2 ways to DIY a built-in closet under sloped ceiling

Updated 2023.

Are you struggling to fit a closet into a room with a sloped ceiling? Look no further than the IKEA PAX wardrobe system! While we love the PAX for its customizable interiors and modularity, the best feature of the PAX system is how you can transform it to fit any awkward space, turning what was once a hard-to-use nook into a functional and stylish storage solution.

In this blog post, we take a look at two IKEA Hackers who have transformed the IKEA PAX system into a beautiful closet under a sloped ceiling. If you’re thinking of DIYing your own sloped ceiling closet, there’ll be lots of tips and pointers you can take away from these two projects. Click the links below to jump directly to the project.

Lode’s sloped ceiling IKEA PAX FORSAND closet hack

We wanted a closet for our bedroom and wanted it as big as possible. Since our ceiling is sloping I had to think of a way to use all the space possible. First, we were thinking of only using a PAX wardrobe of 236 x 150cm and putting a shorter closet next to it. But we’ll lose a lot of closet space by doing this. So I decided to buy 5 PAX frames and modify 3 of them to fit under the sloping ceiling.

IKEA items used: 

  • 1 x IKEA PAX 100x58x236cm element
  • 2 x IKEA PAX 50x58x236cm elements
  • 2 x IKEA PAX 50x58x201cm elements
  • 20 x KOMPLEMENT soft closing hinges
  • 6 x FORSAND door (4x 229cm, 2x 195cm)
  • 6 x BORGHAMN door handles

Other materials and tools:

  • MDF wood 18mm
  • Wooden beams 38*50mm
  • Wooden beams 25*38mm
  • Furniture wood 2500*600*18mm white
  • Wall plugs + screws

Tools:

How to hack the PAX closet to fit a sloped ceiling

assembling PAX frames

I assembled the 2 non-customized PAX frames first and set them in place. And then began drawing the elements that needed to be cut on the wall. I drew everything on the wall so that it was exactly parallel to the ceiling.

PAX frames for sloped ceiling

I don’t have any photos of the PAX element actually being cut, but in the picture above, you can see how they look attached to each other without the doors.

After cutting everything I mounted them all together with the supplied joining screws (no idea what this is called). The pack that came with IKEA wasn’t enough. I bought a few more at the hardware store to have them attached to more points.

Then, I measured how large the sloping board needs to be and bought a white piece of wood with the same thickness as the PAX wardrobe frames (18mm). I mounted this with some regular wood screws from the top so you don’t see where it’s attached.

Secure the PAX to the wall

Adding a wood beam to the wall to secure the wardrobes

There were pipes and electric wires on the wall which I wanted to hide, so I attached the closet to a wooden beam that had the exact same thickness as the piping. I mounted a beam at the bottom and one at the top of the wall. I had some spare parts from the PAX closet I installed in my children’s room which I used to mount the closet to the lower beam. From the factory, there are only 2 mounting points at the top of the closet.

Now the closet was in its final fixed position I made a structure in wood that goes on top in between the closet and ceiling.

closing up the top and sloped sides

Constructing the wooden frame

framing the PAX wardrobe

I measured how big the gap was between the closet and ceiling and started to cut some MDF to fit in between. This was a painstaking process since the ceiling has curves in it. But finally, I had the correct fitting. I glued it to the wooden frame with Tec7 glue. I might put some nails in it later.

framing the pax wardrobe with MDF

The last step was to cut the doors at an angle. I really was nervous to do this but thanks to a friend I had the right equipment. A circular saw with a guide rail. After measuring 10 times I began to cut the doors, to find out they are not fully wood but hollow inside. Too bad, I will close these ‘gaps’ at a later date. For now, you can’t see them with the doors closed.

cutting angled doors for PAX
Forstner bit to make new hinge fittings

Because I lost a few mounting points for the hinges on the cut doors, I needed to redrill them with a special drill bit. It was actually quite easy to do. Again measure twice (or 10 times in my case), and drill once.

Now that the doors were mounted I aligned them and put on my laser lever to drill holes for the door handles.

Here is the final product! As you can see it’s a perfect fit for the space available. Exactly what I wanted to achieve.

~ by Lode

Sloped ceiling closet IKEA PAX hack
Sloped ceiling closet IKEA PAX hack
Sloped ceiling closet IKEA PAX hack

Hugo’s IKEA PAX closet with REINSVOLL doors under a sloped ceiling

For storing all kinds of stuff that every family has, but does not use every day, I wanted to make a storage closet on the 2nd floor of our house. 

