Designing an Ikea & Semihandmade Kitchen

ikea and semi handmade kitchen

I get so many comments and questions from readers about buying and designing an IKEA and Semi Handmade Kitchen that I wanted to do a follow up post to our kitchen reveal. Our kitchen is one of my favorite parts of our house so I’m always so happy when people reach out to ask me about it.  I also LOVE our cabinets which are IKEA bases with Semi Handmade fronts and I can’t stop telling people about how they are the best decision we made when picking finishes for our kitchen.

2021 Update! We recently finished a DIY built in office using IKEA x Semihandmade. See the project and more of our home here!

If you’re not familiar, Semihandmade specializes in creating fronts that fit with IKEA products. They offer an amazing selection of fronts and customizations so you can get exactly what you want without paying a huge markup on a custom kitchen.

So let’s dive into the FAQs about buying and designing an IKEA x Semi Handmade Kitchen:

How much did you kitchen cabinets cost?

Although I was unsure about sharing this information, I know it will help so many of you with your decision so here we go. The IKEA portion which includes the bases, drawers, shelves, lights, and kick plates cost us about $3,300. The Semi Handmade portion which includes the fronts and panels cost $10,000. Note that we selected one of the more expensive finishes from SH but it’s exactly what we wanted. That brings the total of our kitchen cabinets to $13,300.  We got multiple bids from contractors for a custom built kitchen and they ranged from $35,000 – 50,000 with 2 of the contractors using the same materials as IKEA and SH (particle board).

Are you happy with the quality?

Alan and I are both yelling OMG Yes! We are so happy with the quality of both the bases and fronts. I also have to note that we have friends who are realtors, high end interior designers, architects, and the like and all of them agree that our kitchen is top quality and beautiful.

Is it difficult to design your own kitchen?

I can confidently say it’s easy although it requires time and patience. “But you’re married to a trained architect!” you’re thinking. Yes, I am but Alan didn’t design the kitchen, I did. He measured out the entire space and I spent hours laying out the design of the kitchen – pantry here, broom closet there, refrigerator on this side – you get the gist. IKEA’s design software is very easy to use, although it is frustrating at times. The wonderful thing about the software is as your drag and drop in cabinets to design your kitchen, IKEA makes a line sheet of every.single.item for you.  If you think you’re on your own in this process, you are not. Once you’re done designing, you submit your kitchen and then meet with an IKEA kitchen pro in store. She’ll go over it line by line with you to make sure you have every screw you think you may need. Easy!

What’s the design and delivery process like working with 2 different companies? 

After finalizing your kitchen design with IKEA, you send the design and line sheets to Semi Handmade. You don’t have to explain anything to SH, they know how to read the design and know all of the parts that make up the IKEA kitchen. From there, you’ll make your selects for the fronts, panels and any exposed shelves (like we have).

I have to admit, I was worried it was going to work something like asking the DMV to call the IRS to coordinate LOL. Obviously it was nothing like this.

Did you build the kitchen yourself or hire someone to do it?

Alan put together the entire kitchen himself, from the IKEA boxes to Semihandmade fronts. He literally finished our kitchen the day before I went into labor with Harlee – talk about timing! You can definitely hire people to build it for you but it’s an additional $2,000-4,000 depending on the number of boxes. Alan said if you can build an IKEA bookshelf, you can build an IKEA kitchen – you just build one cabinet box and repeat over and over until you’re done. He did get help from my brother-in-law when installing the larger pantry boxes.

Sources below!

ikea & semihandmade kitchen

Kitchen Finishes: Fireclay Tile BacksplashSemihandmade Cabinet FrontsQuartzstone counter and terrazzo-like quartzstone floor tileIkea cabinet boxDelta Trinsic FaucetWest Elm Pendant LightWest Elm CanistersTea TowelsMarble Serving Tray, Vintage Runner



  1. Karen
    July 9, 2019 / 11:46 am

    Just wondering how large or small your kitchen is. I’m beginning the process and am fairly sure ikea cabinets with custom doors is the way to go

    • July 23, 2019 / 10:34 pm

      Hi Karen! Our kitchen is about 20 feet long and 8 feet wide. We kept about 3 feet of space from cabinet to cabinet. I hope that helps!

