Monday House, Allen Key Kitchen by IKEA

The kitchen ! Heart of the Home !

It is a challenge to design a kitchen when you don’t yet really know how the house is going to look when a bunch of walls come down, and what the room sizes will be. It is way harder than building a new kitchen in the old kitchen location.

So it was an iterative process of estimating the room size, sketching the cabinet units, deciding on the cabinet configuration and components. Trying to imagine doing basic tasks like feeding the kid, washing the carrots, boiling tea, having that grand party ….

And, importantly, buying the kitchen when IKEA puts their units on sale.

With the floors finished, crew members broke out the allen keys and multiple electric screwdrivers. Assembling the cabinets or boxes was quite quick, but the finished units take up lots of space and keep chasing the assembly area further away.


They all have adjustable plastic feet, but IKEA assumes a PERFECTLY flat floor and square walls perfectly plumb. That ain’t the case in this old house. Nor, for that matter, in new houses.

So the construction crew opted to keep the adjustable feet for the fronts of the cabinets but to install a plywood strip to provide the perfectly level surface to hold the backs of the cabinets. The least adjustable component is the dishwasher, so they start with it as the key measurement controller. All other cabinets are levelled from the DW location.


They also wanted to ensure a strong support for the eventual weight of the stone countertops.

The tops of the cabinets “hang” from a metal strip. There is an integrated metal hook on every cabinet to mate with the wall strip. It is much easier to attach a lightweight metal strip to the wall and then hang the cabinets on that, rather than trying to hold up the cabinets and screw them into the walls.


There were slight — very slight — waves in the wallboard, which required the track to the shimmed in place, or else the boxes wouldn’t align perfectly square. The cabinets are screwed to each other, making a remarkably rigid and solid system of base cabinets.


Uppers were installed in a similar way. This U-shaped kitchen has few upper cabinets. Many people can only reach the bottom shelf or two of upper cabinets, and stuff gets lost in the back of the shelves.


Following the latest kitchen design information, this kitchen has primarily lower cabinets with drawers. Lots of drawers.

Per tradition, the sink is under the window, the DW to the right of it.


The unit under the sink is another key point. There has to be holes cut for the drain pipe and the vent pipe, the hot and cold water pipes, a power source for the 12v light strips, a power source for the kick drawer, and the latest dishwashers plug in so there has to be a special plug installed for that in the cabinet adjacent the DW spot.

A bit further around, there has to be a power source for the instant hot water taps that go on the auxiliary sink in the food prep area on the island.


Despite having built many kitchens, including a number of IKEA kitchens, the crew had to stop frequently to consult and coordinate with the plumbing and wiring experts. Elsewhere in the house, prep work was ongoing for the bathroom vanity and the bedroom closet units.


Completion and a sense of workable kitchen comes with the assembly of drawers and their walnut pattern fronts, seen below in a view of the island from the dining room…


And the island from the working area of the kitchen  (yes, yes, strictly speaking it’s a peninsula, but everyone will call it an island, so I do too):


At the other end of the kitchen is the pantry wall, which includes some pantry units, the wall oven, microwave, and “drop zone” where (hopefully) electronics and keys and stuff get dropped where they can easily be found again. In the pic below, note the WiFi cabling stuff in the top left, which interfered with the mounting track. These outlets were moved down seven inches so a continuous track could in installed to keep the cabinets perfectly level and rigid:


The fridge goes in the centre space; the wall oven to the left:


Meanwhile, Courtney continues to assemble drawers:


The kitchen came in 196 boxes, flat packed…


The drop zone cubby to the left has the light switches for the room. There are numerous variations on lighting intensity to make a open kitchen work for various moods and functions and to be compatible with the adjacent functional areas. Candle light dinner in the dining area is not workable if the open kitchen is lit up brightly. The cubby also includes 3 USB recharging ports for today’s all-connected all-the-time family.


The crew showed incredible measuring skills in cutting openings in the back panels to exactly fit plugs and wires for things like the stove:


IKEA puts their kitchen cabinets on sale once or twice a year. So the sale calendar determined when the units were bought rather than the construction schedule and just-in-time delivery. The 196 flat pack boxes were bought months ago and put on pallets in the garage and securely locked away until needed.


Alas, it turns out the garage roof leaks. Which was only discovered when there were torrential rains in early June.

A bit of water splash is no problem …


But it kept on raining, and raining, and driving rain.

The water was pouring through the old garage roof. Boxes were getting wetter:


Sunday night, 11pm, the distress call went out. Gotta move 196 boxes out of the garage into the house right now!

This is when you know who your friends are.

The main part of the house was still getting the subfloors done, so all the boxes had to be carried up to the third floor attic where work was not underway. At 11pm in a house with no electrical lights at the time. Every nook and cranny in the attic already had baseboards and door trim in storage:


A few boxes had to be taken apart (ie, were wet and fell apart) and components dried. But most boxes only had superficial damage. This was confirmed at the assembly stage this past week. So far, only two drawer units require replacement.

In the coming week, the rest of the kitchen has to be installed, including a workable sink, and the upstairs bathroom vanity and sink. And work started on some door trims and baseboards and window trim.

The “extra works” that came throughout the process (like the new subfloors, the new finished floors, some additional beams and joists and wall replacements) each extended the construction process by several days. Crunch time has come: the still-in-renovation house meets its previous scheduled furniture move in date on Tuesday. Where will all that stuff go?






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