I had some ideas for that, but when I saw an image on Pinterest with a built-in PAX closet with REINVSVOLL doors from IKEA, I knew immediately: I want this too.

And so thus began the preparations for this built-in closet project, which in my case was a little more complicated than the example that I had, because of a sloped ceiling. 

Preparations

During the construction of our house some two years ago, I started experimenting with the free 3D drawing program from Google, called Sketchup. 

At the time, I drew the entire house and most of the rooms in Sketchup, as well as the garden to see how certain choices that we made would turn out in 3D. The knowledge of Sketchup became very useful when preparing the making of the closet.

I took the measurements of the space available and looked at the dimensions of the PAX elements. (All the dimensions information can of course be found online). 

With this information, I started drawing in Sketchup. It turned out that 6 PAX elements would fit into the space, five pieces 50 cm wide and one of 100 cm wide.

The advantage of drawing the whole thing here was that I was able to see (with high accuracy) which elements (high or lower model) and doors would be needed due to the sloping roof. This obviously saves on purchase costs.

I did some further research online, also here on IKEAhackers.net, and based on that I was able to create a list with all materials required and tools needed.

I have the following basic elements used in my setup:

  • A wooden structure as the foundation for the PAX elements to stand on;         
  • The same wooden structure around the PAX elements to fixate the drywall;         
  • Drywalls are then screwed onto the wooden structure to get a smooth wall.  
sketchup
sketchup
Preparations in Sketchup – on 1st with the wooden structure, on 2nd with drywall.

Used materials

I purchased the following materials:

IKEA

  • 1 x PAX element white 100x58x236 
  • 2 x PAX element white 50x58x236 
  • 3 x PAX element white 50x58x201 
  • 4 x REINSVOLL door and hinge 50×229 
  • 3 x REINSVOLL door and hinge 50×195 
  • 5 x KOMPLEMENT shelf 100×58 for PAX 
  • 2 x KOMPLEMENT shelf 50×58 for PAX 

Building Materials:

  • 10 x Wooden bar 50×50 (44×44) Height 420 cm 
  • 3 x Drywall plates AK 300×60 cm 
  • 1 x Drywall Rasp 
  • 1 x Filler for drywall
  • 200 x drywall screw 
  • 20 x Bracket 40×40 (for beams corner joint) 
  • 200 x Woodies wood screws 4,5x60mm 
  • 1 x plaster knife 
  • 50m Fiberglass Tape Drywall 
  • 1 x Bevel square

Miscellaneous

  • 1 x Circular saw blade vzv. 60 teeth 
  • 8 x Flat leather handle cognac with black screw (Handlesandmore.nl) 
  • 20 x Shim plates of various thicknesses 

What I already had:

  • Acrylic sealant + sealant gun for sealing the edges
  • White matte wall paint
  • Primer

Required tools

  • Circular saw vzv. saw blade with fine teeth (borrowed)         
  • Miter saw (for shortening wooden beams)         
  • Guide for circular saw (borrowed)         
  • Tape measure         
  • (Laser) spirit level         
  • Cordless drill         
  • Hammer         
  • Bevel square for measuring angles         
  • Plaster knife for smoothing corners         

Sloped ceiling closet: Construction phase

Step 1: Floor foundation

I wanted to put the PAX elements off the floor in order to:

a. Let the drywall go around the elements completely (‘floating effect’);

b. To be able to level everything properly;

First, made two long bars for the front and back of the PAX elements. On those I then sketched out where the cross beams should be, so that the sides of the elements would rest exactly on them. 

In this way, the elements are supported on all sides. You must think carefully about how far the front bar should be from the back (wall). In my case, I wanted to make it fit exactly with the front of the PAX elements. 

Later, the drywall will be placed ‘on top’ of this, and the doors will be placed on top of the PAX elements. Since the doors (16 mm) are slightly thicker than the plasterboard (12.5 mm), the doors will protrude slightly from the wall. 

I also considered that the wall next to the elements on the left would be as wide as the wall on the right and the height at the floor would be the same as the sloping part along the hood.

I then attached the cross bars to the main bar in front and the bar in the back with wood screws.

Then I filled the entire framework with shims until it was nice and level.

framework
Floor foundation

(From the two sockets you see, the left one is hidden in the back of the closet and the right one moved to the wall next to the closet, but I will not go into detail in this how-to).

