, June 05, 2014

When is the Next IKEA Kitchen Sale?

 (Request my free eBook, How to Budget for an IKEA Kitchen Remodel)

This is the big question right now. I get asked a few times each day by people who call for design services. Most realize it's a good idea to get their planning and design done ahead of time, but knowing when the sale prices will next be available is important to many.

IKEA doesn't announce sales until it announces sales. In some stores, staff will tell you what they know, but it's often kept hushed up.

Historically, in the US, there's a fall sale in October/November and a Spring sale in March/April. Usually there is a summer sale, too. It's often shorter. Sometimes the discount structure is different than it was in the Spring sale (10% for purchases (cabinets, countertops, appliances are included) of $3500, 20% if you spend $4500.

Is there going to be a sale in July? Probably. Should you get your planning started so that you are ready? Definitely. It's better to place your order at the beginning of a sale, than at the end. It's really stressful to be planning and designing 5 days before a sale is over!

A good design process can't be done in one day. Even if IKEA will send someone to your house to do it all in a few hours, that's not a professional service. It takes a few weeks to draft, review, revise and polish a kitchen design. If you want an elegant, optimal layout, creatively designed and a joy to use when finished, spend some time sorting out all the details, confirming the sizes and styles and options you really want.


PS. If you need some help planning or designing your new kitchen, I am happy to talk with you. We offer a free, no-obligation IKEA kitchen consultation. Here's a link to my appointment calendar:

FREE 30-minute IKEA kitchen planning consultation

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Dear Readers,

I order to understand how to provide the best and most useful information, as well as the premier professional IKEA kitchen design services, I'd like to know what you need and want.

Please take a few moments to fill out my IKEA KITCHEN SURVEY.

You can choose a thank you gift at the end of the survey, including my new eBook, BEST TIPS for IKEA KITCHENS.

 Thank you!


(Request my free eBook, How to Budget for an IKEA Kitchen Remodel)

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

IKEA Kitchen Projects: Do Your Homework

(Request my free eBook, How to Budget for an IKEA Kitchen Remodel)

The most common error I see homeowners make with IKEA kitchen projects is failing to do their homework, or research. It is very rare to find a turnkey solution for IKEA kitchens where you can sit back and let someone else figure things out for you. Only in the rarest circumstances does someone hire a company to do the entire project, from planning and design through kitchen preparation and then installation. Most homeowners choosing IKEA cabinets have modest budgets, $10-$20,000 or even less, and the type of design-build firm that can remodel your kitchen while you vacation is Hawaii typically does $50,000-$150,000 kitchens. I've seen IKEA stores offer a "project management" service for a thousand bucks or more, and I cannot understand why anyone would pay another to make decisions (because that's what it comes down to) for them. 

For the vast majority of IKEA kitchen projects, homeowners will plan and budget, work with a designer to create an optimal configuration of cabinets and appliances, order their cabinets, interview and choose contractors, and oversee all the work, day to day, start the finish.

To get a beautiful result at the lowest cost, you have to take the time to learn about kitchen remodeling, about IKEA components, about permits, about contractors suitable for your project, and about the real costs and process. 

Unless you have done a lot of remodeling before, you’ll want to spend some time reading up on these various aspects. IKEA cabinets are different than some brands that come pre-assembled, but other than that, the factors are the same. There’s design, demo, repair of walls or plumbing, electrical prep, cabinet and appliance installation, flooring, lighting, countertop choice and installation, sinks and faucets, back splashes, and other subjects which a smart homeowner who wants the best kitchen for the lowest price will take the time to research

If you have a busy life, and feel you need help to get your project done, that's fine. But to remodel a kitchen well, it really takes a commitment of money and time. You can do it hurriedly, with minimal attention to detail and with a "fingers crossed" approach, but for most, taking the time to learn about how the process will work, the choices you have, the product options available within your budget, the layout possibilities you may not have considered, will result on "the best bang for the buck" every time. 

Friday, April 04, 2014

IKEA Kitchen Projects: Labor Cost Summary

(Request my free eBook, How to Budget for an IKEA Kitchen Remodel)

When you walk through an IKEA kitchen department, it's easy to think that IKEA has the solution for your kitchen. There in front of you are these lovely displays of clean, modern and super-affordable kitchens, so much nicer than one's own. I think highly of IKEA kitchen cabinets, of course, but the solution to your kitchen involves more.

One simple and obvious tip is this: when you walk around those store displays, multiply the price tag on every display by two. That's a low ballpark of the actual cost of the kitchen. Note that most don't include the price of appliances so if you'll be buying appliances, multiply by 3.

This is simply because the cost of LABOR for a kitchen remodel is often half, or more of the price of the project overall. Materials half, labor half.

There are exceptions. If you are simply removing old cabinets, keeping appliances, and not changing flooring, your labor costs could be 1/3. Keep in mind that countertop must be removed, in almost every case, and appliances too. There is no way to replace cabinets without removing these. In very rare cases expensive solid surface countertop can be left in place, but this is really the rarest exception. Don't plan on this. If your countertop is invaluable, go with refacing, not replacing, even though refacing is often more expensive than an entirely new IKEA kitchen.

