Restyling IVAR into an open closet system

IKEA IVAR Open closet

An alternative to the ELVARLI for an easily reconfigurable open closet system

Earlier this year, I had a roof leak that completely trashed my master bedroom closet. It required demolition of the old particleboard partitions and shelving, replacing water-damaged drywall and insulation, etc. 

I also had some spare 12″ deep IVAR shelving pieces left over after I downsized my library. It seemed like a no-brainer to recycle them into new fittings for the rebuilt open closet.

IKEA items used:
IKEA IVAR system
Other materials and tools:
  • 1×3 boards, nails, and screws for attaching IVAR to the wall
  • Drill
  • Corner braces with mounting screws
  • Minwax Tung Oil
  • US Futaba oval closet rods and mounting hardware
  • Hacksaw
  • Shelf baskets

IVAR open closet hack

To complete the set up, I used the IVAR pieces I had and bought a couple more uprights and shelves. I also added hanging rods to mount between the front posts of the uprights.

It was then I realized that with all the weight of the hanging clothes at the front of the IVAR unit, I had to fasten it very securely to the wall to avoid a tipping hazard. 

For this purpose I nailed 1×3 boards to the studs across the wall top and bottom. And then fastened the uprights to the boards using #10×2″ screws. I was careful to level and shim each section as I went along during assembly. 

Ivar open closet

Related: Hands down the most stunning walk-in closet

The horizontal boards also spaced the IVAR far enough out from the wall to clear the base trim. This eliminated any need for cross-braces to prevent racking.

Adjusting the height

Note that I had to cut down the IVAR end units to adjust for the height of the ceiling and the beam in the middle.  I thought that losing the top cross piece on the uprights might compromise the front-to-back connection of the posts, so I added metal corner braces to tie the posts to the top and middle shelves with rigid connections. 


The whole assembly feels very solid and I’m not worried about it going anywhere. I think it would be a good idea to install the braces even if you don’t cut down the uprights.

Ordinary round closet rods were too wide to mount on the IVAR posts. So I used 30x15mm oval aluminum rods made by US Futaba (available online with free shipping from  They come in 8-foot lengths and are pretty easy to cut with a hacksaw.  The end brackets attach with screws and fit perfectly on the narrow sides of the IVAR posts.

Note that the 12″ IVAR shelves are shallow enough that they don’t block access to the deep, narrow return on the left side of the closet, where I installed a wardrobe lift above the bump-out over the stairs.  I couldn’t have fit a deeper closet system like PAX here because of the odd shape of my closet.


To complete the open closet fittings, I installed another hanging rod and a few more shelves on wall standards on the short section of wall opposite the IVAR unit, to the right of the door. 


I’m not presently using the laundry hookups on that wall as my house has a separate laundry room downstairs too. But I didn’t want to block them off, either.

Open closet complete

Finally, this is what the IVAR unit looks like loaded up. Shown here with a new set of 13×15″ strap baskets that perfectly fit the narrow IVAR shelves.  (I ordered these from as well, but you can find similar baskets in other online stores too.)

Ivar open closet

I also incorporated a TARVA chest I already had into the closet.  All of the pine IVAR, TARVA, and shelf board pieces were finished with multiple coats of Minwax Tung Oil finish.

Ivar open closet

Overall, I’m very happy with the way this turned out.  I wouldn’t have bothered with a closet remodel if I hadn’t been forced to do it. Clear-finished pine shelving not only looks a lot better than the fixed painted particleboard fittings that were there previously, but it’s also designed to be easily reconfigurable if storage needs change in the future.

~ by pondscum