Kitchen Cabinets Without Doors

5 Things We Learned While Buying an IKEA Kitchen

  • You don't need to buy IKEA's door and drawer fronts.

Besides price, this was the single biggest factor for us. IKEA's system is so flexible and modular, you can buy the cabinets without any doors or drawer fronts. I liked IKEA's flexibility and price, but I wasn't crazy about their various looks. I wanted real wood veneer, and also a custom color for some of the cabinets. (IKEA cabinets are hard to paint well.)

Based in Los Angeles, Semihandmade is a sister company to Handmade, which makes fine furniture and cabinetry. Semihandmade offers this craftsmanship at a lower price with doors and drawer fronts crafted to fit IKEA cabinets exactly. I worked with the Semihandmade owner John McDonald to plan out and order drawer fronts, doors, side panels, and filler pieces for my IKEA kitchen plan. I sent him the IKEA kitchen plan I made and he gave me a list and a quote of everything the kitchen needed.

It was super simple, and the results are absolutely stunning. I even got cut-outs instead of hardware handles on most of the drawers, just like I wanted.

Using Semihandmade was probably the single best decision we made through our entire kitchen renovation process. The cost was radically lower than custom cabinetry but it still gave me the modern luxe look I wanted.

While I simply cannot praise Semihandmade enough, there are other companies too that do custom doors and drawers for IKEA cabinets (Scherr's, most notably).

  • You will develop Stockholm syndrome with the IKEA software.

IKEA has a wonderful, horrible, addictive, amazing little piece of software that helps you plan out your kitchen. It is an app you use right in your web browser, which can make it buggy.

The IKEA planning software starts out with you drawing your room with the correct proportions, then populating it with cabinets to your specifications. You can add in different wall colors, flooring, and outside views to add a little more (virtual) verisimilitude. You can adjust countertop, door fronts, and appliances too. All of this is quite fun, and there is a magic moment when you switch into the 3-D rendered view and see your kitchen just as it will appear in real life! Bliss.

But it's also a little crazy-making. Moving objects sometimes just breaks for no apparent reason. It's tricky to change the size of a room — and sometimes the walls will suddenly move of their own accord. You have to save frequently; it doesn't save your work automatically. There were times I literally wanted to pull my hair out, after I had done a lot of work and then my browser crashed, taking all that work with it.

So you will love their software and hate it at the same time. It lets you visualize your kitchen, painstaking bit by bit. It's quite powerful, though, and it helps you budget by creating a shopping list with everything in the kitchen. So, plan on playing with their software for a long time, building your kitchen virtually and checking out proportions there before actually buying your cabinets. I built scads of slightly different layouts, bringing them to our architect and contractor for their thoughts and, then actually drawing them in real life at the playground and on the subfloor of our new kitchen.

PLAY AROUND: IKEA Kitchen Planner

  • Wait for a kitchen sale.

This is pretty simple: We ordered our whole kitchen over the summer, during one of IKEA's big kitchen sales. Usually the way these work is that if you spend a certain amount you will get 10 percent off, and if you spend a little more, 20 percent. We also purchased our bathroom cabinetry during this sale (we used kitchen cabinets in our master bath) and a big pantry unit, as well as a kitchen island as a workbench for my husband in the basement. We loaded up! And it was all 20 percent off. Obviously this really makes a difference in the budget.

  • Prepare (and over-prepare) for a very long ordering experience at the store.
    We thought we were super prepared and we breezed into the IKEA store, which is about 90 miles away from where we live, hoping to be out in a couple hours. Ha ha. No way. The ordering process for the cabinets is quite involved. You bring in your IKEA kitchen plan, and then log in to their computers and show it to a (probably harried) employee. The employee has to go through and order each piece on your list, bit by bit. This is the downside of such a modular system — you are essentially ordering hundreds of little boxes at once.
  • Check everything as soon as it is delivered, even if it takes a few hours. IKEA will happily correct anything that is missing or wrong!

We live 90 miles away from IKEA, and we didn't want the cabinets delivered right away. So we paid for a delivery service. They brought everything right into our house, a process that took over an hour. All of the kitchen pieces were in boxes with strange pseudo-Swedish names.


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  • avatar who sells kitchen base cabinet, shell only. No doors.? | Yahoo Answers
    • Most cabinet manufacturers offer a "no door" option. Usually, it is just a deduction from the regular cabinet price. The hard part is making sure that the doors will fit as planned. I'd suggest getting one cabinet, first, as a test.