Many people want a kitchen straight out of HGTV magazine. But the reality? A kitchen demo and remodel can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and the time and budget constraints are out of reach for many North Americans. But – there’s good news! You don’t have to give up on your dream kitchen, or wait till retirement to finally tackle that new look.
By utilizing IKEA cabinet bases for an easy to install, affordable cabinet base, and customizing the exteriors, you can create your own IKEA hack kitchen that costs a fraction of what you see on TV! IKEA’s kitchen system allows you to order their products modularly – so you can get the cabinet bones from IKEA, and customize the exteriors, and some interior accessories to suit your needs.
Upgrade from melamine to wooden dovetail drawer boxes
When ordering your IKEA cabinets, for a custom look that extends beyond your cabinet exteriors – swap your IKEA melamine drawers for custom sized, wooden dovetail drawer boxes and full extension, soft closing drawer slides. The craftsmanship of dovetail joinery and flexibility of custom sizes makes your kitchen chef-worthy kitchen in design and functionality.
For a thoughtfully designed space, consider keeping drawer sizing consistent on adjacent sections of cabinets. Areas like pot and pan stacks and dishware are natural drawers to group together for size and ease of storage. Keeping the lines in a space consistent will make your space feel streamlined and can make smaller kitchens feel larger by avoiding visual distraction.
To upgrade your drawers – remove your drawer boxes from the IKEA planner. IKEA drawers are named either UTRUSTA or MAXIMERA depending on the style you’ve selected at IKEA. Consider the size of drawer faces you’d like when ordering your custom drawer boxes. The height of drawer faces will inform the corresponding drawer box that pairs with it.
Following these instructions, your custom drawers are just a few clicks away.
Use decorative panels for end gables
IKEA cabinets require cover panels for exposed sides of base or upper cabinets, and the sides and backs of peninsulas or islands. Customizing the look of panels by using a faux door (also known as a gable) to create a focal point is the extra step in creating a custom look in your IKEA kitchen.
Sizing and ordering these panels is a straightforward process of measuring the required width and height, considering if the panels will sit flush with or proud to the cabinet doors. To order decorative panels to match your cabinet doors, simply order the required size as a door without hinge boring. These decorative panels are mounted from the inside of the cabinet so that no screws are visible from the exterior for a seamless finish.
Trim out your island or peninsula
Much like end panels, using decorative gables on an island creates an attractive centerpiece for cooking, dining, or entertaining.
For oversized islands (greater than 48” wide), consider decorative panels in 24” widths for the look of custom millwork. Wrapping the panels onto the sides of the island is a trendy look that lets your island take center stage. For a more minimalist island, consider using flat side panels and leaving the decorative look for only the front and back.
Add decorative trim or molding to upper cabinets
Tired of dusting on top of cabinets, or have an awkward bulkhead you’re hoping to disguise? Trim work and moulding will be your best friend to hide these areas and make your space feel intentional.
Custom trim pieces can be ordered to fill gaps between the tops of upper cabinets and the ceiling, while decostrip or under cabinet light valence provides a finishing touch to your design.
Incorporate floating shelves to your IKEA design
Custom kitchens typically use a balance of upper cabinets and floating shelves to combine storage needs with opportunities to display decorative items and break up large runs of cabinets. Consider where you can remove one or two cabinets and opt for custom floating shelves to match your cabinet doors.
Common locations to incorporate floating shelves are around windows, on either side of a kitchen sink or range, or in a pantry to store jars full of baking supplies.
While you can’t easily design shelves in the IKEA planner, simply leave blank wall spaces in the floorplan. When placing your custom door order, be sure to select the appropriate shelf depth, and custom length to suit your needs.
IKEA hack your kitchen with a custom door style and color
The beauty of an IKEA hack kitchen is making it completely custom in style and color. When choosing the door style and color combination that’s right for you – consider door styles different than those that are available at big box stores. Choose from 8 variations of shaker doors, a style like our Skinny shaker for a modern look, or Decora for a Tuscan kitchen design.
Our hand-picked paint palette is curated from the top Sherwin Williams paint colors for cabinetry in 2021. Don’t see something you like? Just reach out, we’re happy to complete custom color job for just a small additional fee. Simply send us the Sherwin Williams paint name and color code, and your cabinet doors will be painted custom, just for you.
