Sunday, March 8, 2015

IKEA the Beautiful [also important stuff about IKEA kitchen islands]

Confessions of an IKEA Hacker.

*HEY! Before I forget Here is a tip from IKEA Hacker - you get a $100 back for every $1000 you spend. Buy the core with the the $1000's  - like boxes and doors - spend the refund on the interior fittings! 

In Toronto, Canada, IKEA has a kitchen on sale right now. I know because I went through it - intentionally, on the weekend - with my son - the restaurant was overwhelmed, we were lucky we found a table to eat. The kitchen planning department was busy, with extra staff on hands. I hear from from e-mail exchanges - via quotes - that IKEA is very extra busy on the weekends - they often run out of specific the Sektion cabinets and the people come back on the weekday. I speculate that they renovated - enlarged - the IKEA Etobicoke location specifically because they anticipated higher traffic and warehousing needs due to their kitchen launch - what a smooth oiled machine, IKEA is!

My favourite thing about being an IKEA hacker, is that IKEA forces you to be efficient, to constantly evolve and adapt. Example - from now on, I will answer e-mails and blog at the same time. The questions that I get - majority from North America   [that's my IKEA perspective], but they come from  from literally all over the world - wherever IKEA sells - are all good and relevant questions and I want to share the answers with a wider audience. 

Richard asks about my IKEA kitchen island install - does the quote include fixing to the floor? Yes, it absolutely does - I build custom kicks for all IKEA cabinetry. I developed a nice system for creating sturdy, rigid and stable frames that the actual SEKTION boxes are installed onto. They are fabricated on site to ensure proper size and accommodate site conditions -  I do not use IKEA's plastic legs as it's a weakness of the system, in my opinion. This was particularly evident when it came to the islands. SEKTION partially addresses that issue with the introduction of 'stabilizing kit' for islands - I bought one and am yet to open it and inspect it. 

My philosophy is though - why 'stabilize' when you can 'set it down' properly? So I build my own kicks - they are all constructed out of Canadian, 3/4", exterior grade ply that's nailed and screwed together - it aint' a looker - but it is a quality product that will survive a flood, other than being easy to level and will work with any subfloor - wood, concrete, tiles, vinyl, anything. The kicks get clad with standard IKEA mouldings or toe-kick covers. 

Wanna see what it looks like - here is my system

And now, for something totally different! - 

Look - 

 and here is another shot - 

Now, before you say 'hold-on! it's blue and oak!' or 'no! it's grey and oak!' - here is another issue to consider. IKEA introduced new mouldings - as illustrated above - for their SEKTION kitchens - remember? 'everything is new and there is more of everything'. That island is solid - I know because I tried rocking it - I am sure that they did not spare on the 'island stabilizing kit' on this one - the geometry also helps [see, my system works well regardless of geometry - you can go with any crazy design that you want, including cantilevers! ]. But notice that nice moulding around the base? - it is flush with the exterior. 'So what?' you ask.

Here - kitchen islands have a purpose. One of the functions of an island is to increase the overall work- surface area of the kitchen - increase functionality. There is a lot of ergonomics that goes into designing a kitchen - like heights and depths and radiuses, etc. One of those dimensions is the set-back on the kitchen kick - it's a space about 4"x4". That space is allocated for your feet, it allows you to stand right against the work-surface for a more comfortable work position. In the image you will notice that IKEA eliminated that element from the island - I am assuming that was done to showcase their new SEKTION base mouldings. And that is perfectly OK - from the ergonomics perspective - if the island is used for storage, or it is used for brief intervals. But try spending 3 to 4 hours leaning forward over your island while preparing a large Thanksgiving dinner for your family and guests and I assure you that you will feel the pain! 

CHALLENGE - do it. Go to your kitchen right now and stand back about 4" from the edge of the countertop. Try making a sandwich, or better yet, prepare yourself lunch. It is uncomfortable, isn't it? Yea. 

So, when making a decision whether to install the IKEA base moulding on your island consider how will that island function? - sure the mouldings are 'perrty lookin' - but if you intend to spend extended periods of time standing against it - the island - you want to make sure that you will be comfortable and efficient - you don't want to end-up with lower-back pain every time you cook dinner!

And hey! Want to add some flair to your island? Hire me for the install - not only will I do a good job, but I will let you know in what ways you can customize it with readily available IKEA pieces - your design style need not impact your love of cooking! Hey! I like cooking myself! 

Chapter 2 -  IKEA the Beautiful

I love IKEA. It is a such a wonderful corporation! 
Other than them doing their taxes in that little European duchy of Lichetenstein [sp?] I think that they are flawless. 

here - IKEA fantasy booth! In an attempt to reach out to a younger demographic - mainly the one using '#' they set up this cool 'fantasy booth'. 'Imagine yourself in a new bedroom' was the tagline. My youngest one sure did! Their frozen yogurt is a good deal too!

When there is a need to spend time some man-to-man time with your oldest - he is practically a teenager, IKEA is an excellent venue. The variety of healthy and hearty meals and a very reasonable price. The 'limited time' beef is saucy and rich - cooked in a slow cooker? - the mash potatoes are mashy and the veggies? - well, you got to eat them right? The fish and chips are good too - benign enough that even my 12 year old - who is still a picky eater - will eat the whole thing. I'm loving' it! It helps that I live about 5 min away from IKEA Etobicoke, too. 

While on the weekends IKEA turns into a zoo, the weekdays are much slower and easy going. Slow-n-Easy Mondays - IKEA supports  entire senior ecosystem - healthy and affordable $1 breakfast and free wi-fi attract top senior crowds. 

Example - grandmas lounging on display.  

And my favourite: IKEA is my other office....