IKEA Sektion Kitchen Remodel DIY

Sarah Seitz
December 7, 2015

IKEA Sektion Kitchen Remodel · More Info

The Story:

6 months ago my husband and I embarked upon a major kitchen remodel! We bought our Seattle 1948 mid-century rambler with basement about 3.5 years ago. It was actually the first house we saw when house-hunting, and although the home was in great shape and had good bones...the kitchen was just so outdated! And I mean top of the line 1970s chef's kitchen:

The kitchen was also completely closed off to the rest of the house, and with two young children this meant I could barely cook without employing the ol' TV babysitter while I worked. Here's a before view of the living room looking into the kitchen through that doorway. Behind the dining room is our living room. You can also see just how dark it was in that kitchen!

Kitchen Remodel Process · More Info

So 3 years after living with our 70s kitchen, we finally decided to take the plunge and do the remodel. We knew it would be a slow process since my husband was doing most of the work himself (and also has two jobs) so we moved in with my parents during the process.

Day One: DESTROY that kitchen! Goodbye drop ceiling (hello extra 12"!!), adios brown tiles galore, au revoir florescent lights and oak cabinets!

Kitchen Remodel Process · More Info

You know what's not fun to remove? 4" of mortar under said ugly brown tiles...thanks dear husband for that! We eventually figured out they used mortar to level out a transition between the kitchen subfloor and a concrete block stoop which the previous homeowner reappropriated to become part of the kitchen.

Next came the day I couldn't wait for...removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room. This was a turning point for me in the remodel, I don't think I realized how amazing and functional my house could be with a modern open concept floor plan.

Kitchen Remodel Process · More Info
Now that we had the space opened up, we realized that a huge improvement could be made to the space if we removed the wall over the stairs to our basement. After consulting a structural engineer my husband went to work securing the trusses in our attic. About a hundred dollars of materials and a few hours of (hard) work made a huge impact on our space.

Top: Before (see studs to the ceiling over the stairwell). Bottom: After (wall removed except for about a 3' section across from the dining room).

Another exciting day of the remodel, DRYWALL! Plus my cutie 3 boys :):

Kitchen Remodel Process · More Info

Now to the fun part...I designed the Kitchen using IKEA's Kitchen Planner. I have a real love/hate relationship with that program...but in the end it worked out nicely and I ended up with a really good, realistic image of what my kitchen would look like.

We purchased the cabinets during IKEA's sale and qualified for 20% off our order. The next few weeks (months...) were dedicated to putting together cabinet bases, drawers, shelves, and then finally installing the kitchen. IKEA recently switched to a new kitchen system in early 2015, Sektion, which we purchased. Being that the system is brand new, there was little to no user experience reviews of how the installation process was compared to IKEA's former system. For the most part Sektion works nicely. But folks, be warned, BUY AT LEAST A 6' LEVEL WHEN INSTALLING THE BASES. We ended up with tiny inconsistencies in the levelness of the bases and had to re-install one portion of the cabinets after a failed countertop templating.

Above you can see my kitchen plan from IKEA's program, and below how similarly it all came together.

Kitchen Remodel Process · More Info
Early on in the process I decided I wanted to put some sort of a custom spin on our IKEA kitchen. I spent hours researching custom doors/drawers for IKEA bases (Semihandmade, Kokeena, Dunsmuir, Scherr's, Evan's Cabinets & Doors, etc.) but for the most part it was either too expensive (first three options) or felt too risky to me (though I know plenty of people have used Scherr's with great success). Being that the whole design process was so DIY, I was really concerned that there would be lots of exchanges/adjustments to be made once we started the installation process, and I didn't like the idea of having to do returns and pay high shipping prices at a place like Scherr's. I live about 30 minutes from an IKEA store, and liked the idea of being able to visit the store in person to deal with issues (I'm sure I went to IKEA 5 or 6 times during the whole remodel).

What I ended up deciding to do was to purchase the IKEA Bjorket (birch) doors and have them custom painted with a highly durable conversion varnish finish here in Seattle. I also had my painters fill in the gaps the Bjorket doors/drawers have between the shaker stiles and rails. I didn't care for the way IKEA highlighted those gaps, and I think filling them in gave me a much more custom look (who would know these are IKEA cabinets?). Professional spray painting is expensive, but in the end I felt it was worth every penny for the custom look I added to the stock IKEA cabinets.

Without further adieu, here are the finished photos of my IKEA Kitchen Remodel (more in the comments as I could only attach a limited number to my post):

IKEA Sektion Kitchen Remodel · More Info

IKEA Sektion Kitchen Remodel · More Info

Find more finished pics in the comments below. Please feel free to ask any questions you have about the process or building an IKEA kitchen. We feel so blessed to call this place home!

