Ikea kitchens are popular options for those who are looking to renovate affordably. Though cost-friendly, the less expensive option can risk appearing cheap. The kitchen’s design is crucial in renovating, especially when working within a budget.
I am Jorge Fontan, architect and owner of Fontan Architecture, a New York City-based architecture firm. In our office, we have designed many kitchens of all price ranges, using everything from Ikea cabinets to custom and luxury brands.
In this post, we will look at a kitchen renovation I completed in a Brooklyn apartment using an Ikea kitchen. I think this kitchen looks pretty damn good for Ikea! Let’s look at some of the decisions and details that helped make this kitchen look good and come in on budget.
To properly style an Ikea kitchen, you need to think of the entire kitchen as a whole. Every design aspect, from the layout, appliances, colors, and backsplash or accessories, will affect the design. It would be best to work within your budget, but make sure deep thought and planning go into every decision.
Open Kitchen Layout
The first step in any kitchen is establishing the layout. There are many things to consider when laying out your kitchen, but let’s start with the first question: will it be open, semi-open, or enclosed?
These days we mostly do open kitchens, but everyone has different tastes and lifestyles. In this apartment, we were doing an open kitchen with an island. First, having an open kitchen is already an excellent start to making your Ikea kitchen look good, and the island also helps.
Here are the questions you should consider: How will you place the appliances and sink? How will the island function? What are the dimensions and locations of the cabinets? It would help if you thought about the layout first.
An open layout gives you a great visual and interactive connection with the dining and living room. Opening the kitchen makes it a focal point and must be treated as such.
A kitchen island is a popular option for modern renovations as they are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. In this kitchen, we chose a small island but made it deep to allow for an overhang that accommodates two stools. This island is perfect for breakfast, informal dining, or just relaxing with a coffee. It can also double as a homework space if you have children.
This island is overall quite simple, but giving it depth causes this Ikea kitchen to appear grander. In addition, you can see that while the appliance wall is symmetrical, the island seating is not. This layout was well-thought-out and balanced different design elements to create a polished and high-end look at a moderate cost.
Coordinate The Color Scheme
The color scheme for this kitchen is relatively neutral: black, white, and grey. We know these colors work together and that variations within it still work. The coordination and simplicity of the color scheme elevate this kitchen design by keeping it simple.
The cabinets are very dark, nearly black, complementing the black backsplash well. Moreover, the stainless steel appliances and the light grey countertop with an almost off-white material coexist nicely. Finally, the black side wall and grey-slate porcelain floor allow for a cohesive, polished look.
I try not to spend 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. A miter is going to look much better than a butt joint. The goal is for the seam of the two slabs to be as discreet as possible. This 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 continue 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.
The backsplash in a kitchen is very noticeable and can be a focal point in the design. The backsplash can also blend in. You must 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 chose a very shiny option. The finish makes it blend in color, while the shine gives it a subtle pop.
Subway tile is a great affordable option for a kitchen backsplash. You can check out another post we wrote on Kitchen Backsplash Design Ideas if you want more options.
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 spout on the larger side, we could balance out the open space’s scale and the faucet’s size. If the faucet were smaller, it would look out of scale in a kitchen with this type of layout. All the elements have to be appropriate for their location.
Flooring is 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 an excellent option if you are on a budget. It is more affordable than marble or stone and 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 various options are available from different manufacturers in all price ranges. You should be able to find something that suits you and your budget.
One expensive thing this kitchen does have is high-end appliances. This kitchen has two Sub-Zero refrigerators, which cost quite a bit. As an architect, good quality appliances are worth spending extra money on. If your budget allows you to splurge on one or two things, I will focus on appliances and fixtures.
Small and simple details, such as magnetic paint, can help the functionality of a space and add a personal touch. We painted the wall below black to go with the kitchen, and the magnetic aspect elevates this wall to act as both a decorative and personal space.
We have another post discussing Magnetic Paint if you want to read more.
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 judgment in design is way more valuable at the end of the day. Every detail must be thought out, and all the components must work together to create one cohesive space that is designed personally for you.
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 are planning, you can contact us at Fontan Architecture directly.
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 20 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.