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I heard so many stories about ordering kitchen from big stores (the likes of B&Q, MFI or Homebase) and then getting it without some pieces, in 4-6 weeks and then waiting some other weeks to get the missing pieces delivered, so I decided that the best for us, in our new house, is to try and get a supplier that offers "off-the-shelf" kitchens ! So I can go and pick my stuff by myself. This because with all the transformation in our house ( we purchased a house and the kitchen was to be completely relocated from its original location, to the former bathroom area on the ground floor, which was before just by the former kitchen (I don't understand the English houses with the kitchen and bathroom side by side on the ground floor ! How on Earth you want to go through the kitchen to go to the bathroom? Or have a bath while someone is cooking in the kitchen ? But that's another story)), we had to do everything is steps, as we also lived in the house (can you imagine?), so I had to buy stuff gradually and fit it, not getting a lot of stuff in one go and not being able to store it properly (you can't store kitchens outside, because of rain and humidity !)
The only one found offering "off-the-shelf" kitchens was Wickes. But the range offered was poor, the size of the cabinets was very limited and the quality of the kitchen did not look too impressive. So I just ignored this offer.
Then I had a look at Ikea. I always sort of left aside IKEA in terms of furniture, but this was until now !
So, I downloaded their Kitchen Planner, FREE from their website and started designing the kitchen (is the best Kitchen Planner on the Internet and IS FREE !). As everyone knows, the size of the kitchen and the size of the cabinets are not going together very well, you always end up having 5cm less or extra, etc. So, after days spent in front of the laptop and four different designs, we finally made up our minds. We have chosen a Tidaholm oak kitchen from Ikea. The total value (you have also this option in the software, you get a final price based on what you ordered) was 1548£. Which looked not very cheap, but not very expensive either. They had a lot of cabinets, different sizes and different models, whatever you could want
For my piece of mind, I went to Wickes and Homebase and ask them to quote for similar kitchens, based on what they offered. Homebase came at around 2900£, Wickes slightly less, at 2455£. But this AFTER getting a 50% discount from their list price !!
I talked to friends having kitchens from Homebase and Wickes and they were not particularly impressed with the quality of the kitchens, one friend even told me that the doors from his Wickes kitchen started to peel off !! They were made of MDF having some sort of self-adhesive stuff glued over.
So, I decided IKEA is for us. I went to IKEA in Croydon, spent a day in the store (but that's another story, as I looked for other stuff !) and really, really liked the quality of the kitchens, especially of the one that we thought is OK for us, the Tidaholm one.
So, to cut it short, the Tidaholm kitchen looked absolutely fine. We really liked the fully extended drawers, the carousels in the corner cabinets (which, by the way, cost only 25£, and Homebase and Wickes quoted me over 100£ to put carousels in corner cabinets !) and the doors looked very solid. Actually, they were made from real wood (oak), not MDF (as I was to find out later, when I had to cut 1 cm from one of the door, due to some particularities of our kitchen and the bit from the router - made from steel ! - broke when cutting the door !!)
So, I had to order first the base cabinets, I went to Ikea Croydon with my laptop with the kitchen already saved, the assistant from the kitchen area was very helpful and I found out that Tidaholm was just reduced by 10% (great news, what can I say?), they made the list and printed out with the location of each item (if you never been to Ikea, you need to know that basically you pick up your own stuff, even if is a plate or a big coach, you need to location in a big self-serving warehouse and travel with your trolley to the location, pick up the item - everything was at the right location, no error ! - and then go to the check-out). So, after about 30 minutes of picking up stuff I managed to load all the base cabinets, shelves and doors on the trolley - went to the checkout, and then load everything in my 7 years old Mondeo. It fitted without any problem - everything was flat packed anyway.
I went home (it was in the evening) and then two days later (after the plumber finished his job) I fitted the base cabinets. Everything was very good quality, even the cabinets were made from real tough MDF, 18mm thick and I really, really liked how easy it was to fit them and then attach them to the wall. No piece was missing, no screw, nothing. Everything is made to help you fit it easily, the hinges for the doors are mounted to the cabinets with plugs + screws and the holes are pre-drilled for easy mounting and the level is absolutely fine, you don't get one door higher than the next one (even if you get this, the hinges are adjustable)! And the hinges attached to the doors without any screws (!!). The drawers were very solid, having metal frame and being able to fit one in 3-4 minutes, no screws, drilling, nothing, just click, click and then another click !
Very impressed with this, next week went for the wall cabinets, again helpful advice at their Kitchen area, again picking up myself the cabinets and doors and fir them in my Mondeo. Again, nothing missing, again easy to fit, again I was happy with the quality. One thing to mention, they offer two types of wall cabinets, ones that are 70 cm high (as the standard ones in any other kitchen suppliers) and others that are 92cm high, for extra space. And we have chosen the 92cm ones, is extra 22cm in each wall cabinet that you can sue for storage.
Then the final transport for the worktops, we decided to buy one that was off-the-shelf, not made to order (but you have this option for some fancy worktops), next day I fitted the worktops, the quality was very good compared to the price paid. We have chosen the PRAGEL worktop, in "stone effect black", it was 25£ for a 246cm x 60cm worktop, but they also have other lengths (186cm or 126cm).
So, the kitchen was in the end at least 40% cheaper than the 50% reduced Wickes one (which was 20% almost cheaper than Homebase), is was better quality and very easy to fit. And I could pick it up myself whenever I wanted (yes, I know, I had to take it home in my own car - a 30 miles return trip to Ikea Croydon, but I am not bothered by that).
Then we bought some accessories, cutlery trays, rails, etc, all pretty cheap and pretty good quality too.
Overall, we were very happy with Ikea and the quality of their kitchens. I was so happy, that in the end I purchased also the laminate flooring from them (60 sqm in total) very good value for money and very good quality too.
So, why not try for yourselves next time an IKEA kitchen?