In most kitchen remodels labor services that will be needed include:

This includes removing old cabinets and counters and hauling them off somehow. Rental trash dumpsters in some areas can cost $500 to $1000. Or you can hang your old cabinets in your garage, or put them on the curb for someone to re-use. Or you can throw them into a condo trash bin. Up to you.

Wall patching
This can be minor, a few small pieces of sheetrock, or you might need your entire kitchen fixed up, even the ceiling. If you are removing walls or a soffit, expect wall repair to be part of your costs

It's almost always part of a kitchen remodel to add a few strategically placed outlets, relative to your new kitchen layout.  If you are adding cabinet lists, that too requires wiring. This is not very costly but it is something to plan for.

If you have an older home, you might need to upgrade your electrical panel in order to add outlets. Make sure you have your contractor inspect your panel when he bids your project or this can be a surprise cost.

Even removing and then re-installing a sink and faucet or a dishwasher is plumbing work. Moving a sink to an island is significant plumbing work. Sometimes, plumbing needs to be repaired before new sinks and dishwashers can be installed.

Cabinet installation
Of course. Prices range from $70 per cabinet to $130 in the US. It'a worth paying a bit more for fast, expert installation. The beauty of a finished IKEA kitchen is in the details, both design and skillful installation.

Sometimes you have to replace your flooring, other times you'll want to. Tile setters are skilled craftsman so for tile backsplash or tile flooring, labor costs might be significant.

Appliance installation
Some stores include "free" installation in the cost of the new appliance. This looks good but keep in mind that they install WHEN they deliver in most cases. This can be tough to schedule so sometimes it's better to pay your general contractor to install appliances.

After the kitchen is installed, there is the dust. Always there is some dust from remodeling, even if your contractor carefully sets up plastic sheeting, etc. You might also have a huge pile of IKEA cardboard boxes to dispose of. Try to recycle, hire a cleaner if your contractor doesn't have a crew that cleans at the end. Or just enjoy the kitchen by dusting each lovely new IKEA drawer.


(Request my free eBook, How to Budget for an IKEA Kitchen Remodel)

 I also offer a free, no-obligation 30-minute consultation to my blog readers.

Monday, March 17, 2014

IKEA Kitchens for Beginners

(Request my free eBook, How to Budget for an IKEA Kitchen Remodel)

I decided to write down some basic basics about IKEA kitchen projects. If this data seems obvious and useless to you, go back to a more "advanced" posts, for example about choosing a contractor or layout tips. I don't mean to "dumb down" kitchen remodeling with IKEA cabinets, but it has come to my attention that quite a few people have never remodeled a kitchen, don't know much about IK

The most basic thing to know is that you are simply buying some cabinets from IKEA. An IKEA kitchen somehow suggests that the IKEA company is going to be involved with the remodeling of your kitchen. This is an inaccurate foundation on which to base your project. You simply want (if you do) to buy cabinets from IKEA, because, for the price, they are the best product on the market.

In my experience, it is usually a mistake to involve IKEA, or considering involving IKEA, in your remodeling project any further than as a source of cabinets. That is to say, don't assume that store will NECESSARILY provide any of the other materials or labor you will need to complete your project, such as measuring for the design, installing the cabinets or appliances, designing the layout, removing the old cabinets, etc.

IKEA sells great kitchen cabinets. The countertops and appliances sold there are also good. However, IKEA is not a remodeling company/contractor. A remodeling contractor is needed for a kitchen remodel, unless you plan to do all the labor yourself. IKEA does offer some basic services (as opposed to materials) but these are far from the best options for the labor part of your project. I've explained why I feel this way, in other posts.

In order to buy cabinets at IKEA, you have to have a kitchen layout. You can't walk into the store and ask to buy some cabinets. The layout defines which cabinets, the sizes and styles, that you will need and want. Whereas there are computers with a basic layout program on them in all IKEA kitchen departments, and whereas sometimes you can get a bit of help from store staff to string together a layout, it is far from the best way.

It is also not a good idea to use IKEA planning services or any designer who comes out to your house and sits with you for 5 hours to design your kitchen. I have worked on hundreds of IKEA kitchen projects and thousands of designs, and it is absolutely necessary to design a draft for a client, have them provide feedback to enable an initial design to be created, and to give the client TIME, between versions and revisions, to consider options, talk things over with family members, shop, etc. Doing an entire design in one afternoon is a high pressure situation that you really don't want.

Not to mention, the IKEA services person is using the same free online software you can use yourself and that is so limited, so full of software bugs, that your finished kitchen will, to a greater or lesser degree, look like, and function like, it was designed with bad software.

Buy IKEA cabinets. Find a designer and a contractor that are not affiliated with IKEA. The one except might be using the service IKEA refers you to for installing the cabinets. They are very fast and usually very good. But don't hire them to do demo, electrical, plumbing, etc. Hire a licensed, insured, bonded general contractor who is familiar with IKEA cabinets. That's the best way.

More later.

 I offer a free, no-obligation 30-minute consultation to my blog readers.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

IKEA Kitchen Sale Tips about Designing with the Home Planner and then Ordering

(Request my free eBook, How to Budget for an IKEA Kitchen Remodel)

A lot of homeowners wait for the IKEA kitchen sale and the Spring sale is most popular among those. It's timing the project to coincide with warmer weather, I suspect. Or possibly after a winter indoors in an old kitchen, they just have to get into action.

