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Published on March 29th, 2016 | by Jules Yap


My METOD Makeover: The journey of a thousand cabinets begins …

Ever since the launch of the new METOD kitchen range, I’ve developed a major crush on it. Whenever I visit IKEA, I would open and slam the doors just to hear “nothing”. (Yay for soft-closing!)  And don’t get me started on the super configurable drawer dividers, fittings and accessories. All just soooo organized!

Then I go home, glare at my kitchen and sigh …

My Metod Makeover - Kitchen before

My current kitchen is my first.

But we’ve lost a lot of love. When I moved into my apartment 16 years ago, I didn’t know very much about the way kitchens should flow or understood how I preferred to prepare food and cook. But in time I learnt a thing or two and cooked many more meals.

My Metod Makeover - Kitchen before 2

It’s a custom built and it’s not an awful kitchen. Not by a long shot. The white laminate doors show no signs of yellowing or chipping. It has adequate countertop space, does offer decent storage and does abide to the working triangle rule (even though I knew nothing about that then).

Layout wise, it’s an open plan. Next to the kitchen is my home office. And further down, is my living room. (Not in picture) Because it’s so open and the first thing anyone sees when they come through the door, it needs to at least look neat. Being handsome would, of course, be a bonus.

While the current kitchen is adequate, there are a few things that irk me.

The jaundiced countertop: It’s a solid surface. At installation, it was white with grey specks but it has aged ungracefully. Besides that, my mom branded it with a hot pot. See halo below. This sickly yellow is one of the main reasons for a new kitchen because every time I look at it, I lose all appetite.

kitchen before - yellowed worktop

The small prep area: I like to prep on the left of the sink, which somehow works better for right-handed me. The space I have now is too narrow. I manage but in this case, more is more.

kitchen before - counterspace

The door that won’t fully open: This is the thing that really pissed me off and got me into a fight (verbal, not the fist kind) with the contractor. Look at this.

kitchen before - problem door

The handle of the next cabinet gets in the way. And he said it was my fault for choosing those troublesome handles. I said it was his mistake for not adding a spacer between the 2 cabinets. He said … I said … you know how that went …

Lack of organization options: It has 8 drawers. The other cabinets are mostly shelves. Stuff are stacked on top of one another. And it’s a chore trying to get stuff out from the back of the cabinet. It works but not the best.

My Metod Makeover - limited drawers

Besides all that it has been with me for 16 years and I want a blast of fresh laminate air. When the chance to collaborate with IKEA Malaysia on the METOD kitchen came up, I jumped at it and so it began …

Now, one thing to note, it is easier to set up an IKEA kitchen from a blank slate. Since I had an existing kitchen, it involved the extra step of dismantling the old. I started planning with rough measurements, but after the old cabinets were taken down, I had my space re-measured for accuracy and to make sure the plan fits well and takes into account all the inlets and outlets.

Buying an IKEA kitchen seems daunting at first but it’s pretty straightforward as detailed in this 4 step guide. The IKEA Kitchen Planners are also more than happy to assist and guide you along.

Step 1: Measure

After the old kitchen was removed, I made an appointment to have my site professionally measured, because ’tis better to err on the safe side. Hafiz from CT Art (IKEA Malaysia’s approved contractor) gave me a sketch with all the numbers pencilled in. It cost me RM65 (approx. USD16).

IKEA kitchen site measurement sketch

If you don’t want to dish out the dough, you can measure on your own. Measure the width, length and height of your kitchen space. Indicate the height of tiles (see dotted lines in pix above) and include any other walls and obstacles. Also measure the water inlet and outlet and where all the electrical points are. If the existing points do not fit your design, you will need to get them moved before the installation.

I have this huge box which hides the plumbing from upstairs. This is a problem area as I’m not allowed to block access to the pipes. No cabinets for this corner.

kitchen before - plumbing

Step 2: Dream and plan

This is the fun part. First thing I did was set up a Pinterest board and went pin crazy.

I then downloaded a copy of the IKEA Kitchen Buying Guide (or you can pick up a copy from the Kitchen Department). This is the METOD bible and offers an excellent overview of what the system entails. The cabinet and drawer sizes, configurations, interior fittings, lighting etc. I pored over it like a good student. You may not need to but my brain can’t seem to function till I get a good grasp of all the components. Only then can I piece them together. Being new to the METOD system having this brochure was a huge plus for me.

Next, I signed up for the IKEA Home Planner. Khairul, an IKEA Kitchen Specialist, helped me enter all my wall and ceiling dimensions to create the floor plan and I was all set to put my dreams in motion. (Side note: The IKEA Home Planner is not only for kitchen planning, you can also use it to plan your dining space, office and bathroom.) 

I thought my plan would be done in 2 days but little did I know, the Home Planner is actually a black hole in disguise. Once you get sucked in, you pretty much get lost till you crawl out on the other side, usually with squinty panda eyes and coffee jitters. There is no end to the tweaking. The options to change and customize is both dizzying and exhilarating at the same time.