Your IKEA hack awaits
With a few simple customizations, your IKEA kitchen can become uniquely yours, at a price point well within your reno budget. You might be surprised that you can remodel your kitchen, and take a vacation next year!
IKEA is a registered trademark of Inter-IKEA Systems B.V. and is not affiliated with Nieu Cabinet Doors.
What’s the ultimate design and budget friendly kitchen remodel? IKEA cabinet boxes and custom door faces.
If your cabinet boxes are worn out, damaged, or you need to completely reconfigure your layout, a kitchen remodel might be in order. If you are budget conscious but don’t want to sacrifice on design or quality, using IKEA cabinets for an affordable base with custom fronts can get you that designer look on a budget – and it can be designed, planned, and installed yourself.
All images used for planner guidance in this blog are from the IKEA planner website.
1. Measure your Kitchen Space
Start by measuring the height of the room from floor to ceiling, then the length of each wall. Measure the width and height of windows including trim, their distance from the ceiling and floor, and distance to the nearest corner. Repeat for doors including trim.
Mark down utilities – electrical outlets and switches, plumbing, air vents, bulkheads, drains. If you plan to move any of these utilities, consult a professional to complete the necessary re-configuration.
2. Create your Room in the IKEA Planner
First, create an account so you can save your plan(s) for easy access.
Input your room dimensions, then create and insert windows, doors, partial walls or bulkheads where applicable.
You can even add your plumbing pipes and wall outlets to your design for handy visuals as you plan out your design.
3. Insert Appliances into your Floor Plan
The planning tool has resizable appliances – insert your fridge, stove, dishwasher and vent hood using your current appliance sizes (if keeping what you have), or modify the size to what you intend to order.
Place the appliances at their desired location – noting their proximity to required utilities. If you plan to move water lines or electrical to suit your new layout, don’t worry about locating your appliances where the old ones are!
4. Evaluate the Functionality Needs in your Kitchen
Consider how you use your space – do you prefer to access dishware and pots in drawers or on shelves? Do you need tall cabinets for pantry food storage or cleaning supplies? Take note of how you currently use your space, what your pain points are, and what changes would increase the functionality of your kitchen.
A helpful exercise is to make a list of everything you’ll need to find a spot for in your new kitchen. Group items into like categories such as: canned food, utensils, baking trays, cutting boards, etc. Create an inventory so you can check off that these items have a home when you are finished with your new design.
5. Choose your Corner Cabinet Style (If Applicable)
If your kitchen layout will have corners – start by choosing the type of corner cabinet that works best for you. Corner cabinets will affect how much remaining space you can fill with other cabinets, so start with these in your floorplan to save you a headache later on!
IKEA has two base corner cabinet options: Lazy Susan and Blind Corner cabinets, with interior organizers you can choose to your liking.
Lazy Susan cabinets are L-shaped and utilize 2 doors fastened together to make the 90 degree corner. Blind corner cabinets require two separate cabinets to turn the corner. The blind corner cabinet has an extended width that the 2nd cabinet butts up against creating the 90 degree turn. Depending on how tight your space is, Lazy Susan corners can tuck in nicely where you’re hoping to maximize the rest of your cabinet storage.
For upper cabinets, IKEA has 45 degree or blind corner cabinet options that can be selected based on your design/space preferences.
6. Plan your Working Triangle
A “working triangle” is the zone between food prep, washing, and storage – and typically refers to your stove/oven, sink, and fridge. Having these zones accessible in a triangular arrangement, free of obstruction from islands or peninsulas creates a highly effective workflow, and means you (and your sous chef) can easily travel between the various stages of meal making.
Using the appliances you inserted into the planner earlier, consider how these three are arranged (don’t worry – you can adjust these if needed once you begin to add cabinets). Keep in mind the location of your water lines, gas supply and electrical when placing appliances.
7. Layout your Base Cabinet Configuration
With your corner cabinets and appliances placed, insert the rest of your base cabinets to fill up your space.
IKEA cabinets come in standard sizes, starting at 12” and available in 3” increments up to 36”. Larger cabinets like 30” and 36” cabinets are typical sizes for sinks, pots and pan drawers, and dishware cabinets.
