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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 trays for $40.00 per tray.
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.
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.
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.
Pricing examples on Sample 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.