domino contributing editor—and
resident DIY expert—Jenny Komenda
shows us 6 steps for transforming IKEA’s
modular closet system into a custom
wardrobe and vanity.
We recently moved across the country, trading our cozy
Brooklyn home for a house in the desert, with nearly
triple the square footage. When we first arrived in
Arizona, I told myself that all my storage woes were
behind me—and then we unpacked our clothes and
shoes. Despite the fact that we have ample closets now,
we were still having trouble making everything fit. Piles
were accumulating. Clothes and shoes were buried and
lost to memory.
Then one day a few weeks ago, I decided enough was
enough, and I did what any self-respecting DIYer does—
I went to IKEA.
The funny thing is, when we moved into this new house, I
vowed never to buy a major piece of furniture from IKEA
again. But there I was, purchasing three “Pax” wardrobes
for our bedroom. These units are pretty irresistible as far
as customizable closet systems go. With all the drawers,
shelves, and components I needed, I knew the custom
route was going to be too expensive (my carpenter
estimated it would be at least $5,000, whereas each of the
Pax wardrobes rang in at about $300).
Here are a few ways to upgrade your
Pax wardrobe to help make it a little
less big-box and a little more bespoke.
Paint, paint, paint.
The superslick surface of IKEA’s furniture is notoriously
difficult to paint, but Zinsser’s shellac-based primer works
like a charm. Apply it with a miniroller, and follow
up with your topcoat of choice. I like Benjamin Moore's
Advance line for painting furniture. I often paint my
wardrobes the same color as my walls to help them blend
into the room and feel unobtrusive. For this project, I used
Benjamin Moore’s Knoxville Gray, a dark, moody blue-gray
with plenty of green undertones. This color is one of my
favorites, so I knew I wouldn’t tire of seeing it day
in and day out.
Trim it out.
It’s amazing what a few inches of molding can
do. I added dentil trim to the top of my wardrobes,
and the crown made a huge difference.
Mirror the doors.
The Bergsbo-style doors are one of the
least-expensive Pax options. And if you
choose this model, you can use the
money you've saved to have mirrors cut
to fit by a glass shop. They can be safely
secured to the doors with mirror glue.
Personalize the hardware.
Most Pax wardrobes don’t have door hardware,
but adding a few simple pulls can give the piece
a whole new look. I found these chunky pulls at
the hardware store and spray-painted them gold
to provide a luxe touch.
Wallpaper the inside of the wardrobe.
One thing I don’t love about the Pax is the
exposed holes for the adjustable shelves.
Wallpapering the interior surfaces solves that
problem. I used an inexpensive roll of grass
cloth from Lowe’s and painted it the same color
(Benjamin Moore’s Knoxville Gray) as the
wardrobe for a seamless look.
Create a vanity area for jewelry storage.
To keep my accessories organized, I created a
vanity by installing one of the IKEA shelves at
counter height above a series of drawers used for
clothing storage and adhering a mirror to the
back of the wardrobe. Then, I affixed 40 small
brass hooks to a scrap piece of wood and hung it
inside for necklace storage.
Since investing some time and money in these
wardrobes, I’m feeling about a million times more
organized. And that vanity? I’m loving it! Today,
I’m wearing a pair of earrings I thought were
long lost. But the best part of being organized
is the time it frees up for tackling other things
around our house.