Start by placing your sink cabinet, then move on to other wide cabinets. Fill in the remaining space with cabinet widths and door/drawer combinations to suit your function needs.
Focus on placement rather than doors vs. drawers to start – you can change the configuration of these later once you have the cabinet sizes determined.
8. Design your Upper Cabinets, Hutches or Floating Shelves
Once your base cabinet layout is settled, consider where (and if) you’d like to add upper cabinets or floating shelves.
Upper cabinets provide great storage hidden away behind doors, or can add a decorative look if used with glass doors
Floating shelves are a gorgeous and on-trend element, and can make a smaller kitchen feel large, but if you worry about keeping shelves neat and tidy – closed doors might be more your style!
Countertop hutches – created out of upper cabinets placed on your counter instead of wall mounted, hutches offer a functional stack of storage without adding congestion to the kitchen. These are a great option for a modern look or if you have lots of windows and want to keep simple, clean lines.
9. Add Cover Panels, Trim and Toekick
Exposed sides of IKEA’s frameless cabinets need to be covered with side panels to hide the melamine cabinet box. To add cover panels – click on the cabinet that will need a side panel, click “More” on the right hand menu, and then you’ll be presented with the locations you can choose a cover panel – left/right or back (for islands). Add the appropriate panel here.
Cover panels are used for base and upper cabinets with exposed sides, as well as the sides or backs of islands. Additionally, large fridge panels can be used to frame in your fridge beneath a cabinet, and create a more built-in look.
By default, the IKEA planner adds toekick to hide the feet the cabinets rest on – leave this in the plans as you insert your cabinets.
For upper cabinets, you may want to add light valence and crown moulding to your design. The planner calls Crown Moulding “Soffit” and light valence “decostrip” – to clear any confusion on what those mean! They’re added much like your side panels, click on the upper cabinet, click “more” and then select soffit/deco strip if applicable.
10. How to Order your Custom Fronts for IKEA Cabinets
You’ve got a winning design, now how do you make that come to life with custom doors?
Save your plans as a PDF, with “all design views” so we can see your vision!
Next, you can either place your order working from the planner itemlist for the doors, drawer faces, panels, and trim you’ll need from us, OR
Send in your IKEA plans with doors still on – we work from these dimensions to create your quote
Before ordering your cabinets and accessories from IKEA, use the “Change all at once” option to REMOVE the products you’re ordering custom – doors, drawer faces, panels, trim and toekick. This will reduce your order to only the IKEA products you need like cabinet boxes, feet, suspension rail, hinges, drawers and other accessories.
Final tips to make planning your IKEA kitchen a breeze:
Place 2” fillers between cabinets and walls, so your doors open properly without smashing into the wall!
Ensure aisles are a minimum of 48” where doors open on both sides of the aisle so they don’t bump into each other
When adding products into the IKEA planner – click the product, then wait for it to populate in your design. Don’t drag and drop from the item menu – this doesn’t work!
With these helpful tips and tricks, designing and planning your custom IKEA kitchen can be simpler than you think! Stay tuned for the rest of our tips, IKEA hacks and ways to customize your IKEA kitchen for a magazine ready look without the price tag.
IKEA is a registered trademark of Inter-IKEA Systems B.V. and is not affiliated with Nieu Cabinet Doors.
IKEA is a household name for home décor and furnishings, but also for their kitchen cabinet system. Beyond just furniture, IKEA is known for durable products, long warranties, and affordable prices, which make IKEA kitchens a popular choice for homeowners on a budget. When designing your IKEA kitchen if you’re looking to make it look more custom while maintaining a reasonable budget, Nieu Cabinet Doors provides color and style options beyond the standard IKEA offerings, to elevate your space and get the custom kitchen of your dreams.
Why are IKEA kitchen cabinets so popular?
IKEA is known for their durable products, excellent warranties, and low prices. In the cabinetry space, they’re known for being one of the few companies that allows you to order your kitchen completely modularly. What does that mean? You can order IKEA cabinet boxes only, and source custom doors, drawers, panels, and accessories to enhance your look.
Expand the Design Possibilities of IKEA Kitchen Cabinets
Although IKEA has a variety of cabinet door styles and colors to choose from, they offer one or two colors in each style. You might find you love a certain color, or have your heart set on a style, but that color + style don’t match up to make your dream kitchen. By going with custom doors for IKEA cabinets, you can widen the range of options to find kitchen cabinet doors you adore.
