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12 Things to Know Before Planning Your IKEA Kitchen

A few months ago, a college friend reached out to me with some questions about renovating his kitchen using IKEA cabinets. I’ve designed two of my own kitchens with IKEA kitchen cabinets and several for clients, so I was able to give him some advice on how to plan for and work with them.

IKEA cabinets are a really affordable option, and I think that you can use them to create a custom look on a budget. I recommend them to any client who has a budget under $35,000 and is willing to do a little legwork. Sarah Richardson (host of Sarah’s House and other shows on HGTV) often uses IKEA cabinets in the kitchens she designs.

But, before you decide that IKEA cabinets are the way to go, there are some things you need to know.


IKEA SEKTION Cabinets Are Frameless

If you have an old outdated kitchen, chances are that your cabinets are framed. This means that there is a lip around the front face of the cabinet, maybe up to 1.5″, like a picture frame. IKEA cabinets are frameless, which means that there is no lip.

Frameless vs. Framed Cabinet Boxes
Full Overlay Doors vs. Traditional Overlay vs. Inset

Why does this matter? Frameless cabinets have up to 10% more storage per linear foot than framed cabinets. The drawers and pullouts can maximize the width of the box and not be limited to the opening size. Aesthetically, it means that you won’t see any of the cabinet box behind the doors and drawers. You will only see the doors and drawers and no hinges.

Functionally, it is important to understand the difference in framed vs. frameless because there are different rules for frameless cabinets when it comes to clearances at walls and when you change cabinet depths. If you don’t leave space between the cabinet and the wall, for example, your door or drawer won’t be able to open.


They Only Come in Standard Widths

There are three types of cabinets – stock, semi-custom, and fully custom. In the past year, I’ve designed kitchens with all three types of cabinets. Fully custom cabinets are built to order in whatever size you want. Semi-custom cabinets come in standard sizes but can be modified at the factory, sometimes for an up-charge. Stock cabinets come in specific sizes, and what you see is what you get – no modifications.

IKEA cabinets are stock cabinets. I like to think of working with stock cabinets like solving one of those puzzles with the little plastic tiles that you need to rearrange until they make a picture. It often involves strategy, experimentation and a little guesswork.

The cabinets come in standard widths of 3″ increments, starting at 12″. For some reason, IKEA does not make 27″ wide or 33″ wide cabinets, which can make things extra interesting. For example, many people choose 33″ refrigerators, but the IKEA refrigerator cabinet only comes in 30″ and 36″ widths. You can work with the gaps in a couple of ways, but it can be frustrating if you aren’t sure exactly how you want it to look.

The IKEA base corner cabinets are 38″ on each side instead of the standard 36″. In an older, smaller kitchen, this could be a deal breaker for using IKEA cabinets.


Wall Cabinets Are Available in three Heights

SEKTION wall cabinets come in heights of 20″, 30″ and 40″. This is a little different from standard American cabinets, which come in heights of 30″, 36″, 39″ and sometimes 42″ or 48″.

Kitchen planning is all about math, and the SEKTION wall cabinet heights can make designing your IKEA kitchen a little trickier than if you were using standard cabinets.

For example, if your kitchen ceiling is 96″ tall (typical in many homes), you will have 36″ (typical) for base cabinets and countertop, 18″ (typical) for backsplash, and 42″ left over for wall cabinets. If you choose to use the 40″ cabinets, you can add a very short decorative trim at the top.

To further complicate matters, the tall cabinets only come in two heights – 80″ and 90″, not including their toe kick. If you were using 40″ high uppers, then you would opt for 90″ high tall cabinets and adjust the legs so that you have a 4″ toe kick.



Standard American wall cabinets are 12″ deep, sometimes 13″ if the door is inset (set inside the face frame). When IKEA introduced their SEKTION line, they increased the depth of their wall cabinets to 15″, so you get 3″ of additional depth on each cabinet.

If you are retrofitting an older kitchen, you should check your dimensions carefully. There could be a spot where the 15″ depth does not work.

Also, the angled wall corner cabinets are 26″ on each side vs. the standard 24″.



IKEA cabinet boxes come in two colors – white and dark brown. The white boxes are meant to be paired with all of the light colored doors and the brown boxes all of the dark doors.
IKEA SEKTION Cabinet Box Finishes

No matter what door you choose, the box of the cabinet will not match the door. If you have an exposed end anywhere in your kitchen, you need a panel to finish it. This includes, for instance, the side of a pantry cabinet that is adjacent to a wall cabinet and base cabinet.


