Ready-to-assemble (or RTA) cabinets and other ready-to-assemble furnishings are generally easy to put together. A screwdriver and hammer will probably be enough to get the job done. It will require time on your part; however, if you are DIY experienced you should have less difficulty completing the task at hand.

Also known as KD, knock-down, or flat-pack furniture, RTA furniture is a boon to those on a tight budget. Besides saving money, flat-pack furniture can be fun to assemble and bestow a sense of accomplishment as an added bonus. But where did the concept of RTA cabinets and other ready-to-assemble furnishings come from?

It all began around the 1940s when IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad developed the IKEA brand. This was a great time of furniture development with fresh designs, exceptional marketing via catalogs, and self-assembly. When you look at the RTA concept today, the appeal has grown tremendously around the world much to IKEA’s credit. Not only has RTA furniture swept the globe the quality has vastly improved. The days of inferior MDF particleboard cabinets have been replaced with authentic solid wood RTA cabinets.


The ideal of RTA cabinetry is not that old. The chore of cooking and stocking foodstuff may have survived for many millenniums, but it has only been during the last 100 years that kitchen cabinets as we know them have advanced.

During ancient times, the chief means of storing provisions was via drying, salting, pickling, root-cellars, and ice houses. Though food was healthier, as there were no chemical preservatives, edibles were purchased every day. Besides basement shelves, a counter, or table in the kitchen area, there were no cabinets, at least not in the style that we have them today. This modus vivendi remained for thousands of years. 

The design of ready-to-assemble cabinets was originated by Gillis Lundgren, staff member at IKEA. Not only did RTA cabinets revolutionize cabinetry, it also inspired the “budget conscious consumer.” Now, consumers could purchase attractive cabinets at a low price and enhance the value of their home!

Between 1990 and 2000, RTA cabinet quality improved greatly with solid wood and other superior materials. Previously, laminates, MDF, and particle board were the main components of ready-to-assemble cabinet designs. What’s more, the older materials were capable of dispersing toxic fumes (due to the adhesive used to form the cabinet panels). Moreover, they were not as safe and pliable as solid or plywood.
Pecan Rope

Just as fate would have it, today RTA kitchen cabinets are the best option for consumers who desire to give their kitchen a new look without breaking the bank. They are economical, easy to assemble and install, and manufactured from better quality materials than earlier days. In addition, today’s RTA cabinets must comply with strict regulations, which means they cannot emit poisonous vapors like before. Of course, this is a fantastic advancement from the days of root cellars and particle board cabinets.

RTA kitchen cabinets have certainly come a long way, and as the needs of homeowners, interior designers, and creative consumers evolve, ready-to-assemble kitchen cabinets will be right there alongside them!