Cabinet Doors for IKEA Sektion and Akurum Systems
In 2015, IKEA discontinued their line of kitchen cabinets called “Akurum” and replaced them with “Sektion” kitchen cabinets. While IKEA continues to sell a variety of doors for Sektion systems, customers with an older IKEA kitchen are often worried they have to completely replace their kitchen just to update the doors. No need to worry!
If you are refacing an IKEA kitchen, we can work together to get new doors in the style and color of your choice. For refacing an IKEA Akurum kitchen, we will need you to measure your doors, drawer faces, filler and panels using this video to help. For either kitchen system, if you have your IKEA plans, don’t be shy to share them with us.
Custom Doors for IKEA Kitchens
Nieu Cabinet Doors offers made to measure, custom cabinet doors for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and more. For a DIY homeowner, our products can service refacing projects, or entirely new kitchens. If you have some good assembly skills and just need doors to upgrade your IKEA cabinets, we’re proud to offer custom doors for you to achieve your dream space. Simply send us your IKEA kitchen plans, and we can make your custom doors.
When ordering your IKEA kitchen, you’ll need to order it without facings – which means doors, drawer fronts, panels, toekick, filler and trim. If you’d like to order our dovetail drawer boxes instead of the IKEA drawer selection, leave those off your IKEA order and get in touch.
Custom cabinet doors for IKEA vanities, media systems, and wardrobes
The beauty of custom made products is that you can repeat a cabinet door style throughout your home to create a seamless, cohesive look. With entirely made to measure cabinet doors, we are able to make high quality, custom doors for IKEA Godmorgon (bathroom vanities), IKEA Besta (media systems), and even IKEA PAX (wardrobes).
Have fun with your kitchen renovation plans by mixing styles and colors throughout your home, or use one door style in various colors to tailor the look to the specific taste of each room. If you’re curious if you can tackle a project, why not start small with a washroom or laundry room before tackling your new IKEA kitchen?
Here’s a quick comparison of which common IKEA door styles are most similar to Nieu doors. All Nieu door styles are available in 10 standard colors, or we’re happy to do a custom paint job for a small additional fee, just let us know.
Grimslov door, available in off-white only = Nieu Shaker cabinet door
Bodbyn door, available in three colors = Nieu Raised cabinet door
How to use the IKEA kitchen planner to order your new kitchen
Using the IKEA kitchen planner tool, design your kitchen using the doors provided within the planning tool. You’ll need to start with dimensions of your room, doors and windows, and any other objects. The tool does a great job of walking you through the steps to start building your design.
1. Start by inputting the dimensions of your appliances, either new or existing
2. Insert your sink cabinet, and any corner cabinets you may need.
3. Work within the remaining area to insert all of your base cabinets around your appliances, sink, and corner cabinets.
4. Move onto upper cabinets following the same process as above.
5. When you’re happy with your design, make sure to carefully double check your measurements and save your plans.
6. Send us a copy of your IKEA planner PDF, called “Itemlist” in the tool.
7. When ordering your IKEA cabinets: make sure to remove all of the following: doors, drawer fronts, toekick, end panels, filler and trim. You can also ask at your local IKEA store if you are placing your order in person.
8. Please note if you are ordering our custom dovetail drawer boxes, you’ll need to remove the drawers from your IKEA order.
IKEA Kitchens Made Custom
To summarize, if you’re looking for durability, IKEA kitchen cabinet boxes are a great choice. For the custom kitchen of your dreams, enhancing the style and color options available to you with custom doors means that a kitchen from the magazines doesn’t have to be out of budget!
Taking on a kitchen cabinet refacing project is a cost-effective way to upgrade the aesthetic of your kitchen. It is also an ideal time to upgrade the utility of your kitchen by replacing broken or worn out drawer boxes with new, high quality, dovetail drawers with soft close undermount slides.
Drawer boxes endure a lot of abuse in a kitchen, repetitive slamming causes items to shift, eventually weaking the joints of the drawer. Dovetail drawer boxes are the most durable method of constructing drawer boxes and when paired with soft close undermount slides are a simple way yet highly functional upgrade to your kitchen.
