Building an IKEA KNOXHULT kitchenette for under $1000
Building an IKEA KNOXHULT kitchenette for under $1000

We built a mini kitchen in our basement! Our downstairs has a bedroom, bathroom, living room, and now a little kitchen, making it a great guest or rental space.

First, the finished product:

It's smaller, but I swear it's nicer than our real kitchen upstairs, haha. I'm ready to move into my own basement.

Here's how we did it.


We started by planning the configuration of the kitchen. With limited space, we had to decide what components we really wanted to include and which ones were less important. We settled on: 1) storage space, 2) sink, and 3) fridge. We chose not to get a dishwasher or full-size range to keep the space open and flexible. Washing dishes by hand for one or two people isn't bad, and you could easily add a toaster oven, microwave, countertop induction cooktop, and/or coffee maker to make for a functional cooking space.

We knew we wanted a real fridge with a freezer, not just a mini-fridge. We researched fridge dimensions and discovered that an "apartment size" fridge would fit perfectly, and found one in good condition through a classified ad for $100.

We used measurements from IKEA's website to decide which cabinets to buy. Then we used a tape measure, level, and painter's tape to mark where each component would go, so we could see the big picture before buying everything.

(The holes in the walls were from some plumbing work, and we didn't bother patching them because they'd be covered by the cabinets.)


Next, we tiled the floor. The room has wall-to-wall carpet, but we wanted to tile the space under the kitchen for easy spill clean-up. We've used these 2'x1' tiles from Home Depot for other projects around the house, so we decided to buy more of those.

First, we removed the baseboards with a pry bar. We carefully measured and marked the tiled space, making sure it would come out about 2-3 feet from the cabinets so a person could comfortably stand on the tile while at the kitchen counter. We cut out the carpet and foam with a razorblade, exposing the concrete floor underneath.

We measured and cut a piece of Schluter Ditra subfloor to go under the tile. Ditra is a "decoupling membrane", meaning it gives a buffer between any shifting in the concrete floor and the tile. The stuff is pretty expensive but we didn't want our tiles to crack over time, so it was probably worth it. We followed the Ditra instructions to mortar it to the concrete (at first we bought polymer modified mortar and we had to go back to the store because the instructions specify unmodified mortar).

To address the transition between the raw carpet edge and the tile, we used metal "Z bar" we found at home depot. We cut that to size, with angles on the corners, and laid that down to be held down by the tile.

We laid out the tiles in a staggered pattern, and used a tile cutter to prep the edge pieces. Then we used tile spacers and mortar to lay the tiles, and grouted between them with a light gray grout.


Once the mortar and grout was dry and solid, Seth wired a new outlet above countertop height so we could plug in countertop appliances. There was already a light switch at about the right location, so he converted that into a side-by-side switch and outlet. We bought and placed a new outlet cover and we were good to go.


Next we assembled the cabinets. We went with the KNOXHULT cabinet set from IKEA. The bottom cabinets each come with their own butcher-block-like countertops. We weren't sure about how it would look with two separate pieces of countertop next to each other (rather than a single smooth piece), but we checked it out in the store and it actually looks just fine. Assembling them was fairly straightforward and much like any other IKEA furniture I've put together before.

Using a hole-saw drill attachment, we created holes through the back of the cabinet to allow for the plumbing hookups and drain.

Mounting the wall cabinets turned out to be pretty tricky. For most IKEA kitchen cabinets, IKEA sells a metal rail that is mounted to the wall anywhere you have studs, and then you simply hang the cabinets on that. It wasn't until our cabinets were all assembled that we realized that the KNOXHULT set doesn't support the rail system – the cabinets themselves are supposed to be mounted directly to the wall. This was a huge problem for us! The cabinets have metal mounting brackets on the back, which can't be moved around, so how the heck are you supposed to get those to line up with studs just right? Luckily, we found a horizontal stud in the wall just a few inches away from where the cabinets were intended to be mounted, so we ended up moving the mounting brackets down from the top of the cabinets to the middle of the cabinets so we could screw them directly into the stud. We used specific cabinet hanging screws for this.

Here you can see at the top of the cabinet where the original mounting brackets were located. We moved them down to align with the stud (see it extending to the right). So we were left with a slightly awkward hole, but at least it's inside the cabinet.

In the end, we figured it out, but if we had to do this project again, we definitely would have made sure to buy a cabinet set that uses the rail system.

For the lower cabinets, we used drywall anchors to mount them to the wall since most of their weight is supported by the ground.


We measured and cut the hole in the countertop for the sink and faucet. For the sink, we used a hole-saw drill attachment for the rounded corners, and a jigsaw to cut across to each of them.

We mounted the countertops on the cabinets based on IKEA's instructions, then set the sink and faucet in place and caulked around them. Finally, we hooked up the hot and cold water attachments and the drain, and we officially had a sink!


For cabinet hardware, we used some AmazonBasics "Euro Bar" handles, which we've used a few times in other projects. We mounted the cabinet hardware to all the drawers and door fronts and put them in place according to IKEA instructions.


Then we just had the floating shelves to mount. We wanted these shelves from IKEA but they were out of stock when we were there, so we bought some random ones from Home Depot. They weren't as nice or sturdy, so I wish we held out for the IKEA ones, but they ended up looking fine.


We're really happy with the finished product! Now we just need to add a microwave, induction cooktop, and maybe a coffee maker. Our town is big on skiing, and every winter there are lots of skiers and seasonal resort employees coming to stay, so we're thinking it could be a great space for short- or long-term rental.

We bought some white subway tiles to do a backsplash, but now we're thinking we might just leave the wall as-is and save the tiles for another project.

Overall, this project was really fun and a nice balance of challenging and doable. From start to finish, it took us about 6-7 evenings and 3 full weekend days.


Cabinets, sink, faucet (IKEA) – $500

Tile, grout, mortar, tile spacers, shelves (Home Depot) – $100

Electrical and plumbing supplies (Home Depot) – $80

Misc supplies and tools: Z-bar carpet transition, drill attachments, cabinet hanging hardware, etc. (Home Depot) – $80

Fridge (used, found on classified ad) – $100

TOTAL: $860