SEKTION Cabinets Are Designed To Be Modular

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Cabinets

The kooky sizes of the IKEA cabinet boxes do have a purpose. They were designed to be modular so that you can combine them in interesting ways and create your own custom combinations.

For example, you could stack two 20″ cabinets on top of each other and put them next to a 40″ wall cabinet.

You can also customize combinations of doors and drawers. A base cabinet is 30″ high. When you add feet to it, you can raise them to the standard 34.5″. Drawers come in increments of 5″ – 5″, 10″ and 15″. So you can have three 5″ drawers and a 15″ drawer or two 15″ drawers or three 10″ drawers.

IKEA now offers an interior drawer feature. You can add a drawer behind a drawer or a door, which is nice if you want more shallow drawers for things like utensils but don’t want your fronts to get too busy.


Order Extra Cover Panels

Panels are easy to cut wrong and to damage. I always order one extra refrigerator panel, which is 36″x96″. You can cut smaller panels from it as well as filler pieces.

Whenever I design a frameless cabinet, I always include overlay fillers. I like to use the panels to create overlay fillers so that the fillers are flush with the cabinet doors.


You Need a Deco Strip if You Want Under-Cabinet Lights

Under-cabinet lights require a little lip under the wall cabinet so that you don’t see them. Since IKEA cabinets are frameless, they don’t have a lip. They do sell deco strips that you can add to the bottom of the cabinet to conceal the under-counter lights. The wall cabinet panels actually come sized to accommodate a 2″ high deco strip.

Sarah Richardson IKEA Kitchen
Sarah Richardson

In the above kitchen by Sarah Richardson Design, you can clearly see the deco strip under the wall cabinets. You can also see how Sarah used panels to cover the sides of the cabinets and in between the stacked cabinets. Inexpensive cabinets now look like more expensive custom cabinets.

I have been increasing the backsplash height to account for the 2″. There is nothing worse than discovering (too late) that your coffee maker won’t fit under your wall cabinets. However, this might not be possible if you have an 8′ ceiling and want to use the 40″ high uppers.


You Must Enter Your Plan Into the IKEA Kitchen Planner Before You Go To The StoRe to Order

You can design your kitchen with pencil and paper, or using a modeling program like SketchUp, or just inside the IKEA kitchen planner. Regardless of which method you use, you will need to enter your plan into the IKEA kitchen planner before you go to the store. You do not want to do this at the store. Plus, once you have your plan entered, you’ll know exactly how much it costs so there won’t be any unpleasant surprises.


IKEA Has Designers On-Site To Verify Your Order

When you get to the store, you will need to wait for one of their designers to become available to help you. They will pull up your online plan and go through it to make sure you haven’t missed anything like toe kicks or feet. In my experience, the designers are less about design and more about verification. They are not a substitute for a kitchen designer if this is something you think you need. IKEA now offers design services in some stores, but this is something you should do in advance.


Plan For the Ordering Process to Take a Few Hours

I have never spent less than a couple hours to complete the ordering process, including our last purchase which consisted of four boxes and some panels. If you can plan to go during the middle of the week, you definitely should. I can’t think of anything worse than trying to order an IKEA kitchen on a Saturday afternoon.

Bring a bottle of water, maybe a granola bar or some jerky. Just plan for it to take a while.


Don't Blow Off Checking Your Order

If you are planning to take your kitchen home the day you order, you will go down to the area near the exit where they pull the larger orders from the warehouse. Everything is going to come out in pieces. Each cabinet will have a cardboard box for the cabinet frame and another box for the drawers and doors. There could be multiple boxes for the doors and drawers for one cabinet if you created a custom combination. Drawers come out separately as well. So an individual cabinet could have five or more items associated with it and they are all separate.

You must check every piece against your order. It’s tedious and frustrating, but it’s totally necessary. What’s worse than trying to order an IKEA kitchen on a Saturday? Driving home two, three or four hours and finding out you forgot a drawer or a door.

Bonus tip: IKEA cabinets go on sale twice per year. If you can be patient, you can save up to 20% on your new kitchen cabinetry.

I hope this post helped you decide whether IKEA cabinets are right for your kitchen and answered some of your questions. If you have other questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

You might also enjoy my post on how to make IKEA cabinets look more like high-end custom cabinets.

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85 thoughts on “12 Things to Know Before Planning Your IKEA Kitchen

  1. […] If you’re interested in learning more about planning an IKEA kitchen, check out my post The Twelve Things You Need to Know before Planning Your IKEA kitchen. […]

  2. Thank you for this! I found this very helpful. I’m starting to plan my Ikea kitchen!

  3. Nice and interesting. Please share your experience with rail of assembly in the wall. Thank you!

    1. In my experience, contractors grumble about it but then they like it. You just have to level the rail once and then hang the cabinets on it vs. trying to level each cabinet indvidually.

