Monday, June 13, 2016

How to successfully DESIGN and BUILD and IKEA kitchen ISLAND - and good ideas overall.

Chapter 1 - IKEA Kitchen Islands

[This entry turned into a total rant, skip to the end for RELEVANT Ikea island information]

So you have made a wise decision to add some functionality to your kitchen space - you've made a decision to add an kitchen island. Awesome! Great move! You have been to IKEA and have been looking at their SEKTION kitchens thinking - 'hey! there is an opportunity there! I can do some - OR ALL!! - of the work myself and save money! 

To that statement I will add the following - 

Not only will you save money, but if you follow my instructions and videos you will gain a better understanding on how to take maximum advantage of IKEA's system, optimize your design for your situation, and learn some nifty cabinet tricks* that you will be able to use in all your other woodworking projects. 

I will take you to semi-pro level! 

I've been designing and building island cabinetry all my life - no! not really! - but I've been doing it long enough [at least 15 years+] to make some good observations, gain major insight into things that work and things that don't  - and I want to share that with you. 

Keep following the blog - videos to follow.

Some portion of  calls that I get about installing or 'expanding upon' the island cabinetry, are from individuals that already had an experience of designing and assembling their own IKEA kitchen. And they are not happy about their experience - they point out all the flaws  - 'they don't like this, or they don't like that', or they 'had to compromise on this', or they 'forgot about that'.

Now, I will admit to you, I guess because I do it all the time - designing and installing IKEA cabinetry, hacking, modifying it, 'doing-it-not-by-the-book' - it feels like a second nature to me. I don't think about it - when faced with a question, cunundrum, 'cabinet-dilemma' - my mind immediately starts 'optimizing', and if it can't optimize, then I right away seek a 'hacked a solution'. It is still is the best price-point around. 

But then I put myself in the shoes of that person. And I think long and hard about this! - How many times, do you think, will you ever get to design and install a kitchen, based on the IKEA Sektion system? Once, maybe twice in your life...That's it.**

These are optimized solutions. Examples like these:

[picture shows SEKTION cabinet hacks, installed as a regular kitchen, this look cannot be achieve by standard installation] So the one side of this peninsula is 3 x 30" cabinets back to back. One side is set up as a 'living room side', all with 10" drawers - that's optimum organization. And the other side is set-up as a kitchen side - built in microwave, some drawers, one box. To give that piece of cabinetry a bit more distinction - and to deal with a sloping floor [older house] I installed them higher - at 38" height to the top of the stone. The area serves as a 'transition point' - the different height 'breaks it away' from the kitchen - black slab doors and white Cesarstone countertop [the other side of the kitchen is all stainless steel tops] is a great, distinct contrast that creates a strong focal point. Nice! Other than that, that is an 'IKEA hack' corner unit. Not seen - 24" deep uppers over the huge fridge - all tucked in the corner - that's right! IKEA installers can't do that!

Also, original plan was to go with that traditional IKEA valance moulding underneath the uppers. And I was like, 'Why? It just eats away at the window that the client had put in over the sink!' See, a better solution is to use the panels - cut them down to size - and then use them to clad the uppers all around. Looks like a million bucks and you get more light!

Yea, good solutions all around. People get what people want. #TrueDat!

So, I always ask myself - you get the best of Studio Kosnik, absolutely best suggestions and best solutions for your IKEA kitchen, which by far I think is THE BEST DEAL AROUND -  is 20% more on the install portion of your project really that great? And, if you are really, really hurting for a 'custom look', then I can design you and build you some custom 'kitchen structures', panels, covers, AND DOORS too!

[picture shows SEKTION hack with floating shelves above it and seamless Italian laminate backsplash]

Or this:

[picture shows SEKTION hack with built-in Subzero and Wolf appliances] 
These are both IKEA hack kitchens made to look 'like a million bucks'! Custom doors, custom sizing, custom countertop depths [that top pic is a 28" Cesarstone top matched to the depth of the appliance - for a seamless look.  Unless you get a designer, then the other kitchen bloke would have just done 25", cause that's what he is used to and he doesn't think much about it]. 

