Tips & Tricks

The Ikea Kitchen Experience

I wanted to do a blog post about my experience working with IKEA for my new kitchen that is currently under renovation. I have a few clients interested in the IKEA Sektion Cabinets, particularly customizing their IKEA kitchens with custom panel fronts (more on custom fronts later). The IKEA kitchen cabinets have a great reputation for durability and value. For clients on a budget, you don’t have to sacrifice design or style for cost.

STEP 1: Designing Your Kitchen

As an Architect, I am fortunate enough to be able to, not only design, but also model and render my new kitchen. I do this for all my clients because visualization is important to my practice. After completing my kitchen layout and rendering, I start the IKEA kitchen experience with a head start, knowing exactly how I want to the kitchen to look and function.

I spent time trying to use the IKEA kitchen modeling program and inputting the cabinet layout similar to my layout; however, their program has some bugs or kinks in it. It sticks a lot. It’s not a smooth process. I also had trouble figuring out how to correctly insert the cover panels and toe kicks. That part is not very intuitive, even for an architect. That’s where the In-Store Kitchen Specialist Appointment helped tremendously!

Studio BKA rendering of my new kitchen (currently under renovation)

Studio BKA rendering of my new kitchen (currently under renovation)

STEP 2: Scheduling Your In-Store Kitchen Specialist Appointment

This part was easy! Just go online and schedule a time. I added the link below.

If you do not live in an area with an IKEA, like New Orleans, you may be able to do it over the phone; however I would not recommend that since I think the in-store experience is very valuable because you can touch and feel the products.

I scheduled my appointment in Denver, CO (Centennial Store) because I knew I would be traveling to Denver a few months before I needed my kitchen cabinets installed. IKEA gave me a two hour appointment. And yes, we used all two hours!

TIP: If you are a friends and family member, make sure you add your membership number to the order, because if IKEA has a kitchen sale within 90 days of your purchase, they will honor your discount! That’s huge! You could save 15%-20%!!!

STEP 3: Meeting with the In-Store Specialist

I brought my plans in hand and knew exactly what cabinet doors I wanted AND I still used all two hours of this appointment. Most of the appointment time consumption was due to the very slow IKEA kitchen modeling program. It may have been the operator (specialist) I met with. I don’t know if other people experience similar drag time, but this was the only negative part of the process. It was like buying a car where you just sit there and wonder what is taking so long.

I was challenged in a good way by the Kitchen Specialist. I insisted that my budget did not include large drawers for base cabinets. He remarked that I would regret not having the drawers. Yes, that may be true, but I also don’t want to regret going broke. If you have a budget, make sure they understand that! Yes, the IKEA cabinets are inexpensive, but little things can add up quickly. As a rule of thumb, the base cabinets with doors and shelves are less expensive than the drawer base cabinets.


After the cabinets were laid out and to my approval, the specialist generated a price list which we combed through. I removed items like lighting which the program automatically included. I also removed the IKEA faucet and sink, since I was purchasing my own from a different store. The specialist worked through the list to add items like: suspension rails cover panels and fillers, legs and toe kicks, deco strips or cornices, knobs, handles and door dampers, and countertop support rails. These were the items that I did not know how to calculate or input into my own ikea list, but I’ll brain dump now for your reference:

ikea shopping list.jpg

SUSPENSION RAILS: required to secure cabinets to the wall. The IKEA kitchen specialist calculated how many I needed.

COVER PANELS & FILLERS: the cover panels are to cover the sides of the cabinets. It’s a finished piece with finished edges. The fillers will cover the negative space between the cabinet and the adjacent wall. IKEA has standard size cover panels and fillers, so you may need to trim your pieces to fit exactly. That means you need a table saw to run the fillers or panels through. You can’t use an exacto blade.

LEGS & TOE KICKS: Interesting fact here, when I went to input my own toe kicks, I could not find VEDDINGE, and that is the type of doors I am using and I wanted the toekick to match. Well, instead of naming the toekicks by matching door, if you are using any of the white doors, you would specify the FORBATTRA, then specify if you want glossy or matte. The matte FORBATTRA matches the VEDDINGE and the glossy FORBATTRA matches the RINGHULT.

DECO STRIP & CORNICES: This is if you want to add a trim piece to the top or bottom of you upper cabinets.

KNOBS, HANDLES & DOOR DAMPERS: knobs and handles are pretty straight-forward. You can choose an IKEA product and lump it into your order or choose knobs and handles from other suppliers. Door dampers were new to me. If you have a cabinets with doors (upper or base) and you are including internal drawers, you will need the 153 degree hinge (also called a door damper) in order to open the door fully and pull the internal drawer out. If you just a have a simple upper or base cabinet with doors and shelves on the inside, you will order the 110-125 degree hinge. This is the standard hinge. Hinges come in two packs. My IKEA specialist added these up and inputted them into the list.

COUNTERTOP SUPPORT RAILS: This was also new to me. If you choose a laminate or butcher block counter from IKEA, you may not need these galvanized metal support rails. But if you are doing quartz, granite or marble, you will need these support rails. They sit on top of the base cabinets and help distribute the weight of the countertop evenly so not to damage the cabinets.

FACT: You cannot order the quartz countertops from IKEA unless you are in an IKEA service area. New Orleans is NOT an IKEA service area, so I am getting a local fabricator to install my quartz countertops!

Step 4: Ordering Your Cabinets

My little intern!

My little intern!

Once your shopping list has been created by your kitchen specialist, he/she will print it, hand it to you and ask you to visit the showroom and confirm the items on the list before ordering. I chose not to order in the store, but I believe the specialist can assist you with that, if you are ready to go with your credit card!