  4. Thanks for the tips, Jillian. We’re planning to install Sektion cabinet boxes in our kitchen and then order custom, unfinished door and drawer fronts from a company that specializes in fronts for IKEA cabinets. Ultimately, we’re going to paint them a dark shade of blue. Obviously, this will contrast with the white shelves and interiors. In my head, the white interior and blue exterior wouldn’t necessarily be bad, but I’m not sure. Do you have any experience or suggestions regarding this issue?

    Also, I was hoping you could elaborate on this suggestion you made in your original post:

    “Whenever I design a frameless cabinet, I always include overlay fillers. I like to use the panels to create overlay fillers so that the fillers are flush with the cabinet doors.”

    Thanks for any help you can provide!

    1. Hi Dan, you will literally never see the box of the cabinet unless it’s open, so the white isn’t a problem. Most cabinets have contrasting interiors…even custom ones. If you had gone custom, the only difference would be that the interior would be maple. Of course, if you have glass doors, you will see the interior.

      So, you will need fillers sometimes…notably between a shallower and deeper cabinet and against the wall. The filler is flush with the box. The cabinet door adds ~3/4” thickness in depth, so we layer a second piece of filler on top of the first one. The second overly filler is flush with the door creating a seamless look.

      Hope that helps! Good luck with your remodel!

      1. Thank you very much, Jillian! It does help!

      2. Do you have a picture of this “filler flush with the box?” I still don’t get it.

        1. This might be a bit late, Aprilfresh31, but picture it like this: you hang your cabinets, but have a small gap between your cabinet and your wall. You buy a filler piece, just a small piece of MDF that matches the cabinet finish, and attach it to the wall so it’s flush with the cabinet box. But! That isn’t accounting for the door, which sticks out 3/4″ past the cabinet box and the filler piece you just added. So Jillian likes to add a second filler piece on top of that first filler piece, so it comes out another 3/4″ and is flush with the cabinet door. It’s a completely optional step. 🙂

      3. Hi there!

        Are there still Ikea cabinets with dark brown interior boxes? All I seem to see are the ones with white interior cabinet boxes. The white interior bothers me to no end, and one of my alternatives is to go with much more expensive cabinets from German or Italian lines that allow you to pick interior colors.

        The dark brown might really so the trick for me.

        Also, have you heard of people painting the knterior of the cabinet boxes? How would you recommend someone go about that?

        Please let me know!

        Thank you,


        1. Hi Héctor, I’m not sure. It doesn’t look like it to me. I’ve been on the website quite a bit recently and only seen the white.

  5. We are replacing our uppers with Ikea cabinets and need to match up existing fridge, stove and sink areas, which means there are a couple places where Ikea’s standard width cabinets won’t work. Our fix around is to buy a cabinet in the next largest size and then cut it down to an exact needed fit (the top, bottom, and shelves, along with back panels will need cutting down) Since husband is a woodworker this will be a good work around. We will then build our own doors and install at a later date.

    1. Bernice, please let me know how this goes. I don’t have any experience cutting down IKEA cabinets.

      1. Hi, The cutting down of the cabinets went beautifully. Husband bought a specific drill so he could recreate the holes for the fasteners, and designed a jig to hold all the pieces in the correct place. Fortunately he’s a very detailed person and so now that the kitchen is complete, everything fits to within a millimetre. FYI: on the bottoms, which we did not replace, we made our own doors out of walnut veneer europly, with a finish of Osmo Oil; they are gorgeous.

        1. Bernice, I’m so happy it worked out for you!

  6. I have heard that Ikea cabinets do not hold up next to a range – do you have any suggestions or comments about this – thanks – sue

    1. It definitely depends on the design of the kitchen. For example, you should have a minimum of 15” of clear countertop from the range to the next flammable surface. So if someone had a tall cabinet right next to their range, it could be affected by the heat…any cabinet would be. But as for base and wall cabinets, I didn’t experience anything negative in my own kitchens, nor have I heard anything like this before.