Well, I’m glad to emerge alive, wresting two solid kitchen plans from it. *Fist pump* Take a look:

Design 1: U-shaped with storage sideboard

IKEA Home Planner - kitchen plan 1

This keeps to my current layout but with an update. I moved the sink from current position to the adjacent wall. I’ve had a fair bit of washing boo-boos, with water and soap splashing onto my work area, so this should solve it.

IKEA Home Planner - kitchen plan 1

I also had a moment of epiphany – “Why keep it within the current area?” I added storage along the left wall, eating into my entryway, thus expanding the overall space of the kitchen. I used four wall cabinets to create a hanging sideboard, which will also serve as a landing space catch all. Next to it is my fridge. Not the best place but I can’t find anywhere else to slot it. After that is a line of low base cabinets that double as storage units/ dining bench when I have guests over. With cushion and pillows added at later stage.

Cons: The wall where the cooker hood is hung used to be covered with cabinets, so there’s some patching up to cover the old scars. I will also need to spend money on a nice looking T-hood. I don’t fancy where the fridge is. Not the best view when I enter the main door.

Design 2: L-shaped with kitchen island

This design gives my kitchen a totally new flow. I’ve lined the walls with a L-shaped countertop and turned the focus onto a slim kitchen island/ breakfast bar. (One of my kitchen fantasies!) I moved the fridge out of the left corner (where the washing machine is now) to the right wall, giving me at least 2 additional feet of countertop space. Beyond the fridge is a row of hanging cabinets for work related storage. I’ll line up my work desk next to the kitchen island, galley style. I like how easy it is to move from one spot to another as well as how it stitches up my kitchen and work zone into one, rather than cleanly separating them like the current kitchen.

IKEA Home Planner - kitchen plan 2
IKEA Home Planner - kitchen plan 2

Cons: There is a lot of re-laying of pipes to change the position of the sink. My washing machine is snug under the countertop and between cabinets. I fear the day it breaks down (again!) It has had 4 repairs in the past few years, so I’m worrying ahead. (Actually, this is an con in Design 1 too.)

Decisions, decisions…

Both designs do give me what I want — more countertop space, ample storage, worktop lighting and larger food prep area. At the moment, my heart is leaning towards the Design 2 but who knows, things may change as I tweak along.

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you too. What’s your experience planning an IKEA kitchen? Do share the good, the bad, the cautions, the must-haves, things you would have done differently, dos and don’ts?

Next post, I’ll talk about the IKEA Home Planner and the tricks I gathered from using it. I’ll also move on to Step 3 and 4 of the buying process. So come back for the next My METOD Makeover update.

Disclosure: IKEA Malaysia is the sponsor of my new METOD kitchen. However, my experience and views on the IKEA METOD range are entirely my own. 

An alternative kitchen island
BILLY Bookcase from Casual to Classy

The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

13 Responses to My METOD Makeover: The journey of a thousand cabinets begins …

  1. LittleRaven says:

    When we got our kitchen 20 yrs back I got a lot of drawers. For instance under the built-in stove. It’s great to keep all your pans and pots right where you need them. Of corse I didn’t pay enough and ended up with one cabinet under the counter that always required kneeling down to get something out. About 5 or so years back I had enough and made two ikea rationell drawers fit in there, ever since it’s an awesome space. I also still am thankful for the guy who did the electric work and who pointed out that the extension cord would look “awesome” on the counter for the toaster and the coffee maker. You can never have enough electrical outlets.
    Another nice feature we have are the toekick drawers for baking stuff and everthing you don’t use often. Method doesn’t offer them so you would have to hack them in there. (rationell did)
    I try to like method but I still think the old rationell looks a lot better and had way more options.

  2. Sandra & the 2 Spaniels says:

    I really like design #2. Seems modern and very open, which I like.

  3. Krissa says:

    I have an IKEA kitchen since January 2014, a line of 3.45m, and I am very happy with it. I only have drawers, much more convenient. On the wall, I have an open shelf (I do not remember the name, and I don’t find it any more in the catalog), and against the wall opposite, I have two black VITTSJÖ shelves. For the planning, I used the Kitchen Planer from IKEA.
    I prefer the solution # 2, it is better than having the refrigeateur away from the work area, outside the kitchen

  4. nicq says:

    Layout #2 is much better, I would just swap the sink and hob around, because:
    1. The most used connections in work triangle are fridge->sink and then sink->hob so it makes sense to put them in that order. As it is, you’ll spend a lot of time walking from fridge to sink passing by the hob.
    2. Fridge would partially hide view of the sink from the living room area (no need to look at dirty dishes while you’re relaxing after dinner!).
    3. Hob would be visible from the living room area – if you leave something cooking you won’t have to walk back to the kitchen to check if it’s not boiling over.

    Oh, and I would make the island a bit wider if possible.

  5. Pastiche says:

    The kitchen is a very important room of a house, especially if you like to cook. And more in a case like this, since the kitchen is part of the corridor that leads to the work area and the living room.

