Here is Part 2 of my 4 part kitchen remodel series! After I was done gathering all of the inspiration I needed for our kitchen remodel (you can read about that here in Part 1), it was time to begin planning it! I’m going to share why I decided to do most of this myself instead of hiring a designer, how awesome it was designing an IKEA kitchen with Semihandmade custom door fronts, what resources I used to help because well, I am no designer, and how I put this all together for my contractor to make it is simple as possible to execute.

Designing the Layout

This by far was the most challenging part, but once we got this dialed in, the rest of the remodel totally came together. Since we wanted to demo the entire kitchen and start from scratch, we essentially had a clean slate to begin with which helped. But, I wanted to do crazy things like move the plumbing, move where the oven would go, etc.

I initially met with a local interior designer to help with this. She came over, and I shared my vision, and while she had some helpful ideas and the experience, it just wasn’t going to work. I am too picky and too crazy and too hands on – I didn’t need a point person to work with my contractor, I work really well with him and I really just needed an awesome design. She also was much more traditional and trying to steer me away from some of my ideas and just nah.

Now, I will say that it was very time consuming trying to design this mostly by myself (and with my Instagram friends lol), so if you are considering a major kitchen remodel, I hope you find someone fabulous who can help you BUT if not, it’s all good – you totally can design the kitchen of your dreams and I hope this post helps you do so 🙂

An IKEA Kitchen?!

So one of my inspiration photos showed an IKEA kitchen with the dreamiest custom cabinet fronts and there was just no convincing me of anything else after that – I had to have those cabinet fronts, and that is how we decided on an IKEA kitchen. Now I will admit, my first reaction was IKEA?! Seriously?! I love IKEA and all but usually because it is simple and affordable and it is fun to put together their stuff. My husband was like uhhhhh and my contractor was bascially horrified. But I’m SO glad I opened my mind to the idea and convinced everyone else it was going to be great because now that we are on the other side of this remodel, the IKEA cabinets are probably my favorite part.

First of all, they are incredibly affordable. Second, they are uber organized – we have little hidden drawers inside drawers, everything is soft close, and they have sizes and options for everything you could think of.

The best part and the resource that helped me the absolute most was finding Inspired Kitchen Designs. I knew I wanted IKEA cabinets, but with Semihandmade door fronts, but I wasn’t sure how to figure this out. You have to order everything you want from IKEA, and then place your order with Semihandmade based on that IKEA order (the measurements obviously need to be exact) and I had no idea how I was going to do that. But I didn’t have to because Inspired Kitchen Designs DOES ALL OF IT FOR YOU!!!! They are this amazing niche company that is familiar with both IKEA kitchen design and Semihandmade and the designer who helped me was incredible (thanks Paulina!).

Working with Inspired Kitchen Design

After buying a design package, you send pictures/video of your current kitchen, all dimensions, and a vision of what you want. Here are my very basic/ridiculous drawings that I sent over of what I wanted to happen in the 3 new sections of our kitchen: the little wall, the big wall, and the island.

little wall
big wall

Paulina sent me our first revision (you get 2 revisions in your package) and I was blown away!!! Seeing the renderings made everything so much easier to navigate, and really brought to my attention the features that were going to work, and the things that I overlooked that needed to be changed. The PDF you receive is huge but I’m going to share just a few of the pictures here:

draft 1 overview rendering
draft 1 big wall rendering with measurement details
draft 1 island rendering with measurements

Seeing these designs again is still so unbelievable to me! How Paulina was able to take my random drawings and come up with such a functional design for my kitchen, I have no idea but she is a genius.

Okay so upon receiving the first draft, there were a few things that I wanted to change and all you have to do is send an e-mail! I tried to be very specific and include bullet points. You only get 2 revisions and I didn’t want to waste either of our time. I loved how she was able to include a big functional island, “center” the range/hood to the eye even though it wasn’t centered because of our layout, and have lots of storage space in the form of mostly drawers.

I decided I wanted the open shelving by the hood to be smaller, and that the appliances on that wall should be rearranged so that they weren’t all in one corner. We also weren’t sure how much seating we wanted around the island, specifically just on one side or two sides? My main goals were to make our kitchen beautiful of course but more importantly, functional for the way our family intends to use it. Once Paulina received my edits, she came up with our next revision:

Now we’re talking! This version is very close to the final version we went with. I loved the new spacing of the appliances on the back wall (you can also get so specific in the design here – I e-mailed her the exact model of the appliances we chose so that she could make sure the dimensions were perfect and it was very helpful). We played around with the color of the cabinets here and this is what we stuck with. Seeing a new version of the island was helpful because it confirmed that we wanted to stick with our original idea of including as much seating as we could around the island and having overhangs on two sides. Here are a few images from the final, final design we went with!