  7. Also..corner cabinets are abnormal. 2 inches bigger than normal kitchens

    1. Yes, good point! I almost never use the wall corner cabinets, so I totally forgot about that.

  8. Great post! I’d also add take the time to understand if your upper cabinets will go all the way to the ceiling or if you’ll want crown moulding, build a soffet, or choose new cabinets! I realized terribly late in my build that due to slighlty abnormal ceiling height (about 9′) plus natural variation in height by up to 1/2 ” in various places that I couldn’t take my cabinets all the way to the ceiling. We’ve added a thin panel to the top to finish off the look (I’m not using crown moulding b/c I have a very modern look). It still leaves a 3-3.5″ gap to the ceiling. It looks finished, but the gap to the ceiling is bothering me. Wish I had planned for that on the design phase

    1. Thanks! Yes, that’s a really good point. I just had a non-IKEA kitchen where that came up. It’s an issue that affects all frameless cabinetry, and it’s easy to forget about.

  9. Thank you for this wonderful article. Ikea’s high cabinets and cabinets for built in appliances are only 90″ tall. If you have 40″ tall wall cabinets and need at least 18″ between the counter top and bottom of the wall cabinets, how can you work the high cabinets or built-ins into the design? Thank you for your insight!

    1. Katie, good question! So, it’s all about installation height, and the box size of the high cabinet does make it tricky. Let’s say we have an install height of 96″, which is pretty common (36″ base + 20″ backsplash + 40″ upper). Then I would do the 90″ high cabinet and have my contractor build up a toe kick of 6″ so that it lines up the 90″ cabinet at the top. I always have a panel on each side of my high cabinets anyway. In this type of scenario, I would make sure the panel touched the ground so that it was like cabinet “feet”. Then the differing toe kick heights are less noticeable. Depending on the kitchen style, you could even do a flush toe kick on the high cabinet and add some furniture base.

      1. Thank you for your reply, Jillian! It gives me confidence to know that this is how you would do it. 🙂 I see that Ikea has a panel that is 96″ tall. And if the panel is too wide, I could just cut it and not worry about the part facing the wall. Thank you!

        1. I actually cut all of my end panels from the 96″ panels. You don’t have to worry about the tops or the sides facing the wall.

  10. Dear Jillian, are Bodbyn and Hittarp (vertical stripes) Ikea front styles compatible? Would adding Hittarp accents to a Bodbyn kitchen enhance the design or would it just look weird?
    I am asking because I would like to use drawer fronts as fillers and the Hittarp ones I could cut to fit my needs, whereas you cannot cut Bodbyn fronts.
    Also, would it look nice if you used both vertical and horizontal stripe Hittarp fillers or would it just look messy?
    Thank you, I admire you professionality and expertise.

    1. Hi Ricky,
      I would not mix those two door styles, and I would definitely not do horizontal fillers with the HITTARP. I would use smooth, flat panels to make the fillers. The fillers shouldn’t be wide enough that you would see any of the grooves anyway. If they do get that wide, then maybe there is something else you can do there like use an after-market spice pullout from Revashelf.

  11. Hi Jilian, I’m having a tough time finding appliances to fit in the sektion frames. Maybe I’m just bogging myself down for no reason. But 24 inch sektion base only has a rough opening of 22.5 inches when assembled. I can’t seem to find any microwaves that fit this width. 23-24 inches, yes, but not anything smaller. The Ikea planner let me add an Ikea microwave that was 23.75 inches wide to the design, but I just don’t see how that is possible. Do you have any suggestions?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Robbie,
      This would be the same with any frameless cabinet. They all have 3/4″ thick sides that reduce the overall opening. Are you just trying to put a regular microwave in a base or a built-in microwave? Usually, you have to size up and then many microwaves come with a trim kit for a built-in look. I’ve also just put a countertop style microwave on a fixed shelf inside a base cabinet and then used deco strips to trim out the frame. Hope this helps!

  12. Do you ever put a panel over the bottom of the cabinet, or is that just obsessive? We don’t have room for a deco strip underneath the wall cabinets, so from you picture we will have to trim 2 inches off each end panel? Thanks! This post and all the comments are especially helpful.

    1. Jim, I wouldn’t call it obsessive, but it’s not necessary with IKEA cabinets unless you want the underside to match your doors. Do you have enough room to use a strip of cover panel turned on its edge? That’s all you need to hide an LED tape light? It would be 3/4″ high…same as the panel. Just rip it down to 1″. Then you would still probably have to trim the panels. That’s why I just specify all panels to be cut from the large refrigerator panels instead of buying the IKEA wall and base panels.

