The kitchen is finished! We had to wait a week for IKEA to restock some of the wall cabinet doors. They called this morning, I picked them up, installed them and we can finally cross the first project off the list.
New and improved:
All in all, I don't think I'll ever go anywhere else except IKEA for a kitchen. For the price, you can't even come close to the vast amount of styles, options, accessories, or customization available there. The quality is truly top notch, it may not be solid wood, but it's tough as nails. We loaded the cabinets up with plates, glasses, pots, pans, etc. and the shelves don't even try to bow. The counter tops are solid beech wood butcher block. Best of all, the whole kitchen has a 25 year warranty, which we will probably never have to utilize, but future tenants may find useful.
The biggest downside I see in getting a kitchen from IKEA is that all the work has to be done by you, the customer. When I purchased the kitchen, quite a few pieces were out of stock, so I spent a lot of time driving multiple trips to both Chicagoland IKEA stores over the course of 2 weeks to pick up various parts as they were restocked. In typical IKEA fashion, every part comes flat packed and needs to be completely assembled which is extremely time consuming. Then, because the kitchen is modular, certain parts have to be custom cut and fit to your specific space. I would never attempt to install an IKEA kitchen without at least 2 experienced people and a bevy of power tools. (Table saw, drills, nail gun, and reciprocating saw at the very least.)
You have to weigh your options, but when it comes to that bottom line, IKEA takes the cake by a long shot.