Published on April 19th, 2011 | by Jules Yap


PAX Wardrobe Turned Custom Reach in Closets

Pax wardrobes (1 large, 2 medium and 1 small), Various komplement peices and pax bergsbo / frosted glass doors, Martha Stewart living Paint #MSLO29 “glass of milk”, poplar moldings 1×2 and 1×3. Crown molding 1x 5/16. Plaster, paint, Hammer, Screwgun, Level, Screw Driver

I converted a basic reach in closet in a small bedroom into two stunning custom closets that look like a $5000 custom “California Closet” systems. One large closet in the bedroom and one small linen closet in the hallway.

The Original closet was 7′ wide and 2’6″ deep. The bifold door opening was about 4′ wide and 80″ tall. I completely gutted the closet down to the studs including the walls, ceiling and the framing around the closet door.

I cut out a space in the hallway to the right of the original closet space, framed in and finished a cove 20″ wide, 79″tall and 16″ deep. In that cove I installed a small pax wardrobe,(pax wardrobe 598.418.77), the wardrobe fits perfectly after i cut off 8″ from the back. I finished it by applying a 1×2 poplar molding around the wardrobe, adding a pax bergso / frosted glass door and matching paint framing it in giving it a complete streamline look.

Back to the bedroom, I applied drywall (sheetrock) on the walls and ceiling making the closet space flush with all the room surfaces. The open cove dimensions were 79″w, 95″h (same as ceiling) and 23″ deep.

I inserted pre assembled pax wardrobe frames into the cove, one large pax wardrobe frame (700.140.13) and two smaller pax frames (100.140.30). I shimmed the frames so they all lined up evenly and then secured them to the wall.

I made the wardrobes look more complete and custom by adding 1″ x 3″ poplar molding around the room and under the closet, on the front. Also across the top flush with the closet. I also added the crown molding in the room across the top of the closet achieving the streamline custom look i wanted. The molding was painted with Martha Stewart living Paint #MSLO29 “glass of milk”.

All of the moldings were painted with “Martha Stewart” Paint (MSLO29)”GLASS OF MILK”, it matches the Pax “bergsbo” doors perfectly creating a dramatic style.

~ Ilir Bitici, Berkeley Heights, New Jersey

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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

18 Responses to PAX Wardrobe Turned Custom Reach in Closets

  1. Azadeh aliaskarian says:

    Hi,we have a closet like the one in the picture above,I need some shelves for it ,the size I need is 58×96 ,I want to know wee and how can I get it?

  2. Anonymous says:

    i have a question can you do this in a mobile home in the master bedroom they put a small narrow door for a long narrow closet you cannot get into the closet except for where the door opens honestly… ive been trying to deside on how to fix the problem i love the ideal and it sounds like you dont need a contractor for all the detailed work persay and it looks great!! if any ideals email [email protected]

  3. free standing closet says:

    I guess the point of using the Pax frames rather than just building something out of MDF or ply is that they’ve got all the right holes in all the right places to customise the insides with the various Komplement fittings. Seems like a smart move to me – they look great.

  4. Ilir Bitici says:


    The gap between the wall and the PAX wardrobe frame is a stack of 3 quarters (US Currency). You should be able to slide 3 quarters into the gap with little restriction.

    I don’t recommend any caulking on the edges for two reasons, one, wallboard like gypsum or sheetrock has an expansion factor, it will move slightly based on changes in the atmosphere. The material Ikea uses to make the wardrobe has almost a zero expansion factor (except in extreme moisture conditions). The caulk is likely to eventually crack and peel and can cause movement issues with the zero clearance motion on the doors. The second reason I wouldn’t use caulk is the zero clearance motion on the doors allow the doors to completely cover the edge of the wardrobe and wall when the door is opened or closed. You will never see where the wall and the wardrobe meet because the doors seem to float over the PAX wardrobe unit creating a shadow in the corners and edges.

    As for the top and bottom, I used wood so it was necessary to caulk being that the expansion factor is the same in both materials and the surfaces are totally exposed.