  2. Sharp
    July 18, 2019 / 3:03 pm

    Was the semihandmade Tahoe? We are building a new house and have visited their shop in Palm Springs, but deciding between wood look and ‘beach’

    • July 23, 2019 / 10:33 pm

      Hi! The SH fronts are walnut with horizontal grain! We definitely wanted a wood look to go with our mid century modern home. It’s beautiful and such high quality. 4+ years later and the fronts still look amazing!

  3. Rachel
    July 24, 2019 / 12:39 pm

    Hi there! I went on SH website and the finish you selected (Walnut w/horizontal grain) is no longer available for use on the Sektion cabinets. I reached out to them and they said the finish is now only available for Godmorgon and Besta, they’re unsure if they will offer it again for Sektion in the future.

    I’m so sad! 🙁

    • July 24, 2019 / 3:40 pm

      Ahhh that’s such a bummer. It’s such a beautiful finish. Do they have anything similar available for Sektion?

      • Rachel
        July 25, 2019 / 10:04 am

        I know 🙁 It really is gorgeous and total kitchen goals! Their suggestion was their Impression line (Tahoe or Sonoma looks to be the closest).

        • August 5, 2019 / 10:16 pm

          Yeah, I just looked at their site and those are closest but not quite the same. I do remember the Flatsawn Walnut being one of the pricier options, so they may have just eliminated the style because of pricing. 🙁

          • sarah
            March 10, 2021 / 5:20 am

            Just an FYI- and maybe its too late- but Semihandmade is now offering the Walnut again!! 🙂

          • March 11, 2021 / 1:28 pm

            Yes, you’re right. They are back! 🙌🙌

  4. Mary
    September 4, 2019 / 11:29 pm

    Beautiful kitchen! Do you have a picture of the layout?

    • September 5, 2019 / 3:58 pm

      I don’t but it’s a galley style kitchen if that helps. I can ask Alan to sketch something and I can add to this post!

  5. September 23, 2019 / 10:05 am

    Where did you get your backsplash? It’s beautiful!

  6. Emily
    October 15, 2019 / 4:16 pm

    I would love to see the other side of your kitchen with the fridge! Any chance you can post something? Or like mentioned before I would be curious to see the layout. Ours is galley kitchen very similar to yours and I’m looking to do something super similar to yours!

  7. Blake Becker
    January 30, 2020 / 7:59 am

    Great kitchen, thank you for sharing. Does the SH feel like solid wood in terms of weight, or is it lighter?

    • February 3, 2020 / 12:55 pm

      It’s a bit lighter than solid wood but the quality is there. I hope that helps!

  8. Chanta
    February 11, 2020 / 12:17 pm

    Hello! Love your space. Can you share more about that open cabinet (with books, etc.)? Is it a frame from Ikea with Semihandmade trimming?

    • February 12, 2020 / 7:23 am

      Thank you so much. The open shelving is all Semihandmade (no IKEA components there). SH can add shelving like this as you work with them to develop your kitchen plans. I hope that helps! xx

  9. Tessa
    February 25, 2020 / 4:14 pm

    Can you share where you got the cabinet pulls/hardware? They are lovely 🙂 Thanks!

    • February 26, 2020 / 12:11 pm

      Thank you so much! The cabinet pulls are from the original kitchen! We loved them so much and they match every other pull in the house, so we kept them.

  10. Gage
    June 9, 2020 / 8:49 pm

    Your kitchen looks great! We have an almost identical kitchen, and we are doing something very similar. Would you mind sharing the other side of your kitchen? Also, how many panty cabs did you do? It looks great! Love that you kept the original knobs! Thanks so much!!

    • June 12, 2020 / 8:15 pm

      Hey there. I just added a picture showing another view of the kitchen so you can see how it’s designed. I hope this helps.

  11. Rachel Sutherland
    June 30, 2020 / 11:13 pm

    What color tile did you choose in that beautiful pattern? I love it and went to the Fireclay site. There are a lot of white and off white to choose from!

