Once I had the basic layout of my kitchen decided, it was time to find my cabinets. I have always loved white cabinets and white shakers are my favorite with their clean lines. I also really like the idea of having upper cabinets up to the ceiling to utilize every inch of possible storage.
While I originally thought we would end up getting some in-stock cabinets from one of the big box stores, I was surprised to find they didn’t offer the extra-long uppers I wanted.
I took a look at Ikea, but nothing really impressed me – especially the price for non-wood cabinets.
So I did some research online and found ready-to-assemble cabinets (also known as RTA cabinets). These cabinets are made of real wood, not the pressboard you get with the big-box-store in-stock varieties. They have so many options when it comes to style, size and even offer glass door options. The cabinets are delivered to you in Ikea-pre-assembled fashion and you just have to follow the instructions to put them together.
The ones I chose also came with soft-close features on the drawers and cabinets, without any additional cost.
After doing some research, I found people saying these were fairly easy to assemble. I even found one company that had an office about 10 miles from our home where we could see what the finished product looked like. After a visit, I was sold.
There are several companies that sell RTA cabinets and they all seem to have very similarly-styled cabinets. So for me, it was a matter of finding the best price, taking into account shipping. While doing my search, I found that pricing varied a little, but shipping varied dramatically. Some places charged a flat shipping rate of a couple hundred dollars no matter the amount, while others charged based on weight. I found we made out much better with the flat-rate.
We ended up choosing the RTA Cabinet Store. (Please note that I’m not getting paid anything for this post, this is just my experience with this specific company.)
I waited until Columbus Day weekend to order with the hope of finding some holiday sales (which I did). With my kitchen sketches in hand, I figured out exactly which pieces to order. This was the scary part for me – I measured and re-measured the kitchen several times.
I had my kitchen measurements broken down into inches since all of the cabinet widths were in inches and I even created an Excel sheet to make sure that everything added up.
This was more of an issue on the wall with the sink since I needed to make sure the sink cabinet was in the right place and that the cabinets would all fit. The other wall with the pantries was a bit more flexible since there was no wall limiting my kitchen. I just didn’t want to make my dining room look too small by encroaching into that area.
Once I placed the order, we waited two weeks to get them. During that time, we made room in the dining room so that we would be able to store the pre-assembled cabinets there for a couple of days. The cabinets are like wood flooring – you have let them sit in the room where they will be installed to get use to the moisture and prevent future expansion.
While that was happening, we took down our old upper cabinets and tore down the soffit. (We were able to see from the attic that the soffit didn’t have any duct work or electrical that would need to be moved.) Then we repaired the holes in the ceiling and prepped the walls.
Then we became an assembly factory. If you can assemble Ikea furniture, you can assemble these cabinets. Insert screw into manufacturer pre-drilled hole, add wood glue, attach to the adjacent piece and tighten screw. It was really that simple – time consuming, but simple.
We started with the bottom cabinets that would go on the sink wall. Once those were together, we ripped out the remaining old cabinets and began installing the new bottoms.
Then it was to the uppers. We used 2x4s to help me hold the new cabinets in place while my husband screwed them to the wall and to each other.
Installing the cabinets took three days.
The only problem we had was when it came to our new floor-to-ceiling pantries. I bought cabinets that were 96 inches (8 feet) tall to go all the way to the top of the ceiling. We knew we couldn’t assemble these on the floor and then stand them into place. There was no room for maneuvering them. So we decided to build them in place. However, our house is not level. Either the floor is off, or the ceiling is, or both are, but the first pantry we tried to put in did not fit. We had to trim down 3/4 of an inch to get it to fit. When we went to install the second one, we assumed we would need to cut that one down as well. But before we did, we tried a dry fit. Low and behold, this one fit without any trimming.
We did have one issue with one of the doors of the cabinets. The finish wasn’t smooth: there was some bubbling on it. It wasn’t major, but it was noticeable, especially since it was right where the knob was going. I called the company and they had me take a picture of the flaw and email it to them. At first they denied my claim. (Angry face) But I called again and after talking with the lady, we decided that my picture wasn’t very clear. So I took another photo and adjusted the contrast and brightness so that it would really accentuate the flaw. After I sent that to her, they agreed it was a flaw and shipped me a new door which arrived in a couple of days.
I also had one cabinet that was back-ordered and wasn’t shipped with all of the others. It took over a month (and some nagging on my part) to get that cabinet delivered.
I love these cabinets. They make my kitchen feel so much bigger and brighter and provide so much storage for us. I also love the glass doors we were able to add on the center cabinets. I only wish they had offered some without the grid so that my Pyrex would show through a bit more.
These cabinets cost us $3,500 and they are totally worth it. I have noticed that the big box stores are now offering rta cabinets online. But I have no idea if they are the same quality as what I got.
As a side note, we had a friend who remodeled her similar-sized kitchen at the same time as us. She spent around $2,500 on in-stock cabinets that she got at a 30% discount at Home Depot. At first, I freaked out that I had spent $1,000 more than she did.
But, here are the difference:
- My cabinets are all wood, hers are part particle board
- My cabinets go up to the ceiling, hers go to a soffit
- I have to floor-to-ceiling pantries that cost $400 each, she doesn’t
- I have two additional cabinets in an island that she doesn’t have.
So when you take those things into account, I think I got more for my money than she did.