No Particle board!

Okie’s, the IKEA Alternative

Everyone has looked at the Ikea cabinet line at some point if they were interested in a kitchen remodel. IKEA cabinets are a bargain, but they get the price that low using cheap particle board, substandard construction methods, and selling un-assembled.  They do have a place though and in Europe where they came from it is the custom for homes to be sold without kitchen cabinets so the cabinets need to be cheap, modular, and portable.

Of course anyone that has ever bought a particleboard cabinet or entertainment center knows that they rarely survive a move but you can get some service out of the furniture.  That makes them a good fit for European homes where the cabinets are considered disposable, not so good in the U.S. where home buyers expect durable cabinets that will last for thirty or forty years.

Okie’s are simple melamine carcass cabinets that come in a limited number of standard sizes and styles.    They are inexpensive and because of that they come as they are, no modifications or customization on our end, can’t and still hit that price point with a decent quality cabinet.

The construction though is far superior to the IKEA cabinets.  The backs are 3/16″ and fastened property around the perimeter of the cabinet.  The cabinet rails are  solid wood instead of a  very flimsy sheet metal stamped spreader. 

The Okie’s carcass material is durable 3/4″ melamine coated MDF instead of flimsy particle board and the cabinets are already assembled when you pick them up.

IKEA cabinets average around $3200 for a standard 10 ‘ x 10’ kitchen, assembly and installation will run around $3500 so they are not really that cheap.  Okie’s are much better cabinets that are going to cost less than the IKEA cabinets due to the retail markups.

Are IKEA Cabinets That Bad?


First off, nice finish but it isn’t paint, it is a plastic film.   After a few years you will not be able to get a matching replacement door or any other part.   Are they any good, well a good way to answer that is to take the time to watch  this video that one of their customers made.  He recounts a lot of issues, while still saying that there is some value there.  First is there is little customer support available, it is a big box store and they have no call center.

Next you are given two days to report any damage or missing items, meaning you have to get the boxes home and unbox and check everything and hope you can make sense of what is what.

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What Are Okie’s?


Okies of course was a slur that Californians called immigrants from Oklahoma or other points East during the dust bowl mass migration.  Actually the Okie’s liked the name and adopted it to spite the native Californians.

So we thought the name was a good fit for our new cabinet line.  Frugal, hardworking, not afraid to try something new and different, and definitely going up against an established brand.

Okie’s are made with 18 mm melamine MDF and solid wood for things like rails, toe kicks, trim, and crown molding.  Doors are either solid wood for the more expensive doors, wood veneered MDF for mid range doors, or plain MDF for the painted doors.  We do not use the plastic films for exterior parts, not good for that.

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Gotta Have a Design First

You will need to do some kitchen planning and you are pretty much on your own.  A custom cabinet job has a budget for design, not so much with the low cost cabinets.

Basically you need a list of cabinets, sizes that fit, fillers to make them fit, and all your wants and needs included.  There are many online kitchen planners that are free, simple to learn to use, and they will crank out a drawing and a list of cabinet sizes with a few hours effort.

And there is nothing wrong with getting a quote from the bix box stores along with a drawing or list of sizes that they sell.  These cabinets will be similar, stocks sizes, use what they got to keep the price down.  That is part of the kitchen selling game, do lots of designing for the chance for your business. No guarantees you will sell the job.

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Basic Base Cabinets


A basic base cabinet is a cabinet that sits on the floor and against a wall and has one drawer, one shelf and one or two doors depending upon the width of the cabinet.

Cabinets have one door up until they are 24″ wide and then they have two doors.

.You can build islands and peninsulas out of base cabinets with the addition of end panels and a back panel or fastening base cabinets back to back.  Island and peninsula cabinets do need to be installed before the floor goes down which is always the best way anyway so the floor traps the cabinets in place.

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Drawer banks


Draw banks are stacks of drawers.   There are three drawers in a 34.5″ tall  standard kitchen cabinet.

On a standard 34.5″ tall kitchen base cabinet the top drawer front is 6 3/16″ wide.   The middle drawer front  is 11.25″ wide, and the bottom drawer front is 12.5″ wide.

On a standard vanity cabinet that is 34.5″ tall the drawer sizes are the same.  Vanity cabinets can be cut down in increments of 1.25″ or 32mm.  This increment is required be cause of the system holes that form the backbone of the European  frameless 32 mm system used to construct the cabinets.

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Basic Upper Cabinets

A basic upper cabinet hangs on the wall or sits upon another cabinet or countertop.

Basic uppers have two shelves and one or two doors depending upon the width.  Double doors are used starting at 24″ wide.

There is a cabinet back in all cabinets, inserted into a groove  in the upper cabinet styles. Each cabinet has two hanging brackets for fast and accurate installation.

  The same system holes (5mm holes 32 mm apart) are used for all the hardware from hinges to drawer slides to shelf pegs. It is this system that makes the European style cabinets faster to produce and more accurate as the holes are always right.

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Corner Cabinets

Upper and Lower


Corner cabinets sit in a corner so they have a blank space that is 24″ or 12″ wide on either side where a finished end panel or another cabinet will attach.

