What's REALLY new about the IKEA SEKTION kitchen system? PANYL explores the nitty gritty


The new IKEA SEKTION kitchen cabinet system has finally launched in North America! What are the most important changes from the old AKURUM cabinet line? Over the last year we've been absorbing intelligence from Sweden and Great Britain. Below we've highlighted the significant differences between IKEA's outgoing AKURUM system and the incoming SEKTION kitchen.

Cabinet widths are basically unchanged.

SEKTION still has seven standard base cabinet widths: 12", 15", 18", 21", 24", 30" and 36".

Wall cabinets are available in the same widths, in addition to 9"-wide HÖRDA open cabinets.

A key component in planning any IKEA kitchen is the relevant buying guide. You can pick them up in-store, but you can also download the SEKTION buying guide, which has tables showing the complete range of cabinet frame options and their measurements.

You now have complete control over drawer layouts.

In the AKURUM system, the base cabinet width used to dictate the drawer configuration. Narrower cabinets could have either three or four drawers, while the wider cabinets only came with four drawers. The heights of the drawers were arbitrarily fixed. 


On the other hand, SEKTION drawer fronts come in four heights: 5", 10", 15" and 20". You can mix and match any drawer combination adding up to 30" in all but the 12" wide and 21" wide base cabinets.

Drawers within drawers. Within doors.

One of the truly whiz-bang features of the IKEA Sektion drawer system is the ability to nest drawers within other drawers, or behind doors.

This is done using two types of drawer kits: MAXIMERA, whose sliders allow the drawer to fully extend further, and FÖRVARA, which only allows the drawer to extend 3/4 of the way out of the cabinet. MAXIMERA comes in high, low and medium depths, while FÖRVARA comes in low and medium depth. The image above shows a size small FÖRVARA drawer nested within a size medium MAXIMERA.

To configure a regular, external drawer (i.e. the drawer front closes against the front edges of the frame), you would pair either a MAXIMERA or a FÖRVARA drawer assembly with any of the available drawer-front styles. The only difference here is the amount of drawer extension.

To set up an internal drawer, you would also choose either a MAXIMERA or a FÖRVARA drawer assembly, but you would pair it with an UTRUSTA drawer front in the corresponding size. The UTRUSTA drawer front retracts into the interior of the base cabinet frame. When closed, the UTRUSTA drawer front is flush with the front edges of the cabinet frame, allowing the outer MAXIMERA drawer front to close over it.

The above information applies to the 15", 18", 24", 30" and 36" base cabinets. The 12" and 21" base cabinets have limited drawer options.

In the case of the 12" base cabinet, you can only choose to mount a 12" x 30" door; or, install an interior metal pull-out rack, to which you can mount the door (you can also mount the rack behind the door, without attaching it to the rack). [NOTE: You won't currently find this item online, however you can find the rack and the 12" pull-out cabinet, which includes the rack, on pages 37 and 66 of the IKEA SEKTION buying guide. The may be available to order in-store]

With the 21" base cabinet, you can install medium-depth drawers, but only as interior drawers paired with the UTRUSTA size medium drawer front.

Owners of IKEA PAX wardrobes will be familiar with the look of drawers nested behind doors. 


Utility drawers round out the SEKTION drawer selection. 

The custom set-up of utility drawers probably deserves it's own entire post! But here are the highlights:

Any base cabinet (except 12") can be turned into a waste bin organizer by installing a high MAXIMERA drawer at the bottom. Then you can select a variety of bins from the aptly named "VARIERA" series - my favorite feature of which are thick, rubber, odor-stopping lids in each size. [These items aren't online yet, however you'll find them on page 25 of the buying guide.]

For the 12" cabinet you can install the UTRUSTA pull-out waste-sorting tray

For the remaining base-cabinet sizes, there are two ways to handle the drawer fronts: with connecting rails, or door-to-drawer-mounts.

The connecting rails let you vertically stack several drawer fronts into a single functional drawer front (you can just see the brackets in the image below). Say you wanted to add a waste station in between two base cabinets with all 10" high drawers. For continuity of the horizontal lines created by the 10" horizontal rows, you could front the waste station with three connected 10" drawer fronts.

Alternatively, you can take a any 24" or 30" high door, and mount it to a MAXIMERA or FÖRVARA drawer using the door-to-drawer mounting kit.

Open cabinets encourage open-ended design.

An innovative aspect of the IKEA SEKTION kitchen line is the expanded range of open wall cabinets (and one base cabinet). Designated HÖRDA and TUTEMO, these cabinets are intended to be mounted without doors. HÖRDA and TUTEMO open wall cabinets are more versatile, and create a more striking design impact, than AKURUM PERFEKT open cabinets.

The 9" wide HÖRDA cabinets come in 30" and 40" heights in seven finishes. The interiors of the TUTEMO cabinets are lined with accent colors. They are available as a 9" x 15" rectangles and 15"x15" squares.


Continue to Part II: Design and Construction of PANYL's IKEA SEKTION Kitchen