What are dovetail drawer boxes?
Dovetail drawer boxes employ a pin and tail method of joinery to lock together the four sides of the drawer creating a very strong connection between the walls of the box. The pins are cut into the ends of one side of the box while the tails are cut into the joining piece. Adding a small amount of glue and locking the two pieces together creates a drawer box that doesn’t require screws to hold it together. Lesser drawer boxes use butt joints and either staples or screws to connect the four sides which can and will inevitably fail.
Dovetail drawer boxes also add a sense of style and artisanship to your kitchen as the jig-saw puzzle look of the joinery is visible from the sides and harkens back to the days when such joints would have been made by hand with basic tools and not the modern machines of today.
Dovetail joints have been used in all manner of construction including log houses in colonial days, stone works in India and even Egyptian furniture dating back to 3100 BC. With that sort of longevity there’s little doubt that a drawer box constructed with dovetail joinery can withstand the rigors of the 21st century kitchen.
Are dovetail drawer boxes worth the investment?
A dovetail drawer box constructed from a birch or maple plywood coupled with a soft close undermount slide will outlive lesser drawer boxes joined with staples or screws. The single most requested upgrade when working with customers on their kitchen cabinet refacing project is upgrading builders grade melamine drawer boxes that have become wobbly or loose due to regular use.
While dovetail drawer boxes are more expensive than melamine drawers, their longevity and utility make them a worthwhile investment for any kitchen upgrade and the simple beauty of the artisan joinery acknowledges the timeless nature of good engineering.
Where can I add dovetail drawer boxes to my kitchen?
Dovetail drawer boxes can replace any drawers currently in your cabinets. It is a straightforward process of measuring your current cabinet opening, height and depth and ordering custom drawer boxes to fit. An easy upgrade to your kitchen is to convert a standard base cabinet with doors and shelves into a pot and pan drawer stack.
A pot and pan drawer stack typically consist of two deeper drawers on the bottom, usually 11’’ to 12” in height on the face, and a shallower 4” to 6″ drawer at the top. The two deep drawers are great for reorganizing pots and pans and make finding a matching lid and pot much easier than digging through standard base cabinets with shelves. The small drawer on the top usually serves as home for cutlery or as a utensil drawer for items such as spatulas and measuring cups.
Do dovetail drawers improve resale value?
If you are refacing your kitchen cabinets to boost the resale value of your home consider replacing your drawer boxes as well. When prospective buyers are touring your home, they will open and close both a cabinet door and drawer to check for soft close upgrades. Upgraded cabinets doors like our selection of shaker cabinet doors and dovetail drawer boxes will impress buyers and let them know that you were mindful of both quality and utility when you upgraded your kitchen.
Adding dovetail drawers to your refacing project provides an additional level of upgrade to your kitchen. If you’re getting started on your refacing project, use our free Design Quiz to find your style, watch our How To Measure video, and at any time Talk to an Expert if you need help. A custom looking kitchen is just a few clicks away!
Shaker kitchen cabinet doors still dominate kitchen design 246 years after a subset of the English Quakers emigrated to America seeking freedom of religious expression and worship. Known as the Shaking Quakers for their ecstatic and physical style of worship, the Shakers were a modest people whose core values included humility, simplicity, celibacy, hard work and equality between the sexes. Their values are reflected in the simple, utilitarian design language of their furniture and cabinetry. The basic door construction reflected their practical approach to life and the lack of ornamentation affirms their humble character as they chose instead to focus on the quality of both construction and materials used.
The Shaker community peaked at around 6000 members in the mid 1800’s along the East Coast of the US and was organized into commune style settlements where the collective worked to ensure the self-sufficiency of the greater group. Along with growing their own food and making tools, furniture was needed. Their religious views and practical nature entered into their work resulting in several simple yet enduring designs that have stood the test of time.
Do you ever wonder why shaker-style tables and chairs often have tapered, light weight legs?
The Shakers, as their name may indicate, liked to dance, so their furniture was built to be light weight and easily moved aside for spiritual movements and dance. Eventually, these communities made enough furniture for their own needs and having embraced early generations of power tools and the simple construction of their furniture found they could produce enough to serve larger markets. This led to the spread of Shaker products from the tight-knit Shaker communes to the surrounding towns and villages, and beyond.