In any case, I have talked to many people in the first two weeks of the current US sale, as well as many in Canada where their IKEA kitchen sale ends the 24th of March. I've looked at photos of kitchens in various states of disrepair, from really quite nice to nearly destroyed. I have also looked at many IKEA Home Planner drafts that homeowners sent me to review, and I feel obligated to offer some tips for anyone trying to base their remodel on an IKEA Home Planner design.

As I've written elsewhere, I completely biased. I own an IKEA kitchen design company so, of course, I am always pitching professional design services. But if you saw what I see, the mediocre, or even terrible or unsafe layouts some do in the Home Planner, you would convince everyone you knew of the true value of professional kitchen design for IKEA kitchen projects.

First, it is important to know that the online planner is FREE, and you get what you pay for. The purpose of the planner is to sell IKEA cabinets, it is not to design an elegant, optimal layout for a remodel.

Second, the planner will allow you to place cabinets in ways that won't install correctly, and, worse, will NOT allow you to place them in many elegant and optimal ways. It's software limitations mainly, but also consider that I work with professional kitchen designers who know how to do things by training and experience, that most of us just don't realize are possible and beautiful.

Third, the list that the Home Planner generates is far from complete for any given layout you have drafted. It's another software limitation. Even if you meticulously place cover panels and trim, the chances are more than 100% that there are parts you'll need that are not listed. This means that when you go to the store to order, you'll be waiting in line, and waiting in line some more, for an IKEA staff person to help complete your plan and list. Talk about stress on a $7000+ purchase!

This is off topic, but I wanted to mention that kitchen remodeling IS a pretty stressful activity. A lot of emotion can come into it, even if you have the money and the time. Unfortunately, to remodel your kitchen you are going to need the help of others, whether contractors, tile settings, IKEA sales people, designers, plumbers, permit offer people, electricians. delivery people, etc. etc. Given that on earth at this time, a considerable percentage of people don't consider being on time to be important. not to mention doing what they promised to do, kitchen remodeling, dependent on at least SOME of these people, is stressful. Take B vitamins during the entire process.

Back to topic, let's say you created a layout in the Home Planner and you feel somewhat confident it will work. It looks OK, it seems to fit. Can you order it and do your project? Yes. SHOULD you order it and do your project? NO. "OK design: and "somewhat confident it will fit" are the formulae for disaster. For projects that tale 7 months to install and are not really a lot better than what you started with.

People: kitchen design is a professional skill. You want , with your IKEA cabinets, the elegance you see in magazines but at an affordable price. You want a smooth installation in which all factors were predicted pretty darn well.

Let's consider ordering by phone. Is it possible? Maybe. It depends. Some have done it. It's not easy or guaranteed, but if you have a COMPLETE order list, it can be done. But wait with the Home Planner there is no complete order list. So, if you are set on using your Home Planner design, go to the store to order. That is a big tip.

With our professional services, the designer creates a complete order list for every client, with product codes. Our clients waltz into IKEA, bypass the moaning hordes of people with Home Planner lists, slap their complete lists on the counter and demand to be sold just those things. No discussion required. Ah, what a better way to go.

One last thing to mention today. The US sale ends on the 27th. If you are, wisely, going to consider professional design services (my company's or any other comparable, is fine), don't wait till a week before the sale ends. Our service has no time limit and it's a process not a one shot design. In fact, any service that designs your kitchen in 4 hours is worrisome to me. I create things, sleep on them, and always have new ideas the next day.

Anyway, if you want to order during the current sale, which in the US ends April 27, or in Canada March 24, let's get started. You want that perfect design, complete confidence, and complete order list before the last few days of the sale. The hordes get more stressed, less patient and bigger, as the sales draw to an end.

Call me, go to my calendar to schedule a time to talk. I am happy to help you.


Friday, March 14, 2014

IKEA Kitchen Sale Spring 2014: TIPS

Get my FREE ebook, "How to Budget for an IKEA Kitchen Remodel"

Dear Readers: If you'd like to discuss your project with me, or if you are interested in my company's professional IKEA kitchen design services, I can offer you a free, 30-minute phone consultation. There is no obligation and I am happy to give you tips or guidance specific to your project. Here's my calendar, just pick a time that works for you.

The IKEA US Kitchen Sale for Spring 2014 has started. Mark your calendar, it starts February 28 and will run for until April 27.

If your total purchase is $3,500.00 (including kitchen cabinets, appliances, counter tops), you get a 10% discount. If your total purchase is $4,500 you can get a 20% discount.

An average kitchen requires 18 cabinets total, top and bottom. The cost of your cabinets will vary (a lot) with the door style you choose. Countertop is another big variable. You could spend $200 for laminate or butcher block, or $3000+ for solid surface types (like Casearstone) for the same square footage.

Most kitchen purchases will easily top $3,500-$4,500, so by ordering during the sale period you can save $500-$900 or more. 

There are many ways to get the best benefit from the sale. The methods vary with the type of project and purchase. For example, sometimes buying something extra you don't necessarily need can boost your sale discount. You can then sell that item on Craigslist or give it as a gift. We show our clients how to best take advantage of the sale discounts. 

Now is the time to get started on the planning and design phase. First, get our free eBook, How to Budget for an IKEA Kitchen Remodel. This will help you know what the real costs are, both labor and materials.