The Okie’s corner cabinets are dubbed style, the front is at a 45 degree angle.  L shaped corner cabinets are available in the custom cabinet series but not Okie’s due to increased cost. There are also blind cabinets that are less expensive and sometimes needed where window placement makes it impossible to put a full corner cabinet in place.

Lazy susans not included in pricing but available as an accessory.  There is one shelf included with the base cabinet dubbed corner cabinets and two shelves included with the upper dubbed corner cabinets.

Be sure you measure your entry door before deciding to use a corner cabinet.  They will measure around 33″ wide when turned on their side so a 36″ entry door is needed.

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Pantry and Broom Closet Cabinets


Pantry cabinets are split into upper and lower sections, each in its prospective location. 

They have two tall doors on the upper pantry cabinet and it usually will sit on a bank of drawers. Total height is 86.375″.

There will be four shelves provided or you can add pull out drawers for $40.00 per drawer.  

Broom closet cabinets are around 61″ tall with no shelves and there is an upper cabinet with a shelf that sits on top.  Together they are around 86 3/8″ tall.

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Microwave Cabinets and Oven Cabinets

 An oven cabinet starts out with a 12 7/8″ tall single drawer cabinet. A 17.87″ tall cabinet goes at the top.  That leaves around 52.125″ for the oven and any required oven fillers.

Microwave cabinets are standard 31.75″ tall upper cabinets with an open area below for a small microwave.  Be sure and check the microwave specifications before purchasing  the microwave so you are sure it will fit on the maximum 12″ deep cabinet.  Many small microwaves will fit.   Or set the microwave inside a pantry cabinet and have it hidden while not in use.

These odd cabinets are limited in availability in the Okie line up and this is the usual reason why custom cabinets are needed on a job.  It is possible to modify other Okie cabinets if the doors are five part or raised panel but the slab doors are pre made already and less likely to be cost effective to modify the cabinet size.  Just remember that Okies are a low price alternative and not intended to fit anything other than an average tract home that will have fairly common size cabinets.

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End Panels and Trim


Finished end panels in four sizes are available along with the various toe kick, light rail, crown molding, and fillers needed to complete you kitchen.

The pullouts are found in this category as well along with the pilasters needed to hang the pull outs in the base and pantry cabinets.

You will also find suspension blocks and the covers used  to cover the blocks and the steel rail needed to hang upper cabinets.

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Bathroom Vanity Cabinet


Vanities are usually not as deep.  A standard depth is 20.5″ deep carcass so a standard 22″ pre made countertop will fit.. 

The sink bases are 24″ wide, about as small as you are going to want to maximize your drawer space and not have the plumber cussing at you.  On each side that has a wall you will need a 1″ wide filler to allow for walls being out of level and for clearance for drawers to slide out and not be hitting walls or pinching fingers.

If there is room you can add a drawer base on one side or both sides.

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Pricing Examples on Showroom and Completed Job Kitchens


Everyone likes to know a rough price before getting too involved in a project and here is a way of estimating a rough cost on your set of cabinets.

There will be a full price for all the cabinets in the example as well as an estimated price per foot that sometimes can be used to rough guess a job cost.

Ultimately though the cost per cabinet and the trim and end panel costs set the final price.

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White 7′ long Five Part Door kitchen or laundry room set


This is a white colored  galley kitchen that is around 7′ long with five part doors and slab drawer fronts. 

These are a bit nicer than the standard slab door Okies but still down in the range of RTA particle board cabinets from the big  box stores.  And still a fraction of what Ikea cabinets would cost without sacrificing durability and quality.

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Light Blue 6′ long Five Part Door Island


This is a light sky blue colored  island that is around 6′ long with five part doors, five part drawer fronts, and five part end and back panels. 

These are a bit more expensive than the standard slab door Okies but much better quality than the RTA particle board cabinets from online sources.  You do sacrifice some durability and quality with an MDF five part door but they will be replaced before they wear out anyway.  The Island has a Livingstone Sable solid surface top, around $600 if part of a larger job that uses the rest of the sheet, more like $1200 if we have to order in a full sheet for the job.

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Small L shaped

Showroom Set


This is a tan colored 10′ x 4′ L shaped kitchen in our showroom

These are the slab door/ slab drawer front okies, the most reasonable priced option.  It has a single shelf lazy susan but double shelf lazy susans are available. There is room for a sink and dishwasher.

These would work well for a house that is being flipped or a rental property.  Or if someone is just on a budget and needs an inexpensive option to complete a kitchen remodel. 

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Stormy Grey Slab Door Kitchen


This is a grey colored L shaped kitchen that is around 25′ long with slab MDF doors, slab drawer fronts, and plain end panels. 

These are a around the same prices as the RTA particle board cabinets from the big  box stores.  And still a fraction of what Ikea cabinets would cost. Click on the link below for more information and more pictures.

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Man Cave Shop Kitchen!


This was a small kitchen installed in a big shop building used as a temporary residence while a new house was being built.  The cabinets were painted black with a clear coat of pre cat lacquer and installed on some 1/2″ plywood that the builder hung on the metal purlins so there would be something to attach to and to provide a surface for a backsplash.

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Small L Kitchen


This is a small L shaped kitchen done on quote for someone flipping a house.  This is the perfect use for Okies, gotta wreck of a kitchen dragging down the home’s value but reading prospective customer’s minds and not overspending is a challenge.

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