Why Ikea Kitchen Cabinets are so AWESOME

Customizing Ikea Kitchen Cabinets


Go to Ikea first I like to say. Find your inspiration and take those ideas to Ikea to see if you can bring it to life for less. I bet you can. The 2 keys to a custom Ikea kitchen are out of the box thinking and a good finish carpenter/cabinetmaker. Mine is OUTSTANDING and if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area I might just give you her name.;)

A Few of the reasons Ikea kitchen cabinets are awesome

First, they are probably the best bang for your buck kitchen cabinet solution out there. For this reason alone they ROCK. I’m a most bang for the buck, let’s not waste any money here so we can spend more there kind of girl. For example, I was able to purchase a Sub-Zero wine fridge with the money I saved by using Ikea cabinets in my latest kitchen. It was a floor model the showroom was trying to get rid of so I got a deal, duh;). We aren’t big wine drinkers but for resale this thing should be awesome, fingers crossed! We use it for bubbly water and diet soda cause we are fancy like that;).

Second, the interior hardware is some of the best in the biz. Blum from Austria supplies the hinges and interior hoozywatsies that make opening and closing furniture a mesmerizing experience. These are their words, not mine and they are right. And for the frequency you open and close your kitchen cabinets it should be as enjoyable as humanly possible.

Third, you can get additional pieces readily without long wait times. This is extremely important when you have a full construction crew waiting on you to finish the kitchen and BOOM you hit a snag. I’m sure there are some interior designers out there that have everything figured out in advance, have planned for everything, change nothing and nothing ever goes awry. I’m sure they are out there, but that has not ever been my experience nor do I expect it to be my experience anytime soon. So to be able to jump in the car and head to Ikea to pick up another cabinet or drawer front is INVALUABLE.

The final thing today is the fact that there are legions of businesses that have come into being simply to elevate the Ikea kitchen cabinet experience. When people think Ikea kitchens they think simple, modular cabinets that don’t have the look of custom cabinetry you find in high end homes. Or they think they don’t provide real wood doors, or oodles of colors. Ikea itself might not provide the look you want in your kitchen but there are companies you can use to completely customize your Ikea kitchen cabinets.

How I customized my Ikea kitchen cabinet pantry

One of the companies you can use to customize your Ikea cabinets is Myoverlays. They create ‘overlays’ that you can apply specifically to Ikea furniture. In my most recent kitchen I knew I wanted some type of fretwork or ‘ornamental design in wood, typically openwork, done with a fretsaw.’ Ikea out of the box does not have a cabinet door with fretwork. It took some investigating and several trips to Ikea to peruse their door options to devise my masterplan for what are now my very custom fretwork pantry cabinet doors.

I had many inspirational photos from other kitchens with examples of amazing cabinetry details. My favorite kitchen designer Matthew Quinn does fretwork all the time. Here is a perfect example, how gorgeous is THIS???:

I might just put a chair in there and live in that pantry from Matthew Quinn’s kitchen of the year 2016 from House Beautiful

Here is the simple shaker style cabinet door I used for my custom fretwork cabinet, the TORHAMN. I chose it because it had the deepest inset in which to place my mirror and overlay, you can see what I mean below.

Here is how these TORHAMN doors typically look in an Ikea kitchen:

Beautiful typical Ikea kitchen

So, I bought the 6 doors I needed for my pantry and took 1 to the local glass shop and had mirrors cut to fit inside. I contacted Myoverlays and gave them the exact measurement of the inside of the door and sent them a sketch of what I wanted the design to be. After I approved and paid they created the overlays and sent them to me! Here are the overlays when they showed up:

So pretty!
How they look in the door, they fit!

I primed and painted the doors:

Primed and painted door
Custom cut mirrors
Door with mastic to glue in mirror

I glued in the mirror with the mastic the glass shop provided to me:

After inserting mirrors

After painting the overlays I glued them onto the mirrors using some type of silicone.

After painting overlays and gluing them into door with silicone I think

And VOILA!!!

final pantry cabinet!

This project exceeded my expectations. I love the look of it. I love the drawers at the bottom like an armoire. I LOVE the overlays and the mirrors. And please, not what you think of when you think of Ikea kitchens, am I right? I bet I am.;)

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  1. Caryn December 26, 2020 at 11:05 AM Reply

    How did you do the drawer at the bottom? Did IKEA build that custom for you too? I am going to do this for an entertainment center, but I want the drawer at the top. Thank you for this tutorial!

    • cdmader December 26, 2020 at 3:22 PM Reply

      Hi Caryn! The drawer at the Botton is not custom. It is just a drawer configured into a tall cabinet. Be careful with a drawer on top, you won’t be able to see or get to what’s in there depending on how tall your cabinet is. Good luck!

  2. Sarah February 28, 2021 at 6:12 AM Reply

    Hi! Would you share the cost of the custom overlays? Thanks a million!!

    • cdmader August 2, 2021 at 9:18 AM Reply

      Hi Sarah, The panels cost $210 plus shipping. They were $30 per panel plus a $30 customization fee. Shoot them an email and they can get you a price quickly based on what you are looking to do! Good luck with your project!

  3. Kitchen Benchtops NZ April 10, 2021 at 8:25 PM Reply

    Thank you for sharing this information about why ikea kitchen cabinets are so awesome . It was useful and interesting. You indeed have written it in a layman way so that anyone can understand and work accordingly. You have done a great job… Great post!!

  4. Vee August 1, 2021 at 12:44 PM Reply

    Hi, what a gorgeous outcome. What was the total cost or breakdown? Kinda want to get an idea of what it costs to do something so quaint.

    • cdmader August 2, 2021 at 9:14 AM Reply

      Hi Vee! I’m glad you liked it, I continue to LOVE this project SO! The overlays cost $210 plus shipping, just looked that up. The mirror inlays I’m not sure. Paint, adhesive, the cabinets and doors themselves, I couldn’t tell you. Pricing has never been my forte, although how to get the luxe look for less is;) Good luck to you on your project!

  5. Lisa September 13, 2021 at 10:45 AM Reply

    What a great post. I have been trying to find cabinetry like this which is nearly impossible. A few questions, The Torhamn are just the doors, what cabinets did you use with them. Were these all assembled?
    What paint did you use to go over the lacquer finish?
    Thank you!!

  6. Ashley S. December 16, 2022 at 3:17 PM Reply

    Hey there, this is gorgeous! I was also wondering if you had a general idea or best estimate as to the total cost of your project? I’m thinking about redoing our kitchen cabinet uppers similar to this as well.

    • cdmader December 19, 2022 at 12:48 PM Reply

      Hi Ashley! Great question! The total cost will depend on several things of course. For cabinets, the size of the space is a good way to estimate. Here is something I just swiped from bankrate.com that says ‘Stock cabinets: $100 to $300 per linear foot installed. Semi-custom cabinets: $150 to $650 per linear foot installed. Custom cabinets: $500 to $1,200 per linear foot installed.’ Another good way to estimate the cabinet cost is to determine the number of cabinets and multiply that out by a single cabinet box/door/inside that you like the look of from a big box store. Mine are Ikea so I would use one of their boxes as a great estimate. I hope this helps!

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