The World's Ugliest Condo: Now We're Cooking

The World's Ugliest Condo: Now We're Cooking

Dabney Frake
Apr 13, 2012

I decided on IKEA kitchen cabinets for the remodel. They are affordable, look spiffy, and work well for a second home that doesn't get daily use. I had priced out a comparable kitchen at Home Depot, but $4,000+ took a big bite out of the old budget. IKEA cabinets were just over $2,000 (thanks annual kitchen sale!) and didn't have to be ordered in advance.

Here is the kitchen in utero, along with A LOT of the requisite IKEA flat packaging:

For prep, I made several advance IKEA runs to plan, ask bunches of questions, and pick out what I wanted. The Ikea kitchen planning software is easy to use once you get the hang of it, and most staff were knowledgeable and helpful.

I decided not to pay anyone to assemble the cabinets, and reserve that special ring of hell all for myself. I did splurge on delivery (I think it was about $75 from Tampa to St. Pete), so I wouldn't find myself cramming a kitchen's worth of boxes into my mom's clown car Prius, then lugging it all up the stairs to the condo. (On a side note, how great is it that you get VIP parking at Ikea when driving a hybrid? I felt like a pregnant lady being given a welcome seat on the subway.)

I have to say, it really wasn't a big deal to assemble everything. Thankfully it's a pretty small kitchen. I've also had my fair share of Ikea pieces over the years, so I know a cam when I see one. The first cabinet took me about 25 minutes. By the end, I was down to 15 minutes per cabinet. Some of the special pieces (like the interior carousel in their corner base cabinet) took a bit longer, but all in all, pretty snappy.

The most difficult part was communicating the kitchen plan to the crew, without having a visual to give them. They had also never worked with Ikea before and were unfamiliar with its Swedish ways. There was some confusion and much moving of things in order to make the cabinets fit. The other mistake of the day (my bad) was forgetting to account for the sink plumbing which — wouldn't you know — came out of the wall at exactly the point where two cabinets met. Luckily this was a pretty easy fix as well; the handytractor just moved the pipe a couple of inches to the left.

I had grand plans to make a refrigerator cabinet of sorts, using leftover filler pieces. However, instead of a finished, sleek, professional looking piece, there were jagged seams that they planned to just caulk instead. So not pretty. So on to the Plan B.

But, they're almost done and countertops are next (it takes a couple of weeks to fabricate), but things are humming along nicely. Things are cooking indeed.

Introducing the World's Ugliest Condo
The World's Ugliest Condo: Scope of Work & Budget
The World's Ugliest Condo: Finding That Special Contractor
The World's Ugliest Condo: A Glimpse of What's To Come
The World's Ugliest Condo: My Ballad of Renovation Woes

(Images: Dabney Frake,

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