This IKEA hack is to create a built-in under-eaves wardrobe for our attic bedroom roof using IKEA’s METOD kitchen cabinet series.
It began when we decided that we wanted a built-in wardrobe under the rake ceiling in our attic. A raked ceiling creates odd spaces, but it also creates for some interesting advantages over standard wardrobes.
We wanted to have an under-eaves wardrobe with no back on it such that we can slide the clothes to the side and crawl through into ‘Narnia’ and store large items (suitcases, etc). We also wanted to have drawers without doors in front of them to maximise the usable storage space.
Given the odd shape, we first contacted a local ‘custom’ wardrobe company. By ‘custom’ they mean that they can assemble flat pack wardrobes in any of the predefined ways (almost ‘modular’). If you want to vary the design in any way (i.e. actually custom) there was no way they could possibly make it work.
Remember how I wanted a long hanging-rail so I could slide clothes to the side and put suitcases through? I was told that this wasn’t possible for ‘engineering’ reasons. Clothes are heavy and their maximum width for a hanging rail was 80cm (I wanted 160cm).
While I appreciate clothes are heavy, maybe using metal rather than plastic is what is required…. Idiots. I could work around that stupidity, but the big problem was the drawers. If you wanted drawers that actually have a clean finish and aren’t wobbly you have a problem. They don’t do drawers which I could call suitable to have on display on the outside of a wardrobe.
Next, we contacted a cabinet maker our builder recommended. This guy was amazing. Whatever we wanted, he could do. His plan was to use his laser machine to measure out the room, draw the design on a computer and cut out all the components on a CNC machine. If you want 1mm gaps around the drawers, no problems. If you want 1.5mm gaps around the drawers, no problems. The only problem was the price … $6,500!
Our IKEA hack option: Under-eaves wardrobe from IKEA kitchen cabinets
IKEA to the rescue. What we needed was a modular set of cheap cabinets which have high-quality sets of drawers. What we need was an IKEA kitchen. The photo shows the original design plan.
I won’t go into too much detail because the specifics are just what is needed to fit our room. As such, I haven’t written this as a step-by-step but I’ve instead explained each section. I figure anyone reading this will just be copying/drawing inspiration from various bits of this project.
Please note that this under-eaves wardrobe hack was done in Australia (so IKEA METOD kitchen was used, our hardware as sourced at Bunnings, all measurements are metric, all prices are in dolllarydoos).
Components for our under-eaves wardrobe
This outlines the various components used.
2 x METOD (80 x 80 x 60cm) cabinet
2 x METOD (80 x 60 x 37cm) cabinet
8 x drawers (80 x 20 x 60cm)
4 x drawers (80 x 20 x 37cm)
2 x Blank plates
4 x doors (140 x 40cm)
Gyprock sheeting (aka drywall)
Aluminium gyprock cornice
~2.4m x 80mm length of hardwood decking used to make all the handles
Under-Eaves Wardrobe: Building the drawer units
The first step was to build the two side units.
Each side unit was made of 2 cabinets – one h80 x w80 x d60cm, one h60 x w80 x d37
First I placed the bottom cabinet on a small ply plinth (19mm high) to ensure that the bottom drawer did not scrape along the floor when it was opened.
The shallower top cabinet needed to be modified to fit under the raked ceiling. As luck would have it, IKEA cabinets come with mammoth amounts of cardboard. I was able to make a template of the available space out of some spare cardboard. I used the template and a jigsaw to chop the side pieces of the shallower cabinet to size.
Now some of you might be saying “jigsaw – shouldn’t you be using a table saw?!?!” and the answer to that is simple…. “Come-on man, can’t you see that I’m bothering to do an IKEA hack to maximise my storage in an attic? Clearly, I don’t have room to store a table saw!” Besides, these are the side pieces and won’t be visible in the final solution.
To chop down the cabinets, it is best to have a DIY buddy who can help hold the offcuts. In my case, my DIY partner in crime is heavily pregnant so I replaced her with a kettlebell.
Next, I attached the top cabinet to the bottom cabinet using small brackets (with the final primary structural support coming later when I fixed the plywood side pieces for the hanging section together).
Each whole side unit was now ready to have the plastering added (see next section) and to be anchored to the floor with some heavy duty hex screws (note that it is important that the units are very securely affixed in place so they cannot tip forward and squash small children!).
Once these unit frames are in their final, fixed position, the drawers can be added.
As there is not enough depth for a drawer at the very top of each unit, this section has just been covered with a blank plate which is simply an IKEA drawer front (hey, we know they fit) which is screwed to the unit frame with some brackets.