What is a shaker style cabinet door?
Shaker cabinet doors are known and loved by homeowners and designers worldwide. A shaker door is comprised of four rails and a flat center panel, which distinguishes it from a raised panel door. High quality replacement cabinet doors in a shaker style can have one of the best impacts in your home to modernize your space and remodel your kitchen.
Shaker Cabinet Door Design
Originally, Shaker cabinet doors were made from materials found easily in America in the 1800’s such as Cherry, Oak, Birch, Pine and Maple. Shaker furniture was typically stained or painted in colours determined by the sect that made them, common colors include red, green, blue, and yellow. Symmetry of design was important and inlays or decorative mouldings were not used as such devices of design were seen as deceitful or unholy. For the Shakers, a door was beautiful due to its function in the home and because it was well made and served a purpose.
Mouldings and decorative embellishments served no purpose in a Shaker home and today designers still work in this style when designing a Shaker kitchen for your home. Many different styles of Shaker doors are available to the homeowner looking to bring some of this simple beauty into their home. Although cabinet door rail styles and widths may vary, and profiles add a bit more flair, but the basic foundation of a flat panel surrounded by four rails remains.
Today, modern shaker doors are made with new materials such as exotic woods, aluminum and glass, and American staples such as maple and oak. Engineered woods wrapped in vinyl and polyester allow for unique treatments and can add texture to a door.
At Nieu Cabinet Doors we have perfected the art of using high quality engineered MDF along with a 2-piece construction process to build custom cabinet doors. Our manufacturing techniques allow for the highest level of detailed finishing to produce the cleanest, most precise lines and profiles that would impress even a master Shaker cabinet maker.
With a variety of rail widths and styles Shaker doors remain our best-selling door style. Offering 8 versions of Shaker doors, Nieu Cabinet Doors has a Shaker style that is sure to work in your home. A Shaker cabinet door is ideal for a DIY kitchen refacing project as this style of door lends itself to a kitchen without fancy trim or ornate mouldings. It really can be as simple as removing your old cabinet doors and replacing them with new doors and hardware.
Today, shaker cabinet are not bound by any single interpretation of the original Shaker design. Shaker doors are available in a wide variety of styles and finishes and yes, some of them even have some degree of flair or ornamentation added to the rail profiles. A shaker door can work in any home and across design styles of traditional, contemporary, and transitional palettes.
Although white is still the most popular color for a shaker door, bolder colors such as dark blues, teals and a variety of greys are finding their way into homes often as the base for a two-toned kitchen or to highlight an island or pantry wall. The simplicity of shaker means it can show the unique taste of a home without overwhelming the space, and can pair well with a statement countertop or other bold design choices.
Do shaker cabinet doors improve resale value?
If the motivation for refacing your kitchen cabinets is resale, real estate agents will confirm that a Shaker door in a neutral color offers the broadest appeal for prospective buyers. Stick with handles or pulls that are simple and minimalist in design as they will offer the most cohesive look for your Shaker kitchen.
“Nieu was the perfect solution for my clients. Their kitchen was in desperate need of an update to sell their home, but they didn’t want the timeline or price tag of a full kitchen renovation. Nieu Cabinet Doors completely refreshed their kitchen quickly and cost effectively. The order process was simple and the customer service was great, especially being able to call and walk through any questions. Their home sold the first day of showings!”
– Laura Waxter, Realtor for Coldwell Banker Pittsburgh
How to use shaker cabinet doors in your kitchen:
DIY kitchen cabinet refacing is a project that homeowners with even minimal carpentry skills can tackle. If your kitchen layout works, your cabinet boxes are in good shape, and you own a few basic tools, you can achieve the Shaker look for your home. The basic steps to your DIY refacing project are:
Watch our how-to videos that cover all aspects of a DIY kitchen refacing project
Install your Nieu Shaker Doors and speak with our technical expert at any time during the install for support
When complete, raise a toast to the small group of craftspeople whose iconic design language is still relevant centuries later
Shaker cabinet doors are an iconic style that have endured centuries of design changes, and remain one of the most popular cabinetry choices in homes in 2020. Whether looking to update your kitchen to love where you live, or improve your resale value, our variations of shaker cabinet doors are sure to make you dance with joy in your Nieu kitchen.