A Designer’s Perspective on the Pros and Cons of IKEA Sektion Kitchens

Know the pros and cons of Ikea Sektion Kitchens from a CAVdesign perspective

Are you thinking about a new kitchen from IKEA? Have you shopped around a bit only to find out the Swedish Giant appears to provide incredible value for the price tag? I’m a loyal ‘old-timer’ when it comes to IKEA kitchens –  In fact over the past 12 years or so I’ve installed at least 14 kitchens from IKEA, not to mention using the components for all kinds of other projects.

Last year IKEA retired their Akurum kitchen and came out with a new, re-designed system called the Sektion. I was both excited, and a little nervous about what these changes would bring. Why change? what could they possibly make THAT much better? In anticipation of what was to come, I  combed European websites (where the system was already being sold as the METOD kitchen) for information  – this is where I reveal what a dork I am about IKEA kitchens.  It looked fancy! Lots more drawers. Lots more sections (wait a minute…SEKTION, SECTION, get it?)

But the real differences revealed themselves when I actually started installing them in my own design projects where I discovered that – like most changes – there are pros and cons.

One of the obvious differences is the huge amount of customizing on the configurations, and another is the 15″ deep upper cabinets. Both can be great new features — or not.  Read on for the pros and cons of IKEA Sektion kitchens…

1. Deeper upper cabinets

Pro:The upper cabinets are not the standard 12” deep but 15” deep. This has the benefit of holding a lot more stuff. They’ve also introduced quite a few configurations which include things like drawers.

Pro: What I do like about this is that if you want to do a ‘hack’ and get some cool configuration of a 15” cabinet with drawers, you have some great options. So, great for the IKEA hacker, not necessarily for the kitchen buyer.

Con:For me (as a shorty) an upper cabinet with drawers which start 54” above the floor is on the high side to be practical.

Con – Please read!!!: Microwave/vent hood combos that go above the range (and other upper cabinet built-in microwaves) are designed to have 12” cabinets next to them. With IKEA’s 15” deep cabinet, this can happen: sometimes the cabinet door next to the microwave, or the microwave door will not open without rubbing because it’s sitting too far back to clear the cabinet door. Not good! You need to put a filler between the microwave and the adjacent cabinet to compensate, and they don’t tell you that at IKEA. Hopefully this will be part of forthcoming sales training in the kitchen department.

2.  Base cabinets – Lot’s of new options


Light up drawers? You bet! Photo: Jillianharris.com

Pro:There are tons of drawer configurations, including shallow drawers within drawers and recycling features with large drawers that pull out from sink base cabinets.

Pro: There is now a series of 15” base cabinets that can help with configuring tight spaces – they also have drawers which is really handy (and great for hacking projects elsewhere in the house!)

Con: Don’t assume the under-sink recycling pullouts will fit – your plumbing configuration may block the drawer track making it unusable. I suggest you install plumbing first, THEN see if it will accommodate a drawer-style pullout.

Con: the hardware for the larger under-sink pullouts seems flimsy for the size of the drawer front.

Con: they have eliminated my favorite 12” pullout cabinet and replaced it with a 12” pullout with a metal shelving unit. Bummer! I used to use these as skinny trash pullouts and the new ones are too shaky and don’t have the right shape to do so. I think the new one is flimsy. Sorry IKEA.

3. Tall cabinets – lots and LOTS of new options

pro: there are quite a few new tall cabinets (also called pantry cabinets) that can be configured a ton of ways. There are drawers, pullouts, and ones where a microwave can sit, as well as 15” shallow options. This offers a lot of customization and flexibility, if you have the patience to sort through it all to explore the possibilities

4. Bells and whistles

In addition to all the options above, there are now ‘luxurious’ features like lighted interior drawers, remote controlled under cabinet-lighting, and more.

Overall, there are now a lot of options to consider which can also be overwhelming. Take a deep breath and think about what YOU really need and want. Think about how you use your kitchen, what you like to have close at hand.

Remember that adding features also adds to the cost. Quietly, and little by little the cost for your IKEA kitchen goes up….while you are standing there with your helpful kitchen associate who can show you drawers within drawers, pullout trash bins, and interior drawers that magically light up when you open them.

So, like every design decision you make, consider the pros and cons of IKEA Sektion Kitchens before you make your final decision.

How? Take a deep breath and think about what YOU really need and want. Think about how you use your kitchen, what you like to have close at hand. My opinion? IKEA still offers one of the best values available for kitchen cabinetry.


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