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"IKEA kitchen island... Good alternative to built-in or dumb idea?"

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IKEA Kitchen Island

IKEA Kitchen Island

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Question: "IKEA kitchen island... Good alternative to built-in or dumb idea?"
A reader asks, "I've been eyeing the IKEA kitchen island as an alternative to the expense...and mess...of installing a 'real' built-in island. Any thoughts on IKEA kitchen islands?"
Answer: Call me a home renovation snob, but my take on the matter is that if you really want a kitchen island, install a kitchen island. What you're getting with the IKEA kitchen islands are glorified tables. However, let's look at the topic in more detail, as well as compare the IKEA island to other portable islands.

IKEA Kitchen Island vs. Built-In Islands

At the time of this writing, the only kitchen islands that IKEA carry are: Stenstorp, Utby, Groland, and Dacke, ranging in price from around $200 to $550. All of these are portable kitchen islands, with the largest size measuring around 30" to 60".

Note that, as with all IKEA items, they come flat and require significant assembly time. The priciest of the bunch, the Dacke, unfortunately has a particleboard and melamine top--which most cooks will find inadequate for their needs.

When you look at IKEA kitchen islands against those made by competitors, you tend to find a better variety with the competitors:

  • More durable counters, such as thicker butcher block surfaces
  • Sturdier legs
  • More cabinets and shelves below

    Movable vs. Built-In Kitchen Islands

    Another thing to look at is whether you even want a portable or movable kitchen island in the first place.
    • One obligation of anyone installing a built-in kitchen island is to also install electrical power. So, when you buy an IKEA kitchen island or another portable, you avoid having to do this.
    • The flip side of this is that you cannot install power on the portable islands even if you wanted.
    • Depending on where you live, you might be able to have built-in kitchen island installed for something in the range of $1,000.
    • Countertop surface material is what will really drive up (or down) the entire cost of the island. With built-in kitchen islands, you can get higher-grade counters (even granite surfaces) which you cannot get with the movable kind.
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