Add drawers for closets aka hack your built-in wardrobe

How to add shelves and drawers for closets - IKEA hack

Materials: Malm 6-drawer chest, Galant 80cm shelving unit

Note: My built-in wardrobe is 180cm wide and about 48cm deep inside the tracks for the sliding doors.

Many years ago when I was a kid, I had a built-in wardrobe with some lovely wide drawers with a set of shelves directly above. I looked for something similar commercially available, but it was either too narrow or not deep enough, and I wasn’t really keen on starting fresh thanks to the crown moulding the halfwit who owned my place previously had put around the existing wardrobe.

Eventually I hit on the idea of seeing if I could hack an IKEA dresser to add some shelves on top, but I eventually hit upon the GALANT shelving unit. Not only is it 80cm-wide like the MALM dresser I’d settled on, it had the added advantage of the shelf being adjustable.


And, as it turned out, if you left off the black kickboard/feet section it would bring the whole thing to just a hair under 200cm – that meant I didn’t have to try and relocate the top shelf that was already sitting at that height! In addition, the combined cost of the two units and a new hanging rail came back at $20 cheaper than the closest insert I could find at Bunnings.

When it came to actual installation, my carpenter neighbour did the hard work of actually screwing it in place. We did put some little pieces of wood underneath the MALM to bring the whole unit up to the shelf, but if you’re doing this in a fresh wardrobe that shouldn’t be an issue. Aside from screwing the shelves to the chest, he screwed the chest to the rear wall, the top shelf down onto the shelves, and both the shelves and chest to the right-side panel.

Once the new hanging rail was installed there was no possible way that anything was going to budge, even though we didn’t attach the chest itself to the rear wall. He used self-tapping screws and an electric drill with a screwdriver attachment and the job took less than an hour all-up (would have taken less, but his missus took off with the hacksaw we needed to cut the hanging rail).

How to add shelves and drawers for closets - IKEA hack

Only problem I’ve had with the entire set-up in the few days its been there is that one of the drawers will hit the side-panel thanks to the front panel being a little off-kilter thanks to my construction technique. It doesn’t prevent me opening or closing the drawer, I just have to remember to be careful because I don’t want it to fall off.

~ by Danielle L

Other ways to add drawers for closets

drawers for closet

If the MALM is not your cup of tea, you can try the NORDLI chest. Here it’s used with two MALM dressing tables to create a compact closet. See how it’s done.

Kallax with drawers for closets

This one uses a few KALLAX shelving units to fill the space in the closet, vertically. Each cubby can be customised with shelf inserts, drawers or doors. Pretty ideal if your built-in closet cavity is large enough to fit the KALLAX. See more here.

Rast drawers for closets

Another popular method is to use the ever versatile RAST chests and build them into the wardrobe. It’s neat, affordable and offers lots of storage. Check this one out.