The next step is to plan the layout. That's what my company does, so contact us if you would like help. I offer a free, no-obligation 30-minute consultation to my blog readers.

 An expert and carefully checked layout plan is vital for the next step, which is getting labor bids. A contractor needs to know what the cabinet placement will be in order to give you a comprehensive, and thus accurate, bid. 

The sale, running for eight weeks, really is the best time to order, but only if you can either launch the project during or right after delivery (usually 1-2 weeks after ordering) or if you have a storage place that is dry. Timing is part of the planning. If you can order in the first half of the sale, you'll run into less of a crowd, less wait time for delivery and less likelihood of backordered parts. 

Keep in mind that during sales, all IKEA kitchen departments and even all IKEA kitchen pros, get very busy. The best time to order is early in the sale, when stocks are high, wait times are minimal, and you can schedule to suit your own preferences, rather than having to wait for a contractor or installer. 

Ready, set.....


Monday, March 10, 2014

IKEA Kitchen Layout Tips

(Request my free eBook, How to Budget for an IKEA Kitchen Remodel)

 I offer a free, no-obligation 30-minute consultation to my blog readers.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that my company designs custom IKEA kitchens and that I used to be a partner in a remodeling company that installed them. Hundreds of them. Thus, I do know about kitchen layout although I am nowhere near as knowledgeable or as talented as the professional kitchen designers who design for my company, Modern Family Kitchens.

I wanted to provide some tips because many people start out their kitchen remodeling process by going to the free IKEA planner or some other basic layout software and do their best without really knowing what makes a great kitchen.

While there is no easy replacement for professional design, and expecting that you can design a kitchen as well as a professional isn't reasonable. I also recommend hiring a professional, using our services, of course. I don't want to say bad things about IKEA's $199 design service other than to say it's not.

However you proceed, I do want to offer some guidance so that if you really can't afford the cost of expert design, you don't make major errors and end up spending way more time and money than you need to.

1) To the extent possible, draw out the kitchen AND surrounding areas. In other words, if your kitchen has a pass through window to a dining room or a family room, or a hallway, include these in the shape of the overall room. If you have a small galley kitchen, this is less important. But to ensure the proportions of things are optimal, you wan to include the bigger area related to the kitchen, even if you won't be putting cabinets beyond the obvious kitchen footprint.

2) A row of cabinets that FIT, is not necessarily a row that LOOKS BEAUTIFUL. Try not to use too many door sizes. A 36 inch wall cabinet has two 18 inch doors. Try to use other 18 inch doors, or place other-sized doors symmetrically so that it's not a mishmash of sizes. This is more important for wall cabinets than for base cabinets, and more important where the kitchen is viewed from another room. But even if you have a small galley kitchen, you might was well have an elegant one.

3) Make allowances for filler. Filler means pieces of the IKEA material that is used ordinarily for panels to cover sides of cabinets, or to trim the foot of wall or base cabinets. A row of cabinets almost always has to have some filler so that appliance and cabinet doors open without hitting adjacent items. Filler can be placed arbitrarily or artistically. It can be installed sloppily or elegantly. Filler is an important part of kitchen layout and aesthetic.

4) Keeping the kitchen work triangle in mind, design a kitchen that you'll enjoy. You might want to avoid glass door cabinets above or next to a cooking surface because they get greasy quickly. You might want to ensure you have adequate space for two cooks at a time. You want to make sure you have a place to put glassware that is near the dishwasher so you don't have to carry glasses across the room when you are unloading.

5) Don't let your budget determine the layout. You might spend LESS with a more elegant and functional layout so do the layout so that it really works and then, if you need to, trim down the cost of things overall. One larger cabinet requires less labor to install than two small ones. Consider using laminate or butcher block counters for a year or two and later replacing with solid surface. This can allow you to use your current budget for expert design, more cabinets, better and more lighting, better appliances, etc.

6) Make sure you really like the way horizontal cabinets work (by going into IKEA and trying them out in a display kitchen) before using them in your layout. It's really different to access a cabinet you use frequently when there is a horizontal door to lift, versus a vertical door to swing open.

7) Consider buying crown molding at a third party supplier, like a lumberyard, if you like a more traditional style kitchen. Have your contractor paint or stain to match your cabinet doors.

8) Don't let your contractor ALSO be your designer. Keep these two things entirely separate. No IKEA kitchen-skilled contractor has a professional kitchen designer on staff, or is also a skilled designer him/herself. It's much better to give a contractor a finished design you love and ask for a bid to turn the current kitchen into THAT one. Nothing ambiguous, nothing the contractor has to guess at. Keep in mind that plan errors can cost you in labor since if you have some, the contractor will try to solve the problems and will not only turn into your designer, by default, but is likely to charge you for the time the errors take to correct. 

There are many more tips I can offer and I will write on this again. Feel free to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation with me if you have specific questions.


Get my free eBook, How to Budget for an IKEA Kitchen Remodel. This will help you know what the real costs are, both labor and materials.