    • July 2, 2020 / 12:29 pm

      Hi Rachel! Thanks for reaching out. I believe the color is white wash. I hope that helps! 😉

  12. Rachel
    July 1, 2020 / 9:47 pm

    What is the color of your Fireclay tile? There are so many white and off whites to choose from!

  13. August 5, 2020 / 7:56 am

    hi… your kitchen is gorgeous. can you share some info about the area above and below your upper cabinets? the ikea cabinet frame is just the size of the door, correct? guessing the area at the top is so the door can open and bottom is to conceal some lighting or hide the underside of the frame? did you guys design that in because you knew or did ikea or semihandmade tell you you needed it? would also love details on the toe kick. thanks in advance!!

    • August 7, 2020 / 7:01 pm

      Hi MJ. Thank you so much. The top part is a filler piece from SH and they recommended that we get it. We knew the cabinets wouldn’t go all the up to the ceiling. The valance (piece on the bottom) does in fact hide lighting we have under the upper cabinets. We knew we needed that because the lighting piece (from IKEA) would show under the cabinets. The toe ticks are just the basic option from IKEA. Both the IKEA and SH are super helpful when it comes to making these additions and whether or not you need them. I hope that helps!

  14. Kelli
    September 17, 2020 / 10:22 am

    Hi – your kitchen is an inspiration! We have our walnut fronts ordered from Semihandmade and are having trouble selecting our countertop (we too are going with the Fireclay white wash). Which quartz did you end up going with in your kitchen? Thank you in advance and for all the lovely photos and details!

    • September 19, 2020 / 9:20 am

      Hi Kelli! Thank you so much! I think you’re going to love the SH walnut fronts. They are so beautiful and hold up well. Our kitchen still looks brand new 5 years later! We selected quartz stone from a local manufacturer (not a name brand) and the color is pure white or snow white. I’m trying to find our paperwork to give you additional details but I can’t seem to find it! I hope that helps in the meantime, but I will ping you when I find the paperwork.

  15. Stac
    October 18, 2020 / 5:40 am

    Beautiful!! My husband and I just bought a mid century fixer-upper and your resources will come in handy. Thanks for sharing!! What paint color do you have on the walls?

  16. Dawn H.
    April 13, 2021 / 4:35 pm

    Beautiful! How did you handle venting over the cooktop?

    • April 14, 2021 / 4:22 pm

      Thank you! Our vent actually pops up from behind the cooktop. It’s very cool. When I don’t need it, it’s hidden (as you can see) and lives in the cabinet below. After opening up the kitchen, I didn’t want to obstruct the view with a traditional vent that hangs down. Hope that helps!

  17. Leanne
    September 18, 2021 / 8:30 am

    Hi! I’m working on redoing my kitchen. I’m slowly gathering all the parts and pieces. I’m also doing the walnut but on the lower with upper being white. My kitchen is tiny so I wanted to keep it a little light.

    My question. I’m considering painting the insides (or just the back panel of the uppers). I’ve put together my first cabinet and then took pause. Would you suggest pulling all the back panels and painting those first?

    • September 28, 2021 / 9:38 am

      Hi Leanne! I’m not sure how well paint will work on the insides. I don’t think the white insides show through in our kitchen and it’s honestly nice to open and look at white insides since they look so clean. I hope that helps!

      • Leanne Wolff
        September 28, 2021 / 10:58 am

        Thanks! Too late. I painted this weekend :). Just the back panel of the uppers. I ended up buying a bonding primer as I read that the Ikea cupboards are hard to get the paint to stick. I’ll let you know how it all looks when it’s done!

        • September 29, 2021 / 2:46 pm

          Yes I’d love to know how it looks! Good luck with the project 🙂

  18. Rachel S
    February 19, 2022 / 7:57 am

    Hi! I love how you kitchen turned out!

    Question for you: it looks like you got custom sized doors for the sink cabinet (we did the same 25″ tall). I’m wondering how you got the hinge holes drilled at the right spacing!

    • February 21, 2022 / 9:03 am

      The kitchen sink cabinets are stock IKEA boxes. The holes for the doors are pre drilled by SemiHandMade so everything lined up neatly. Hope that helps.

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