12 IKEA Pax Hacks That Give Our Nonfunctional Closets Hope
Starting with Chris Loves Julia’s $3,000 walk-in.
Updated Mar 20, 2023 10:46 AM
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Maybe your closet is looking a little sad, or maybe you’ve decided that this is the year you finally do something with that awkward, empty nook in the corner of your bedroom. Going the custom route could set you back thousands of dollars—but there’s a smarter solution hiding out at IKEA. Have you heard about the Pax system?
Chances are you’ve seen it—you just might not know it by name. The modular organization piece is incredibly easy to personalize, making it a favorite among bloggers and decor aficionados. It comes in dozens of silhouettes, ranging from tall and narrow to fully built out with shelves. Everything is finished in white (literally the perfect blank canvas), and thanks to its low price, it fits most budgets. All you need to get started on your dream wardrobe is a plan; that’s where we come in. Here are 12 of the most genius IKEA Pax hacks we’ve seen.
The Ever-Inspiring Walk-In
Chris and Julia Marcum’s viral IKEA Pax hack has inspired countless other DIYers. The seasoned renovators proved you can build a tricked-out walk-in closet for only $3,000 (even after a contractor quoted them a cool $30,000 to do the job). The couple still incorporated plenty of customization: On her side, Julia opted for lots of hanging space and a “denim bar,” while Chris chose mostly closed storage for all his T-shirts.
The Dressed-Up Dresser
To create the look of a built-in dresser in their Pax-filled closet, Jarod Sabatino and his partner, Tim, smooshed two individual open-drawer units together and, through a combination of drilling and gluing, attached fronts to hide the gaps. The final arrangement left an empty space above to display art. “Taking something generic (cost-effective particleboard wardrobes) and turning them into something great-looking was so satisfying,” says Sabatino.
The Molding-Covered Marvel
For $150, Mallory Fletchall, the creator behind the popular design-focused Instagram account @reserve_home, transformed her famously affordable wardrobe with picture frame molding (it can be cut with simple miter shears!) and Farrow & Ball’s Setting Plaster.
Farwa Moledina knew she had to do something about her bedroom’s awkward nook and roofline. Enter two Pax systems and an angle cutter. Moledina trimmed the closet’s edge to mirror the sloped ceiling, before adding wood pieces cut to fill any gaps at the top. She finished it off with two coats of navy paint, a perfect match for the wainscoting you can see in the door’s reflection.
The Historic Hack
When Sarah and Kevin Reid-Morris bought an 1880s Victorian house with no closet in the main bedroom, they turned to IKEA’s largest Pax system. The pair purchased molding online, built a frame out of 2-by-4s, and added oversize gold handles to make the modern cabinets feel right at home in the storied space.
The Storage Saver
DIY expert Jenny Komenda has a secret when it comes to transforming her Pax: more IKEA products. After successfully painting the wardrobe to match the rest of her room (she used Zinsser’s shellac-based primer to combat the furniture’s slick, paint-resistant surface), she added a few inches of trim to elevate the frame. Then she installed IKEA shelves and drawers inside to create a dream organization system, all with just one trip to the store.
The Extra Elevation
If you’re low on space, elevate your Pax frame with a wood base to store bulkier items (like a suitcase) underneath. Just measure the base to match your specific measurements and…voilà! Everything has a rightful, and stylish, place.
The Nursery Storage
In this designer’s nursery, a floor-to-ceiling Pax is ideal for housing her daughter’s art supplies and homework. The only thing she brought in to mix up the Shaker-style front was a few simple leather pulls—it’s a small touch that makes the storage feel way more custom.
The Mirrored Wall
If you’ve got a small bedroom, go for some visual trickery. Swapping out the doors for mirrors creates one large reflective surface that adds depth to the space (and makes those outfit checks exponentially easier).
The Statement Piece
If you’re in a pinch and want a DIY that’s less of a lift, head to Superfront: The Stockholm-based brand has ready-made cabinet fronts for a number of IKEA furniture items, and many of the Pax options come with a textured pattern. There’s nothing pared back about this saturated teal dresser, and that’s fine by us.
The Tight Squeeze
For anyone dealing with an attic space, look to this DIY for inspiration. This blogger custom-cut their Pax (get the how-to here) to fit the slanted ceilings (and frame the fireplace!), then painted it the same deep gray as the walls for a monochrome look.
The Long and Moody Walk-In
If you are not afraid to spend a little more time (and have some crafting skills that go beyond beginner status), take inspiration from this bold blue closet. It requires some elbow grease—okay, a lot of elbow grease—but once it’s built, you’ll have bragging rights forever. Bonus points for the contrasting striped wallpaper on the ceiling.