Putting Together and Installing our Ikea Sektion Cabinets

August 24, 2015

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It seems like there are two groups of people when it comes to putting Ikea stuff together: those who enjoy it and those who want to rip their hair out during the process. We are firmly in the “enjoy it” category. But even then, staring at 143 boxes marked with words that have nothing to do with whats inside of them, is daunting to anyone. Before we started assembling our cabinets, we organized them into categories: cabinet boxes, drawers, door and drawer fronts and miscellaneous cover panels, hinges and legs. For the initial install, we were just putting together the boxes.

We decided to start with the biggest cabinet, the one that will be next to the fridge. It’s a good thing we started with this one because we realized our mistake right off the bat. You see, while we were planning and buying our kitchen, we didn’t realize that the cabinet sizes listed did not include the legs. We got an 80″ and a 15″ cabinet (totaling 95″) to flank the right side of the fridge which, in our minds, would have been perfect for our 96″ ceilings. However, as soon as we put the 80″ cabinet together, it hit us: Once we put the legs on this (which are just over 4″) the combination would no longer fit. And without legs, we won’t be able to pull out the drawers we had planned for the base of the 80″ cabinet. It wasn’t a fun mistake, but fortunately we had only put together the 80″ cabinet box so far–which runs about $110. We were able to return the 15″ cabinet we had planned to hang above that, the doors for the 80″ and 15″ and exchange it for a 90″ cabinet, which with legs on is the perfect height. The exchange cost us about $50 and an 8 hour round trip last Saturday for Chris. Woof.

While he was gone, I put together all the other cabinets myself. I got it down to where I could put a cabinet together in about 11 minutes. It was a little monotonous, but it was fun watching the living room fill up with cabinets as the day wore on.


Installing the cabinets was a breeze thanks to Ikea’s track system. Even though all the base cabinets come with adjustable legs, you still clip the back of the cabinets onto a track so they are guaranteed level without a lot of excess tweaking. So naturally, we installed the track first (on Chris’s lunch break!), anchoring it into every stud on the wall.


When we made the recessed cubby for the fridge, we made it about 26″ deep so the fridge would be flush. Knowing the upper cabinets are only 24″ deep, we added a 2×4 to the back before hanging the track system here so everything would be even once the cabinets and appliances were installed.



We were able to install the track and all the perimeter cabinets in one night and the island cabinets the next night. The island counters have to be anchored to the floor, which we thought would be a nightmare because of our tile, but it wasn’t too bad at all.

We started out by drilling pilot holes through the tile with a diamond tip drill bit made for the job.


Chris made a platform for the base cabinets to sit on that was the same height as the toe kick that came with the cabinets (just over 4″) and secured that to the floor through the pilot holes.


Then we just attached the island cabinets to the base with a couple of screws in each.


Seeing the kitchen altogether was exciting, but maybe a little underwhelming, too. Without interior fittings or doors and drawers or cover panels or countertops, it’s not much to look at.


But, as I keep reminding myself, all that bad office furniture brown (Ikea has this brownish option or white interior boxes and we thought this would be better for the black exteriors we have) will be covered with Ikea’s LAXARBY black cover panels and doors/drawers dressed with brass hardware. And, well, if you follow me on Instagram (@chrislovesjulia), you already know part of the countertops happened this weekend! We hope to share with you those along with finished off cabinets by the end of the week.

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What do you think?

  1. sabha says:

    I’m a completely new to all of this and this may be a silly questions but why was a base needed for the island?

  2. Amber says:

    Do you guys have electric in your island? If so, how did you run it through? I’m building a similar island from Ikea. All pullouts like you have. We are trying to figure out a way to attached the outlets into the island :)

    • Chris says:

      We do have one outlet on the side of the island, across from the ranges. It’s in the top corner of our garbage can drawer. We found if we tucked it as close to the top as we could, our garbage cans could still fit when we close the drawer. But that’s all dependent on the use you have for the cabinets, and the space available. If you have drawers in every spot instead of a more open drawer for garbage cans, I think IKEA makes shallow drawers for their shallow base cabinets. You could try putting one of those in somewhere so that you have an open space behind it. Not sure if that would work, but something to look into!