 I offer a free, no-obligation 30-minute consultation to my blog readers.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The IKEA Kitchen Sale Begins! (in the US)

(Request my free IKEA kitchen budgeting eBook)

Unlike with the release of the first iPad or newest iPhone, there probably won't be a line outside IKEA in the early morning hours. But that doesn't mean that many people have not waited for the sale start tomorrow. The savings on a typical kitchen purchase (cabinets, counter top and/or appliances) can be worth waiting for if you plan to remodel your kitchen (or other areas of your house) with IKEA kitchen cabinets.

The one tip I can offer tonight is to get your planning (by which I mean contractor bids and kitchen design) before you go into IKEA. Don't be one of those homeowners sitting wretchedly at the IKEA computer workstations trying to design your dream kitchen, the one you've waited for, worked hard to afford or just need desperately for one reason or another. Get the design and sort out the costs before you go to order.

I have ordered many IKEA kitchens. I have spent entire days at the Burbank store,  in which my first cell phones simply did not work, trying to place an order which was incomplete, where measurements were uncertain, where what and how much of various cabinet components had not been specified in advance. Where I still had to decide between cabinet fittings, door fronts, trim. Where the help of an IKEA salesperson seemed to be least available when I had the most need, the most money on the table, and was the most tired of the whole thing 8pm.

Although my design team works for elegant, optimal design solutions for our clients' IKEA kitchens, we also make sure that these issues are sorted out, optimized, organized, before they go to order. We make sure their plan is correct, will fit, will work, is a beautiful, symmetrical, stylish, warm, contemporary and welcoming space for their lives.

We send them off at the end of the design process with a complete order list. Every cabinet, every panel, every door, drawer front, handle and knob. All neatly listed. And uploaded to the IKEA computer system so that most of it is already typed in when they arrive to the store. Do you know how long it can take a young IKEA co-worker, as they are called, to type in an entire kitchen order?

I am bragging, I am trying to point out an extra benefit of investing in professional design. But if you've been reading my blog, you already know.

Today, one day pre-sale. I looked over three plans that clients had draw up in the IKEA online planner. All three knew they could not move forward with the ambiguous fit, troubling asymmetry, and inelegance of their IKEA planner draft. One told me she felt the IKEA planner was a disservice because it limits and regulates the creativity needed to design a truly wonderful kitchen using IKEA's truly wonderful cabinets

The sale starts tomorrow, it lasts almost 8 weeks. The steps to do an IKEA kitchen are written in this blog, so read the articles that interest you. I wrote them to make it easier. If you want help with your layout or just have questions, I continue to offer all my blog readers a free 30-minute phone consultation for at least the next few weeks.

Check available times for a 30-minute complimentary phone consultation on IKEA kitchen planning



Friday, February 21, 2014

IKEA Kitchen Planning Tips 2014

Request my free eBook, How to Budget for an IKEA Kitchen Remodel

This week I reviewed about 15 different IKEA planner design drafts, during consultations (I offer a free, no-obligation, 30-minute phone consultation on IKEA kitchen planning).

One or two were pretty nice. Both were modest, galley kitchens. Neither had wall changes. One was simply replacing existing cabinets, no other real change.

With one of these, I told the homeowner what I really felt, that the plan was fine. I also recommended checking carefully for clearances, in other words making sure that there will be enough room for doors, cabinet and appliances both, to open easily without hitting knobs or handles, etc. It is very easy to place a row of cabinets in the free online planer that seem to fit, but won't.

Also, keep in mind, if you are going to do your own layout, that cover panels take up room. And that you might need a panel on the side of a dishwasher to support the countertop. These panels add to the overall fit, and it can be really messy to notice the problem during installation. It is really a top tip to ensure the cabinets will really fit BEFORE you start the installation. If you are doing the installation yourself, it will just add time, a lot of time. If you don't live near an IKEA store, a huge amount of time, to get replacement cabinets. If a contractor is doing the installation, some will actually leave the job until you figure out the solution. Which leaves you without a kitchen for more days or even weeks.

Thus, checking your plan very carefully is vital. It's one reason we offer a Basic Design service, to plan check, adjust, propose alternate solutions and really ensure you have an optimal plan. Your entire project is based on the layout so, if you are doing it yourself, spending the time to ensure it is correct is absolutely worth it.

The other person I talked to, who had a nice simple galley kitchen with no major changes, also had a nice IKEA layout done. But as we talked I wondered why she was actually doing the project. She had just bought the home (in Washington, DC), the kitchen was in beautiful condition, and only the appliances really needed to be replaced.

She explained that she just didn't like the style of the existing cabinets and was planning to move the stove to the other side, a simple, easy change.

The longer we talked, the more I wondered why she was doing the remodel. Finally, I told her that, in my opinion, she should either leave the cabinets and just replace appliances, OR, if she wanted to do a remodel, to do it so that she had some real improvement, not just new cabinets.

I had an idea about extending one row into her dining area and creating thereby more workspace AND a small seating area. Suddenly her voice changed on the phone and I could tell she got excited about the project suddenly. She realized my point, that her investment should pay off, the new kitchen should have more workspace, more storage, more usefulness and pleasure for her life.

Be wary of using the IKEA online planner.  It's limitations become the kitchen you will have. Even if it seems to be a way to design a new kitchen, for almost every project, except for a very few simple, galley layouts, it's just not the right tool.

