Ikea kitchens are an affordable option for many people. This is why they are so popular. The biggest problem with this more affordable option is that it can end up looking cheap. When designing a kitchen with more affordable products it is important to make the design look good while still making the budget work.
In order to make an Ikea kitchen look good you need to think of the entire kitchen as a whole and make sure you have an overall well thought out design. Everything from the layout, appliances selection, colors, 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.
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. But you may think Ikea looks cheap. An Ikea cabinet is cheap compared to many other higher end brands or custom cabinets but with the right design sense you can really elevate an Ikea kitchen and make it look way better than you might think.
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. Lets 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 an open kitchen, 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 you place the appliances and sink is important, how the island works, and what are the cabinet sizes and locations. 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.
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.
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 color almost black, 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.
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 where 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. A miter cut means the corner is 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.
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 kind of took a two step approach to this. 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, but also 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 another blog post I wrote on Kitchen Backsplash Design Ideas.
We put the sink in the kitchen island and therefore the faucet will be a prominent element in the design as it is very visible. By selecting a somewhat large faucet (there are bigger than this) we balanced the scale of the open space and the size of the faucet. If the faucet was much smaller it would look silly in a kitchen with this type of layout. All the elements have to be appropriate for their location.
If you read my blog posts on interiors you will see a recurring theme where I say the details are what make or break the design, and that all decisions must be made in context. Using this faucet in this location is an example of both.
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 it is actually very good in performance. 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 many different manufacturers of all price ranges. So you should be able to find something that suits you.
High End Appliances
One thing this kitchen does have that is expensive are some high end appliances. There are two sub zero refrigerators in this kitchen which cost quite a bit. As an architect I have to say in my opinion good quality appliances are worth spending the extra money on. If your budget allows you to splurge on one or two things, I would focus that on appliances and fixtures.
Small and simple details such as magnetic paint can help the functionality of a space and add a personal touch. The wall was painted black to go with the kitchen but it becomes a decorative and personal space.
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.
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.
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.