Hello! I’ve been away from the blog for the whole of lockdown 3.0 and I’ve really missed it. I also have a whole lockdown’s worth of comments/questions to catch up on; I’m so sorry if you have left me a comment and I haven’t responded yet, I will try to catch up as quickly as possible but there are a lot so you’ll have to bear with me. Please do remember to use my search tool as lots of the questions asked are answered elsewhere on the blog i.e. paint colours. Also, pop over to my Instagram as there are lots of story highlights and info over there too.
During the lockdown I’ve had Mimi at home full time so work has taken a back seat (very, very lucky for us that I’m able to be flexible in terms of how much work I take on). During lots and lots of afternoons at home I have managed to squeeze in a fair bit of DIY and painting around the house so I have lots to share with you over the next few weeks but first and foremost as promised about six months ago I want to share our IKEA PAX wardrobe hack!
The hack took a solid three weekends, and painting took another full weekend, but we are so thrilled with the results and we have saved around £2000 doing it ourselves (we had a couple of quotes for bespoke wardrobes with internal drawers/shelves/hanging space and they were all around £3000). Would we do it again? Yes. Was it hard work? Yes. Did we learn a lot along the way that would make next time easier? For sure. In fact, one of the hardest things about the project was not really knowing what we were doing as it is pretty difficult to find instructions online so I hope this blog post helps those of you who want to take on the hack.
Firstly, let me tell you what items we bought from IKEA. For the right alcove of the bedroom we chose a 100cm width – 236cm height – 35cm depth wardrobe frame. The alcove is roughly 105cm wide but the walls aren’t straight so in some places it is 103cm and in others it is 106cm. In our bedroom the 35cm depth frame was the only option as there is relatively little space between the wardrobe and the end of the bed so the 58cm deep frame would have been far too close to the bed. We also had to make the decision to place the frame off centre in the alcove as we wanted hinged doors (not sliding doors, which is the other option) and if the frame was centred the right hand door would not have opened properly against the radiator under the window and curtain pole – consider what your doors will open out onto very carefully as they must be able to open out completely, especially if you are fitting drawers inside the cupboard.
For the left alcove, which is also roughly 105cm, we decided to extend the wardrobe around the corner and along the left hand side wall of the bedroom. With this type of configuration it is not possible with the PAX system to use a 100cm wide frame to go into the alcove, it has to be a 75cm frame as this can be connected to the corner attachment and enables a 50cm door to be fitted. The cupboards that run along the left hand side wall have to be 35cm deep to fit with this configuration and that suited us perfectly as if they had been deeper they would have eaten into the small amount of floorspace we have far too much and again opening the doors would have been a struggle. However, we were able to have a 58cm deep frame in the alcove as there is enough space on this side of the room for the doors to open without clashing with the bed.
The corner unit is configured like this – the frame on the right side is 75cm wide and 58cm deep and the one on the left is 50cm wide and 35cm deep:
The knock on effect for us of having this corner unit was that the wardrobe frame was only 75cm wide, the frame had to sit 13cm away from the left hand wall and that left a 15cm gap on the right hand side of the alcove. This was the big compromise for us and would make boxing in essential.
As you may be able to tell by now there was nothing symmetrical about the two sets of wardrobes – one was off centre, the other deeper and with a big gap – therefore boxing in would really help to make the cupboards look more cohesive.
What we bought:
Right hand wardrobe
x2 Forsand white stained oak doors £60
Left hand wardrobe
53x35x236cm add-on corner frame with 4 shelves £135
50x35x236cm frames x2 £80
x4 Forsand white stained oak doors £120
(I will tell you more about the interior of the wardrobes and the overall cost in my next post)
Materials we bought
Timber for base
x2 sheets of 18mm MDF for boxing in
x1 sheet of 6mm MDF to customise the door fronts
Drill driver and impact driver
- Remove skirting board with a multi tool and construct a base for each set of wardrobes the same depth as your wardrobe frame (so the door will overhang the base). Ensure it is level using wood offcuts to adjust the level if needs be.