  13. I would love to have an IKEA kitchen… and I would love to get help designing it. Apparently however I am outside of the proscribed area that would allow me to pay Ikea to come measure the space, which also means I cannot use them to install. They just won’t travel to my town (one hour away from main store….). Finding a contractor in Massachusetts is also an impossible task, but for certain not a single contractor I have been in touch with will also design the kitchen. I have hired kitchen designers…. I hate everything they come up with. Do you have any contacts or would you yourself be willing to design me a kitchen using the Ikea products so that I can then go purchase what I need and find an installer? I really would appreciate help on this. Thank you. Dana

    1. Hi Dana, I’d be happy to set up a phone call with you to learn more about your kitchen and talk through my process. I have designed three IKEA kitchens now for people not local to me and many more that are local. I’m actually in the process of setting up formal e-design packages for clients just like you. If you’d like to set up a time to chat, you can schedule a call through this link: https://jillianlare.as.me/. I look forward to hearing from you!

  14. This is really helpful, thank you.

  15. Hi Jillian,

    have you ever used Bodbyn doors in place of the bodbyn panels on an island to give it a more custom look?
    I have designed a few kitchens with IKEA cabinets, but have alway used the flat cover panels for sides and back of
    the island.. I am going for a different look with this one and am considering using the doors instead.


    1. Hi Anne, if I were doing a non-IKEA kitchen and using doors as panels, I would still be applying a 1/4″ panel finished to match behind the doors. So, I think you would need to do the same here and have it painted to match. And, remember it will have a thickness that shows at the end and that will need to be covered with some type of corner molding. The great thing is that anything is possible just by matching the paint and using stock molding.

  16. Great post. I’ve installed three IKEA kitchens with the last being a sektion one. We have done islands in all and use door panels to finish them, which definitely enhances the look. Good idea to use a flat panel behind them!
    Question: How challenging is it to paint melamine ikea doors? I would like to paint my island.

    1. Hi Karen, I’ve never painted melamine before, but I know it can be done. One idea would be to use chalk paint which supposedly adheres to just about anything without sanding or priming.

  17. I have a new small house planning on doing Ikea cabinets. Any ideas on selecting widths and heights of cabinets? 9 foot ceilings work with. How about drop lights over the island for extra lighting.

  18. Can you give more details about making overlay filler pieces? How do you finish the cut edges that are flush with the doors/drawers? I am trying to picture it. You will be able to see those surfaces if the cut piece of filler is visible from both sides, correct? Thank you!!

    1. I am almost certain that they have a tape that you can press onto the cut side. Also, you will barely see the cut face when you open the door because the thickness of the door turns onto itself. There should only be 1/16″ gap between the overlay and the door. You wouldn’t use an overlay if the filler isn’t next to another door or the wall on both sides.

  19. Hi, Jillian – What is the narrowest filler scribe to wall that can be installed with the Sektion system? The IKEA planner keeps giving me an error message if I do less than 2″, but in my work (residential architecture) we have often used 1″ to 1-1/2″ scribes to walls for custom cabinets. Is there some particular reason for that, such as a particular angle hardware that’s used to attach the fillers, or just to account for potentially non-plumb walls and allow room for error? Definitely don’t want to change my cabinet sizes just to allow an extra 1-1/2″ or so over the cabinet run. Thanks!

    1. Hi Darci, you should definitely be able to do 1″. The contractor is just going to cut down panels to make the filler. I don’t believe they actually sell filler pieces. Also, I’ve used the 3/4″ panels with the finished edge facing out instead of filler before too. It’s nice because then it matches the end panel on the exposed side exactly.

  20. I have lots of quartz countertop left over from another kitchen. Are there any concerns using this on an IKEA remodel I’m planning.

    1. Hi Nancy, I’ve used quartz with IKEA all the time. It shouldn’t be an issue. Also, IKEA sells quartz as well.

  21. Another question – I’m planning to use IKEA Hittarp style doors but when I look at the IKEA website several cabinets I want to use are not listed with these doors. For example, one of the base corner cabinets and a 24” wide wall cabinet. However it some cases it seems possible to buy the cabinet frame and the doors separately so I wonder what the difference is between buying cabinets where it is defined as a combined product with frame, door, shelves or buying the parts separately.

    1. Hi Nancy, I wouldn’t go by the website, which is sometimes inaccurate or incomplete. I would plug it into the planner…just the cabinets you’re concerned with for now. See if it lets you add that cabinet with that door style.

  22. Hi there!

    Desperate in despair with contractors coming tomorrow!!

    First of all, God bless you for this info!! Some very helpful stuff in there!

    I logged onto IKEA this morning after months upon months of planning, and my 99+ item shopping cart – was EMPTY. I’ve had that shopping cart and my shopping lists ongoing for nearly a year – researching, editing, saving, etc. And despite attempts at login repeatedly – on every possible device in my house – for some reason TODAY it decided to disappear….the day I’d set aside to finally sit down and order everything with contractors starting work in a week and final planning meetings tomorrow.
    And now I’m starting from scratch. ?

