Well low and behold, we have purchased the IKEA kitchen! I’ve been mentally preparing myself for a while, knowing that many people have experienced some frustrations during the purchase process (not to mention the assembly) so I came armed and ready. You can find plenty of posts on the subject, and one was even posted on one of my favorite blogs The Kitchn the very day I went to go buy the kitchen. If that isn’t a sign…
Here’s my take on buying an IKEA kitchen:
- PREPARE. measure, measure, measure. In our small kitchen we have zero margin for error so we have to be as precise as possible. Our contractor suggested that we spend the $60 to have them come out and measure for themselves. The person they sent out was from a third party but it definitely was a good idea. If you’re having trouble using the IKEA kitchen planning tool (ok, you WILL have trouble using the planning tool), I’d suggest paying for the design service as well. They’ll know the capabilities and limitations of your space and have plenty of working knowledge of IKEA kitchens that a computer program won’t allow.
- DO A STOCK CHECK. Here’s how you do it: use the IKEA planning tool to print out a summary page of all the items you need. There will be a lot! The best way is to cut and paste the item number into the search box on the IKEA site. Without fail, the item will pop up with the exact specifications selected (white, 12″ cabinet with drawers). Add this to a wishlist you make into your IKEA account. When you’re done, you’ll be able to select your IKEA location from a drop-down menu in the wishlist and it will tell you what’s in stock and what isn’t. Since we live in LA, there are no less than four IKEA locations that are within 50 miles of us. Instead of going to Burbank where they don’t carry our ÄDEL kitchen cabinets, we went to Costa Mesa where they had everything in stock. If you live in SoCal, this is a good way to go.
- DO NOT GO ON THE WEEKEND. You are asking for trouble. It’s stressful enough going there and buying a throw pillow, so don’t put yourself through that when you’re going to make a very complicated $4000+ purchase. Take the day off if you have to and plan it well in advance. Mr. Los Angeles took the morning off work and we drove to IKEA Costa Mesa at 9am. We were both shocked how empty it was! It ended up being one of the least stressful IKEA trips to date.
- BE AWARE OF THE SALES. If you asked an IKEA employee point blank when they’re next sale will be, they’ll probably tell you. I know that there will be one starting in March, but I didn’t want the hassle of having items not being in stock. We went less than two weeks before the next scheduled kitchen sale and you know what? They have a 14-day price guarantee. Since we spent over $4500, we get 20% off! We actually were about $500 off but then we added the kitchen sink we wanted and some of the interior dividers for the doors and that put us $32 over. Our sales associate was extremely helpful with this and looking back I’m so glad he told us about the price guarantee. I’ll go back in about a week and get $900ish back. I’ve decided this is the perfect time to go: one week before a sale. You’ll beat the crowds and chances are your items will be in stock (you think #3 was a good idea? Try going to IKEA during the kitchen sale on a weekend. Welcome to hell!!!).
- CALL YOUR CREDIT CARD COMPANY/BANK. How often do I make a purchase over $1000? Until recently, rarely. $2000? A few times in my life. $3000? Probably never aside from a car. Banks knows this and if they’re fraud department is worth their salt, they’ll deny your transaction. To be safe, call them an hour before you plan to make a purchase and let them know which retailer and how much you’ll spending.
- PAY FOR DELIVERY. I drive a Prius, so I doubt the silverware drawer would fit. It was $99 for us. Clearly a no-brainer.
- DOUBLE-TRIPLE-CHECK EACH ITEM. You’ll receive both a receipt (the longest receipt you’ve ever seen) and a PO for your kitchen when you buy it. HANG ON TO THIS WITH YOUR LIFE. You’ll need it if you need to make returns/exchanges, and IKEA can be very fussy about the receipts. When your kitchen is delivered, do a “check-in” system. Mark each item off on your list one at a time. If you don’t and something is missing and you give the delivery guy the thumbs-up via your signature, you are out of luck. At that point you’d better hope the manager at IKEA will help you out, but I never count on good customer service these days. We went and checked all the items, and we got one item that was the wrong size (but the right item) and two items we didn’t order. Good thing we checked!
- CHECK FOR DAMAGE, ESPECIALLY ON LARGE ITEMS. It’s kind of silly to suggest that you open every single package and check for damage, but here’s what happened to us. We bought a large pantry cabinet. It sat in our living room for two months in a box. I’m not sure if it happened during delivery or while it was sitting quietly in our living room, but the two large side panels CRACKED plus one of the shelves. We were able to DIY a fix but it could have been awful. So here’s what I suggest: open anything you can’t fit easily into your car and check for damage. You can always take back that tiny fan cabinet but taking back those huge floor-to-ceiling cabinets is tough unless you have a huge truck and several able-bodied helpers. Do the check while your items are being delivered. If you can’t do this for some reason, do it as soon as possible so you can arrange to have it picked up in case you find a damaged item. When I called to see if I could exchange it, they gave me two options: go to IKEA to return it and get a new one, or go to IKEA to buy a new one and arrange to have the damaged one picked up while I was in the store. We were right in the middle of finishing our cabinet installation when we discovered the problem, so it was easier for us to come up with our own solution to fix it.