The Kitchen – How We Customized Our IKEA Kitchen to Make it Our Own.

To us the kitchen is the epicenter of the home. It’s where we spend a lot of time. So when we bought our Rummer, we knew we needed a bigger space. There was a perfect kitchen window. The view was serene with the trees and sky and no other houses in view. I wouldn’t mind washing dishes here!  We knew this picture window would be something to work our design around.

Kitchen Window

The kitchen window has an amazing view

The layout that was there when we bought the house was a kitchen and family room combo. This is how most Rummer’s were originally designed. It had just had a new IKEA kitchen put in, which we saved to use in the garage for extra storage.  You can see how there is an external door in the middle of the room and that it is quite a small work space.

old kitchen & family room space

The kitchen from the the flipper

We examined how we would live in the house, and we didn’t ever see ourselves in this family room, when the living room had the magnificent windows overlooking our large and private yard space. We would be on the couch in the living room to watch TV, or to enjoy the fireplace in winter. So it was decided to turn the combo space into one large kitchen.

My husband measured up and designed our new kitchen.  Some of the design decisions included having the pantry height be the same height as the wall that separates the kitchen and dining-room, as it does not go to the ceiling.  Also the grid layout for the globe lights that would be installed and how they were spaced to align with the ones outside.  Little details, that maybe others wouldn’t notice, but make the space feel “right”.

The design entailed  taking out the single side external door to use this wall space for our stove and oven.  We put in a slider where the other window was, but that was our only item that required altering the exterior of the house. No square footage was added. And this new layout allowed for a much more functional kitchen. We now could have a very large island to use as a work space and also where friends could sit.

butcher block with overhang

Our new design for kitchen, combining the kitchen and family room

We had culled through so many magazines and online images of various modern designs we liked. Yet, we weren’t finding the type of wood designs we wanted at the various custom cabinet shops we visited. After getting the quotes from the custom design shops, and not even really liking the woods, we knew it was time to make a visit to IKEA.

What we liked about IKEA

  • Price and warranty: The IKEA SEKTION cabinets have a 25 year warranty
  • Option to have the Kitchen Helpers come to your house to create your part list
  • Option to have the Kitchen Helpers install your kitchen
  • Flexibility to have custom doors: You can buy just the base cabinets and drawers and put your own custom fronts on them.

We had learned from reading various Eichler blogs about a company called Semi-handmade. They are located in Los Angeles. We had a design consultation with them over the phone. We worked with Maria. We went with their Eco Fir style and paid a little extra to have it horizontally grained matched. We got the cover for the dishwasher as well. We also ordered some of their DIY pieces where we planned to add some color, like our uppers and kick plates. Semi-handmade is able to reference your IKEA drawings so it makes it very easy. They are so familiar with the IKEA products and software that they ask excellent clarifying questions. When their doors were delivered they were packed so beautifully with such care, we were really impressed. They provide an installation “key” to match everything to the base cabinets. Another lovely little touch was that our initials on embedded into the fronts edge, not visible to anyone, but we know they are there!

We opted to get our own custom hardware. We worked with Tony at Chown Hardware and he was very helpful. We didn’t want something that everyone had, and also wanted to soften some of the straight lines with a curve, so we found a tab pull from a company called Schwinn in Arizona in matte chrome. We called Semi-handmade to ensure they would mount on our pantry properly, and they were even able to answer this for us.

We had seen a really nice single bowl under mount kitchen sink from Kohler. It was stainless steal and came with various accessories such as racks that you could dry your dishes on that didn’t go in the dishwasher. This was a big selling point for us, as we didn’t want a drying rack on our counter top.

With the look of the house we are trying to go with very clean and simple lines. So Kohler has a brand called Kallista, and they had a really nice pull down Kitchen faucet that had just one control for the water. It was from their One Collection. We got our Kohler items from the Kohler store on NW Glisan in the Pearl District in Portland, OR. They offer you the same discounts as a contractor receives.


Our Kohler Sink & faucet being installed

While you can get your counter tops from IKEA, they didn’t have the color we really wanted. Our contractor suggested we go to Portland Marble Works. Jacqueline helped us and was so thorough and easy to work with. She got us the look we wanted and then their templators and installers were awesome. She got us the exact dates we needed to line up to everything else the contractor was doing in the rest of the house. We couldn’t be happier. We went with a Pure White Quartz. The slab was from Pental.

counter top install

Our countertops being installed

Our island was too large for the butcher blocks sizes that IKEA offered. Our finish carpenter, Dale, suggested we drive out to Hardwood Industries in Sherwood. They had lots of samples, so we brought home a few and decided on a hard maple after oiling a few to see the colors.

For our appliances we went with Thermador. We got a gas cook top, and a wall oven. Again, we were going to a seamless look on the counters. Thermador has a deal that if you bought both of these you got a free dishwasher, so we were set. We got the appliances at the Basco outlet. We recommend checking there first as you can get some great deals. The house came with a brand new Fisher Paykel fridge. We had this brand at our other house and liked it. We also designed the space so that in the future a larger fridge could go into it.

We hired the Kitchen Helpers through IKEA to install the kitchen. Our contractor, Ricardo, said that since they do it all the time, to just have them do it. They were on time and got the job done sooner that they thought too. It was very reasonable in price. Their strength is in building the base cabinets quickly.

We did learn when installing the appliances, that the IKEA cabinets aren’t ideal for this. They aren’t custom designed, so in our case, it had to be modified by our finished carpenter for the wall oven to fit and be supported properly. Luckily we had an appliance installer who had dealt with this a lot and brought it our attention, so we could stay on schedule.

We found by using the IKEA base cabinets and the Semi-handmade custom fronts, we really got the look of the kitchen we were going after. Even with all of the customization we did, it was still cheaper than the quotes we got just for the custom cabinets. So we felt good and didn’t feel like we compromised in any way.

Our other tips:

  • Wait for the kitchen sale at IKEA
  • Hire Kitchen helpers to come to your house to build your inventory list. The sale we participated in rebated you the cost for this service which was $199 for 4 hours. They put everything in the software and sent it to us, so when we went to purchase, all that had to be done was to pull it up and verify everything was opening the correct way in the 3D software. This saved a lot of time. Also the store is quite loud and busy, so if you don’t want to feel rushed and need time to mull it over, this is an excellent option too.
  • Don’t bother with the baseboards from IKEA, get the DIY ones from Semi-handmade and paint them the color you want. Be sure to have them painted and ready to go before your install date.
  • Hire an appliance installer.

We used the kitchen base cabinets in our baths and office too, and also customized them.

Here are some shots now that we are living in the space.  Still to come are the black splash behind the stove and sink, and the stools for the island. We just have one as a hold over from our old house until the new ones arrive.


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