DIY Kitchens: Ikea or Bunnings Flatpax? (Part 3)
26 August, 2010 10 Comments
Proximity: Unless you live close to Ikea (or far away from everything) Bunnings is going to be much closer. We’re lucky enough to be less than a 45 minute drive from the only Ikea in NSW, but we have two Bunnings warehouses within 15 minutes. Even for a smaller kitchen project, you will have to go more than once, to buy parts you didn’t realise you needed, return pieces that turned out to be the wrong size, and so on (we had about 5-10 trips to each, just for the kitchen). So closeness should be a major factor in your decision.
Design Software: Ikea has a fairly detailed design application you can download to your PC and use to design and preview your kitchen in 3D. You can send the design to ikea, and print off your order in-store. Bunnings has a much more basic application on their website, but the in-store flatpax catalogues have graph-lined sheets and stickers for each cabinet size that you can use to at least make a top-down floor plan of your kitchen. Note that with both, your plans will likely change as you go, due to one unexpected issue or another, so plan as perfectly as you can but be ready to compromise if needed.
Display kitchens: It makes a big difference to see samples of the products, especially when assembled into an actual kitchen. Each Bunnings store should have a display kitchen or two, but Ikea wins here with half a dozen different display kitchens and a clever matching wall where you can grab samples of benchtops, put them over the doors you like and step back to judge how it would look.
I have a good overall impression of both the Ikea Faktum range and the Bunnings Flatpax range. (Update: 4 years later, I’m slightly less impressed with Bunnings doors and hinges. The modern gloss white doors have already yellowed visibly, and my corner-cupboard door hinges have already broken. But, I’ve had no other unexpected problems.)
Both seemed to be decent quality and fairly easy to assemble for a determined handyperson.
Both had some very nice styles (meaning the colour, texture and “look” of the doors, benchtops, etc), though personally I think the Ikea range was a bit more tasteful, on the whole. They put a lot of effort into design.
Each had a few distinct areas where their price for a similar item was significantly better (e.g.: Ikea’s Pragel laminate benchtop, or Bunnings’ modern gloss white doors), but overall they had similar pricing. Look at enough display kitchens to decide what you want, then compare prices on similar items (Ikea prices are online, but unfortunately flatpax aren’t on their a website at time of writing – we went into bunnings armed with a pencil and paper and wrote a bunch of prices down).
So both price and style will vary depending on what kind of kitchen you want (modern, heritage, muted colours, bright colours, etc) and they should be the major factor in deciding where you get your kitchen from.
But price and style aside, I think the most important differences were probably:
convenience: Bunnings is closer for most people, and you’ll likely make more than 2 or 3 trips for a whole kitchen.
wall cabinets: Bunnings hardbacked wall cabinets are much easier to anchor to the wall (in most Australian houses).
try before you buy: Ikea has a better display showroom.
stock: Ikea has most of their range in stock at any given time. Bunnings usually has enough stock of their most popular stuff (like modern gloss white doors and white kickboards) but if you like something that’s not as popular, they’ll have to order it in (or at least send you to another Bunnings – but most have similar stock).
That’s it! Go do your research, choose your style, plan your layout, and have fun building your own shiny new kitchen.
Any questions? Ask them in the comments section below.
do your homework: learn as much as you can about what you’ll need to do, especially if you’re not an experienced handyman. The flatpax kitchens instructional DVD from Bunnings costs about $5, so just get it – even if you’re getting all Ikea parts. It’s short and will give you an idea of what your in for (though of course, the leave out a lot to make it seem much easier and quicker than it is). Youtube should also have some good instructional videos for various tasks, like cutting the benchtops (I can write a post about this if anyone’s interested, let me know in the comments).
your kitchen walls aren’t perfect: even very well constructed houses aren’t quite perfect (and they settle over time, apparently). For example, your back kitchen wall might be 3000mm wide near the floor, but 3011mm wide near the ceiling. The cabinets are designed to help handle this (for example: the Bunnings corner base cabinet has extra space left at the back to allow for corners that are slightly less than 90 degrees). But you still need to be prepared to deal with problems. I had to cut into the gyprock a bit to fit my last wall cabinet in – the gap between the other cabinets and the wall was a couple of millimetres too small near the top.
“no-name” options: Ikea and Bunnings aren’t the only options for flatpacked kitchens in Australia. I like the idea of a standard kitchen I can easily upgrade later, so I have no experience with the others, but it can’t hurt much to Google around.
even cheaper kitchens: if you know what you’re doing, and have a lot of time, you can simply buy the fibreboards from Bunnings and cut them up to make your own cabinets. Most kitchen installers do this (more or less).
really cheap kitchens: if you’re adventurous, the cheapest way to get a kitchen is to buy an old one from someone who’s renovating. Try eBay. They’ll usually go for a small fraction of the new price, but be prepared to remove them yourself, clean them, and match any parts your new kitchen space needs (obviously if it’s a Bunnings or Ikea kitchen, that’ll be easier).