      I hope that helps! Best of luck. :)

  3. Jennifer says:

    We are getting ready to install our IKEA kitchen and as I am planning our built-in fridge and pantry area I noticed after seeing your post that you used a 24″ deep cabinet above the microwave. Can you explain to us what cabinets you used on the right side of the fridge? I installed a 15″ deep x 40″ high cabinet but I don’t like that it’s not sitting flush at the front with our pantry cabinet that is 24″ deep. Any help you can provide is much appreciated. Your kitchen is absolutely gorgeous!!

  4. Shawna says:

    I am curious to how your cabinets are holding up after a period of time of using them. We are seriously considering designing an IKEA kitchen and I am concerned about the “wear and tear” after a period of time when compared to solid wood cabinets like the ones sold at Lowes and HD. Thanks in advance!

  5. Amanda Moore says:

    LOVE your kitchen. Just a quick question in regards to finishing? What did you use as filler to close the space between your drywall wall and the cabinet? Did you just strip a piece of a LAXBARY cover panel to extend the cabinet and then continue with the LAXBARY toe kicker right to the wall?

  6. Alex says:

    I’m loving all of these posts on your kitchen reno! The series has been the most insightful kitchen reno share on a blog that I have seen. Can I ask you what the two holes are in the floor? Specifically in the second photo just after the molding stops? Are they airvents? If so how did you get the air to come through the cabinets?

  7. Bre Popkin says:

    How did you build the platform for your island? We’re trying to figure out the best securing system.


  8. Margarethe says:

    This is all so beautiful! I’m curious about counter height. I’ve read that 36″ is standard height but some taller people have opted for 38-39″ for comfort. Chris looks like a tall guy; was counter height something you considered? Did it seem possible with the ikea adjustable legs or otherwise to make this kind of customization? Thanks!

    • Julia says:

      Ours are about 38″ high. We accomplished that with a mix of the adjustable legs on the Ikea cabinets and doing an extra thick 2 1/4″ countertop.

  9. Vicky says:

    Did you buy the toekick from ikea or did you buy paint and did it yourself ? We are designing our kitchen and we were told by an employee at ikea we could buy paint and do it ourselves. If so what was the color you used ? Thanks !

  10. Andrea says:

    Curious…I’ve read a lot of complaints online about inventory problems with the sektion line. I’m terrified that we’ll end up waiting extra weeks or months for door fronts and I can’t deal with that. Did you have any problems? Also, did you design yourself using IKEA software or did you have additional help?

    • Julia says:

      We designed it ourselves using Ikea’s online software. And then when we got to the store to order it, one of the workers looked through everything and made a few little tweaks that we missed. In the end, I think the only inventory that was out of stock was an interior drawer front. At first, we were bummed because we live 4 hours away from Ikea! But, we ended up making an error on our end that we had to return, so we picked it up a couple days later.

  11. Marc says:

    what lumber did you use to make the base for the island? did you you use 2×6 and ripped them to 2×4.5?

    • Sheri says:

      We are getting ready to install our new IKEA cabinets and would love to know the answer to this question as well! Thanks!

  12. Karen says:

    We also are doing a Sektion kitchen in Bodbyn Gray. We are having trouble with the rails, though. The holes do not line up with our 16″ center studs. Did you have this trouble? If so, how did you get from the hole on the rail into a stud that was quite off to the side of the hole? We tried making a new hole in the rail, but the rail was way too heavy to drill through. This has been our biggest problem so far and as many Ikea kitchens as I read about, I never see this addressed. Thanks for any help you can give us. BTW, I looked at the reveal and your kitchen is stunning!!! The countertops are also beautiful! I wanted quite quartz but too pricey. You may have solved our other dilemma too.