Request my free eBook, How to Budget for an IKEA Kitchen Remodel

Thursday, February 20, 2014

IKEA Kitchen Sale Spring 2014

Get our FREE ebook, "How to Budget for an IKEA Kitchen Remodel"

...and visit our website to find out about our expert IKEA Kitchen Design Services

(This post was written in January, re-posted in March, 2013. If you are trying to find out WHEN the NEXT IKEA KITCHEN SALE will be, that data has not yet been made public by IKEA. It's likely to be late Feb, early March. The discount structure could be different but you can usually save 10-20% by ordering during a sale. I recommend doing your research, budgeting and design work now, per the posts on this blog, and being ready to move forward as soon as the sale is announced. 

See my other blog posts to understand when it's worth waiting for a sale, and when it's not. Or write me, I'll help).

The sale dates have been announced! Mark your calendar, it starts March 28on the West Coast of the US (other cities  can have other dates,) and will run for about eight weeks.

Each sale is a little different but the data promoted for this Spring 2013 sale is as follows:

If your total purchase is $3,500.00 (including kitchen cabinets, appliances, counter tops, interior fittings), you can get a 15% discount. If your total purchase is $4,500 you can get a 20% discount.

An average kitchen requires 18 cabinets total, top and bottom. The cost of your cabinets will vary (a lot) with the door style you choose. Countertop is another big variable. You could spend $200 for laminate or butcher block, or $3000+ for solid surface types (like Casearstone) for the same square footage.

Most kitchen purchases will easily top $3,500-$4,500, so by ordering during the sale period you can save $500-$900 or more. 

There are many ways to get the best benefit from the sale. The methods vary with the type of project and purchase. For example, sometimes buying something extra you don't necessarily need can boost your sale discount. You can then sell that item on Craigslist or give it as a gift. We show our clients how to best take advantage of the sale discounts. 

Now is the time to get started on the planning and design phase. First, get our free eBook, How to Budget for an IKEA Kitchen Remodel. This will help you know what the real costs are, both labor and materials.

The next step is to plan the layout. That's what we do, so contact us if you would like help (We offer a free, no-obligation 30-minute consultation). An expert and carefully checked layout plan is vital for the next step, which is getting labor bids. A contractor needs to know what the cabinet placement will be in order to give you a comprehensive, and thus accurate, bid. 

The sale, running for eight weeks, really is the best time to order, but only if you can either launch the project during or right after delivery (usually 1-2 weeks after ordering) or if you have a storage place that is dry. Timing is part of the planning.

Keep in mind that during sales, all IKEA kitchen departments and even all IKEA kitchen pros, get very busy. The best time to order is early in the sale, when stocks are high, wait times are minimal, and you can schedule to suit your own preferences, rather than having to wait for a contractor or installer. 

Ready, set.....

If you'd like to discuss your project with me, I can offer you a free, 30-minute phone consultation. Here's my calendar, just pick a time that works for you.


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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

IKEA Kitchen Sale Spring 2014 DATES

Design clients sometimes send me updates from their local US IKEA stores.

Today I received this:

"Thought you might like to know that I just spoke with an IKEA customer service rep who told me that the next sale starts February 28th and is 15% off $3500+ and 20% off $4500+."

So there you go.


1) Read this blog. Read the posts that most interest you, but read it. I've tried to provide key data for avoiding errors and getting the best result for the least cost. 

2) Request my free eBook, How to Budget for an IKEA Kitchen Remodel

3) If you are interested in our professional IKEA kitchen design services (and you REALLY want to ensure the success of your project with professional design by SOMEONE expert with IKEA components) use this link to choose a time on my online calendar for a

I look forward to talking with you. I am happy to help you design a fabulous, affordable new kitchen.


Saturday, February 08, 2014

Waiting for the IKEA Kitchen Sale?

Request my free eBook, How to Budget for an IKEA Kitchen Remodel
(I am neither recommending nor not recommending signing up for IKEA Family membership here. But I am pretty sure it's harmless and might have some real benefits attached to it).

I have heard from several recent clients that if you are an IKEA Family member, you can buy an IKEA kitchen up to 90 days BEFORE a sale starts and, when the sale does start, bring your receipt in and get refunded the discount you would have gotten if you had ordered during the sale.

If you use this tip, make sure to absolutely verify it before you order, in YOUR local IKEA. This might only be true for some areas, only in the US, only in Canada, etc. So VERIFY. Get it in writing from an authorized store representative. Save a copy of whatever written notice of this offer you may find or get.

I don't want to spread false data, or even a rumor, BUT this is too good not to tell you about. I think of all the design clients we have that wait for months, even when it would be more convenient not to wait, to save 20% (which is totally reasonable economically, because 20% of a kitchen purchase is a big chunk of dough, pardon the cooking metaphor).

Example: Sale starts March 1. You go into IKEA (with an elegant, optimal design plus complete order list, which my company has created for you....:))  on January 15. The cabinets plus counter top plus two appliances costs you $6000. Your contractor starts the project January 21 and it's done February 12. Bring the IKEA receipt back to the store March 2 and get refunded $1200.


Here are other ways I am happy to help you:

Request my free eBook, How to Budget for an IKEA Kitchen Remodel

IKEA Kitchen Sale 2014: Planning Your Project Now

(Request my free IKEA kitchen budgeting eBook)

It's no secret that IKEA has a sale every spring. Starting early March, ending late April, it's not as predictable as taxes and, well, you know, but it's almost a certainty. During these winter months (forgive me, sun-tanning Aussie clients), planning your project, shopping for appliances, tile, flooring, lighting and, last but not least, contractors, has a sort of quiet hum behind it. Spring will come and suddenly you are heading to IKEA and emptying your cabinets for the demolition.

