This blog post will take you through all the challenges I had, and my IKEA PAX wardrobe tips. My hope is that you can build this PAX closet system with the least amount of frustration. These tips apply for both the closet system and the wardrobes with doors.
After I turned my main closet into a nursery for our 3rd miracle child, I kept getting asked “where will your clothes go?” I tried to squeeze them into my husband’s closet. He didn’t complain but it was so tight we could barely even slide the hangers.
I had a IKEA Hemnes dresser in my bedroom. All I could see was vertical dead space above it. Living in a small house at the peak of housing cost only encourage me to look at the vertical space that we have in our home. So I sold the dresser on Facebook marketplace, and got to planning my IKEA PAX Wardrobe.
Tip 1: Use the IKEA Pax wardrobe planner
This might seem obvious, but the IKEA Pax Planner is an amazing tool! I seriously don’t think I could have done this project without using it. It is so easy to use and lets you see so many different combinations of what is possible. As you build your closet, the price continuous updates. This helps you keep the project in budget as well!
I think using the PAX Planner it is even more important if you’re adding doors because it takes into account where the door hinges will be placed and blocks you from using those holes for any drawers or accessories. When it comes time to installing all your interior fittings, it tells you exactly which hole to place each on. It would be impossible to optimize the wardrobe without it!
You can email it to yourself, come back and modify at any time or use it for reference. This was especially useful once I started building my wardrobe as I could see the placement of the items and modify my arrangement on the fly.
Tip 2: Have enough floor space to build your IKEA PAX Wardrobe
The book tells you to check your ceiling height before making the wardrobe. But you also need enough space on the floor to lay down the wardrobe to build it. Depending on which size wardrobe you choose, make sure you have enough space to lay it down and walk around it to nail the backing on.
Our master bedroom is small which made it really hard to build the wardrobe. We essentially built one, stood it up in the corner, and somehow managed to build the other one with barely enough space. The book and the pieces tell you not to step on the MDF, but I didn’t have much choice. Every time I did, I prayed it wouldn’t crack.
Tip 3: Level the wardrobes before attaching the frames to the wall
One of our feet fell off of the wardrobe as we stood it up. These are important to level the wardrobe. Probably not as important if you have a single wardrobe but when you have 2 next to each other, you need those feet, to make sure both are level.
I guess in our process of standing the wardrobe or shifting it, the screws got loose. The screws have claws that Avais had hammered in. I still don’t understand why they fell off but, it didn’t matter. We had to fix it. we couldn’t pop them back into the same holes. The mdf was all clawed out.
At first Avais suggested duck tape. But then I suggested liquid nails which he agreed would be better. We overfilled the holes with liquid nails and prayed that it would hold. And it did!!
We took care to make sure the turning mechanism didn’t get liquid nails on it. If it did, it would probably wouldn’t be able to be adjusted.. which defeats the purpose of putting them back on!
Tip 4: Anchoring the wardrobes
When we were anchoring the wardrobe to the wall, we had some issues. Why did our anchor fall into the wall. Okay. Things happen. They do. It’s fine. It’s fine.
This left a gigantic hole that you cannot put another anchor into. We had 3 options. Either push it over a bit, add a spacer in the middle or add a piece of wood as a new anchor point. Option 1 and 2 were not available to us as there was no wiggle room on this wall. We added a scrap 1×2 I had in the garage that acted a stud. Then, I screwed the wardrobe into this cleat. It is so much sturdier than using an anchor, especially if you have small kids.
When using a cleat like this, ensure that the 1×2 is going into studs. You can see in the image below, I even double checked by drilling a few pilot holes into the wall. Better to be on the safe side since these wardrobes weigh A LOT!
Tip 5: Mark all your holes before installing the drawers
Using the PAX wardrobe planner, you can see exactly which holes each drawer or interior fitting will go into. I started by simply counting as I went, but it’s so hard because some get covered by the drawers as you install them. My tips are:
- Take your PAX planner and label each hole in pencil on your wardrobe which will get an insert. Double count to make sure there’s no mistakes
- Add all the rails on first. Each drawer is accompanied by 2 rails that go on each side of the wardrobe. I started by adding the rail + drawer and working my way up to the bottom. However, there were some points where I had to remove the drawer that I had already attached because there was no room to screw in a rail (ie if there was a shelf above the rail).
- Work from the bottom up. This intuitively made sense for me.
Tip 6: Build the drawers in advance, but stay organized
We built all the drawers in the living with the help of my boys. Luckily they love building IKEA furniture. Then we brought the rails, drawers and bits in the bedroom. I didn’t do a great job at keeping the pieces separate and I feel that I wasted a lot of time looking for the right pieces when we had to install the drawers
Building the drawers in advance was a mundane task you can do while watching TV when the kids are asleep. It also makes the project much more exciting when you can quickly install all the rails and pop in the drawers.
Tip 7: Check the height of the clothes rail
The online planning tool has a predetermined size of clothing. Double check your clothes to see how big or small they are. I held up a few shirts, dresses etc up to see how high my rail should be to optimize the layout. In my case I was able to accommodate one extra drawer because I am short, so my clothes are smaller.
Tip 8: Adjust the height of the top shelf according to overhead storage bins
You can add a lot of great storage above the top rail for out of season clothes, your kids hand me downs, shoes, etc. Determine the type of bin you want to use before you attach the top shelf and the rail. Then you can adjust the height of the shelf and rail to accommodate the bin height. I went with a very flat clothes organizer. I measured the height, then mapped it to the wardrobe. Accordingly, I adjusted my online PAX planner so ensure that any changes wouldn’t interfere with the door hinges.
Tip 9: The jewellery organizers are not flat
When I was building my PAX wardrobe online, I assume that the jewellery organizers were flat. After I built my wardrobe and inserted the jewellery organizers, I realized this was not the case. The PAX online tool accounts for this, but I bought extra organizers that I didn’t end up using.
Tip 10: Add doors for a cleaner look
This is personal preference, but I really love hiding away clutter. Even though this wardrobe is beautiful and organized with outdoors, it gave me anxiety to look at all my clothes like this. There are a lot options four the IKEA PAX wardrobe doors: they have shaker style doors, mirrors, flat doors and they come in so many different colours as well.
I admit that the doors are quite an investment, but I feel like they really elevate this piece especially if you’re using it as a wardrobe in a bedroom. In a closet I probably wouldn’t think about adding the doors.
Tip 11: Save money: Look for alternatives for drawer and tray organizers
I used some of the IKEA PAX interior organizers, but the cost adds up really quickly. Here’s a few ideas:
- The drawers are large and it helps to keep your clothes organized if you use smaller boxes within the drawers. Example: My PJ drawer has separate boxes for winter vs summer PJ bottoms, and winter vs summer PJ tops. Instead of using the felt Kompliment grey organizing boxes to organize your drawers, use boxes that you may have at home. I am guilty of keeping nice boxes for higher value products (yes, I have a problem). But they finally came in handy. I used shoe boxes, computer boxes etc to organize my clothes.
- The jewelry organizers are beautiful and I did splurge on 4 for my main jewelry drawer. However, for my earrings, I simply added a cat litter liner (yes, I swear I did. It was $4) to the tray. You can use any drawer liner, but this was the only one that was large enough and in white. Just make sure both surfaces have a rubber grip so it doesn’t slide in the drawer
- I built my own DIY bangle drawer holder. This was essential for me, and it makes me so happy every time I see it!