Final Reveal, kitchen design, Project, Renovation
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The 70’s Kitchen Final Reveal – And an Ikea Kitchen review

Ikea Kitchen Review

We’re back at the 70’s apartment this week for another final reveal – it’s the kitchen. An Ikea kitchen to be precise. Read on for before and after pics, a detailed breakdown of the what’s where’s and why’s… and the cherry on top, an Ikea Kitchen Review.

70's flat before

As you can see from the floor-plan the kitchen in this two bedroom apartment is bijou small. It leads straight off the large living space, so it was important the new design connected to the space around it.

Here’s how it looked back in March 2019:

70's flat before


The budget for ripping out and replacing with a new kitchen cabinets, worktop, appliances, flooring and tiling was £6k. This needed to cover labour too. It was tight, which limited where we could “shop”. After looking around at several kitchen options, we took a punt on Ikea as they offered the fitting and wrap around service of supply, build and fit.

The kitchen concept was based around the Ikea VEDDINGE range. Simple, light grey slab doors and drawer fronts. The small space meant the layout was pretty fixed in terms of which walls were going to be used for what. The design details came from the additional elements that were added to the room; tiles, flooring, tap and some cheeky styling.


The left hand side of the kitchen is where all the big items were positioned. The new boiler, pipework and that corner boxing in was all getting hidden behind a cabinet. Like so:

During kitchen fitting in July ’19

The washing machine was originally in the kitchen, but I suggested we replumb that into a large cupboard that sits in the bathroom. This freed up space for a dishwasher and an additional base cabinet. The fridge freezer was getting placed in the left hand corner leaving a small, tiled niche for the toaster, kettle and a little shelf for storing the more attractive kitchen bits and bobs.

After – February ’20

It turned out pretty well, considering. And when I say “considering”, I’m referring to the Ikea fitting service. It wasn’t good. But we’ll come onto that soon. Let’s look at more nice pictures for now.

The tiling for this space was key. With the simplest (and cheapest) of white, matt, 20x10cm metro tiles, a basket weave layout and blue grout (yes you can get coloured grout) it’s added a brilliantly simple geometric design to the walls. I flipping love it!

Over at the other side, it’s a much more pared back vibe. Because we’d crammed more storage along the left hand wall, we needed less here. And less cabinets meant more tiling and styling 🙂

kitchen before



Excuse the wide angle lens, I hate photographing these tiny spaces. This was as good as I could get, which is making the grout look black. But it is blue, promise!

There you go – blue again!

Ok so let’s start talking about the problems shall we?

The Ikea Kitchen Review

I recommended that Mr J (the homeowner) buy all of his appliances from Ikea to avoid any fitting issues and so that the delivery all came at once. These are the Ikea appliances I would have gone for:

White oven, white hob and white extractor. All with clean lines and no fussy handles or knobs.

Some of you might be wondering what my level of input was for this project, well it was to come up with the concept, advise on the finishes and offer support when needed. A lot of clients try and save money by not involving me every step of the process, which is fine n’ dandy. I totally understand that, especially when budgets are already squeezed. But sometimes, it only adds to mo money mo problems.

Mr J took the kitchen concept (with measurements and detailed layout) to Ikea where their kitchen design team tweaked the overall design to fit their exact cabinet configurations. He seemed to be happy with everything after his session with the kitchen team, so much so he’d ordered the kitchen and he was back in the driving seat.

However, Mr J went rogue, possibly because of budget, and ordered his appliances elsewhere. I didn’t know this until my next site visit where they were already either unboxed or fitted. This is where the problems began.

Let me explain. Ikea carcasses, just like their beds and other European sized furniture, don’t always fit UK stuff. Not without additional filler pieces. Ikea carcasses are much taller than their UK counterparts, meaning appliances have gaps you wouldn’t get with a UK kitchen. Ikea do sell the bits and bobs to square this circle, but the fitters, it seems, don’t always know what they’re supposed to do with them.

Let me show you how this oven situation above was left by the Ikea fitter…

(poor quality photo warning)


That’s a piece of door shoved underneath. A PIECE OF DOOR! A big fat no to that piece of door I say.

Where did that come from then….?

…..It’s most probably the bit lopped off the bottom of the dishwasher door. I kid you not.

Honestly – this was all a mystery to me as well. I did some digging and started to read about the dreaded Ikea dishwasher door issue. Because Ikea cabinet doors sit closer to the floor, it meant dishwasher doors jammed on the floor when opening. Like this:

DIY Forum

The fitter’s solution? Just cut the bottom of the door off. True story.

