How to Elevate an Ikea Kitchen

by | Last updated Apr 14, 2021 | Apartment Renovations, Interior Design

Ikea kitchens are an affordable option for many people, which is why they are so popular. The biggest problem with this more affordable option is that it can end up looking cheap. When designing an affordable kitchen, it is still important to make the design good, even though you are working within a budget.

So you have decided to renovate your kitchen, or perhaps you are building a new home. Either way, you need to determine your budget for what you are willing to spend on your kitchen. If your budget is on the lower end of the spectrum, then you will probably be considering Ikea as one of your options. An Ikea cabinet is cheap compared to many other higher end brands or custom cabinets, but with the right design sense you can make an Ikea kitchen look way better than you may expect!

In order to make an Ikea kitchen look good, you need to think of the entire kitchen as a whole. Make sure you have an well thought out overall design. Everything from the layout, appliances selection, and colors, to backsplash design and accessories will affect the way you perceive your kitchen. You should work within your budget, but make sure there is deep thought and planning going into every decision.

I am Jorge Fontan, an architect and owner of Fontan Architecture, a New York City based architecture firm. I have designed many kitchens of all price ranges, using everything from Ikea cabinets to custom and luxury brands. In this post we are going to look at one particular kitchen in a Brooklyn apartment I renovated where we used an Ikea kitchen. I personally think this kitchen looks pretty damn good for Ikea. Let’s take a look at some of the decisions and details that helped make this Ikea kitchen look good.

 

Open Kitchen Layout

The first step to any kitchen is working out the layout. There are lots of things to consider when you are laying out your kitchen, but let’s start with the first question: will it be open, semi open, or enclosed? These days we are mostly doing open kitchens, but everyone has different tastes and different lifestyles. In this apartment we were doing an open kitchen with an island. First off, having an open kitchen already is a good start to making your Ikea kitchen look good, and the island helps as well.

You need to think of the layout. How will you place the appliances and sink? How will the island function? What are the dimensions and locations of the cabinets? These are all important factors to consider. The open layout gives you are real great visual and interactive physical connection with the dining and living room. The kitchen becomes a focal point and must be treated as such.

 

Kitchen Island

A kitchen island is a really popular option for modern kitchens. They are functional and aesthetically pleasing. In this kitchen we put a small island but made it deep to allow for an overhang that accommodates two stools. This is perfect for breakfast, informal dining, or just relaxing with a coffee. It can also double as a homework space if you need to keep a close eye on your children.

The island is overall quite simple, but making it deeper makes this Ikea kitchen look more expensive and a bit more grand. The layout is well thought out and works with a bit of symmetry and asymmetry at the same time. You can see the appliance wall is symmetrical, but the island seating is not.

Ikea Kitchen Island

Ikea Kitchen Island

 

Coordinate The Color Scheme 

The color scheme for this kitchen is quite simple: black, white, and grey. We know these colors work together and that variations within will still work. This coordination and simplicity of the color scheme really elevates this kitchen design.

The cabinets are a dark, almost black, color, the backsplash is black, the appliances are stainless steel, and the countertop is a very light grey, almost off-white material. The wall off to the side is black and the floor is grey slate-look porcelain.

Black and white Ikea Kitchen

Black and white Ikea Kitchen

 

Countertop Waterfall 

I try not to spend too much time concerned with what is trendy and popular, but a countertop waterfall is quite popular and really looks nice. The waterfall is when the countertop material continues down the side of the cabinet on an exposed face. In this kitchen we put a waterfall on the two ends of the kitchen island. This detail can elevate any kitchen, Ikea or otherwise. I strongly recommend considering a waterfall detail if you have an island or peninsula in your kitchen.

This countertop is from Caesarstone and was installed with a miter cut corner made with two pieces cut at a 45 degree angle. This is going to look much better than a butt joint. The idea is that the seam of the two slabs should be as discreet as possible. This one little detail is the difference between whether or not a countertop waterfall looks cheap.

You also need to think about the material for the countertop and how it will look on the waterfall. If it has veins like marble you want these to be continuous turning down the side. The pattern should flow and not look like it was cut from three different pieces. Consistency is the key to good design in many cases.

Caesarstone Countertop Waterfall

Caesarstone Countertop Waterfall

 

Sleek Backsplash

The backsplash in a kitchen is very noticeable and can act as a focal point in the design. It can also be made to blend in or disappear. You need to take a stance on the backsplash: should it blend or pop?

In this kitchen we took a two-step approach. We used a black subway tile that would blend in and work well with our overall color scheme, but we went with a very shiny option. This makes it blend in color, while the shine gives it a subtle pop.

Subway tile is a really great affordable option for a kitchen backsplash. If you want to see more options you can check out Kitchen Backsplash Design Ideas.

Black Subway Tile Backsplash

Black Subway Tile Backsplash

 

Large Faucet

We put the sink in the kitchen island, making it very visible. The faucet will therefore be a prominent element in the design. By selecting a faucet on the larger side, we were able to balance out the scale of the open space and the size of the faucet. If the faucet was smaller, it would look out of space in a kitchen with this type of layout. All the elements have to be appropriate for their location.

If you read my other blog posts on interiors you will see a recurring theme of details being what makes or breaks the design. All decisions must be made in context. Using this faucet in this location is an example of both.

Large Faucet

Large Kitchen Faucet in the island to balance the scale of the kitchen elements

 

Porcelain Floor

Flooring is such a critical choice for interior design in any space and the kitchen is a great example. In this kitchen we went with a grey porcelain tile that looks like slate. It goes with the overall vibe of the kitchen and works well in the design.

Porcelain is a great option if you are on a budget. It is more affordable than marble or stone, and actually performs very well. Porcelain does not absorb like natural stone, making it more resistant to fading or discoloration. It is strong and can take a reasonable amount of action. Another great advantage of porcelain is that there is a huge range of options available with different manufacturers in all price ranges. You should be able to find something that suits you and your budget.

Grey Slate Kitchen Floor

Grey Slate Kitchen Floor

 

High End Appliances

One expensive thing this kitchen does have is high-end appliances. There are two sub zero refrigerators in this kitchen which cost quite a bit. As an architect, my opinion is that good quality appliances are worth spending extra money on. If your budget allows you to splurge on one or two things, I would focus on appliances and fixtures.

Modern Ikea Kitchen

Modern Ikea Kitchen

 

Magnetic Paint

Small and simple details such as magnetic paint can help the functionality of a space and add a personal touch. The wall below was painted black to go with the kitchen, and the magnetic aspect elevates this wall to act as both a decorative and personal space.

Magnetic Wall Paint Ideas

Magnetic Wall Paint Ideas

 

Elevating an Ikea Kitchen

Just because you do not spend a great deal of money on your kitchen cabinets does not mean the kitchen has to look cheap. Using good judgement in design is way more valuable at the end of the day. Every detail must be thought out, and all the details must work together to create one cohesive space that is designed personally for you.

Ikea Kitchen design

Ikea Kitchen design

 


Thank You for Reading Our Blog Post on Enhancing an Ikea Kitchen Design

I hope this was helpful. If you would like to speak with an architect about a potential project you can contact us at Fontan Architecture directly.

 

Contact Fontan Architecture

 

Jorge Fontan
Jorge Fontan

This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 15 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.