How to Hack IKEA Pax into a Built-In Closet

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    Pax Wardrobe Hack into Modern Walk-in Closet

    Anyone who lives in Philadelphia is familiar with the closet situation here – most of the houses are 100+ years old and either don’t have closets or have teeny tiny shallow closets that aren’t actually deep enough to hang anything in. I’ve ended up installing shelves in my shallow closets to create a workspace or shoe shelves in these shallow closets, but needed something that would actually fit hangers!

    I was able to get this look by hacking an IKEA Pax corner wardrobe by adding crown molding and baseboards for a built-in look and brass doorknockers for some extra shine!

    When renovating this bedroom, I wanted to find a way to make myself a “walk-in closet” while still making sure it was functionally a bedroom – this is my first house and I don’t know how long we’ll be here, so for future renting or resale purposes I needed to find a way to create closetspace but also create a layout that would work for a bedroom.

    It took lots and lots of planning – on paper, with masking tape on the floor, and finally I decided on a layout with Ikea Pax by utilizing the corner away from the window. The little nook around the window is a few inches larger than the average full size mattress – making it the perfect place for a bed!

    DIY Pax Wardrobe Hack into Built-in Closet

    I started out by assembling the frames and screwing them together – I actually asked for extra of the included screws for combining frames so that we could make sure that the frames were really secure.

    DIY Pax Wardrobe Hack

    Once the frames were in place, we added the doors. Because our house is so old (our floors aren’t level in all spots and the plaster walls aren’t always plumb) we needed to do some adjusting with the doors until they fit correctly.Because we have 9′ ceilings, even the tallest Pax frames left about 14″ of unused space.

    I wanted to make this project look “built-in”, so using hardwood boards we built a frame around both sides of the wardrobe in order to close any gaps from the back of the wardrobe to the walls (plaster walls aren’t often plumb so we had to custom cut these pieces for a snug fit). Then we built boxes to make open shelving, and nailed them into the top of the wardrobe.

    DIY Pax Wardrobe Hack with Custom Shelving

    I used the same Valspar Ultra White semigloss paint (the color I use for all of the trim in my house) on the entire wardrobe so that it would match the trim and feel more like a part of the room instead of a piece of furniture.

    To finish the “built-in” look we added crown molding to the top and redid the baseboards so that they run along the bottom of the wardrobe and back to the walls seamlessly. We were originally planning on making the crown molding so that it touched the ceiling but ended up liking the little space between the molding and the ceiling – it leaves a soft shadow that really highlights the height of the wardrobe.

    I was really inspired by a renovation using Ikea cabinetry with doorknockers as handles – it ended up taking me a long time to find brass doorknockers big enough for the doors (and then they ended up being backordered for several weeks) but I was so happy that I waited – they’re so sturdy that they really make the wardrobe seem like a solid, built-in piece.

    Modern Dressing Room with Pax Wardrobe Custom Closet


    1. Simply fantastic! I used to own a city house in Pittsburgh built in 1897 by the Irish-immigrant family who lived in it. I can easily imagine what you were up against, construction-wise. Absolutely beautiful result. Those door-knocker pulls are killer. I can't believe all the people at Apartment Therapy picking apart your project when they probably couldn't even conceive of the idea, let alone build it! You maintain you composure admirably. Your blog is very nice, too. I look forward to looking at the whole thing.

      Best regards, Jane in Tucson, AZ (Jukesgrrl on AT)

    2. It is a corner unit – there's a single 23 5/8"deep unit (on the left), a corner unit, and 2 x 15" deep units.

      I did paint the doors – didn't really have any special prep and just used a roller and latex semi-gloss but allowed plenty of dry time. I've seen other Pax hacks where people have had good results using a paint sprayer!

    3. Beautiful inspiration. I am mentally preparing to remake a small bedroom into an dressing room myself. I did not want to lose the ability to have this room returned to a bedroom in the future. Choosing the corner for closets was a wonderful idea. Do love what you did in the master bedroom as well.

    4. Beautiful! Is there a certain size crown molding I should look for to replicate this creation of yours? What did you use to cut it and when you say you redid the baseboard, does that mean you took the whole thing apart and lowered it? Would love to hear back from you here or via email. Thanks in advance.

    5. I don't recall the exact crown molding we used but it was something fairly simple – something similar to this style from Lowes – you could get a larger or smaller size depending on how close you want to get to the ceiling.

      We actually removed the baseboards around the wall where the wardrobes would fit so they'd be flush against the wall, and then put in trim and quarterround around the front of the bottom of the wardrobe to make it look like the baseboards continued around the built-in.

      It's a little hard to see details because everything is white but if you look at the first two pictures at the bottom you can see that there is trim around the bottom of the wardrobe in the first (finished) picture, whereas the second picture with the wardrobe frames it's flat. This also helped hide that each piece was separate.