    I find that IKEA’s website is generally a pain to begin with, on mobile or desktop/laptop. Seems they’re always having issues and there are often error messages for no known reason. But never anything like this.

    Now I’m having fits – not only remembering everything from my cart, but also remembering what I believe I had figured out in planning this project months and months ago (to solve what I saw as potential problems with my spacing.)

    Because of the wacky measurements (YAAASS GIRL!), I had to go down from a 15 inch-wide wall cabinet to a 12 inch-wide wall cabinet, due to my space being short less than an inch. So now what do I do with this 3 inch gap? UUGGHHHHH!
    They make trim and molding and toe kicks – OH MY! And sure, one side panel can be used in between as “filler,” but several??…to make up 3 inches?!? BTW, worth mentioning that this is for a laundry room, not a kitchen, and space is very limited and i don’t think the layout will afford viable options to “stick in” multiple side panels as fillers to make up that 3 inches.

    I feel like I figured this out once before, but now I have no idea what I had saved in my cart to remedy this. I have found that a lot of IKEA products are somewhat interchangeable and some items will work with others if you do your research.

    But in the interest of time (and my stress level!) do you have any recommendations as to how to create this filler of 3 inches extra space between cabinets?

    Thank you SO so much!

    1. Hi Jess, wow that sounds terrible! So, the answer is that you just use a 3″ filler and not a panel turned on its end. Your contractor cuts a 3″ wide piece out of a larger panel and puts it between the cabinet and the wall. You can add a second piece on top to sit flush with the door, which is a better look. I hope this helps!

  23. is it possible to use a 30″ wide tall cabinet for a wall oven when the oven itself is only 27″ wide?

    1. This will be tough with IKEA cabinets unless the oven comes with a trim kit that allows for it to be installed in a 30″ cabinet. If you were ordering a custom frameless cabinet, they would make a piece for the face frame but this isn’t available with IKEA. It could probably be hacked with a cover panel though.

  24. Thanks so much for the great piece. So very helpful. I am planning for IKEA cabinets for the kitchen remodel. We have a panel ready Sub Zero refrigerator. Does IKEA make a panel that can be used for the door of the refrigerator that will fit? We are thinking of a shaker-style cabinet. Thanks for all your help.

    1. Nall, I’m in the process of IKEA kitchen planning and also have a 27″ Subzero fridge (700tci). My plan is to have my husband cut down panels and then I will refinish them to match. I’m very curious what solution you came up with in regards to your kitchen. Hope to hear from you!

  25. Jillian – Your site and this piece is excellent. Thank you so much.

    We are looking at a remodel of our kitchen with IKEA cabinets. We would like to repurpose a Sub Zero refrigerator. It is an integrated model (panel ready). Do you know how I would be able to construct a panel for a 36″ refrigerator? Is it possible to create a panel for a panel ready refrigerator?
    Can I cut a cabinet door down? I worry about edge finishes. To make it more difficult, we are thinking about a shaker-style cabinet. Thanks for thinking about this?

  26. Jillian – Your site and this piece are excellent. Thank you so much.

    We are looking at a remodel of our kitchen with IKEA cabinets. We would like to repurpose a Sub Zero refrigerator. It is an integrated model (panel ready). Do you know how I would be able to construct a panel for a 36″ refrigerator? Is it possible to create a panel for a panel ready refrigerator?
    Can I cut a cabinet door down? I worry about edge finishes. To make it more difficult, we are thinking about a shaker-style cabinet. Thanks for thinking about this?

    1. I’m in the process of IKEA kitchen planning and also have a built in Subzero fridge. My plan is to have my husband cut down panels and then I will refinish them to match. I’m very curious what solution you came up with in regards to your kitchen. Hope to hear from you!

  27. Hi there,

    I am planning an IKEA kitchen for my new build. There will be 9′ ceilings and I have the 90″ tall cabinets selected for some areas and regular wall cabinets for other areas. I was hoping to add a 15″ wall cabinet on top of the tall and regular wall cabinets to make the cabinets go all the way to the ceiling but the online planner will not let me place them there. Is there a way I can fix this?


    1. Hi Caroline, I never use the planner to actually plan the kitchen, so I am not going to be much help. I use my own software to layout the kitchen and then I just dump the items into the planner to create my list. I would try looking at it in an elevation view vs. the plan view to see if you can position them that way.

