PAX wardrobe built into the wallfor guest room and craft supplies storage
We had an incredibly small and awkward nook area with an angled wall in our basement guest room/ office. That made it almost impossible to put in a bed and proper desk. Plus it had no closet or good space for shelves.
We had a double bed for guests jammed into the nook with 2 BILLY bookshelves crammed with clutter for storage pushed up against the opposite wall.
But I wanted a built-in closet for storage for all of my papers, craft supplies, and bits & pieces that look very messy when in view.
I was inspired by the other IKEA hackers who had made PAX units look built in. The PAX wardrobe built into the wall was the plan for our awkward alcove.
The little nook pictured below was ~150cm wide at the back and ~206cm wide at the front. The area behind/ beside it could be accessed from an unfinished closet for plumbing etc.
I had an electrician come in and move 2 electrical outlets and wires behind the wall. This is so that I had safe room to remove the drywall and fit two 100cm wide PAX units. By that point, it looked like this:
Installing the base
I used the 2×3 framing lumber to build a small platform for the PAX wardrobes to sit on. And I also drilled them into the studs on the wall behind so that the wardrobes could “rest” against the lumber and stay in position without shifting backwards.
The platform lifted the PAX units above the framing left from the small diagonal wall so they would sit flat without shifting.
The nook was ~45cm deep, so I could only fit the 38cm deep wardrobes.
In the photo below, you can see the original framing of the diagonal wall. I did not touch or change that at all. It was safer to just work around what was already there.
Once both wardrobes were in place, I fixed them to the lumber behind the PAX units so they would not move at all.
Framing the PAX units
I built a frame with 2×3 lumber to place on top of the units, right against the ceiling.
Then, I screwed the frame into the wall studs at both ends. Also through the top of the PAX wardrobes so it was firmly fixed in place.
The frame was set back slightly so that when the drywall was screwed on, the front would be flush with the front of the wardrobes.
The drywall sheets were screwed to the frame. Then taped and mudded.
Once finished and sanded, I caulked all of the joints between the wall and the wardrobes (and between the 2 wardrobes) to get a fully seamless finish.
Meanwhile, I primed the BERGSBO doors and the front of the PAX units with a shellac based primer. It is the only one I have found that will adhere to the IKEA laminate finish without scratching or peeling.
I used an angled brush to paint the inside corners of the door panels. Then, I used a tiny paint roller to do the whole door. This method seems to give the most smooth and seamless finish with no brush strokes visible.
Once dry, I gave the doors one full coat (same method) with a water-based latex paint (Benjamin Moore Aura). It needed some minor touch ups once hung on the PAX units.
I painted the entire room with the same paint, including the front edges of the PAX units, then hung the doors.
The small platform that the units are on gave me enough clearance to put 8.25 cm baseboards under the doors, continuous with the room baseboards.
I had to put the MDF moulding into the front of the PAX units to avoid having a gap behind the baseboard. The MDF was painted the same colour as the wall and caulked to fill any gaps. Then the baseboards were put on top.
The final product of our wardrobe built into the wall is seen below. It’s just awaiting handles.
After! PAX wardrobe built into the wall
Project time frame
In total, this took me a week. That week included binge-watching 2 seasons of the Great British Bake Off, a camping trip, and other activities, so it wasn’t exactly a full time job!
I was able to do it mostly by myself. But I had someone help me to lift the PAX units into place and to hang the doors.
It was also part of a bigger room remodel. So that time included painting the entire room and placing new baseboards.
Some things, like letting drywall mud dry completely overnight between layers, can’t be rushed.
So it will inevitably take at least several days with lots of time to do other things.
Things to note
The trickiest part is making sure that the PAX units are level and secure. Our floors were quite level and it was tricky enough. This would be a massive part of the task if your floors and walls are old and uneven. In that case, it might even be worthwhile to pull up the flooring and put down a levelling compound before starting the build.
However, I would always spend a lot of time on this step, as it means that the units will not shift or crack the drywall over time as they settle. It also meant that I did not have to adjust to get the doors level – we just put them on and they were perfectly spaced already.
I would also recommend using the highest quality paint that you can get/afford.
Painting IKEA laminate is also a tricky task, and any paint that doesn’t cover it evenly and smoothly will be very obvious.
It is much less work to be able to use a single coat of a smooth, high-coverage paint, and the finished result looks very professional. Brush marks will also be very obvious on doors, so purchase a tiny paint roller and roll out any brush marks.
I am very happy with it. And it is amazing how much bigger the room looks with the odd nook gone and the clutter out of sight!