My second child is due next week. I intended to reconfigure our 1-bedroom house to create 2-bedrooms so that all 4 of us and the dog could spread out a bit.
Some amazing software from Google and Ikea made me feel more ambitious.
Now I have 2 unfinished bedrooms, a new but incomplete kitchen, dust in places I didn’t think dust could find, large and somewhat dangerous gaps in the floors and a couple of contractor battle scars. The new baby won’t remember the state of things, but no doubt my wife will keep the memory alive for years to come.
It all started with SketchUp. I spent several hours mapping out our house trying to assess what was possible. I was able to move walls around in a 3D model and imagine with some accuracy what it would be like to live in our remodelled house.
This visualization gave me language and vision to communicate with contractors and helped me budget the work. It also gave me the confidence to make some more dramatic changes than what we conceived in our heads.
What could have been a day or two of demolition and some simple framing work turned into major structural work that altered the feel of the house entirely.
Then, as we were closing down on the scope of the project and looking to finish in early August with plenty of time to spare, I started playing with Ikea’s downloadable kitchen planner software. Despite our time and budget constraints I couldn’t resist the idea of planning ahead a little.
After you design the space and create your grid, you choose cabinets from Ikea’s collection. You drag and drop them on the canvas and fit them together the way you want. It’s actually a lot of fun despite being very buggy.
When you give buyers power and easy onramps to services you turn them into valuable customers instead of just drive-by shoppers. Here’s how they hook you into buying from their shop…
Once you can see your kitchen in 3D and move it around and pretend to cook in it, you can then click to see a price sheet for your plan. Ikea, as you know, is very reasonably priced. So, suddenly you feel like you can afford an awesome new kitchen.
Now all I could think of was how to adjust our plans so that we could afford a new kitchen. I was also anxious to see if the kitchens looked ok or if they looked like the other prefab swedish lego blocks you often get from Ikea.
Ikea’s software is brilliant on several levels…
First, I’m much less likely to try another vendor once I’ve already perfected my plan. Second, they have enough range in their designs that you can’t help but think that one of the choices there will work. Third, you can essentially go out and get your kitchen now. They have to help you work out a few details, but you could, in theory, have your kitchen parts in hand same-day.
Whereas, we might have only considered Ikea for some handy paper towel hooks and cutlery organizers previously, we ended up buying everything but the countertop and appliances from Ikea.
The best part of doing your kitchen with Ikea’s planner, in my mind, is the fact that you can print out the plan and march into the building inspection office to get your plan approved on your own. My wife did just that without having any building experience. She was back home after an hour, permit approved. I really wish we had done that with the overall job, but instead we payed exorbitant fees for professional drawings. I’ll never make that mistake again.
There’s a ton of work left to do on the house that we don’t know exactly how to fund, yet.
I imagine smart retailers like Ikea are hoping that budget planning software doesn’t evolve fast enough to help people like me realize that my cash is probably better spent on things like dealing with the nails sticking out of my floors before I buy nice new cabinets.