Placing the IKEA Order

This part was incredibly easy because Inspired Kitchen Design gives you a detailed buying list to take to IKEA. They included everything, and I mean everything, on this buying list – every cabinet piece, every hinge, every toe kick, every hidden drawer, etc. They remove the door fronts from the buying list too (when using Semihandmade door fronts) so you literally print out the buying list, head over to the IKEA kitchen department, and place your order.

It was nice to get a super easy task out of the way because I’m not going to lie, the next part gets a little complicated. Nothing you can’t handle though!

Ordering the Door Fronts from Semihandmade

So again, since Inspired Kitchen Design is awesome and gave you a detailed buying list for IKEA and you get your IKEA receipt, you are ready to order from Semihandmade because all they need from you is really that IKEA buying list/receipt. That is what they base their order off of (because they need to know which size IKEA cabinet you need a door front for). But what about custom pieces? For example, one of the sides of our island is Semihandmade, a custom cabinet for the coffee maker wasn’t standard size, what about little trim pieces to act as a buffer between the oven and cabinets? Again, Inspired Kitchen Design specifies all of this as well on the buying list they give you.

If you want, you can place your Semihandmade order online by yourself. I did not, and I 100% recommend doing what I did which is paying $99 for Semihandmade’s “We Create Your Cart” option. I am not great with numbers and after all that planning, I really didn’t want to make a mistake here. With the create your cart option, you get a 30 minute phone call with a Semihandmade rep and they take your IKEA plans and create a shopping cart for you with the exact Semihandmade materials you will need. It was helpful to talk to someone over the phone and walk through the plans to make sure we didn’t miss anything, and then once the cart is created they send you a link, you purchase, and your order is on its way! We used two different materials from Semihandmade for our two-tone kitchen and they have so many beautiful options to choose from. The door fronts totally elevate our kitchen in my opinion and were so worth it!

What to Tell Your Contractor When Literally 200 Boxes Show Up

This part still cracks me up and I totally get why my contractor tried to talk me out of this. When you order cabinets from like, a cabinet company, they show up assembled and your construction team needs to install them where you want them to go. When you order kitchen cabinets from IKEA however, they show up in true IKEA fashion – in little boxes, with picture instructions and that little tool to put them together lol.

And further, when you order Semihandmade custom door fronts, those show up separate too and you have to figure out which fronts go with which cabinets, etc. Do not panic – I created the most efficient system and it made this part soooooo much easier. A little bit of organization goes a long way and both my contractor and I were super happy with process!

Inspired Kitchen Design sends you a color coded and numbered map of your cabinets. So let’s say cabinet number 1 is your upper cabinet closest to the left wall, cabinet number 2 is your upper cabinet to the right of that one, etc. What I did was made a document that lists out exactly what parts are needed to put together each cabinet by number (see below for an example). Then either you or your builder can organize the IKEA boxes (they come pre-labeled so you know what contents are inside) and Semihandmade fronts (easy to know which is which based on the dimensions of each front) into piles for each cabinet.

When ready to build each cabinet, they now have the exact parts they need to put it together and based on the map, know the exact location for where to install each cabinet. I did pay our contractor to have his team build the cabinets for us but I was a little jealous because I do love putting together IKEA furniture and this is definitely something you can do yourself.

my Google Doc listing out all parts needed for each cabinet

Final Part of the Planning: a Mood Board!

Once we had the cabinets/layout solidified, the final part of the planning process was the most fun part and I always rely on a good mood board that I like to create in Canva. This helped me when selecting finishes/hardware to visually see how everything would look together and this part is so important. Let’s say you love a shiny gold faucet, but when you see it against the backsplash and appliances you’ve chosen, it just doesn’t work…a mood board lets you figure out what you love and what you don’t before you purchase anything. I’ll share exactly what we included in our kitchen in Part 4, and I hope this Part 2 explained a bit more of our planning process!

Up next, make sure to check out Part 3 where you can see the actual remodel come to life! I took pictures every day of the process and even made a little video montage showing how it came together. I hope you enjoy and thanks for reading 🙂


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