Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Buying a Kitchen from IKEA

After thinking long and hard about what we wanted we eventually settled on IKEA to supply our kitchen cabinets. After looking online at the range available, we went in to see what they looked like 'in the flesh'. I like oak to be a sort of warm tawny yellow colour, and the IKEA kitchen cabinets turned out to be just the right colour. We also tested all the handles we liked for feel and practicality. Then we went away and thought about it some more and refined the arrangement of the cabinets on the plan.

Some days later we returned and spoke to someone in the kitchen department. He went through our list with us and answered some of the questions we had about what combinations were possible. We looked at the range of feet and decided the taller stainless steel ones were for us. We still weren't totally confident that we had thought of everything, nor were we sure we understood exactly what the logistics of purchasing were. In IKEA you have to work out how many hinges, handles and shelves you need, which door design you want and what range of cabinet carcasses. Some items are self service, some are prepared by the staff ready for you to pick up after the checkout. This is a lot to get sorted out when you are buying a whole kitchen. Once again we went away and thought about it. I was actually dreading the day we went to hand over our money and commit, but equally, I wanted it over and done with.

Putting Ikea cabinets together is easy if you're organised
Last Thursday, after dropping our clients off at their hotel in Tours, we called in at IKEA with the intention of ordering the cabinets so that they would be ready to pick up the next day. After being issued with a number by the kitchen reception desk and being told there were three other couples in front of us, we were finally joined by a sales consultant. We were incredibly lucky, as Juliette turned out to be utterly contientious and professional. Although she didn't speak English, she made sure we understood everything by speaking slowly in French, and where necessary, taking us over to see examples in the display area. She went through our list with a fine tooth comb, ensuring we had everything and suggesting one or two things that we should add or change. She ran through the process of how we should make the purchase the following day, and I left feeling almost confident that it would go smoothly (Simon arrived with a migraine and left with an even worse one, but that wasn't Juliette's fault!)

The next day, after deciding that trusting to luck to get an IKEA van, which you can't reserve, was too risky, we hired the SuperU van and appeared, as instructed, at the kitchen department reception desk with our list. Olivier, who was manning the desk, asked us if we had any changes to make to the list. We said 'no', and he said 'excellent - ah I see your sales consultant was Juliette'. I think he must have been her boss, and he clearly recognised that she is a real treasure. He processed our list and gave it back to us, re-ordered so that the items in the self-service section were in order of aisle and shelf position. He showed us which items were currently out of stock. Two would simply come in the next week as a matter of course and we could pick them up from self service. The third we needed to order and we would be contacted once it arrived. He made sure I knew where to find the handles (just by the exit to plantes vertes) and a bag to put them in. After that, he said to pick up a trolley and find our self service items.

A pile of kitchen unit carcases ready to be fitted out
There were several other couples in self service loading up with kitchen cabinets, so manoeuvering the long flat trolleys was somewhat awkward. We carefully worked through the list in order, checking items off as we put them on the trolley. In the time it took us to get from the kitchen department to the self service, another item on our list had run out. We should be able to pick it up today with the other items that were out of stock.

Then it was off to the checkout, where we paid and got a number for the despatch department. Once through, we parked the trolleys near the despatch gates and while I waited for our number to come up on the display screen to say our non-self-service items were ready to collect I checked the items on our list against the cash register receipt to make sure we had picked up all the right items.

Meanwhile, Simon went off to bring the van up to the loading bay. By the time our cupboard doors were ready to collect, Simon had already loaded the rest of our purchases. As she passed over our items, the young woman on the desk asked if I had collected my €200 gift. I hadn't, so she made sure I knew which desk to go to, while Simon loaded the last of our kitchen items.

The €200 gift is a voucher card redeemable on our next purchase. We were eligible because we spent more than €2000 on a kitchen. Quite handily, it will cover the one item we have on order.

At the end of it we have a pile of cardboard boxes
we can use to protect the kitchen floor
Off we drove, kitchen neatly stacked in the back of the hire van. We couldn't believe how smoothly it had all gone. Once home, we unloaded into the garage. Célestine is being agisted for a week or so, until the kitchen cabinets are installed. With her enjoying the comforts of a modern garage in a nearby village, Simon has had the space to unpack everything and put the cabinets together in preparation for the fitter's arrival tomorrow. It took him a day to put the carcasses for 5 units together and Alex came over and they completed the remaining (bigger) three on Sunday morning. Today we are off to Tours to exchange a couple of items that are damaged, and to pick up the previously out of stock items.



Pollygarter said...

It's going to look fabulous! You must have worn a groove in the road to IKEA now. Hope it continues to go well!

Diane said...

You know I have never been into an Ikea in my life :-(( Diane

Niall & Antoinette said...

It will be wonderful when finished:-) As we said when you looked at our kitchen--when Ikea works, it works. So far we've pretty much always had the 'it works pretty well' experience. And still happy with our kitchen :-)

Susan said...

Diane: even after this epic I can count the number of visits on one hand :-) We've come to the conclusion that they really deserve their reputation for good affordable quality and design.

GaynorB said...

I think you are right about that balance between quality and affordability.

Friends who fitted an IKEA kitchen a few years ago, are still very happy with it and the kitchen has 'worn' well, both in design and quality.

Good luck with the fitting of the units!

MargaretP said...

It all sounds wonderful, can't wait to see some pics.
Hope it is everything you are hoping for, kitchen design and layout are super tricky if you don't do major problem solving well before you buy, sounds like you both have it sorted

ladybird said...

Can't wait to see the result!

Colin and Elizabeth said...

We've spent many a happy hour wandering aimlessly around IKEA. My sister lives not far from their Warrington store in the UK... always a temptation when we go to visit.... For the time being I can only dream of an IKEA kitchen!!!

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