A brain teaser? Not for someone who buys cabinets from Ikea and carries them home.

We wouldn’t have started it if we had known it’s such a hassle to renovate a kitchen. We decided to get Ikea cabinets for its price and selection, and that’s the easy part. We went there several times to find the style and form we like, have our plan checked, and asked tons of questions for parts and installation issues. I used the Ikea Kitchen Planner to create 3 versions of the plan, circumventing lots of stupid bugs. Last Sunday we went there before the store opened (as suggested by an Ikea kitchen guy), and ordered almost $3000 stuff, using the 0% card just received on Saturday.

I made an item list using info from the Kitchen Planner. We want 4 base cabinets, 1 high cabinet (floor to ceiling), and 9 wall cabinets. The order list has 79 pieces: frame, door, shelf, drawer (several pieces per drawer), leg, toe kick, moulding, rail, etc. We only found one extra piece and one missing piece while loading.

The guy at the warehouse counter told me it may take 1.5 hours and I asked why that long, and he showed me that total weight is more than 500kg, which filled up about 3/4 of two SUVs.

Total time: 6 hours
Order: 10am-10:30am
Warehouse: 11am-1pm (went to Jersey Garden for about an hour)
Loading: 1pm-2pm
Unloading: 2:30pm-3:30pm

The saga continues. We’ve been to Ikea 6 times in the last month, and will need to go even for more. First 2 times were for investigation, 3rd time was the above, 4th time for the huge 3’x8′ cover panel, 5th time for an extra suspension rail, 6th time for cabinets to fill in corners. The last time we opened every single cabinet on display (there must be more than 100) to check out their details.

One of the biggest problem of our kitchen is that it has a cut corner (two 135 degree angles), for aesthetic reason or to leave room for pipes I don’t know. But it makes it difficult to put cabinets, and leaves two almost unusable corner spaces. While planning I thought we can just use filler pieces to cover them up. When cabinets are in place, we realize a lot of space is wasted, the biggest being the right of the sink base. I flipped through the catalog many times, and found a edge base cabinet with a 45-degree cut corner–and it fits like a miracle! We also plan to cut a Benno CD shelf to two halves to fill in the two corner spaces between wall cabinets, and we’ll see how that goes. Our contractor advised us to use a edge wall cabinet similar to the edge base cabinet for the larger corner, and cover up the smaller corner. It’ll look much better and give us more space.

Another issue is exhaust pipe. We found out that the pipe outlet is not simply on top of the stove, but on the sink wall a few feet away, and that’s probably why a hanging box was built in the first place to cover it up. We want to use tall wall cabinet that goes to the ceiling to get more space, so we had to run the exhaust pipe through several cabinets. Fortunately the pipe comes in 4″ diameter, much smaller than the original 6″, but still effective in terms of letting enough air through, so we didn’t have to drill too big a hole on the cabinets.

Regardless of how ridiculously hard it is sometimes to use the kitchen planner software, the best thing it does is to upload your plan to Ikea server so that you can open it in Ikea stores. A simple sharing goes a long way.

The sequal never ends! The countertop guy came last Wednesday but couldn’t make template because the island cabinets weren’t secured to the wall, base cabinets not even enough, and stove without support. We asked the contractor to come on Saturday to do these, and we went to Ikea for the 7th time to get edge wall cabinet and other stuff. I installed all but a few handles because I don’t think there’s enough time for the contractors to put on back splash tile, moulding, toe kick, edge wall cabinet, etc., and when they’re time pressed they’d do a terrible job. I’ll also try to patch the ceiling above the wall cabinets, because the new ones are a bit shallower than the old ones, and since we tore down the hanging truss box, the bare ceiling is visible now.