  28. Can you let me know which sektion configuration you used for you upper cabinet that rests on the countertop? Designing our kitchen now and would love to incorporate that feature.

    1. Hi Karly, to stack the cabinets, you need to raise your backsplash height to 20″ so you can put a 20″ cabinet on the countertop and then the 30″ or 40″ on top. So 36″ + 20″ + 30″ is 86″ which works for an 8′ ceiling. If you have 9′ or even a little over 8′, you can stack the 40″.

  29. I am planning on using ikea cabinets in my laundry room. I am wondering about the height of the tall cabinets. I am planning on using the 30” cabinets over my washer and dryer and placing a tall cabinet next to them. I am wondering what height I should use for the tall cabinet. My question is do the legs add to the height of the cabinet. I was thinking the 90” would be appropriate but with the legs I am worried they will make the cabinet even higher which means my 30” cabinets will be have to be placed farther up the wall as well. Thanks.

    1. Hi Sherry, yes the legs do add to the height. I don’t know why they do it that way.

  30. Hi Jillian!

    I’ve read through both this post and the accompanying one about how to make your IKEA kitchen look expensive, both are very helpful! Thank you!

    We are installing our own kitchen which I thought was going well…and now I am googling in a panic after reading a comment in this thread above about the cabinets extending to the ceiling. We followed the height requirements provided by IKEA for setting the install rails but now find due to the height of our ceilings we have a 5 inch gap between the top of our wall cabinets and the ceiling. Any advice on how to install a panel to fill those 5″, the frameless cupboards have me stumped. I would really prefer not to have to reset the rails higher and raise them all and feel so discouraged now!

    1. Hi, I wouldn’t stress out about this too much. First, it depends on what finish the doors and panels are. If they are a painted style, then you can use flat stock trim and even crown molding to build up to the ceiling and paint it to match. A wood or stained look is much trickier. But, I think you could use IKEA panels and trim parts to create a boxed crown look. The main thing is that you need to add a support piece on top of the cabinets that is flush with the box. Then you would attach the panel to that piece. You can’t attach it right to the boxes because they are frameless. This isn’t just an IKEA issue btw…it’s the same for any frameless cabinet.

  31. Great article! I have a small spare room I wanted to partially use as a dry pantry, but I’m stuck considering there are no corner high cabinets. I’m wondering if it would work to stack two of the 40” tall corner wall cabinets, with 80” high cabinets on either side, preferably only 15” deep due to space constraints. I know the legs become a problem as well, as this needs to be as free-standing as possible. Thoughts?

  32. I want to use one shallow ’15 inch deep 36 inch long sektion base cabinet for a small pantry project. Are there prefab small countertops? I can’t seem to find any options on the IKEA website. Any tips welcome!


  33. Hello!

    Any tips on how deep to cut the fridge panel? I’m afraid if we go flush with the counters our fridge will stick out too far. We haven’t purchased our forever fridge yet but I don’t like how shallow counter depth fridges are. Would 30” be a good compromise? Or would you go more like 32 and then pull out the fridge if need be? Well also have to build out a frame behind our upper cupboard so it’s flush, any tips? Thanks so much!
    Also, any pictures of 2” filler pieces on either side of a stove? I don’t want ours to look sloppy!

  34. I’m installing a base corner cabinet with the pull out against the sink cabinet neither has drawers do I still require the spacer strip that goes between the corner cabinet and the sink? If so can this be cut down I’m having an issue with room to line my sink and faucet up centered on the window it’s only out 3/4 to 1 inch but would look better if everything lined up.

    1. Dave, this is really hard to say without seeing a drawing. Is the corner pull-out the lazy Susan or the one that swings out into the room?


  35. I’d like your opinion on upper corner cabinets. I’m in the process of planning an U-shaped kitchen in an open floor plan. We are completely changing the layout from the old kitchen. The old kitchen had the diagonal style corner cabinets. We are doing 40″ cabinets to the ceiling. I keep thinking a 90 degree corner set up would look cleaner and be more open to the counter space below. thoughts?

  36. 1. I’ve read all the comments on filler pieces and I still have a dumb question: do 2 identical depth cabinets NEED space between them to open? 1″? 2″? What about next to appliances (that you hope are set at an identical depth)?

    2. Do you have any advice for using a standard depth fridge? I originally figured I would push the cabinets out to be flush with the fridge but not sure that flies with Ikea’s structure.

    Clearly, an amazing post if the comments are still going!