    I think that the design 1 is not the most appropirate, reasons are that i dont think that kitchen should be closed with an U-shape, because as it is placed, the whole area should be only one space. Also the fridge is out of the kitchen and because it is in the “middle” of the corridor, it is an obstacle to pass and it blocks vision to the living room and to the outside, if there is a window in front.

    In my opinion design 2 is much better. However I think from an aesthetic point of view, it would be better if there were doors in the wall cabinet with the dish drainer. I also was going recommend, now that you are going to change the whole kitchen, that again from an aesthetic point of view, design would look much more clean if buy a new washing machine (RENLIG) and microwave (FRAMTID). Both are integrated in the cabinets but… while writting this noticed that they arent in Malayisia Ikea catalogue. They dont sell ovens as well, despite offering the cabinets for them, weird.

    Good luck!

  6. Douglas Holman says:

    I was reading where you got into an argument with your contractor about your lower corner where you have two cabinets meeting in the corner creating a 45 degrees. You are right, planning this corner should have allowed enough room to adequately clear the hardware. This is one of the simple things that you learn simply by using common sense. You could have sued the contractor if he didn’t make it right. I was a professional cabinet installer and cabinet maker and a pro finish carpenter. I took it seriously as most of us professionals in California did. I was licensed and bonded as the law required. When I was young I worked in a cabinet retail store on the side, in addition I worked full time for a cabinet installer and a woodworker making all the accessories and additions for the high end modular cabinet makers. Later on in life is when I owned a cabinet shop and a custom trim outfit. One thing I learned is that there is more than one way to skin a cat, there are hundreds of ways. And because you learned it one way doesn’t make it right!

  7. Max T says:

    Hey Jules, my vote definitely (like without a doubt) goes to layout #2. In terms of design, workflow, giving the space a bigger change and just general “feel-good-ivity”, layout #2 just floats my boat better, I guess. The only thing I would maybe want to add on to your design is to consider having a full height storage for the work-related items instead. I just would prefer to partially mask the bulk of the fridge so that it doesn’t stick out like a sore-thumb. Currently, it just sorta sit awkwardly in the middle.

    Just my 2 cents worth. Good luck with the new kitchen…..and the washing machine!

  8. Alissa C says:

    Option 1 isn’t bad per se….but there’s an awkwardness to where the fridge ends up, and looks/feels boxy. It’s not so much that the fridge is in sight line when you walk in, but in the mock-up, it actually looks like it’s completely outside of the kitchen rather than being an extension of the kitchen (or extending the kitchen area). It reminds me of living in an old converted house where the fridge was actually in another room (because the house was -that- old, and the kitchen so small).

    Option 2 feels more airy. I can’t help but think it might make the entire apartment feel a bit bigger as well by creating more “flow” than you currently have (or would have with option 1).

    When it comes to entertaining, I think Option 2 would make it easier on/with guests, especially those helping in the kitchen. Easier to move around each other without banging into each other, if you’re not trapped in a box together.

    Bonus points: If you go with an island that’s not permanent (not necessarily on wheels, but at least not bolted to the floor), you can move it back into the kitchen (or against a wall) if you want to host, say a game night, and put up folding tables for cards or whathaveyou. It gives you that added flexibility to change your kitchen around for a special event, even if it’s only once a year.

    • Jules Yap Jules Yap says:

      Alissa, I do agree on the fridge. It is a bit “out”.

      I love your idea of a non permanent island though IKEA does specific that their islands need to be bolted down. Hmm … let’s see what we can do about that.

  9. Kate says:

    We did an IKEA kitchen 2 years ago and we are happy with it. In addition to the pros you mentioned which we also love; ALL base cabinets that could be drawers are drawers. In Canada, electrical code requires a refrigerator to be on a separate circuit by itself. I “declared” the computer plan was done many times before it was actually done, and in the end, there was one mistake of a too tall pantry unit. Design 2 seems to have cabinets in the corner where you indicated that no cabinets should be placed. Are you planning to continue the open storage like the current kitchen? Is that why the cabinets seem to be mounted so high? I see your stool in the current kitchen photo, have you thought of were this will be placed in the two designs? You are missing one of the top North American appliances – a dishwasher. Our old kitchen was built with really wide units, which have really wide doors, which intrude into the space more than you expect (avoid this). I’m still searching for back splash tile – I see IKEA carries one now, but I like the turquoise penny tile in one of the IKEA bathroom commercials. Good Luck and have fun.

    • Jules Yap Jules Yap says:

      Kate, I too have made that declaration way too often.

      The cabinets are next to the plumbing access and does not obstruct it.
      Yes, there will be open storage like the current design.

      Cabinets are mounted high to maximize storage.

      I don’t use a dishwasher and don’t intend to get one.

      Thanks for your comments. :)

  10. Susan H says:

    I prefer layout #2. It keeps the work area streamlined and yet open. I really like that you don’t have a sink or stove top in the island. Islands should be left clear of clutter so that they can be serving or eating spaces for dinner parties or other gatherings. Nice job! I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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