Comments (107)

  • Sarah Seitz
    @Jancee4 The living room is painted Sherwin Williams Westchester Gray and it is a lovely dark pairing with the cabinets. Sounds like a fab idea!
  • cindygreenestudio

    Beautiful transformation - thank you for sharing!

  • cdanettesing

    What a great remodel. Thank you for sharing the details.

  • Colleen Donnelly
    I love it and the floors are beautiful.
  • D M
    Beautiful kitchen!
    What I'm wondering though is how on earth you keep that glass panel by the stairs clean with little boys running around?! Haha! My nephew comes over and there isn't a spot I don't find his fingerprints on afterwards :P
  • cappiello12
    Looks so fantastic! Great job.
  • SewingLadyDi

    Fabulous remodel-congrats

  • PRO
    M&R Custom Millwork Inc

    Great DIY. Thanks for sharing. Enjoy your new kitchen.

  • jessandjames

    Your kitchen looks fantastic, Sarah! We're in Seattle too and are in the process of designing our Ikea kitchen. We're waiting to get a quote back from Semihandmade for their white shaker cabinets, but would love to do a comparison quote with the Bjorket doors and a custom paint job like you did. Who painted your cabinets? I'd love to connect with them since we're local.

  • Sarah Seitz
    @jessandjames Awesome! Totally contact Jergens LC for a quote. You can tell them you're interested in a quote for what I had done (Sarah Seitz, they should remember me). Just FYI, I had them fill in the gaps between the stiles and rails that the Bjorket doors and drawers have, and that added to the amount. You'll want to think about whether or not you want to pursue that as well. Good luck!
  • Barbara Simpson
  • cashji

    You did an amazing job! I'm just in the research phase to renovate my 1980's (the almond laminate with wood trim) kitchen that I have been dreaming of renovating for over 12 years. I was considering the custom doors for an Ikea kitchen until I read your story. Thank you for sharing another alternative. How much do you think you saved by having the doors painted versus getting custom doors?

  • oracca

    Great job!

  • PRO
    Nielson Interiors Team

    Sara I started watching your posts on another IKEA kitchen last year, and was so thrilled to see your finished product! You made this kitchen look like it has high end custom cabinetry. The colors of the cabinets, pulls, counters, etc. are beautiful! Great job!!!

  • jeanps

    Wonderful job! (You are lucky to have a husband who is so handy!) So beautiful and functional. I want to do something very similar with my kitchen. In fact, it is the same configuration. Do you find that you have enough storage? Also how are the cabinets above the peninsula working out for you? I'm toying with the same placement, but I'm afraid that they will not be that easy to access. Thank you for sharing!

  • Sarah Seitz
    @jeanps The amount of storage is great! I especially love having cabinets on the dining room side of the peninsula. The upper cabinets above the peninsula are great. Definitely get the horizontally opening cabinets or they will be nearly impossible to access. I think that since they open up I can access them from the dining or kitchen side. Good luck with your remodel!
  • Sarah Seitz
    @cashji I'm not sure how much I saved going this route, or even if I saved at all (I think I addressed this in another comment if you go back and read some). But, I LOVED that since I live near at IKEA I could easily switch out cabinets during the process and not have to worry about shipping or re-ordering new doors/drawer fronts from another company. Since this was a mostly DIY project this really helped for peace of mind. Painting the doors/drawers was expensive, but they look amazing and i don't regret it at all!
  • Karen

    Hi Sarah, your beautiful kitchen is giving me some ideas for our remodel. I am in the midst of figuring out fine details, and I think I might be measuring our space everyday in hopes that I find an extra couple of inches. What did you use for the toe kicks and what is the size of your boards? How tall is your ceiling? It looks like you are using 30" uppers, is that right? Did you add any space above the 80"H pantry (before the crown molding) to give it that built in look? Thanks!

  • Kim C
    This is amazing! Great job!!!
  • Kendrah

    Kudos on the kitchen, but the biggest prize goes to your husband, who managed this on top of two jobs, and to your parents, who got 5 extra house guests. Your kitchen might have only cost $30,000 in cash but the sweat and family sacrifices certainly push it over the 100k threshold!

  • Edward Gorsline

    Beautiful job, Sarah I have a quick question. What did you use to fill in the cracks? And specifically waht kind of paint was it?