I walked the showroom and looked at some of the new features and made notes. I knew I wanted to add a touch latch to my garbage pull out cabinet. These feature allows you to just bump the cabinet with your hip and the cabinet will spring open. I needed that! I’m a mom to a baby boy and my hands are always full! I also wanted to scale back some of the internal drawers to just shelves since I knew I could save some extra money that way.

I called the IKEA KITCHEN department the next day. The representative on the phone needs your username or email address in order to sign into your account and look at your SHOPPING LIST.

Note: there is no interactive online tool to fiddle with your order. Only an IKEA representative can add and remove items from your list.

I also created another shopping list online with other furniture and accessory items. The representative was able to pull those items into the shopping list created the day before, so everything was grouped together and I would not have two shipping fees. Fees range from $49- $249 depending where the shipment is coming from.

Note: There may be wait times associated with calling the KITCHEN department. I think this is a smaller and more knowledgeable department. I had to call back like 4 or 5 times before I got through. Once I got through, the representative was very helpful and thorough in completing my order.

I asked the representative over the phone, if I could place my order and hold it for a few weeks before shipping. This was totally fine to do. Which was great because we were not ready for all those boxes yet!


We are still a few weeks away from installing the cabinets, but I will be sure to blog about the installation: tricks and tips and things to know! Feel free to email me if you had a very different experience with IKEA. I’d love to know. Stay tuned and sign up for our newsletter below!

Subscribe to the Studio BKA newsletter!

* indicates required

A Visual Guide to Selecting Your Exterior Color Scheme

Ben and I are in the process of renovating our house in New Orleans, and I can’t help but think about the exterior color scheme. Everywhere you look in this eccentric city, there are colorful buildings and homes painted with bright hues, pastel monochromatics, and neutral shades. The color palette of the architecture here creates unique city blocks that are backdrops for urban photoshoots, and takes us on a colorful, rhythmic ride. With so many examples to look at, why am I having such a hard time making this selection??

The color palette of the architecture here creates unique city blocks that are backdrops for urban photoshoots, and takes us on a colorful, rhythmic ride.

I love color. I have a whole Pinterest Board dedicated to it. I give as much importance to color and materiality as I do to architecture because thoughtful color adds so much. It demonstrates values. It expresses ideas and emotions. Color enriches our perception of space, the same way light and form do. I will touch lightly on the basics of color theory and then jump right into how I put together my exterior color scheme.

Color Basics

Who here has heard of the Color Wheel? I hope you ALL raised your hand. The color wheel represents the presence of light waves in color, each with a unique wavelength, as evidenced by the most magical example, the rainbow.

The Primary, Second and Tertiary colors might be the first box of crayons you ever received, making you an expert in the color wheel! But what about tint and shade? What are those?


  • Tint: The act of lightening a color by adding white to it.

  • Shade: The act of darkening a color by adding black.

  • Tone: Slightly darkening a color by adding gray.

  • Saturation: The highest level of pigmentation, no change with black, white or gray.

  • Value: Variation in light and dark.

Color Combinations

Color combinations, or as a designer may say, color palettes or color schemes, are any combination of colors. These combinations can change the mood or tone of anything you are trying to represent from logo design to architecture.

  • Combinations with less contrast create a mood of restraint, subtlety, discreetness and understatement.

  • Combinations with more contrast create a mood of drama, excitement and conflict.

In planning a color scheme, contrast is not just created by changing the entire color, but by using the same or similar colors with different values and saturations.

Color Palette Selection

Some of my favorite color palettes are created by I found the below images on Pinterest by just searching for the term ‘color palettes.’ Here you can get palettes already generated for you, but if you are interested in exploring your own combinations of color, read more below.

Guide to an Exterior Color Scheme (New Orleans Edition):

I would stick to selecting 3 to 4 colors at most. Proper proportions are important. One color must be the dominant color, there must be a subordinate color and then an accent color or two. Think 50%, 30%, 15%, <5% ratio.

Below are some of my favorite examples of colorful New Orleans houses:

Top Row: Monochromatic, colors of varying tones, tints and shades
2nd Row: Complementary colors
3rd Row: Neutrals
Bottom Row: Vibrant, Bold colors

I would stick to selecting 3 to 4 colors at most!

What I know works:

  • For larger color combinations, select colors with varying levels of shades or tints. Your accent colors can be complementary colors. This helps your eyes find a place to rest.

  • When going with darker or deeper shades for siding, use white or vibrant colors to offset the dark color.

  • More than 4 colors almost always feels too busy. But hey, these are just my guidelines, not rules! The 4th color, the brightest/boldest color, should always be used sparingly, <5%. See: Front Door Colors above.

  • In Monochromatic schemes, use the darkest tone to emphasize detail for example, the shutters, doors and quoins, while the siding should be painted the lightest or most neutral of hues.

Color Combo Renderings

Below is a quick color study for our favorite residential project, our own house! We tried on a few of these principles - monochromatic with shifting values, neutrals with a vibrant color on important elements, and never more than 4 different colors. Check out our Instagram story to vote on your favorite scheme!

gray and tourq.jpg

content source: The Complete Color Harmony, Pantone Edition by Leatrice Eiseman

Let us know what you think and stay up to date my subscribing to our newsletter!

Subscribe to the Studio BKA newsletter!

* indicates required

Detail Hack- Medicine Cabinets

Detail Hack- Medicine Cabinets

Not every project has the budget for custom medicine cabinets. In the projects above and below, we used partially recessed medicine cabinets that were purchased either at Ikea or other online shopping outlets

Read More