After carefully planning out my kitchen layout, I placed my order with IKEA for a complete set of Sektion kitchen cabinets. In my planning post, I go into a lot of the details as to why I decided to go with Sektion (value, options, overall look), so I won’t go into that again here, but I do want to say a few words about the ordering process. After the planning phase, ordering all the parts was incredibly easy. The kitchen designer recommended getting a few extras here and there, all parts that were easily returnable if I didn’t end up needing them, but ensured that I wouldn’t have to wait on a part if something was damaged accidentally. When I ordered everything, I chose a delivery date that was convenient to me and just had to wait until that day arrived.
I have to take a moment to apoligize to everyone for being so late in picking my story back up! It’s been quite a while since I added another chapter to my renovation tale, even though I’ve been using the kitchen every day now!
Like all things from IKEA, the kitchen comes in flat-pack boxes and needs to be assembled. As you can imagine, a whole kitchen’s worth of cabinets comes in A LOT of boxes. So many boxes that I didn’t even get a good picture of them because I had to put them in two rooms. Fortunately, they stacked very easily, so it wasn’t too difficult to navigate around them. Unfortunately, the boxes were not in any particular order. They were all clearly labeled with their numbers (and I had a handy list that told me exactly what parts when to what cabinet), but I had to hunt pieces down for every cabinet.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The most important thing you need when building an Ikea Sektion Kitchen is someone to help you. One person who is fairly strong and has a little experience with Ikea furniture is idea. The cabinets are no more difficult to put together than a desk, but they are bulky. While a 12 or 18-inch wide cabinet was easy for me to handle on my own, the larger cabinets – 30 and 36-inch units, and the full size pantries/cabinets – are basically impossible for one person to move around by themselves. If you have someone helping (my boyfriend was a huge help with my kitchen!), the construction process also goes much more quickly. The cabinets are all put together basically the same way, so building box after box is not difficult if you have a nice open space to work in.
The first thing that you install when building a Sektion kitchen are suspension rails. These rails mount on the wall, both for upper and lower cabinets, and all of the cabinets are “hung” on them. While it does take a little bit of time to level the rails, you won’t have to worry about leveling anything else as you put up your cabinets. This makes the actual “installation” very simple. The rails hold a tremendous amount of wait and are securely mounted to studs in your walls, so no need to worry about your cabinets going anywhere once they’re up and full of dishes.
Since my place is a bit older with a floor that is not-quite-level, using the rail system also meant that I didn’t have to shim any cabinets or worry about minor high-low variations in my foundation. Believe me when I say that not having to worry about things being level in an older place is really, really nice.
Once the rails are in place, it is time to build the cabinets. Using my kitchen layout as a guide, we build the cabinets from one wall to the other, all in order. It is slightly easier to access the upper cabinets if you hang them first (because there is nothing in the way beneath them), but it isn’t a big deal. The cabinets are designed to all go together, regardless of the finish that you get, and the whole design will come together very quickly once the cabinets start going up.
It may look like all the cabinets are “floating”, but the lower cabinets actually rest on legs that you add in after the cabinets are up. Adding the legs individually lets you accommodate any unevenness in the floor (and mine, being older, was not completely even in places!) and gives the cabinets a lot of stability and load-bearing capacity.
The hardest pieces to work with were the floor-to–ceiling pantry and oven cabinets. They were gigantic, heavy and not at all easy to maneuver into the spots they needed to be. I recommend building them as close to their final resting place as possible, if possible. We put them up first because the anchored the kitchen at both ends – and took a much needed break after each before resuming work.
After all the cabinets were in place, the next thing to do was add the countertop. I could have hung all the doors first, but I didn’t want to risk getting scratches on them while the countertop installers were working. In hindsight, the counters went on so easily it wouldn’t have been a problem, but installing the doors, drawers and other accessories is easy enough that it didn’t make much difference. We also added in the appliances around this time.
The results were fantastic and well worth the effort that went into building everything. You can, of course, hire an Ikea-affiliated contractor to put the kitchen together and install it for you if you don’t have the time to do it yourself. This option is not terribly expensive (when compared to a custom kitchen), but will probably cost a few thousand dollars depending on the size of your kitchen. The pros will also do it faster, as they have built many kitchens and you (most likely) are building your first. Our kitchen took us about a week and we didn’t work on it all day, everyday. We could have done it faster, though it was nice not to have to rush like crazy to get it done.
So, should you consider building an Ikea Sektion kitchen yourself when remodeling your kitchen? The answer is yes if you are slightly handy, have some extra time on your hands and have at least one (also slightly handy) person there to help you put everything together. The answer is no if you need the job done on a short timeline, feel uncomfortable with the idea of putting together a lot of Ikea furniture or don’t want to have to take multiple trips to the recycling center to get rid of lots of flat-pack cardboard boxes. If any of these apply, I still recommend the kitchen, but would strongly encourage you to bite the bullet and have pro installers put it in.
In case you’ve missed out on the story so far: