Feature Article /
May 4, 2016

Need Low-Cost Cabinets With High Style? Consider These 11 Options

Semihandmade Low Cost of Kitchen Cabinets

*11/19/18: See updated coverage on this topic here.*

Cabinets can make or break your kitchen’s design, but costing anywhere from $15,000 up to (and more than) $40,000, they can also break the budget. You need options.

If you’re doing a custom home with a large budget, many brands already exist for you: In addition to bespoke cabinets from wood shops across the country, you can choose from custom and semi-custom brands such as Wood-Mode, Wellborn, Siematic, Poggenpohl, Eggersman, Henrybuilt, Boffi, Bulthaup, Poliform, Plain & Fancy, Viola Park, Goldreif, Snaidero, and many more.

Strategies already exist for attaining affordable cabinets: You can stick with stock units if you’re buying new, you can salvage old products and spruce them up with paint and new hardware, or you may try refacing your old boxes, which will give tired installations a new look.

But nothing takes the place of finding really good new cabinets that balance style with low cost. Most residential construction pros have their go-to affordable options, but one brand that comes up frequently is IKEA.

Used by such firms as Voith and Mactavish in Philadelphia and Austin, Texas; Estes/Twombly Architects in Newport, R.I.; Colab Studio in Tempe, Ariz.; Interface Studio Architects in Philadelphia; Randy Brown Architects in Omaha, Neb.; Johnsen Schmaling Architects in Milwaukee; and Kube Architecture in Washington, D.C., IKEA is a viable option when clients lack other resources.

“Don’t discount IKEA cabinetry,” Daniela Holt Voith, FAIA, has said, adding that it’s one of the best deals in kitchen cabinets.

No matter which budget product you typically choose, you still need to have options to show to your buyers and clients. According to the Cleveland-based Freedonia Group, there will be a rising demand for cabinetry in the next four years thanks to a rebound in residential construction and a trend toward larger kitchens. What’s more, consumer expectations are high. They want ample storage space, pull-out shelves, storage racks, and tons of other features, but they don’t want to pay a lot of money for them.

The good news for builders, remodelers, and architects is that manufacturers have been forced to up the ante on their entry level products. Consumers have more expectations at the entry price point, a rep from MasterBrand said at the International Builders' Show, which is why we are seeing more features such as soft-close drawers and doors, touch-to-open uppers, and lighting on more baseline products.

When it’s time to start your next project, consider these 11 low-cost, high-style options:

 

Ikea low-cost kitchen cabinet

1. IKEA

The Swedish brand is known for disposal products, but its cabinet line gets much respect. The boxes are made from particleboard and covered with a melamine foil. One drawback (or benefit, depending on your position) is that the pieces are flat packed and have to be assembled in the field. Wood, wood veneers, and lacquered fronts are available. 

 

Semihandmade low cost of kitchen cabinetry

2. Semihandmade

If IKEA doors aren’t good enough, this California company offers a wide variety of fronts that vary from melamine, wood veneers, solid wood frames, reclaimed wood, and thermofoil. The company also offers unfinished parts that are meant to be stained or painted in the field. 

 

Cabinets to Go low cost kitchen cabinets

3. Cabinets To Go

The company offers a line of affordable frameless cabinets with the look of high-end European products. The Roberto Fiore features full overlay doors, European hinges, and full-extension drawers with soft-closing glides. Lumber Liquidators founder Tom Sullivan launched the line in 2008. 

 

Reform furniture low cost kitchen cabinets

4. Reform Furniture

The company collaborates with Danish architects to design unique kitchen fronts and tabletops that fit IKEA’s basic and popular modules. It also offers adjustable fronts for the Swedish company’s PAX wardrobe, BESTÅ sideboard, and GODMORGEN bathroom cupboard. Featured architects include Bjarke Ingels and Norm Architects. 

 

Viola Park Low Cost of Kitchen Cabinets

5. Viola Park

The brand is the mid-priced line from ultra premium custom company Henrybuilt. Launched as an alternative to IKEA, the line offers modular pieces and uses high-quality materials such as walnut, bamboo, and maple. 

 

Kraftmaid Low cost of kitchen cabinets

6. KraftMaid

The company offers a variety of modern, traditional, and transitional semi-custom cabinets that are made with wood face frames, plywood boxes, and dovetail drawers. 

 

Duinsmuir low cost kitchen cabinets

7. Dunsmuir Cabinets

Founded by a Swedish furniture designer and an American architect, the company makes custom fronts for IKEA cabinets. Materials include lacquered and clear fiberboard, textured laminates, and oak, ash, walnut, and bamboo veneers. 

 

Tonusa low cost kitchen cabinets

8. Tonusa Elements

Elements is an entry-level to mid-level cabinet line by designer Fu-Tung Cheng. The product features aluminum shelves, bamboo uppers, integrated drip-trays, rubberized plate holders, sliding translucent panels, and wood veneers. 

 

Wholesale Cabinets low cost of kitchen cabinets

9. Wholesale Cabinets

The company distributes ready-to-assemble cabinets that feature solid wood doors, ½-inch plywood boxes, ¾-inch plywood shelves, solid maple dovetail drawers, and six-way adjustable door hinges, among other options. 

 

Cliq Studios low cost of kitchen cabinets

10. Cliq Studios

The manufacturer offers built-to-order semi-custom cabinets that are shipped direct, eliminating showroom markup. Made in Connersville, Ind., products feature a full-overlay style with mortise-and-tenon joints and recessed veneer center panels, among other highlights. Species include oak, maple, and cherry. 

 

Kokeena low cost kitchen cabinet

11. Kokeena

This Portland, Ore., company offer custom doors, drawer fronts, and hardware to turn IKEA boxes into custom cabinets. Materials include a high-density recycled wood product that is more dimensionally stable, solid wood stiles and rails, and wood veneers. Plain sawn walnut is shown here. All doors come finished, bored, and ready to install. 

 

See more kitchen + bath news from PRODUCTS magazine here:

Comments

SERIOUSLY.... IKEA cabinets. Design a kitchen for my friend. He did ikea... as in all things you get what you pay for. The install was not cheap and it's a lot of work to assemble them. You don't see those costs originally so you feel like it's a bargain. ! NOT !

cheap is what you get CHEAP. Cabinets are "fixtures" in your home. Besides the front door, kitchen cabinets are probably the most used "fixed" item in your home. Like doors, windows, this is not a place to cut costs. Amazing what qualifies as advise these days!

I couldn't have said it better myself! As a custom cabinet maker it really irks me when I read a post like this one suggesting "cheap is good" nowhere on this planet is this true!!! The kitchen is by far the most used room in the house and thus should be made of durable products and solidly built(not ridiculous cams and angle brackets). You almost always get what you pay for!!

The article is not suggesting that cheap is good or that cheap is better than any other type or level of cabinets. Custom cabinets are (or should be) far superior than any stock cabinet if they are made right, but the sad reality is that people and projects have budgets. In those situations, custom may not be an option, and architects and builders need options. These are only some of the options. There are many more.

I can not understand when I am selling a kitchen to someone that is remodeling knowing that they are tearing out the cabinets because they are in bad shape only to put back in cabinets that will only fall apart again. I try and explain that they are an investment and to spend an extra 3-4k and get something worthwhile and something with a warranty. Yes everyone is on a budget, but most of the time they will go and put 4-5k of quartz on a junk cabinet or even worse paint their junk cabinet and put an expensive top on them.

I made a huge remodeling in my apartment, when I was living outside of the US. For cabinets, I chose one of the best cabinet maker in my area. A medium size kitchen made of quality plywood that contained all the bells and whistles in kitchen cabinetry - lower cabinets - Blum/Hettich drawers only, upper cabinets Hettich pull-up, huge pantry with ton of Blum pull-outs. The cost? Eauivalent to 11K USD. That is for paint grade kitchen including shipping and installation, mind you. A kitchen like this in the US will most likely start at least 50% more than that if not double. It’s not that the IKEA kitchen wasn’t cheaper option than the kitchen I end up with. It is just that the price difference was not that significant (in %). The problem in the US is that there are (almost) no custom cabinet makers and the one you can find is (usually) much more expensive.
Also, and this is a matter of taste, IKEA offer European style, frameless, modern look. That is what I am looking for and though it can be found here in the US as well it is (usually) from the pricier vendors.

Ikea's Akurum line is no longer available -- it's now called Sektion.

You are correct. That is a good point. Thank you. I will note that in my story.

I have been installing Ikea cabinets in the metro NY area for 30 years. I find that the Ikea cabinets are the best value for price,quality,looks. They use high end drawers and hinges. The only time I get a call back from a customer is when the want another kitchen in a new apartment. I average 3 referrals from my customers.

Hi Ronald,
I live in Manhattan and am considering purchasing an IKEA Kitchen and am looking for a reputable person to do the installation. May I please have your contact details. Thank you!
Regards,
Brian
brianpardus@me.com

Don't forget that your installer willl be charging you 2-3 times what he normally does if he knows what he is doing because of the wasted time to do what should have been done in the factory. Any number of good cabinets will have a lower net cost. Most designers don't think that far through the project. From a retired Certified NKBA designer and remodeler.

You are correct, it can get costly, to have an installer come in and do the work (as with most cabinetry).