    Good Luck,

  5. Mitchell says:

    Hi Ilir and fellow IKEA Hackers,

    I’m looking to tackle something very similar.
    One question though, whats the gap (if any) look like between the PAX frame side and the wall? Would you recommend using caulk to finish off those hairline gaps?

  6. Ilir Bitici says:

    If I were to do it all over again i would make the opening about 2 inches bigger to give me some space for shimming and leveling. I would then finish the excess space with some sort of moulding to complete the look.

    I did not leave any excess space on either side and I had a hard time getting the base cabinets in the space, but luckily for me everything was plumb and even so a tight fit worked well.

    I also had some trouble with the doors, although they are zero clearance, the wall boards tend to expand after install and paint so the edges of the doors may rub on the walls slightly but no worry, if its not too bad the hinges are adjustable.

    Good Luck

  7. mark says:

    HEllo ALL

    I’m planning on doing the same thing with the master bedroom closet. I want to install the 200 cm unit ( 2 x 50 cm, 1 x 100 cm ). the question I have is do I need to make the opening any bigger than 200 cm to allow the doors to open.
    thanks for the help

  8. Ilir Bitici says:

    By the way, for updated photos click on my name. It’s a link to my blog on tumblr.

  9. Ilir Bitici says:

    I could have gone to the lumber yard and bought MDF or Ply, but all the material and time it would take and extra specialty tools I would have needed would have probably cost more then $90 U.S. for the big cabinet and $70 U.S. each for the smaller ones. Plus I don’t think i am skilled enough in the woodworking field to pull it off with out complications. I wouldn’t even know where to begin if I had to attach the Pax “bergsbo” doors to the wall?!?! Thank god for pre drilled pre set holes.

    Go with the IKEA assembled frames, all you need is basic tools and some patience to put it together.

    I have since added 4 beautiful IKEA sanska spot lights across the front of the closet using an IKEA trak giving plenty of direct light. Also I added a small shoe molding across the bottom 1X 3 and the floor sealing any possible gaps. The shoe molding I ran across the entire room maintaining the consistent built in look.

    As for the Blue walls, That’s Martha Stewart Paint #MSL142 LOVE-IN-A-MIST

    If I were to do it again I would have left a little more wiggle room, about an inch on each side would have been sufficient. Even though the doors are zero clearance I didn’t consider the handle hitting the wall on the left limiting the ability to slide the drawers completely out.

    Thanks for all the complements and constructive criticism. Really appreciate it.

  10. Liz says:

    This looks eerily similar to what I am planning on doing in our bedroom, except the linen closet (located in exactly the same spot outside the bedroom door) is already built in. Honestly, this room configuration looks to be EXACTLY like what I have at home, except that we have a couple of funny jogs to work around.

    I plan on doing a corner closet (the “L” shaped corner, with swing doors) in the left corner of the existing closet opening, and then running two 100cm wide units with sliding doors down the wall of our bedroom (what would be the left wall in the room shown) and putting a 80cm wide dresser in the right side of the closet with a mirror and shelves above. We currently have built-in shelves (that I hate!) which house our TV, as well as DVDs and books, so we would be replacing those with a unit with sliding doors, so we could still watch TV.

    You’ve inspired me to get going on this project!

  11. graham_f says:

    @anon (the first one!) – I guess the point of using the Pax frames rather than just building something out of MDF or ply is that they’ve got all the right holes in all the right places to customise the insides with the various Komplement fittings. Seems like a smart move to me – they look great.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Super clean looking! I was just trying to explain something similar last week, now I have visuals, Thanks!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Looks fantastic! Great work!

  14. I’d like a how to on the small linen closet!

  15. Anonymous says:

    That looks like a complicated hack. But it looks awesome. What is that blue color that you have on the walls? It’s a beautiful shade.

  16. I love what you did here! And it’s so nice to use prefabbed/finished IKEA system so you can easily clean and not have to paint!

  17. Anonymous says:

    These look really nice, but isn’t this kind of a waste of money? You already have the sides in your walls… you could use cheap plywood or MDF behind the nice door to build the frame and get the same effect. Paying for the full frame seems like a waste to me if you’re going to build it in.

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