Some of the most important planning for most projects has to do with budgeting. Working out the real cost of your project will enable you to move forward with confidence. My free eBook will help. I worked on over 500 projects as a co-owner of a remodeling company, and I've since worked with thousands of clients on design of their IKEA kitchens, so I do have a pretty good idea on what things cost. Still, your home, your project, is utterly unique, and no estimate is as good as getting realistic materials costs for the stuff you plan to buy, real and comprehensive bids from more than one contractor, and making sure you have some margin set aside for the unpredictable.

Check available times for a 30-minute complimentary phone consultation on IKEA kitchen planning

The IKEA spring sale is likely to last 7 or 8 weeks so it's not necessary to rush in. That said, the earlier in the sale you order, the less likely you'll run into back ordered items, booked up installers and an overwhelmed IKEA sales staff trying to input dozens of kitchen orders, hundreds of thousands of dollars and nearly as many separate cabinet components, in an afternoon.

Here are some ways to plan head, so you are calmly ready when the first IKEA sale TV commercials, the first sale-announcing emails, arrive with the daffodils.

1) Work out your budget. Know before you go how much your project will cost. If you don't know, you'll worry, and you might try to save on items or services that won't really save you in the long run.

2) Project WHEN you'll do the project. IKEA delivers within two weeks of ordering, so you'll either need to be ready to do the project, or you'll need a place to store a pallet or two of heavy, flat-packed boxes. You will be surprised how huge a pile of boxes an average kitchen is composed of.

3) Design, design, design. Since my company sells professional IKEA kitchen design services, I am totally biased when I say you cannot save money by doing the design yourself. Every display kitchen you've seen at IKEA and other stores was designed by a professional designer. Kitchen design is a skill, a profession. The difference between an expertly designed kitchen and, well, the other kind, is obvious when you see it. You could walk into two kitchens with similar cabinets, that cost about the same, and spot the difference immediately. It's huge.

Thus, in planning your project, allow a small percentage for expert design. Don't base your entire project and budget on a mediocre layout. The online IKEA planner is a free, basic layout tool. It won't allow you to customize cabinets or use panels creatively. It is not a good starting point for a an elegant, optimal return on your remodeling investment.

4) Get bids from more than one contractor. I have written before that many, maybe most, remodeling contractors, even good ones, will disparage IKEA cabinets. They'll tell you they are bad, one way or the other. They'll offer to sell you a brand they can get wholesale. About 3 out of ever 4 clients we have tell us this happened to them. Why? 1) there is no wholesale discount for contractors at IKEA so a contractor can't mark them up. 2) Unless his crew is familiar with the IKEA system, a contractor doesn't want to figure out how to assemble and install IKEA cabinets. It's actually rather easy, but it takes time to figure it out. For a contractor, time=wages. Anyway, you get it.

Tip: hire a qualified, legal, trusted contractor with good references. If he doesn't want to install IKEA cabinets, have the local store's installer do it, when the kitchen is ready. It takes only 2 days in most cases for an experienced installation crew to hang your cabinets. The contractor then finishes up with final plumbing, electrical, etc.

In the meantime, late at night, browse kitchen remodeling magazines and websites. Look for what you really love. You can create all kinds of custom, elegant looks with IKEA cabinets. Our designers simply want to know what ideas you have, requirements you have, what vision you have for your new kitchen. So spend the snowy nights creating that vision for yourself. You can have it, it's on it's way now.


(Request my free IKEA kitchen budgeting eBook)

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

What is Wrong with IKEA Services Design?

(Request my free IKEA kitchen budgeting eBook)

I work with kitchen designers all day, all week. I love kitchen designers. I am awed by their elegant mix of creativity and precision. Most of them are really nice people also, doing work they love. I would not say bad things about anyone in this field.

The problem with IKEA services design is not the people who do it. Some are IKEA sales staff trained to use the IKEA planer tool (most). Some may have actual kitchen design expertise before they start working at IKEA (a few). I have seem some IKEA plans done by IKEA services that were fine. They are better than the dozens homeowners send me every week that they drew up themselves. That IKEA online planner tool is no place for a homeowner with 10 or 20 thousand dollars burning a hole in their kitchen project budget, so to speak.

OK so what IS wrong with IKEA Services design if it's not the designer? It's the PLANNER itself. It's a low end, free, layout tool. It's fun to use. It's like a toy or a cool little iPad app. Go ahead and try it out if it will download and run on your computer. Often it won't, or it hangs up. Have fun with it, get to know your kitchen dimensions and move some cabinets and refrigerators around.

HOT TIP: However, DON'T base your entire project on a layout created with the IKEA planner!

Your layout AND your finished kitchen, are going to as constrained, as limited, as inelegant, as the drawings the planner produces.

Let's look at IKEA planner design, versus ours. Here is a 2D and a 3D view from an IKEA planner plan.

OK, now would you base your project on these OR, would these (below) professionally drawn plan views allow you to PREDICT the finished kitchen and UNDERSTAND the layout, installation requirements and aesthetic.