It is all about the budget. A person having a designer/architect/custom builder, pays for those services and will typically have a much larger budget that the average Joe. This client will always be there.

The budget level on IKEA Sektion cabinets are low, because a DIY person, will not have to budget for an installer. If a person does want a qualified installer, the cost is not 2-3 times , it will more likely be a little less than the price of the cabinets. (average 10 cabinet kitchen is about $4-5k). On top of the lower price, they have a 25 year warranty on the product. It is built to last.

Don't forget that your installer willl be charging you 2-3 times what he normally does if he knows what he is doing because of the wasted time to do what should have been done in the factory. Any number of good cabinets will have a lower net cost. Most designers don't think that far through the project. From a retired Certified NKBA designer and remodeler.

That's correct in your statement of charging 2-3x more. I have a kitchen remodel business (http://www.upgradecabinets.com) and we hate working with RTA! If the RTA doesn't come together easily or have parts that don't fit we would have to order the part(s). Time is wasted!
I usually purchase Wolf cabinets or Fabuwood cabinets. They come assembled and if there is any issues just reorder the whole cabinet! Simple
John

It is great to see so many modern choices. I am definitely saving this. Thanks!

Ikea is okay for a kitchen that are temporary, and will last max ten years. But durable cabinets will last a lot longer, as long as your house is standing. We are taking about 20k instead of 5K for the cost of better cabinets. I think its worth it. I remodel kitchens that have existing IKEA cabinets, and almost always learned my lesson about using cheaper cabinets.

In comparing Ikea & other KD (knock down) cabinet brands we have found that the labor to assemble a turnbuckle cabinet is so excessive that any of our 3 American Semi Custom brands with more door styles, more wood species selections, and more finishes, can compete head to head in price. Ikea cabinets are often not assembled square & create issues with countertop & appliance installation. Turnbuckle design cabinets are not strong enough to support a Viking double oven. In a guest house, the double oven cabinet purchased by the homeowner from Ikea, collapsed under the weight of the appliance. The appliance installers left the oven uninstalled for the homeowner to deal with. Ikea cabinets cannot be used for peninsula upper cabinetry. Pulls by Ikea are in 3 pieces. Every handle has to be assembled before installing. Chinese cabinet imports have failed in Arizona from many different manufacturers. One has only to look on line at the comments of desperate homeowners. Delaminating, taco-ing & complete failure of the cabinet to hold together have been seen in our market and throughout the entire United States & abroad with Chinese import cabinetry. Our American brands offer Manufacturer Limited Lifetime Warranty to the consumer to back their products. American Custom & Semi-Custom is always a great value both in product & price, and the selections are all customizable. The wood species, door styles, & finishes are selected for homeowner preference from swatches & door samples instead of pre-packaged no choice offerings.

This has to be the worst written article I've read in a long time. It is super misleading.
Where are the 11 options you talk about in your title? You only include one which is a Ikea.
IKEA does not make quality products. They do not make quality cabinets. And my installer has to build the cabinets and charge more than he would if he was installing regular cabinets as he has to build them and it also is tedious. Which will cost the client just about as much as if you went with the lower priced semi custom cabinet which will be much more durable.These cabinets may look good for short amount of time. They will not last. I recommend them only for short term quality expectations. And never in a bathroom or kitchen.

There are a lot of limitations with the Ikea, I would be surprised if there really is as big a savings after the install over some of the US made cabinet lines, like Waypoint.

Let's keep in mind that we should be "buying American products" Who needs cabinets that you have to put together with cam locks. We don't remove our cabinets and take them with us when we move.
Thanks.

I just completed a kitchen remodel with IKEA cabinets. I advised the clients not to use the cabinets but they moved forward with them anyway. They wished that they had listened to my advice. Knock down is not the same as factory built. Never again for me! You get what you pay for! I am not a fan of disposable kitchens.

I sort of thought the NKBA was composed of kitchen and bath professionals, many of whom make a living by selling cabinetry and related items. I must be missing something, but how can you make money selling customers something that they can buy themselves without you? If I recommend Ikea to my prospects, that's the last I'll ever see of them. I can't carry it in my showroom and Ikea won't sell it to me at a trade discount so I can earn a living selling it. That goes squared and cubed for all the companies offering Ikea add-ons and cabinets-direct like Cliq. If you're going to give advice, you should at least bear your target audience in mind.

There are American made stock cabinets that when you take into consideration the cost to assemble IKEA cabinets, the American made ones come very close in price and for my clients are a much better quality. When a client is on a budget you can still do a very nice kitchen with having to go to IKEA cabinets.