    1. Reilly, no, you don’t need the filler if they are the same depth whether it’s an appliance or another cabinet, so you should be good there. For the fridge, I use a cover panel as deep as the box of the fridge but not the door, so read your specs carefully. I pull the fridge cabinet out so it sits 7/8” back from the front of the panel. You’ll have to provide 2×4 blocking behind it because you won’t be able to use the rail system on the wall. I keep the rest of the cabinets mounted to the wall as usual…don’t pull them forward. Just the fridge panels and fridge cabinet. You’ll need the filler for the adjacent cabinets. Hope this helps!

  37. Appliance spacing question: If you’re using existing appliances, does the kitchen planner automatically account for a small “wiggle room” gap between appliances and a cabinet? We’ve purchased our own fridge and stove and I want to make sure it will fit!

    1. No, it definitely doesn’t. Typically you would leave 30″ for a slide-in range. You should look inside all of the existing appliances for the model number. You might be able to find the specifications online.

  38. Hello,
    I need your help, I have a slopped ceiling that is 90″ where it meet the wall:
    1. My first question is that I planing to put 2 (40″) wall cabinets, and a tall microwave cabin at the end, but I’m not sure if I should put a 90″ tall cabinet without the legs (directly on the floor), or I need to go with the 80″, but then I will have a 5 “gap at the top because 80″ + 5″ leg=85”.
    2. Also, I have another problem, on the other wall I have a soffit 14″ and the Ikea wall cabinets are 15″, what can I do? I haven’t see any wall cabinets hang oof the soffit. Taking out the soffit is not an option because it has some pipes and electric wires, and it’s very high in one side (like a triangle) of the slopped ceiling. I did so many research, and people in general said take off the soffit or buy a different cabinets, but I’m wonder if there is another solution that you know.
    Thank you so much for your help

  39. Thanks for the tips here. Gave me a few things to think about before planing ours. Cheers.

  40. Thanks for giving full information about the Framed Frameless Stacking Systems. You can also check at bmtsautomaticdoors.com

  41. is installation of countertops included in the price

    1. Usually it is, yes.

  42. Thanks for posting all of these pointers. The questions are a help too. There is a site that advertises to plan your IKEA kitchen and take all of the hidden catches to planning into account (IKD is the name). While it is only $295 my wife says isn’t that what the IKEA folks are for? I see you state they are counting knobs and items primarily so if I brought up your point to them would they figure mine out properly? I have done my own bathrooms, fireplace and stairs but kitchens with IKEA cabinets is a new one.

  43. I’m in the process or have been in the process with my IKEA kitchen build. They’re great and easy to assemble in regards to just building the cabinets and installing the doors/drawers. But when it comes to cutting the panels and doing some custom work, then it might require some actual skill. The downside to my experience with IKEA kitchen products is the limited stock. I’ve been waiting since last October for the 90″ cabinets. They’ve been out of stock and no one from IKEA can tell me when they’ll be available. Also, the OMLOPP cabinet drawer lights are hard to get too. So if you’re starting your kitchen design with IKEA and you’re in a rush to finish your kitchen build, make sure they have everything you need in-stock.

    Another thing to mention is the countertops. I got the quartz countertops and the company that was responsible for installing them, well they were hard to contact and it took FOREVER to get my countertops installed. When I finally was able to get a hold of someone and schedule the appt for someone to get all the measurements, then IKEA called and said the countertops I originally wanted are out of stock. So the theme to all of this is IKEA’s product availability is awful. Again, if you’re in a rush to have a functioning kitchen, make sure you choose items that are in-stock, else you will be waiting and living in a home with a half-assed kitchen.

  44. You need to correct #5. IKEA no longer offers dark cabinet bases, so it’s white only these days. Which poses a challenge you you select darker fronts. To make things worse, IKEA offers no tips how to make dark fronts work with white cabinets. One approach could be installing side panels matching the front color, but this would reduce the usable width and increase the price. Or filler pieces should be installed flush with the doors (this is typically not done for non-IKEA cabinets). And in some cases neither of this approaches would work (e.g. white shelves will appear between the door gaps of the tall cabinets. So, it’s a challenge.

  45. Painting cabinets is so tough… add the factor of Ikea being low quality – this is a tough task!

  46. What colour quarts did you use with the Grimslov off white cupboards ?

  47. This is a handy article. Thank you for bringing this to our attention; I look forward to hearing more about it. I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say next!

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Jillian Lare Des Moines Interior Designer

About Jillian

Welcome! I’m a Des Moines based interior designer, boy mom to one, avid reader and always aspiring artist. I started this blog when I moved to Iowa in 2008. Currently, I write about life in Iowa, personal development, and my creative journey.

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