Ikea do sell an attachment, which was ordered as part of the kitchen btw. It was sat in its packet, unused, as a reminder of the dishwasher door disaster. It’s a nifty sliding bracket that allows the attached door to move up and down against the dishwasher front upon opening and closing. But I can’t find it on the website at all, hence no link.

When you look online, there are oodles of forums, Twitter threads and suggested hacks for “Ikea Dishwasher Door” problems. So for those of you eyeing up an Ikea kitchen, just go armed with this info. Don’t let the fitter hack off the bottom of your door people. Buy the additional fitting and make sure they know what to do with it.

It took about five months to finally sort these and several other issues, after many failed attempts by the fitting team. Can I just reiterate, that’s five months to finish fitting a 7sqm kitchen. Mr J sent me his call record from his calls to the Ikea Kitchen team and it’s embarrassing.

Maybe you just had bad luck with your fitter?

Maybe we did. Ikea outsource all of their fitting to local contractors. The Leeds team didn’t do a great job. Perhaps other teams across the country do a sterling job and there are thousands of happy kitchen customers elsewhere?Meanwhile down in Letchworth, my brother in law was also having an Ikea kitchen fitted…. I think you know where this is headed don’t you? Here’s what he has to say about his fitting experience:

“It was disappointing. We had issues with a corner cabinet that wasn’t anchored properly, doors didn’t close fully, the extractor pipe wasn’t fixed to anything, with 2m of additional hose just left sitting in a cupboard. I ended up sorting these issues myself.

Our worktops were improperly cut and repeatedly damaged, taking 18 weeks to rectify. There was just a general lack of skill and care.

It’s a shame as we’re we’re really happy with the Ikea kitchen, but we wouldn’t recommend using their fitting team to anyone. Ikea hold the fitting fee down, meaning they can’t afford to use the best people for the job.”

He ended by mentioning that they were compensated about £100 for the troubles they had. And used the phrase, “it was death by 1000 cuts” which I rather liked. Lots of small, faffy issues that could have easily been avoided by using slightly more skilled, capable people. The same situation as my client, Mr J.

In the end Ikea refunded Mr J about 25% of the fitting cost and he ended up paying a joiner to put right the wrongs and finally finish the kitchen. It was a painful process for sure. So much so I would not recommend using Ikea’s designated contractors to anyone.

Sorry Ikea, I love your products, but your some of your kitchen fitting teams seriously suck and your kitchen after service leaves a lot to be desired.

Oven filler piece properly fitted

But we finally got there and the kitchen (despite me wanting to change the oven, hob, hood and sockets) is finished. Hoorah! With the tiling finally done, orange vinyl floor down and of course the orange tap, it looks pretty darn (yes I just said darn) cool.

Orange Tap  and Ikea ECKBACKEN Worktop

The Ikea RIMFORSA rail and accessories add some interest and function to this large expanse of wall. The kitchen honestly feels twice the size now it’s not flanked with wall cabinets.

The entrance wall is painted in the same blue as the open plan living space, giving this room a direct connection which of course then continues with the blue grout.

Pantone inspired Toast colour chart from Desenio – looking cool on the blue wall

So that’s been mine, Mr J’s and my brother in law’s experience with Ikea’s kitchen fitting service. I know they subcontract it out to smaller fitting companies, but really, some of their work is shockingly bad and I feel Ikea and you guys need to know this.

Oh and just to confirm, I was back on board for the tiling, floor fitting, shelving and rail. These additional jobs were all done with our own guys.

70's flat before


I’m sure there must be plenty of people who have had positive experiences with Ikea’s kitchen teams, alas Mr J wasn’t one of them. And whilst it would have been easier for me to just post shiny photos and make out it all went amazingly smoothly (and save myself a day’s writing), it didn’t.


But let’s end on a lovely photo of a natty little kitchen shall we? I hope you like what we did with the place. It certainly took some work to get it looking like this!


  1. Kathryn says

    It looks super, I love the graphic feel to it! All those fitting problems sound like a total nightmare, and shame on them for leaving a job looking like that.

    I did a lot of research on that Ikea dishwasher fitting (behjalplig) and people said it broke easily as parts of it are made of plastic. I got an adapt-r fitting in the end and the non-ikea fitters seemed really pleased with it and its still working fine 3 years later. The price of it has gone up though so it does make it a bit expensive to get a non-Ikea dishwasher with this fitting.

    • Karen Knox says

      Thanks Kathryn, so glad you like it. The tiling is definitely working hard for this room design. And yes I looked into those fixings too. They come in at around £90 at the moment, which is bonkers expensive. Good to know that yours is still going strong three years later though!

