Home Improvement, Remodeling, Renovation, Kitchens

A Bright, White Kitchen in Fairmount


When a couple from the Fairmount area of Philadelphia asked "How do you feel about an IKEA kitchen?" I felt pretty good. I've actually come around on IKEA kitchens.

Not long ago, the cabinets were flimsy, the drawers kept jumping the runners and installation was needlessly complicated. But they've come a long way.

In the past few years, I've come to respect the product and system improvements enough that we installed IKEA cabinets in our own kitchen. They're affordable, smartly designed, reasonably durable and machined so exactly that my nephew and his buddy were able to assemble mine in a couple days while on summer break from high school.

The construction of an IKEA cabinet frame (AKURUM) is particleboard with a white or beech-colored plastic laminate. Sounds flimsy, but actually similarly constructed to a more expensive KraftMaid cabinet. Only custom cabinetmakers consistently use solid plywood anymore, and you're going to pay dearly for that. Also the argument can be made that plywood can warp over time, that the wood-chip material in the IKEA cabs is more eco-friendly, etc.  - but really, the bottom line is that it's a box. Correctly installed, it's going to last as long as anything else on the market.

IKEA doesn't skimp on the doors, though. They're solid wood with a good quality veneer, and they have a variety of finishes, glass doors and lacquered-style colors. There are also companies online that will custom-make or refinish IKEA doors and panels to your style. If you're going custom, though, I'd recommend waiting until the cabinets are completely installed - the ease of purchase makes it very tempting to tinker with the layout while in process, and if you've already ordered doors based on the original plan...well, you see my point (yes I was guilty of this myself).

The glides, hinges and legs are just as good as any other manufacturer I've worked with. And the soft-closing door and drawer mechanisms are a nice touch.

The client's 1980s-era kitchen remodel in their 100-year-old Fairmount row home was relatively straightforward. We replaced the floor and backsplash with tile from our go-to team at Bell Floor Covering in Northern Liberties. The Cambria Torquay quartz was ordered through IKEA, where we also got the under-cabinet lighting. We added a peninsula with a wine/beer fridge and also installed several strategically placed 5-inch recessed lights.

We installed a Fagor induction cooktop, along with KitchenAid and Fisher & Paykel appliances.

A bright, contemporary, chef-friendly kitchen for the 21st century.

See more pictures.