2. Construct the wardrobe frames using the IKEA instructions and place them on top of the base and anchor them to the walls.
Customising door fronts
Ideally we wouldn’t have customised the door fronts but we were only able to get hold of Forsand doors, which are flat fronted and not the finish we wanted. Therefore, our only option was to customise the fronts, which added a lot of work to the process. Without messing with the doors the whole hack project would have been sooooo much simpler. We decided to add strips of MDF to create the look of panels and we got 6mm MDF strips cut to 55mm by B&Q.
3. We used masking tape to decide the width of our MDF strips to be cut by B&Q. Sorry about this photo – it was the only one I took! We ended up deciding on 55mm strips after taking into account the effect of shadows of the strips making them look slightly wider.
4. We used glue and nails to attach the vertical strips to the doors first. We cut them to length using a mitre saw and made sure any rough edges were sanded.
5. We used a laser level to place the horizontal strips and we decided on placing them one third of the way up the wardrobe.
6. We added handles but because the MDF strips added 6mm of depth to the doors the bolts for the handles were too short. Therefore, we had to counter sink them from the back of the door.
N.B. Once the strips were attached we realised that the doors that would open against the end panels and against each other needed to be chamfered otherwise they rubbed. They also needed open hinges.
Boxing in the wardrobe frames
6. Use a track saw to cut the end and bottom panels that will clad the wardrobes. Ensure they will sit flush with the doors. Remove any picture rail or coving necessary with a multi-tool and glue and screw the end panels directly onto the surface of the wardrobe. Glue and screw the bottom panels onto the base that the wardrobes sit on.
7. To cover the large gap on the right hand side of the left wardrobe we decided to use some timber that we already had. We drilled through the inside of the wardrobe to attach four wood blocks. We then drilled a length of timber into the base and through the ceiling from the loft, attaching it to the four wood blocks using glue and more screws.
8. We clad the frame with two MDF panels, one on the side, one on the front.
9. We used the same technique for the right hand panel on the right wardrobe. We drilled through the holes in the wardrobe to attach four wood blocks. We were then able to attach a panel to cover the gap.
10. The last panels to attach are the top panels as the measurements for these will depend on the side panels. We drilled through the inside of the top of the wardrobe to attach a block of wood onto the top of the wardrobe that runs flush with the frame. We could then drill a panel onto that to cover the gap between the top of the wardrobe and the ceiling.
11. We reattached the skirting to the bottom panel of the wardrobes to create the feeling of the wardrobes being built in to the fabric of the room. We had to cut the boards at an angle or scribe them to fit together.
12. We then filled in all holes and gaps with wood filler and sanded.
This is how they looked before being painted…
I realise that my written explanations here may be unclear to some so please do ask me questions in the comment section below and I will try and get back to you asap. Just so you know, the cupboard doors and boxing are now painted including the inside of the doors but not the interior of the cupboards (a question I have already been asked a couple of times). We did this quite some time ago now so small details have slipped my mind so please feel free to ask very specific questions.
If we were to do it again we would have waited until panelled doors were in stock as personalising the plain door fronts really was a faff and they would open more easily now if they didn’t have the MDF strips on. However, I am really, really please with how they look so I definitely don’t regret it.
I will take some photos of how the wardrobes look all painted up to show you next. Believe it or not I still haven’t sorted all of the inside for the cupboards (I blame lockdown!) so that may need to wait for a little while.
What a great idea, I imagine now they’re painted they look like they’ve always been there. We have the white panelled version of PAX and we’re still pleased with it.
I can just tell these are going to look amazing when they’re finished! My husband and I are moving into a house with an almost identical footprint to yours so I’ve been reading your whole back catalogue. Thank you for the inspiration.
They look great! Can I please ask what you did with the fact that your walls were 103 in places and 106 in others. Did you cut the boxing in panel with a slight angle? Does this show?
Yes, they had to be cut an angle -really not noticeable! x