Ikea hack: How we made an inframe kitchen with Ikea cabinets

Publishet in Home and interior 15th of March 2021
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Finally, our kitchen is done! Well, almost done. We still need to install the countertop. Minor details, so we’re popping the champagne to celebrate that we made it through a rather bumpy Ikea hack. Due to poor communication from our initial carpenter,  we encountered a few hiccups that we didn’t anticipate. But that’s when you learn, right? So now I’ll share how we made our kitchen, and how we should have done it ;-). I’ll also include some drawings for those of you interested. But first a big shoutout to Soon snekkerverksted who saved the project when our first carpenter dumped us.

The design
Our house is a modern and minimalistic interpretation of a classic gable roof house (copy-paste from the architect’s description). We wanted the kitchen to fit the same description and soon landed on an inframe design. Inframe means that the fronts have a wooden frame around, and in our case, it extends 18mm in front of the fronts.

As an attempt to do less damage to our already suffering budget, we decided to make the kitchen based on Metod kitchen frames from Ikea. The fronts, frame, cover panel, skirting and decor lists were made by carpenters. The carpenters also did the fitting of everything except the flat-packed Ikea cabinets – all though we probably should have left that to the professionals as well.

The layout
The first thing we did was sketch up different layouts for the kitchen. We considered everything from having an island to an L-shaped kitchen. Eventually, we decided to have a long kitchen stretching through the entire length of the room, and ending up as a bench in the living room area. We also drew in where everything will go, so we wouldn’t end up with a fancy kitchen, but nowhere to put the baking sheet.

We have three high cabinets that end up flush with the skylight. To make the most out of the ceiling height, we placed a base cabinet on top of a high cabinet, and cut it at the same angle as the pitched roof.

How we made the inframe look
There are several ways to create the illusion of an inframe kitchen from the Ikea cabinets. The simplest way is to place cover panels between, on top and bottom of each cabinet, and attach them with screws from the inside, and glue them on the outside. With this method, you can use the same measures as the original Ikea fronts, and you don’t have to worry about any appliances or inventory not fitting. But this method adds to the total width of the kitchen, and unfortunately, we didn’t have that option.

Instead, we used two different methods to create the inframe look. On the base cabinets, we attached the frame on the front of the cabinets using glue and biscuits. Please note that this makes the space between the vertical frames narrower than the first method, so you have to make sure you can fit appliances.

On the high cabinets, we needed to add space between the cabinets to make room for the stove. The carpenters made a T-shaped frame where the vertical part of the T is wedged between the cabinets, while the horizontal part is in front of the cabinets.

Note to self: The stove won’t fit between the frames if you attach the frame in front of the cabinets. Also, note that the fronts for the dishwasher must be wider than the rest of the fronts using this method. 

Another thing to note is that since the frame eats from the width of the cabinets, the doors will be pushed inwards to the opening. This means that you can’t have drawers on the inside of the cabinets with doors. Darn it.

The skirting
At the bottom of each vertical frame, there’s a short piece of oak board with the same height as the skirting. This closes the gap between the skirting and the vertical frame. The skirting is made up of several small pieces of oak boards that fit between each frame, making it possible to access the space underneath the cabinets if necessary.

Handles and push openers
We were aiming for a minimalistic look and avoided visible handles where possible. Instead, we used Utrusta push opener on the cabinets, and Exceptionell push opener, for the drawers. Both from Ikea. The drawer containing our recycling bins will probably be heavier than the other drawers, so we installed Utrusta electrical push opener.

The dishwasher required a different patent, and we left it to Soon snekkerverksted to come up with a design. The solution was to attach the horizontal frame on the top of the front and make an L-shaped handle. Works like a charm! In retrospect, we probably should have done this on every drawer. Oh well …

The only place with visible handles is the fridge and freezer. We considered the same solution as the dishwasher but decided on the easy way out. We used Nydala knob from Ikea, and I think it works quite well with the rest of the kitchen.

To prevent the cabinet doors from hitting the frames when opening, we needed special hinges. We’ve used Blum half overlay hinges with soft close. The only exception is the fridge, where we used recessed hidden hinges to prevent the door of the fridge to hit the hinge.

Ventilation for the appliances
It is required to have sufficient ventilation to prevent appliances from getting too hot. That meant that we needed an opening on the top and bottom of the cabinets containing the fridge/freezer and the stove. We also have a ventilation pipe for the entire room in one of the high cabinets, so we added the same opening here. You can of course buy ventilation grills for this at Ikea, but since we already had carpenters at hand, they made a design of horizontal lines in the skirting and the decor strip on top.

A decorative shadow underneath the countertop
Our countertop will be a six meter long 4mm massive steel plate. I think it will look great against the dark stained wood. It might not be necessary, but we’ve still decided to have something underneath the steel plate to prevent it from sounding like a drum (even though it would be kind of cool to cook with a rhythm). As a result, we’ve put a 19mm water-resistant MDF plate on top of the cabinets. The visible edge has been treated the same way as the rest of the kitchen and is placed flush with the drawer fronts. The vertical frame reaches all the way up to the bottom of the steel plate, which will in flush with the frame. Flush, flush, flush.


Materials and finishing
The fronts for the drawers, cabinets, and the cover side are made of 19mm oak veneered MDF, bought at Oslo finerfabrikk. The frame, skirting, and decor strip on the top of the height cabinets are whole wood oak.

I didn’t want to see any white stripes between the front and the frame, so I painted the edges of the Ikea cabinets with Jotun Supreme finish in the color Brunsort (brown-black).  The cabinets were cleaned, lightly sanded, primed, and painted with two coats of paint. I used a small paint roller for doors and furniture for the job. The edges suffered a bit from rough treatment during the fitting of the frames and fronts, so I’ll have to do a little touch-up. Also, the metal rail connecting the two fronts on the dishwasher needs to be painted so it won’t shine through.

The fronts, frame, skirting, decor strip, and cover panel are treated with two coats of Liberon hard wax oil in the color Black. Admittedly I started the task a bit naively, ending up with an uneven finish. As a result, there’s a slight difference between the front I’ve treated and the ones professionally done by the carpenters (damn it). Thankfully the carpenters comforted me saying they were also struggling to get it even. There, ego saved.

This is what I learned about applying hard wax oil: Lightly and evenly sand using fine-grained sandpaper (400 or so) before and between each coat. Sand in the same direction as the pattern of the wood. Use gloves to avoid fingerprints. Apply a thin layer of wax, also in the same direction as the wood. Leave it for about 3–4 minutes, and dry with a dustproof cloth until completely dry. You’re not done until there’s no more wax coming off the surface.

Since the fronts waxed by me are brighter than the ones done by the carpenters, I plan to add an extra coat. Hopefully, that will also help even out the spots. If not, we’ll just let our three-year-old go crazy with chips on his fingers, making the fat stains blend in. That’s what kids are for, right? <3

Below you’ll find drawings from our kitchen, and you can download drilling templates for the fronts. Please note that you need to check if this is correct before you start drilling the actual fronts. And this guide is for the actual Ikea front, not the one adjusted for the frames attached to the fronts.

Download drillingtamplates for Ikea drawers and fronts (PDF) L

Drawings for the frame attached to the fronts coming soon 


Comments are closed

  1. Hello! I really want to see this post, but it's only showing me some kind of error. :(

    March 26, 2021, 12:14 am
    By: Michelle