Renovation DIY & How To

This $150 IKEA Pax Hack Stars Decorative Molding You Can Cut With Simple Shears

It isn’t just for walls.
Lydia Geisel Avatar
closet next to fireplace

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IKEA’s Pax wardrobe has become somewhat of a staple in Mallory Fletchall’s two-bedroom Brooklyn apartment. “One of the downfalls of this place is it doesn’t really have many closets,” says the creator behind the popular design-focused Instagram account @reserve_home. As a work-around, she and her husband, David, paid a visit to the Swedish retailer and scooped up a few of the famously affordable closets. But they’ve been adding a personal spin by cladding them in trim and picture frame molding so they look like they’ve been in the home for decades.

After testing out the hack on a Pax closet in their primary bedroom, they went for round two on the wardrobe in their spare bedroom–turned–movie lounge, opting for a classic molding design directly inspired by the original detailing in their kitchen. Storage unit included, the whole project rang in around $400, with the materials for the DIY costing them about $150. Ahead, Mallory shares her step-by-step with us. 

The Supplies

plain white ikea closet

Step 1: Tape Out Your Blueprint

woman putting tape on closet doors
blue tape showing where moldign will go

Assemble the IKEA wardrobe following the company’s instructions. Then map out the molding design you want with blue tape so you can get a clear picture of where to place the wood bits. Mallory and David matched the exact dimensions of the existing wall moldings in their kitchen, but first played around with two potential iterations (one simpler, one more ornate).

Step 2: Create Your Embellishments With Next-Level “Scissors”

closet with molding on it

Cut your wood moldings to size with miter shears (also called miter snips), then attach them to the doors using a nail gun. The pair applied 3/8” x 1 1/4” moldings to the outermost edges first, leaving a 2 1/4″ gap in between the border and the interior 5/16” x 11/16” moldings.

Step 3: Achieve a Built-In Look From Floor to Ceiling

The key to having your Pax wardrobe look like bespoke millwork is not leaving any gaps. In order to have something for the top trim to attach to, first cut a 1 1/2” x 1 1/2” x 8′ wood plank into three pieces (for the front and two sides) using either a chop saw or hacksaw. Drill them into the head of the wardrobe.

Then, with your desired saw, cut the 1” x 3 1/2” x 8′ wood trim piece to cover the top front and sides, as well as the bottom front and sides. Attach the various trim pieces to their anchor surfaces (either the wood plank or the floor) using a nail gun. Finally, spackle and sand all holes left over by the nails and fill any cracks around the floor, wall, and ceiling with caulk. 

Step 4: Get Your Primer Right So You Can Enjoy Painting

pink wardrobe

Because IKEA’s products are notoriously difficult to paint due to their sleek laminate-like finish, Mallory found it crucial to use a strong primer first, opting for one coat of Valspar’s Extreme Bond option. Once that was dry, they applied two coats of Setting Plaster using a brush. And when that was dry, they drilled and screwed in their desired knobs and/or handles. A powerful punch requiring very few power tools.