    • Julia says:

      Oh darn, we didn’t have any trouble with the rails matching up with the studs. We just started by finding a stud, putting the rail there and they had no problem going in the several more. Thanks so much! We love our white concrete.

    • Ange says:

      We had the same problem installing our rails. We bought a drill bit specifically for metal and it worked great.

  13. Danica says:

    Great job…Love love love everything about this kitchen!

  14. Danica says:

    Great job…I really think IKEA should give trophies to people who buy their kitchens. It is a huge accomplishment when you get done putting them together AND installing them. You’re lucky you only had to make one trip back for your return.

  15. Aimee says:

    I’ve been wondering if you considered wall ovens and ranges rather than side by side ovens. Especially as tall people (less crouching over). The crumb potential between the ovens is giving me pause – any solutions yet? :) also, I work in a fine dining restaurant where we can serve 150-200 people a night and we only have 6 burners. I’m curious as to what you guys are cooking up over there! Not being snarky, genuinely curious. :)

    • Julia says:

      Good questions! Some I can answer now, some will have to wait. The crumb situation, a few others have asked about too. The way the ranges are designed, they should sit flush against one another in place to leave no gap for crumbs or anything–but that’s something I can’t answer for sure right now but will in time. We did consider wall ovens, but we didn’t feel like there was a safe place for them. We moved the island stool seating to the end, instead of the right side to accommodate a fridge. The only option was to put the wall ovens next to the fridge. It felt too close to the seating and too far away from the cooktops and completely blocked from the sink. So we nixed the idea. Lastly, 60″ of stovetop is a lot–even for us! We do have people over multiple times a week. Chris comes from a family of 10, and me, 7. We frequently host family dinners and friends, so they will get used. But did we need 60″–no. 6 burners would have been sufficient, but when we came across the Frigidaire gas range, we realized we could get 2 30″ ranges for less than a 48″, we couldn’t pass it up. So, the 60″ of cooktop is just bonus!

  16. Candice says:

    Are you going to drop a note behind a cabinet for the next owners? like “this is what the kitchen used to look like!” type thing?

  17. Evelina says:

    I am in the “enjoying it” category too. They look so great so far!

  18. Cara says:

    What sort of cabinet did you use for over your refrigerator? Is it a base cabinet?? What size?

    • Julia says:

      It’s a over-the-refrigerator cabinet, actually. Ikea makes the. It’s 15″ tall and 24″ deep and even has some ventilation in the back.

  19. I really think IKEA should give trophies to people who buy their kitchens. It is a huge accomplishment when you get done putting them together AND installing them. You’re lucky you only had to make one trip back for your return. I think we made a total of 4 trips back for returns, mis-labeled boxes and mistakes (on our part). Can’t wait for the reveal!!!

  20. Matt says:

    So we just happen to be doing the exact same thing right now (even Laxarby). Just wondering what you used to attach the track since the Ikea instructions were not much help… I ended up going with a #10 3 1/2″ cabinet screw at every stud (16″ o.c.). So far everything is still attached to the wall… Fingers crossed I did it right. Good luck with the rest of your install :)

    • Julia says:

      We just used standard 2″ gold screws at every stud. On the edges (if it didn’t hit a stud), we used a heavy duty anchor and also put the back legs on (as opposed to just the front legs on the other cabinets) for extra security. Good luck, with yours too!

  21. Kelly says:

    You seem to be humming along at quite the pace! I think when you first announced you’d be starting the kitchen, your original timeline you had expected to finish around October. Does that still feel accurate, or does complete date seem to be sooner? It almost looks finished to me!

  22. Meagan Briggs says:

    What!? It is A LOT to look at! That kitchen is coming together!!!

  23. Mara says:

    For some reason, I thought the cabinets were going to be a brown color? Question about the island. Will you be wrapping it with something black to match the cabinets or will it remain brown too?

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We believe we should all love where we live.

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