  • Sarah Seitz
    @knagrl13 The toekicks are fingerjoint pine board (found in the trim section at Home Depot). They came primed which was immensely helpful. They started out at 6" and my husband customized them to fit tightly (some places where our floors are uneven we had to adjust the boards accordingly). The uppers are indeed 30", and our ceilings measure about 91". We did add boards (also the fingerjoint primed pine) above all the uppers before adding crown moulding to bring the uppers all the way to the ceiling.
  • Sarah Seitz
    @carolbrandywine So true! I'm sure my husband would appreciate your comment ;).
  • Sarah Seitz
    @Edward Gorsline We hired professionals to do the painting. They used a high quality caulk to fill the holes between the stiles and rails and sprayed them in a shop using a pigmented conversion varnish in a satin finish (I think it's Sherwin Williams brand).
  • Sarah Seitz
    Thanks for all the comments so far! I'm glad people are enjoying seeing our process and I hope it's helpful to others pursuing IKEA kitchens. Our remodel was just featured in Seattle's Child magazine, so I thought I'd post that here too.
  • isamuel71
    Sarah fantastic job on your Reno. Love the colors of your cabinets. Wife was not too keen with grey so we went with expresso stain. Ours cost a bit more however we paid for the labor. I am a big fan of grey tones. So got some on the wall and floors

    Here are a few pictures
  • PRO
    Morrone Interiors

    Amazing Job! I LOVE the light fixtures!

  • dcustode

    hi there, the kitchen looks amazing and is very close to what I'm going for. Thanks for sharing your story! Can you share how you created the floating shelves next to the sink? We want to do some at 30" long but are struggling to find the right approach. I like that yours are thinner and look like real pieces of wood, as so many seem to be boxes built around a frame instead of actual pieces of lumber.

  • cindij4
    Beautiful! I can't believe that's an IKEA kitchen. Love everything! What are your counter tops?
  • hpatel808

    isamuel71 did you espresso stain the bjorket doors? Where did you get those done?

  • PRO
    Regal Construction & Remodeling Inc.

    What an impressive makeover

  • Stephanie Lopez

    Beautiful!!! This is definetely the style my family has been looking for. Came out looking perfect for a young family!

  • PRO
    Ames Peterson - International Architecture

    Love the color you picked for the cabinets! Fantastic job!

  • michelleh114


  • PRO
    123 Remodeling Inc.

    Can't believe you did it by your selves. My honest congratulations! It looks very good!

  • Sarah Seitz
    @dcustode We used these and I highly recommend them: Get yourself a piece of solid HARDwood though. Ours are starting to bow a bit. If we redo them we'll use a harder wood and they should be fine.

    @cindij4 The countertops are Pure White Quartz from IKEA (manufactured by Caesarstone).
  • PRO
    Raegan Ford Interior Design

    Great kitchen remodel!

  • Coalla

    Hi, first of, great looking kitchen. How is it holding up after a year? I am designing our kitchen using Sektion cabinets and my biggest fear is measuring it all correctly. Any advice on that? Thank you!

  • PRO
  • Joann
    Wow...I love your new kitchen!
  • Stephanie Gibbs
    Sarah, since you did this last year, any report on durability? The article was a delight to read and your style is great. Many kudos to you and you husband!
  • toni1947
    Wonderful job
  • PRO
    ERT Architects, Inc

    You did a good job with this!

  • PRO
    Grassroots Design

    Great transformation!

  • drmagda
    How is your kitchen holding up? I’m looking into IKEA for mine. Did you also buy appliances (included in the total $32k cost of the reno)?
  • PRO
    Mega Builders

    Looks great!

  • pamelamacleod
    This looks like it was done by a professional, you ave talent!
  • PRO
    Architecture Plus Inc

    This looks great! Great job!

  • PRO
    Pacific Coast Cabinetry

    The kitchen turned out beautifully! As a custom cabinet manufacturer, I would offer the following to other DIYer's: note that it took months of work to assemble, install, select doors, get a professional finish on them and put this together. It is a tough job and many fail or face revisions. For this budget, you could have had quality cabinetry built completely, with a warranty and design service included. I do like hearing that you notice the seams on Shaker doors!! We show people the differences all the time in a purchased Shaker door vs. our 5 piece door that is primed, sanded and then chalked to become a one piece. Love the colors selected and the great transformation!

  • lesleycurl

    This kitchen remodel is gorgeous! I looked at IKEA Sektion and other IKEA model cabinets for a vacation rental kitchen remodel. The IKEA quote for my kitchen was the absolute cheapest of all of the options I researched, but I decided that the durability is not there for a rental installation. Also, cabinet sizes are limited when compared to other options, so that was also a consideration. Kitchen remodels are such a pain (IMHO) that I'm going with the highest quality construction, some custom-made cabinets and letting the next owner figure out the new kitchen in 25-30 years.

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