I thought I would write down my pearls of wisdom, such as they are, while they are still fresh in my mind, for others who are interested in doing their own kitchen reno. Mine has been thoroughly enjoyable and I wish you the very best of luck for yours.

First of all, I was impressed by the quality of the IKEA components. Everything had a nice solid feel and went together really well, without gaps or problems with the fit. The drawers, for instance, are absolutely sturdy and well made, and will easily take a load of heavy crockery or whatever else you are going to put in them. Ask me again after 10 years of wear, but so far the quality seems excellent. The design and engineering are really good, and a whole lot of thought has been put into every little aspect. Because so many other people have installed IKEA kitchens, there is a plethora of help and advice via google and YouTube to draw on. Make as much use of it as you can, it really makes the job easier.

Because we installed the kitchen ourselves, we could adjust our design as we went along and that was really valuable. Just be sure you keep all your dockets in a safe place, because if you need to exchange anything you will need them. We exchanged some cupboards for smaller and/or deeper, one door to a different colour because we were given the wrong one, changed the handles to a different style etc. Knowing where to find your dockets is also important if there is a problem with something later on. A friend of mine had her oven break down after a couple of years, and because she could not find her dockets she could not get it replaced for free. I put mine into an envelope and filed them in a safe place, so if I need to claim on my 25 year warranty I hopefully will be able to do so.

When your items are delivered, it is important to count the number of packages. I was not prepared and fluffed that rather miserably. In my defence, there were 130 flatpacks, plus handles, hinges and other small pieces, 189 individual items in all and they kept coming, some in bundles where you could not see how many there were. Once delivered and crammed into a small space they were impossible to count, so I just made sure all the expensive bits were there. Thankfully we were only short of two packets of legs, $10 in total, but that is just as well. You get 7 days to claim for missing items, and when I tried claiming a couple of days outside this period, because that was when I discovered the problem, they completely ignored me. I am not prepared to fuss over $10, but if it was more serious I don’t know how it would have gone. That said, I thought at various points that something was missing, only to find it later. Easy to do with 189 pieces.

Keep the paperwork the kitchen designer gives you that lists all the cupboards with their components. If you lose it, you are toast! Impossible to know what goes with what without it. I referred to it constantly for all sorts of things, like codes to find the right package in the pile or what type of hinges went with a particular door. It is your bible, keep it where you can find it!

Putting the cupboards together is easy and does not require any particular carpentry or DIY skills. But you need to read your instructions really carefully and completely. If you don’t understand something, take the time to research online and puzzle it out before you go ahead. Skimp on that and you will ultimately waste time having to undo and redo things. IKEA has tested and refined their instructions over many years, so if something seems silly, assume that you misunderstood, not that they are idiots. I know I sound as if I am on their payroll, but believe me, I’m just a satisfied customer.

Cutting the holes into the sink and benchtops is in a different league to putting together a cupboard. The former does require some skill and knowledge of tools, and a familiarity with carpentry. If you are a total novice, get someone else to do it or buy custom made. Or approach with extreme caution, read everything you can find online and watch all the videos. Be prepared for a challenging job.

All that said, don’t sweat the small stuff. We did make mistakes, but none of them mattered in the end. The small crack in the worktop behind the sink that gave me conniptions cannot be seen unless you specifically look for it, and the same is true for assorted other little oopsies. Probably the biggest mistake we made was the raw material we used for our display shelves. Too lazy to make the 3 hour round trip to IKEA, we bought melamine shelving from the local hardware store. When it was installed we were horrified to notice that the white of the melamine was quite different from the IKEA white. We fully intended to rectify this with proper IKEA shelves, but when we put all our display items on the shelves to see what it would look like, we were amazed to find that the colour difference disappeared. The eye was completely captured by what was ON the shelves, and the shelves themselves became background, totally unnoticed.

Timewise, while the cupboards go together quickly, the finishing takes much longer than you would expect. I would even go as far as to say that 90% of the work will be done in 50% of the total time. The last 10% will take the other half. So if you are planning to finish for Christmas Day, or that huge birthday bash for your darling spouse, be warned. On the other hand, a kitchen that is 90% finished will probably be fully functional, just not ready to be shown off in all its glory to your admiring guests.

So, can I recommend the experience? I can. Would I do it again? Absolutely!