Under-Eaves Wardrobe: Hanging space frames
I didn’t have any luck finding an IKEA METOD base cabinet which would work for the hanging space. Instead, I decided on a DIY approach. I found that the standard METOD range has 19mm thick walls. My local hardware store sold plywood which was 18mm thick – close enough. I had to buy a large sheet which was 2.4m x 1.2m.
I re-used the templates I had made for cutting the drawer units for making the side pieces.
The best bit of advice I can give with this is to have your hardware store make all of the cuts for you if possible. They can do millimetre perfect straight long cuts very quickly and easily. It would have taken me ages to do all the cuts at home with my wobbly jigsaw.
The frame for the hanging space was then screwed to the side draw cabinets to create added structural strength for the drawer units.
Hanging space doors
For the doors, I used 4 of IKEA’s METOD h140 x w40cm door fronts.
I used the regular IKEA hinges. These hinges are designed to be inserted into pre-existing holes in the METOD cabinet frames and tightened with a screw. Since I am not using a METOD frame to attach the doors to, after much f***ing about, I decided it would make sense to remove the IKEA screws from the hinge brackets and instead use regular screws that could more easily go into the plywood hanging space frames I had made.
I measured out the existing holes on the METOD cabinets used for the drawers to establish how high the screw holes for the door hinge brackets should be in the plywood frames (so that the hinge brackets would align to the hinges in the doors).
I then translated these measurements onto my plywood frame, and then screwed in the hinge brackets to the plywood frames.
Next, I attached the hinges to the doors as per IKEA instructions, and then just clicked them into the hinge brackets that I had attached to the frames.
Luckily, the IKEA hinges have a fair amount of flexibility in them so they could be moved around once installed to straighten the doors (google ‘how to adjust European cabinet hinges’).
The hanging rail
The hanging rail is well over-engineered in this design. I figure that a wardrobe which is overfull with clothes hanging can create a lot of weight. In addition to this, the hanging bar is quite long. I used 70mm x 35mm structural pine to create the supports which a metal hanging rail would fit into.
Originally I was going to use galvanised piping but I wasn’t sure if it was going to rust. In the end, I went with aluminium tubing which was (from memory 1.5mm thick). For additional strength (I did say over-engineered) I filled the centre of the tubing with 25mm dowel.
Under-Eaves Wardrobe: Plastering
The design allowed for a 3cm gap between the edge of the drawer cabinet/hanging frames and the wall. The plan was to fill the gap with gyprock (drywall) sheeting. The only problem with this is that I had no gyprocking experience. After about an hour of research on YouTube I had a vague enough of an idea for how I was going to do the sheeting. Keep in mind that this is my first time doing this, so if you are reading this trying to learn how the experts do this stuff, you should probably hit the back button now.
Normally you would (apparently) attach the gyprock to the wall and use aluminium corners to strengthen any exterior corners, and then fit the cabinets within this gyprocked space. The problem is that I didn’t have any battens to attach the gyprock to. I also didn’t want to attach any battens to the wall as it I would have been a massive pain in the a$$ to get the battens exactly aligned to where the cabinets were going to fit in (nothing in our 130 year old house is square).
My Gyprock plan
Instead, my plan was to attach the gyprock to the cabinets (using aluminium corners as a bracket and tiny screws and gyprock glue) and then align the cabinets into the space where I wanted them to go (and fill any remaining space between the gyprock edge and the ceiling/walls with plastering tape).
The first step was to install two or three drawers into each frame so that I could ensure that when I attached the sheeting it was flush with the drawer fronts.
Once I had the gyprock attached to the frames and put the frames in situ, there were some moderate gaps between the gyprock edges and the existing ceiling/walls (due to the ceiling/walls not being straight). I bridged these gaps with mesh gyprocking tape, and then plastered over the tape with pre-mixed plaster (couple of coats with vigorous sanding between coats).
Under-Eaves Wardrobe: Handles
The look I was going for was for some classic hardwood handles to match the timber floors. After some googling, I found a company that would make the handles for me. I was however shocked at their pricing, $650 for the handles! This outrageous pricing got me thinking, I could just try and knock up some handles with some scrap hardwood timber I had left over from when I made the fence.
I’ll be brief on making the handles because, frankly, they don’t qualify as an IKEA hack.
Step 1) I planed down the timber as it was in a very bad shape.
Step 2) I used my trusty (wobbly) jigsaw to cut out the shape of the handles. As it is hard to keep it cutting straight, I had the main faces of the handles facing out so I wouldn’t need to chop them.
Step 3) I rounded over all of the edges with a router which I bought to do this job (I figured that I saved $650 by doing it myself)
Step 4) Paint the timber and pre-drill holes for the screws
And that concludes our under-eaves wardrobe for our attic.