Victoria firm helps homeowners piece together Ikea kitchens

Those who struggle with confusing Swedish labelling, schematic instructions and the dreaded Allen wrenches — the calling cards of Ikea furniture — appear to have found a new hero in a Victoria firm.

Three-year-old Ikan Installations, a partnership of a pair of Camosun College carpentry graduates, has been run off its feet since setting up shop and installing its first Ikea kitchen in 2011, and the workload doesn’t seem to be letting up.

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“It’s been like this absolutely from the start. The entire time Ikan has existed, we have been trying to play catch-up with the work,” said co-founder Anthony Stubbs. “We have been in business for three years and we have already installed 300 kitchens, all of them renos for individual homeowners.”

Stubbs, 27, and partner Kyler Davalosky, 34, started Ikan with a plan to install only Ikea kitchens in a market hungry for renovated spaces, but with a firm eye on the cost.

Before the pair, who met during their courses at Camosun, started Ikan, they worked as contractors, and noticed the steep cost of cabinetry when doing kitchens.

“We saw a need for a more cost-effective option while not compromising on quality and design,” Stubbs said. “We ended up installing an Ikea kitchen for a client and realized the price point and product were incredible.”

The pair estimate some kitchen renovation jobs can run from $15,000 to $30,000, but using Ikea’s catalogue, the pair could create and install a kitchen for anywhere between $7,000 and $12,000.

“The price point pretty much explains why we’ve been so busy,” said Stubbs, who noted that, at the moment, they install between four and six kitchens each week.

It certainly sold Laurette Spencer who used Ikan to build a new kitchen using Ikea ideas and material.

“I love my kitchen. It’s my dream kitchen come true and it was for half the price I would have paid,” she said, noting she received estimates as high as $40,000 for what she wanted. “The other estimates were really high, [Ikan] did it for half the price. And they exceeded my expectations.”

Within the first month of its existence, Ikan had three employees. It now has nine, including designers, and has expanded to a Nanaimo location to serve customers in Ladysmith, Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum Beach.

The problem with the attractive Ikea price point, however, is the fact Ikea no longer has an Island location and the Swedish furniture giant has said on numerous occasions that there are no plans for one.

And while there are Ikea shopping services in Victoria — both Add2cart and The Frugals personal shoppers will make Ikea shopping runs and deliver in the city — there is also the problem of installing a full kitchen.

“That’s not always easy for everyone,” Stubbs said.

Bruce Bennett, who recently had Ikan build a new kitchen in his home, falls into that category.

“You can go that [Ikea do-it-yourself] route, but I’m not one of those guys. I’m OK with a hammer and saw for some things, but a new kitchen, something like that would have taken me a long time,” he said.

Bennett said that, like many of Ikan’s clients, he was also drawn by the price to install a full kitchen. He estimates the project’s cost will come in around $12,000.

“We always liked Ikea stuff. We felt this was in our price range,” he said.

Ikan offers an initial consultation with a designer in the existing kitchen space to come up the new concept, layout and features, then the company will order the kitchen from Ikea, have it shipped to its shop where it will be assembled and checked for damage and missing pieces.

The assembled cabinets are then delivered to the home and installed.

The company has also expanded its services to include installing other Ikea products, such as wardrobes, bathrooms and storage units.

Spencer said she liked the work done on her kitchen so much she used Ikan to build out her mudroom using Ikea components.

“We really do push kitchens, that’s what we do best, but we will also do the other products,” said Davalosky, noting in many cases they are hired to do the kitchen and are later asked back to install something else.

“Often, it’s a case of people saving up, wanting more stuff and bringing us back — they believe in the product and us.”

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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