I try to prevent mediocre kitchen remodels several times a day. I can only show, and try to explain about the difference.  Trying to save a bit on design by using IKEA Services is a false economy. You save nothing, and often the kitchens cost more than the ones we design. And take longer, because the drawings can be ambiguous to a contractor, which adds labor costs. Skip the gold plated microwave and invest in pro design. You will be so glad you did.


(Request my free IKEA kitchen budgeting eBook)


(Request my free IKEA kitchen budgeting eBook)

We won BEST of HOUZZ 2014 in the Customer Satisfaction category!

"Your work won in the Customer Satisfaction category, which is based on reviews your received on Houzz in 2013, as well as other factors...."

They even gave me a Press Release to send out.

After nearly a decade and hundreds and hundreds of projects, not to mention all the homeowners I've talked with, all these blog posts, it is HOUZZ that acknowledges us for the right thing: providing a great service.

Thanks, readers, for letting me brag in this brief post. Now I have to get back to work, I have more data to post about IKEA kitchens and the sale, and my company has many kitchens to design before  and during the sale that starts in one month (here in the US).

I am available for free phone consultations. Check my calendar with this link. I am happy to help you.

Check available times for a 30-minute complimentary phone consultation on IKEA kitchen planning


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

IKEA Kitchen Sale: Notes for the Bargain-Minded Among Us

(Request my free IKEA kitchen budgeting eBook)

I'm a bargain hunter. I admit it. I want beautiful things but I love the bargain aspect almost as much as acquiring something wonderful. IKEA kitchens are a case in point. Every day I see really elegant kitchens created by the designers I work with. I want all of them. I totally understand why the homeowners for whom these designs were created are, many of them, awaiting the Spring Sale. You can get a truly wonderful new kitchen at IKEA at a great price generally, but come sale time, it's really unbeatable.

With the bargain-hearted in mind, as part of your group, I put forth one or two caveats in regard to saving dough on a kitchen remodel.

First, don't let the savings of a sale push you to do your project when the timing is poor. Maybe the only really workable time for you to tear your home apart and invite sweaty workmen inside for three weeks is in June. No sale that time of year. Is the $800 savings worth the huge inconvenience of doing it in Spring?

Second, don't go cheap when it comes to design. I had a friend, a really smart guy, who in his 20s built a house on a hill without architectural drawings. In those days, in his community, you could get away with such things legally. Anyway, he ended up with a 4 story house of only 1100 square feet. Think about it. It has 54 windows. My point? Don't use the IKEA online planner because it will allow you to create a kitchen with too little counter space, too much wasted space, and dangerously arranged appliances. Worse yet, it will let you buy $6000 worth of brand new cabinets that won't look elegant when installed. You really want to have a beautiful kitchen at the end. Even if you think you just need a BETTER kitchen, you deserve to have it be elegant, too. That's the sizzle that, someday, a potential home buyer will notice is missing. As a client once told me, do-it-yourself kitchen design is a false economy. There's no real savings at all, not in long run or the short run.

Third, watch out for cheap design. OK, so you listen to me and you find a contractor who will do the design for free if you hire him to install the kitchen. Having been a contractor with 500+ kitchens remodeled, I can tell you with certainty that unless you have the dough for a design-build firm, don't let a contractor do your design. Boy oh boy is there a conflict of interest. Hand any contractor who bids your project a finished design and you'll get a better bid and you'll have much more confidence. YOU tell HIM, "this is what I want, now how much will you charge to make it THIS way." Don't let a contractor or an installation company design your kitchen, free or -$50 or 3 yen, don't do it.

Then there is the bare bones services IKEA offers in some areas and some stores. Why would you pay a store employee a couple hundred bucks for design? They call this "professional design" but I can tell you that it is impossible to do a professional design using the IKEA planner and, of course, that's what all the IKEA design people use. I will upload some sample files that we do for clients and this entire issue will become very obvious to you. Or email me, and I'll send you some samples of what we do.

It is very cathartic to write this down. I hope it is helpful. I hope you hire my designers or other comparable professionals. They deserve your business, they will work hard for you, and you will have an elegant, professionally designed new kitchen to enjoy and be proud of for years to come.

 (Request my free IKEA kitchen budgeting eBook)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Preview of IKEA Metod Kitchen Cabinets (PHOTOS)

(Request my free IKEA kitchen budgeting eBook)

As you may have heard, in this blog or elsewhere, IKEA is replacing the current Akurum system of cabinets with a new system, named Metod.The exact release date in the US is estimated to be late 2014 or spring 2015, but there is no official or confirmed data on that from IKEA

If you plan to do your kitchen in the next few months, 2014, you can use Akurum confidently. It is pretty rare to need an extra part or two years after you install your kitchen. And you may not even like the Metod system.

Years ago, IKEA introduced the Akurum in the same way, with mystery and a gradual release around the world. Parts remained available for the old system for awhile. Ultimately, it just is the way is and only if you fall in love with something Metod and decide to wait, are you caught up in a waiting game.

To get an idea of the difference between Akurum and Metod-based kitchens, you can view the Metod line on IKEA websites for countries where Metod has been released. Because it is written in English, the best I've found is IKEA Egypt.

I am sure you will enjoy looking over the photos.