I would never recommend these cabinets to anyone. Lets first start with customer service is horrible you can not get thru to this company you must drive there in person to get anything that has gone wrong taken care of. I am a Kitchen Designer and have used this brand in my own home I cant believe the things that have gone horribly wrong. Have you ever heard the phrase " You get what you pay for"....please consider a quality cabinet from any different company other than ikea

Wow! The arrogance of people is astounding...One of he primary reasons I have discontinued my membership with the NKBA and my certification is the continued snobbery and inability for people to be creative or accept a different business model. Good money can be and is made by people working for those with normal sized budgets. I prefer to work with these folks more than those that have an unlimited budget and no need to be creative with financial budgets or design. But, I'm sure I'm the unprofessional one...

Best kitchen cabinet for the price is Kitchen Kompact. This company lacks the color offerings, but they make it up in the quality and price. MADE IS THE USA!

I have also used Fabuwood kitchen cabinets for most of my projects. I love the quality and pricing. My clients also love them with no complaints. If anyone has a question about them just contact me at https://upgradecabinets.com

Have a great day

Best cabinets I have found have it going on in all aspects. Price, quality, AND they come fully assembled at the cost of un-assembled. Incredible customer support. They are chinese, but the quality surpasses most affordable American made cabs any day of the week. I spent a long time looking for perfect cabinets for our building projects. Maybe this will save some of you the time and headaches I encountered. https://www.walcraftcabinetry.com

Interesting to see so many folks in the business of making money off kitchen cabinets complaining about IKEA cabinets. I have seen a few other articles sharing praises for IKEA cabinets so I am giving it some consideration in my apartment remodel. This apartment is a rental so I can't and don't want to invest to much. I can surely handle the assembly and installation myself so that's free, I am a very capable craftsman but I am not a cabinet builder. I have four current bids for my apartment kitchen cabinets, they are $2,800 for IKEA, $5,200 for Lowes custom, $3,900 for Denver Cabinet Express, and $11,000 for the local cabinet maker serving the affluent neighborhood where I live. None of these include installation, most come assembled except IKEA.

With that much discrepancy in price, no wonder the custom cabinet makers are upset about the competition from IKEA!

Next stop is IKEA to check build quality myself and see if it is something I can get behind.

Nice article.

Pretty sad: The most valuable post is by a consumer- "I have four current bids for my apartment kitchen cabinets, they are $2,800 for IKEA, $5,200 for Lowes custom, $3,900 for Denver Cabinet Express, and $11,000 for the local cabinet maker serving the affluent neighborhood where I live. None of these include installation, most come assembled except IKEA."

A real Apples-to-Apples comparison. A strong reminder of how worthless most blogs are. "Isn't this pretty"- Meh! I am a former construction professional doing my own kitchen and I purchased an array of Ikea door front samples. Quality varies form poor to excellent. Realize that Ikea fronts actually come in a HUGE price range (although price and quality here are not necessarily closely correlated).

I also got a large sample pack from Semihandmade. I will say don't bother unless you absolutely need a certain painted color, the quality appears no better than Ikea lesser. Personally I don't trust ANY particleboard/MDF front to tolerate heat/moisture with no warping in the long run. Slab modern especially.

Manufacturers need to get very specific about the materials- even DIY Joe and Jane are pretty smart these days. Look at Denver Cabinet Express impressive finish spec.:
"1. The finest maple wood is sanded until smooth and vacuumed.
2. An equalizer stain is applied to balance the base color of the wood.
3. A toner is then applied to establish color uniformity.
4. A deep penetrating stain is then applied to reveal the hidden beauty of the natural grain.
5. All stained surfaces are then hand-rubbed and wiped of excess stain, and then slowly air-dried.
6. A wood sealer is then applied, penetrating all exposed wood surfaces for uniform protection.
7. All surfaces are then hand-sanded, providing a smooth, consistent surface.
8. A glaze is applied by hand (if applicable).
9. A color consistency examination is performed with additional touch-up if needed.
10. A final protective top coat is applied, maximizing resistance to scuffing, moisture, fading and most household
chemicals.

I'd still like the "protective top coat" to be identified but pretty darn informative.

Lastly, just so we're clear, as a recovering architect I can assure all these companies that Shaker style cabinets are contemporary (ish), NOT modern. Seems very few folks outside the metropolises actually go modern as lots of brands have no/poor slab door options.

.....I can’t ascertain if you are for or against Ikea. Only that you bought doors and quality varies.

You might want to add Canada based Swedish Door (www.swedishdoorco.com) on your list. We bought some custom IKEA doors from them and their quality and finish is phenomenal. Mots Baker (mots@swedishdoorco.com) was a delight to work with.

Thanks, for sharing such an informative blog. I also explored a website http://kitchencabinetcentral.com/ which offers you wide range of designer cabinet door dampers, kitchen and bath hardware, to transform your indoor into an extraordinary one.

Add new comment

Overlay Init