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How to Design a Beautiful, Elevated Kitchen Using Pieces from IKEA

A kitchen with custom IKEA cabinets

Anne Sage

Remodeling your kitchen can be an exciting challenge. But, depending on how you do it, it can also be a very expensive challenge. If you're daydreaming of a new kitchen, it's worth getting creative and embrace opportunities to save money where you can.

One great way to do this? Outfit your kitchen in IKEA products. The budget-friendly store is loaded with kitchen essentials—including shelves, cabinets, appliances, and more. And since there are so many ways to customize your IKEA buys, you can transform your kitchen into an elevated space that looks way more expensive than it is.

Don’t believe us? The following 10 kitchens were crafted using IKEA finds, and they’re some of the prettiest spaces we’ve ever seen. Scroll on to learn more about how these stunning IKEA kitchens came together—and plan to walk away with a few IKEA kitchen ideas of your own.

01 of 10

Take Full Advantage of the Customizability

A light-filled kitchen with IKEA cabinets

Hydrangea Treehouse

The key selling point of any IKEA kitchen? It’s completely customizable. You don’t have to cram pre-made cabinets into your space or splurge on custom shelving. Instead, you can simply use IKEA’s Sektion system—a collection of modular kitchen cabinets and shelves—to piece together a kitchen that perfectly suits your needs.

When redesigning her kitchen, Kelin of Hydrangea Treehouse did exactly this. “I wanted to have full control on my kitchen layout,” she says. This level of customization allowed her to separate her kitchen into different zones—one for prepping, one for cleaning, and one for cooking.

And because she bought her cabinets through IKEA, Kelin loves that she can simply buy new options any time she wants to change up her layout.

A white kitchen cabinet currently for sale at IKEA
IKEA Sektion Wall Cabinet $311.00
02 of 10

Spring for Custom Cabinet Doors

A kitchen with custom IKEA cabinets

Anne Sage

One popular way to dress up an IKEA kitchen is to go for custom cabinet doors. That may sound expensive, but thanks to businesses like Semihandmade, it’s actually surprisingly budget-friendly.

Semihandmade specializes in making custom fronts for IKEA cabinets specifically. And often, these fronts cost just as much—or as littleas IKEA's offerings. It’s worth noting that just about every kitchen featured in this article boasts custom Semihandmade fronts, including the one pictured above by blogger Anne Sage .

“The Semihandmade concept is simple: they make doors for the IKEA kitchen system, meaning you get the cost effectiveness and ease of design planning provided by IKEA, but also get to create a unique, higher-end look that’s all your own,” Sage says.

Sage adds that she opted for custom wood fronts from Semihandmade’s Impression range to add a touch of dynamic detail to her space.

A wood panel kitchen cabinet front you can buy at Semihandmade
Semihandmade Tahoe Impression Door $123.00
03 of 10

Work With the Space You Have

A small kitchen lined with IKEA cabinets

Design: Michelle Zacks, Photo: Vincent Dilio

Because IKEA’s kitchen system is totally modular, it’s a great option when you’re dealing with a small space. Interior designer Michelle Zacks took full advantage of this when redesigning a kitchen in a Lower East Side home. 

As is the case in many Manhattan homes, space was incredibly limited in this kitchen, but the ceilings were pretty high. Zacks expanded the ceiling upward and added a layer of upper cabinets from IKEA to the kitchen.

“It was a combination of solving functional problems and making it aesthetically more in line with the rest of the apartment,” Zacks tells Architectural Digest

What’s nice? Zacks’ solution wasn’t just clever—it was also pretty budget-friendly, too.

A forest green kitchen cabinet you can buy at IKEA
IKEA Sektion Wall Cabinet $228.00
04 of 10

Stock Up on Everything You Need

A kitchenette with gray IKEA cabinets

Yellow Brick Home

IKEA is a great place to stock up on cabinets and shelves—but those aren’t the only kitchen must-haves on offer at the store. You can also find faucets, hardware, and as Kim and Scott of Yellow Brick Home thoughtfully pointed out, appliances, too.

“With a small exception—the butcher block countertops and tile backsplash—almost everything in this galley kitchen is from IKEA: the refrigerator, dishwasher, range and hood included,” Kim says.

Even better? The pair bought everything during IKEA’s annual kitchen sale—which saved them a whopping 20% on their final purchase.

An induction range you can buy at IKEA
IKEA Tvarsaker Induction Cooktop Range $1,099.00
05 of 10

Play With Your Palette

A two-tone kitchen with white and navy IKEA kitchen cabinets

Aubrie Pick, The Good Studios

Remember that all the cabinets in your space don’t have to look identical. When designing this commercial shoot kitchen, photographer Aubrie Pick opted for two different cabinet colors. To keep things feeling light and bright, she left her upper IKEA cabinets white.