  2. Lovely, you’ve really made the most of this small space – those tiles are mint.

    Ikea fitters sounds like a nightmare!

  3. Anonymous says

    We had a bit of a rubbish experience in Glasgow using an ikea fitting service a few years ago. We have a really small kitchen too, and ended up losing several drawers/cupboards because the fitters lacked the motivation/skill to make them useable. The upside is the finished kitchen looks good. I’d still consider their product in the future, just not the fitting service!

    • Karen Knox says

      Aack – that’s so annoying. Especially in a small kitchen where every draw and cupboard counts!

  4. Elaine says

    You must have found that especially maddening, since the joiners/carpenters you use seem to be great. It’s awful when no thought or care is applied – bodge-jobs are just infuriating, especially in a small space where everything needs to function. But the end result looks great! I love orange. Love the floor and tap – really cheeky and lovely. And the artwork is 😁

    • Karen Knox says

      Thanks so much Elaine. I’m so glad you like it and you’re as fond as the artwork as I am 🙂

  5. Anonymous says

    The dishwasher gizmo has been revamped to improve it and shouldn’t cost £90, you might only be able to get it in store though, behjalplig should be £25 and helps the door slide properly. The planners in store will talk you through this if you want to use you own dw. So do pop in and ask if it’s still not on the website. Single ovens and other appliances shouldn’t cause any problems but double ovens and maybe microwaves need the height checking to see if a fascia is needed. Veddinge doors look great in this little kitchen!

    • Karen Knox says

      Yeah, my client purchased the Ikea fitting to work with the dishwasher door. Like I mentioned in the blog post, it was sitting in the packet, unused by the fitter. He decided to use his own solution I’m afraid.

  6. Heather Raybould says

    I’m having an Ikea kitchen fitted at the moment. I had originally planned to get them to do the installation as I wanted everything on their interest-free credit. However when I went in to their planning shop they told me that they no longer did home visits to measure up, and fitting only covered assembling and fitting the units, no electrics or plumbing. I have an awkwardly sized kitchen and I definitely wanted someone to measure it properly. I also didn’t want to have to co-ordinate all the different trades.

    So in the end I found an independent kitchen designer who was willing to do Ikea (most seem to have their own suppliers) and he also found builders for me. I’ve also hired him to project manage it, and although expensive, he’s working hard for his money and I’d definitely do it again. He has sourced a stone worktop that works out much cheaper than the Ikea equivalent (or anywhere else I reckon). I really like his design as well. The builders are quite expensive (I’m in London so everything’s priced at a premium anyway), but they’re efficient and after the useless guy that did my en suite, I just wanted someone good to do it.

    I’d done my research about the dishwasher door problems so I decided to get a dishwasher from Ikea to circumvent that. I’d planned to get most of the appliances from them anyway. I used the reviews on the Ikea website to judge which appliances to get from their range and which to get from elsewhere (just the extractor in the end).

    My only complaint so far is that Ikea has run out of base cabinet doors and the dreaded dishwasher door in the colour I’ve chosen (grey-green Bodarp). No-one appears to know when they’ll be back in stock.

    I hope I’m not tempting fate by saying that as of now it’s going well.

  7. Anonymous says

    We used the Ikea ‘design’ service. It was diappointing, firstly because they get you to choose all appliances and suggest a layout and then make everything fit. I would have appreicated some advice and alternative layout options. Our builders fitted it but it was only then we realised that the ‘work triangle’ was completely wrong and would have meant diagnol trips across the kitchen with hot pans etc. To be fair to Ikea when I explained all this they did, many months later, come back and refit one side of the kitchen completely free. I can’t remember if we got compensation as it was seven years ago but I doubt I would have pushed for this as I was so relieved that they agreed to do anything. We have all their appliances also and have been pretty happy with them. No issues at all, so far . I love your kitchen design Karen, esp the tiles 🙂

  8. Mairi says

    We moved house recently and were really disappointed to discover IKEA’s kitchen service is nothing like it used to be. Around five years ago they offered a home visit for design and an amazing local tradesman who coordinated everything. Brilliant service. When we realised what we’d have to do in the way of coordination this time round we decided to go elsewhere and have not regretted it. In the end you’ve come away with another fantastic design here but so sorry you & Mr J had the hassle to get there.
    Could I please ask about the floor? It’s amazing.

  9. Rachael says

    Hello, I’ve had this one saved for a while as I am planning to do something similar…as part of my battles with the online kitchen planner I’m trying to work out how to do a similar wall cabinet that comes down to the worktop in the corner…is it just a standard wall cabinet with a panel underneath? The planner seems not to like non-standard gaps between the worktop and cabinets… Thank you!

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