New Kitchen Part 2: Ikea Shopping Day

Welcome to Part 2 of our kitchen renovation: shopping day [08/10/2013]. I feel like I might have to make this little announcement every time I write a 'New Kitchen' post but this is going to be wordy and detailed. I want to be as helpful as possible to anyone else who is looking to update their kitchen in a v. budget-friendly way.
If you're not keen on reading through this entire post, I'll summarize the main points for you here:
  • Go to Ikea early; get there when it opens to avoid the crowds. And trust me, there will be crowds, especially if you are purchasing your kitchen during a kitchen sale.
  • Go prepared. Plan and design your kitchen using the Ikea kitchen planner (read about my design process), jot down your log-in and password just in case, and bring a printout of your design because heaven forbid the computer systems are down, but if they are, at least you have a hard copy of your design.
  • Have an estimate of the cost of your cabinets, square footage of your countertops (if you're going with quartz), and any other number and dollar related figures so that you're not freaking out or surprised by anything on shopping day.
  • If you've already picked out your color scheme, bring paint chips and a camera so you can finalize any decisions about the paint you want and have a way to document it all, in case you don't finalize everything that day. This is especially helpful if your Ikea location is a bit out of the way and you won't be able to make it back as often as you might like.
  • Be diligent and make sure your kitchen specialist is being diligent.
  • Write down all of the important phone numbers you think you might need. Ask your kitchen specialist for all of the phone numbers of your countertop people, delivery people, the extension of the kitchen department in your Ikea location, etc. It's much easier to get these numbers in person than it is to phone the Ikea call center, be on hold for 15+ minutes, and get transferred back and forth before reaching the person you actually need.
  • And ask lots of questions while you have a resource standing right in front of you.

Our preferred Ikea in Paramus, NJ is closed on Sundays (because of blue laws) so it gets extra crowded on Saturdays. Anticipating this, we woke up early to make sure we'd get to Ikea just before it opened (10am). The cafeteria and a few displays are open at 9am but they put up a barrier at the entrance to the rest of the displays. Once someone makes an announcement to say, "Customers, Ikea is now open," an employee comes to remove the barrier and after that, it's just chaos (just kidding... maybe).

Seriously though, getting there early is a great decision and I'm sure that's true of almost every Ikea location. If you get there early, you're pretty much guaranteed a computer, a specialist to help you, and a speedy buying process.
{sister logging onto the computer}
We made a beeline for the kitchen area and secured a kitchen specialist to help us right away. We logged onto one of the computers and opened up our design and our helper, Allex, started to "tour" our virtual kitchen to make sure everything fit and there were no weird anomalies (like cabinets that are too big for the space). He asked us a few questions like, "Is this the look you're going for?" regarding the mismatched height of the cabinets around the fridge, to which we responded, "No, it looks like that because I took out the toekicks and legs." "Why did you remove those?" "We want to build our cabinets on a platform." "Okay. That's good to know. Do you need side panels for this cabinet?" I appreciated how thorough he was being and it felt good to have a backup set of eyes making sure the kitchen was laid out properly. If your kitchen specialist isn't this attentive, you'll have to be a little more diligent about making sure your order has everything you need.

He also double checked to make sure we had enough cover panels and confirmed that we wanted to purchase the dishwasher and exhaust hood through Ikea - and that we weren't just using them as placeholders in the program - and then he printed out the materials list. He went through to find out what was in stock and what we'd have to come back for. I wanted everything delivered (which is a flat fee per occurrence) but there were a few things that weren't available at the central warehouse. So, he made a list of a few doors we'd need to pick up downstairs. Still, there was one door that wasn't in stock at either the Paramus warehouse or the main warehouse so he set up a gift card that we could use to pick it up at a later date when it was back in stock. Why a gift card? The gift card allowed us to make sure the 20% discount would apply to the cost of the door as well.

Allex told us that once our delivery arrived, we would have 48 hours to report any damaged or missing items and gave us the number to call.

I recommend going to Ikea prepared - as prepared as you can possibly be. Show up with your kitchen design already laid out on the Ikea planner program and remember your username and password. Also, bring a print out in case the computer system is down, a selection of paint samples you like, and a camera. This way, you can hop on a computer quickly and flag down someone to help you, you can choose a paint that goes with the cabinets (or cabinets that go with the paint), and you can take a few photos of the doors and counters you've chosen to help you make any other decorative decisions once you get home.
We settled on the off-white Ramsjo doors, which look a bit pink and unfinished in fluorescent lighting but lovely in natural light, and the buttermilk quartz countertops. A few weeks before, we'd gone to Home Depot to look at paint colors and we picked out a nice warm tan (Behr's 'Only Natural') for the main wall color so we set it up next to the cabinets to make sure it looked good. The trim we'd originally picked out (Behr's Polar Bear) was a bit too harsh and yellow-toned (it's shown in the photo above). So, after Ikea, we went to Home Depot, brought along one of the cabinet doors we'd picked up in the warehouse that day, and picked out a soft, pink-toned white for the trim (Behr's China Cup) which matched the cabinets nicely. By the way, we chose Ramsjo because although I liked the Adel and Lidingo doors, I didn't like their glass door options. The Adel has a frosty glass and the Lidingo has a grill pattern.