“I wanted a neutral backdrop with a little bit of personality, so I picked Semihandmade’s Supermatte Night Sky Slab doors for the bottom,” Pick told Semihandmade. This two-tone approach made Pick’s space feel even more dynamic, and she rounded out her color scheme with matte black appliances and hardware. 

Another great tip? Pick wanted the flexibility to roll her kitchen island in and out of her space—something she says IKEA doesn’t recommend, because it could make the island more likely to tip over. To combat this, she worked with a contractor to build a custom solid base for the island.

A black kitchen island you can buy at IKEA
IKEA Vadholma Kitchen Island $449.00
06 of 10

Make Use of IKEA’S Kitchen Layout Planner

A kitchen with IKEA cabinets and a printed backsplash

Amanda Holstein

Pro tip: IKEA offers a custom layout planner you can use to virtually design your space before buying anything. Blogger Amanda Holstein took full advantage of this tool when redesigning her kitchen, and she recommends using the layout planner in-store alongside one of IKEA’s customer service reps to make sure all your bases are covered.

“There are certain details I didn’t realize I’d need that the customer service rep made sure we included,” Holstein says. 

Because IKEA’s cabinetry options are modular, it can take time to figure out what will fit into your space. “It took a lot of trial and error with their 3D Planner,” Holstein says, adding that the entire virtual layout process took about 3 hours to complete.

07 of 10

Change Up Your Textures

A marble-lined kitchen with custom IKEA cabinets

Design: Space Exploration, Photo: Nicole Franzen

Kitchens are full of opportunities for texture: you have cabinets, shelves, and countertops to play with, not to mention your backsplash and your floors. These elements can be as similar or as different as you want them to be, and since you can pull pieces from different places, you can save on some items and splurge on others.

The designers at Space Exploration used IKEA cabinets in this kitchen—but we suspect they scored those marble countertops elsewhere. That said, the moment IKEA starts selling marble countertops, we will be all over it.

The designers further varied the space using glass shelves, paneled floors, and a sleek tiled backsplash. The sleek metallic hardware and lighting fixtures bring the whole kitchen together.

A black faucet you can buy at IKEA
IKEA Tollsjon Kitchen Faucet $169.00
08 of 10

Spread Warmth Throughout Your Kitchen

A wood-lined kitchen with IKEA cabinets

Design: Regan Baker Design, Photo: Suzanna Scott

Your custom fronts don’t have to stop at your cabinets—you can also get custom doors to cover your appliances and custom panels to cover your kitchen island. If you get all three from the same place, like IKEA, you can keep your space feeling cohesive and harmonious.

In this sleek San Francisco kitchen, designer Regan Baker opted for matching Semihandmade fronts for half the cabinets, the refrigerator, and the kitchen island. “By mixing in wood, we were able to bring more warmth to the space,” Baker told Semihandmade, adding that these custom fronts echo other elements in the space, like a walnut dining room table.

If you’re worried about things looking too matchy-matchy, remember that you can always use two sets of fronts to add contrast to your space.

A light blue island panel you can buy at Semihandmade
Semihandmade Agave Supermatte Slab Cover $222.00
09 of 10

Use Your Cabinets to Create the Illusion of More Space

A kitchen lined with blue IKEA cabinets

Jessica D'Itri Marés, Renovate 108 

Low on space? By extending your cabinets beyond your kitchen, you can make your kitchen feel bigger—without adding a single square inch. The trick is to use the same cabinetry inside your kitchen and just outside it, like Jessica D'Itri Marés of Renovate 108 did here.  

D'Itri Marés took a small corner of her dining room and transformed it into a wet bar, making sure its cabinets and shelves matched the ones she used in her kitchen.

“By using the same cabinets, tile, and hardware from the bar space to the pantry, the kitchen feels so much larger without adding a single square inch,” she says. “Because your eye connects all of these elements, the further you spread out common elements, the larger a space can feel.”

10 of 10

Pair Splurges and Saves

A kitchen lined with forest green IKEA cabinets

Campbells Coming Home

Remember, you don’t have to DIY everything, and you can always pair budget-friendly items with more expensive ones. Lindsay and Tyler of Campbells Coming Home worked to strike the right balance between these extremes—and the pair thoughtfully laid out exactly how much they spent on every element of their kitchen remodel in this incredibly helpful blog post.

Lindsay and Tyler DIYed a lot—they laid out their kitchen using cabinets from IKEA, and finished off those cabinets with fronts and hardware from Semihandmade. They installed everything themselves and even built a custom kitchen island for their space. But, when it came to their countertops, they sprung for a pre-made quartz option.

That amount of DIYing is probably too much for many of us, so don’t feel pressured to take on more than you feel comfortable with. Instead, look for clever places you can spend a little effort—and save a little money—to craft the kitchen of your dreams without breaking the bank.