Here is a little point I want to share with you -

if you are planning to renovate your space, hiring me on the project will result in you making only the best, optimized decisions. Yes, I understand some decisions are costlier than the others, BUT you are already renovating, you are already spending money - spend that money wisely! You should always have a buffer built in and think long term. 

A friend asks me for an opinion - he is renovating his basement, finishing it. And he tells me that he 'doesn't want this to become money pit', outlines his reasons. And I say, 'Hold on. Any space that you intend to become usable will carry long term costs, there is no such thing as a 'net-zero' space. You need to keep it heated, and dry - at minimum - and that requires compromises. So losing 1.5" in height overall by insulating the concrete slab will result in heated floor transferring the heat up - into the room! where you want it! - as opposed to heating 'Mother Earth', which doesn't need our help in keeping hot, with all that global warming talk and all. 

Sorry got off on a rant here.

So IKEA can suck it with their install guides, because I just find them annoying. That's why my blog ranks high and gets the hits, because I provide info that IKEA misses.  

The problem with IKEA installation instruction [or lack thereof] is the fact that they are assuming 'ideal environment'. And you likely won't understand what I mean until you are already hanging/mounting SEKTION boxes against a wonky wall trying to make it in-line and level - just to realize that you forgot to include some extra clearance for the handles. 

I am greatly tempted sometimes to offer like a Saturday, 6 hours course, on how to prepare for an IKEA Sektion install. I would go over the basics [don't get too excited about having assembled all your boxes....that's the easiest part], offer suggestions, tips and tricks on actual starting and and how to do it properly; then go into how to deal with peninsulas and finally the dreaded KITCHEN ISLANDS.... 

Did you know that the walls at IKEA stores [at least that is what my source told me, a manager at an IKEA store] are custom made in a factory in Sweden and then shipped globally to all the stores? Weird eh? That means that IKEA is able to completely control their install environment for what I call 'optimum presentation'. That is what sells - optimum presentation! You are walking through a space that has been optimized for flatness, leveleness, squareness and plumbness [I am not sure if all these are dictionary words but that is what cabinetry needs to be]. Not only that, they had some creative people put together all that cabinetry for best presentation. And, you, dear reader, are loving it. Don't feel guilty! I love it too. I am still waiting for my own 'dream kitchen' - which will be the IKEA Sektion box, paired with my install and amazing custom doors that I will all build myself. 

You would not believe what conflict I have with my wife over the kitchen, that we still don't have! See, back in my young days I got to work in a professional kitchen!*** I cooked! I had the flames going! Clean up was a breeze! Sure, so some stuff spilled on the stove, screw that! you got 5 more minutes to get that meal ready! Commercial dishwasher with a 3-to-8 minute cycle! At the end of the night I would just hose off and scrub everything! You cannot imagine the pleasure of cooking in that environment! I love cooking!

But she wants 'shaker doors' and 'charming handles' and 'nice taps'....And I say - But that is not practical! What is this?! I am all about things being practical and lasting! 

Oh boy.....where is this blog entry going....this is not the end....but I got to make myself a meal in a non-practical ktichen! lol!

Hahaha! should always love what you do for a living!

* that I myself learned from an my old Chinese mentor, Peter, who studied woodworking technology in Hong Kong while it was still a city still independent of the Chinese rule! He has long retired, but I hold his wisdom, advice and criticism in great respect, as he has taught me how to build with utmost practicality. 

**This is potentially embarassing, but it is like me, 'trying to do my brakes on my car'. I'm a handy guy. I got professional grade tools coming out of the wazoo. I see 19 year old kids at at car garage doing the brakes and a lot more all the time! C'mon! How hard can it be?! don't work like that. After 6 hours of tinkering around I am back to the starting point, hoping [and praying] and I put back all the original components back on correctly and booking the next available appointment at my mechanic. Your life is on the line... 

*** Islington Golf Club, Toronto, Canada. 

**** But people will ask: 'is he really an opitmizer?' 
I am. I apply optimization to every aspect of my life, including fashion.