The color of our quartz, buttermilk, is a warm neutral beige, with very subtle white and tan marbling, which goes nicely with the cabinets and the paint we picked out. Ikea quartz countertops are supplied by Caesarstone and each location sources a contractor to install. The contractor for our area is Atlas. Allex told us that once we had our cabinets installed, we would have to schedule a time for the contractors to come out, do a final measurement and template, and then come back out again and install the counters. He wrote down their number for us but said that Atlas would probably be calling us first. I'm really excited to have quartz countertops, especially since I've only lived in homes and apartments with laminate countertops. It's definitely going to add an element of luxury to our kitchen.

At our Ikea, there are three tiers of quartz: low quality ($35/square foot), level 1 ($55/square foot), and level 2 ($65/square foot). The color of quartz you choose will determine the price per foot and the price includes installation. There are also extra charges for cutouts (like for setting in sinks, cooktops, etc.). We were charged $65/square foot for the buttermilk and an additional $80 to create notches for our sink. We opted to get the Ikea Domsjö double sink which is a huge and white farmhouse style sink and it's beautiful and amazing and comes at a great price point. Atlas also charges $4 per mile beyond 20 miles (from your Ikea location) for the countertop delivery and we live 26 miles from our Ikea so they charged us an extra $24. Luckily, the 20% discount is also applied to these extra charges.

Allex calculated our square footage, 36 square feet, which matched my estimate - yes, you should do some preliminary estimating at home so you are not hit with any surprises - and drew up a basic schematic. Sorry for the weird blurring but I don't want to broadcast my address.

Once all of our purchases were settled, we paid right there (instead of downstairs in the self-serve warehouse area) and we were on our way. Our kitchen specialist experience could not have gone any more smoothly but it still took about an hour and a half to complete. It took about 30 minutes to settle in and for Allex to peruse our design, add anything we were missing, and to print out the list and go over it. Then it took another 20 minutes for us to browse the cabinet selections and confirm that we wanted the Ramsjo doors and to pick out our buttermilk quartz - which we did while Allex was filling out our delivery order and getting the gift card and other random tasks. Then, it took another 15 minutes for Allex to draw up the countertop schematic. Then, it was another 15 minutes to fill out paperwork for the delivery and for the countertops, for Allex to calculate the 20% discount and to write up coupons for it, and to fork over my hard-earned cash to pay for the new kitchen.
{countertop schematic}

Ikea gave us a folder to house our itemized list of boxes we'd be receiving in our delivery, a copy of our countertop schematic, receipts, the gift card we would need to get our remaining cabinet doors stapled to a list of what the card was for, and a printout of our kitchen design.

Besides our huge Ikea purchase, we also grabbed a few other things that day (and a few days and weeks after). We purchased tile for our backsplash; it's beautiful, I'm so in love with it, and I'm excited to share it. I could share it now, but I'm more eager to make it a "big reveal" instead of spoiling it early on so be patient with me. We also picked out knobs for our glass wall cabinets and pulls for the rest of the cabinets. We bought primer and paint. We bought lighting fixtures.

If you decide to get your order delivered, the company Ikea subcontracts (for your specific area) to do the delivery will call you to confirm or you can check online. Our local delivery company is Urban Express and you can actually look up your delivery online using your order number and phone number. If you don't receive a call (or you can't find your order online), you can call the Ikea call center to find out why. For us, there was one item that was still backordered so Ikea wasn't releasing the delivery. After that, there were a few complications with our order but thanks to Nicole at the Ikea in Paramus (and a bunch of other awesome staff members) everything got sorted out and they refunded our delivery fee and gave us a few other perks to apologize for the snafu.
If you remember my previous post, our budget is $10,000. Here's what we've spent on the big ticket items for our kitchen renovation (NJ has 7% sales tax but that's not included in the totals below):
Cabinets: $3,250 (cabinets were 20% off and it includes the sink)
Countertops: $2,070 (36 square feet of buttermilk quartz installed, $65 per square foot,  countertops were also 20% off)
Appliances: $2,850 (which includes 20% off Ikea appliances - dishwasher and exhaust hood - and a $50 coupon from Sears - range and refrigerator - and includes a water softener, which is something we desperately needed in our home)
TOTAL: $8,170
By the way, they didn't charge sales tax on the countertops. I don't know if that's an NJ-specific thing.

Here's what we've spent on the smaller stuff:
Tiles: $300 (includes thinset, grout, spacers, sealer, and tools)
Paint: $200 (includes paint trays, rollers, brushes, and tarps)
Cabinet hardware: $100
Lighting: $150
TOTAL: $750

Grand Total: $8,920! Hooray! Under budget! Let me reiterate that this does not include sales tax, though even with sales tax, we are still under budget. I know we'll be spending a little more money on other small things - like drawer organizers for example - but that's not necessarily part of the renovation process, is it? Even if it is, it's probably $100 at most. Also, we're spending about $375 on a simple dining set (Ikea Henriksdal chairs and the Ingo table which we plan on staining) and we've spent probably $300 on miscellaneous things we need for the construction (like screws and plywood and drywall and molding). But I feel like that stuff doesn't really count. I'm going to proudly state that we redid our entire kitchen for under $10,000. I'll shout it from the rooftops!

In my upcoming kitchen updates 3 and 4, I'll be sharing some 'before' photos and a demolition diary. Thanks for reading.


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