Step 2: Expand the wooden structure

The next thing I did was expand the wooden structure on the right side and top of the elements. I made sure the structure was solid and I had enough material to mount the drywall plates onto. When making the connections I used steel 40×40 corner pieces in various places for strength and to make sure the corners were 90 degrees.

wood frame
Expand frame

Step 3: Build and place PAX elements (from right to left)

Before starting to make the wooden framework on the left, I decided to build and install the closet elements first. This way I could access it better and I was sure that I could then build up the rest of the frame nice and tight against the elements later on.

I first did the 3 easy elements, where I didn’t have to shorten anything.

placement of PAX closet under sloped ceiling
First 3 PAX closet elements mounted under sloped ceiling frame

Then I adapted and built up the next elements one after another from right to left. By doing this piece by piece you make measuring the available height easy because you always know exactly where the next side of the element that you have to shorten will be.

The two sides and the back wall of these elements had to be shortened. I did the sides first and then built the elements up. After this, you can easily see and measure how much the back of the element needs to be shortened.

Making clean cuts

I shortened the sides with a circular saw that also had a guide rail. I had never worked with a circular saw before, but watching some Youtube videos and making some experimental pieces offered a solution.

It is especially important that you use a saw blade with fine teeth to avoid splintering the wood too much and that you work calmly. I sawed the first few in miter to make it fit nicely with the sloping hood, but that turned out not to be necessary afterward because you will not see anything of it later on once the drywall is in front of it.

placement of PAX closet under sloped ceiling
All elements are in place

After assembling the elements, I also mounted the doors of the three first elements. First of all to determine where I could put the drywall and what space the doors would need, and also a bit because I wanted to see how it would look.

placement of PAX closet under sloped ceiling
All elements are there – including three doors

Step 4: Finishing wooden framework and drywall

Now that the PAX elements had been placed, it was time for the next step: make the last wooden bars on the left side of the cupboard and some pieces of the beam on the left above the elements on the roof to be able to screw the plasterboards on this too.

beams
Framework above the closet
beams
Support beams for drywall on the sloping roof

Making the drywall

After this was done, I could begin to tailor-make the drywall pieces to get a strip of drywall against the lath screw, and of course as tightly as possible against the PAX elements. You can easily cut the plasterboard to size with a utility knife and then break it. Also here: watch some videos on Youtube and you will get there. I have always chosen to place the rough fracture side towards the floor/wall/ceiling side and the neat side towards the doors.  

placement of PAX closet under sloped ceiling
Drywall in place
drywall around PAX closet under sloped ceiling

After all drywall pieces had been placed they need to be finished:

  • Plate transitions with fiberglass tape;         
  • Smearing and sanding holes (2x)         
  • Grease and sand plate transitions (3x)         

When this is done, you can prime the wall. I have done this 3x. New drywalls are real suckers.

After priming I sealed the edges between the elements and the plasterboard with acrylic sealant. This gives you a nice connection between the drywall and the element and this ensures that the cupboard is installed super tight.

baseboard edges
Sealed edges

After the sealant, I painted the wall 3 times with white matte wall paint. Despite the priming, this was really necessary 3 times.

PAX closet under sloped ceiling
Drywall painted

Step 4: Shortening the doors

Perhaps the most difficult and exciting is measuring and sawing off the REINSVOLL doors.

You don’t want to make a mistake here, because this costs you a door. You also want it to be super tight in order to look nice. I measured each door 3x to be sure of the correct sizes. I have kept a 5mm clearance for the top and bottom. Looking back I should have used 8 on the bottom side as it’s really tight there.

These cuts I made with the circular saw and the guide rail. To prevent the veneer layer on the door from splintering, I took several measures:

  1. Fine saw blade must be used with a minimum of 60 teeth;
  2. Mask the saw cut on the door all around the door with masking tape, this will prevent splintering;
  3. Set the saw shallow and first saw the cut 5 mm deep;
  4. Thereafter put the saw ‘deeper’ and cut through – and – through.

The result of this is that the doors have a really clean cut, without any splintering.

After this, I hung the doors. With the sawn doors, I noticed that the door turned against the drywall on the hinge side and top. I solved this by scraping the doors at the top point and inside a little more (approx. 5 mm). You don’t see any of this on the outside.

REINSVOLL doors cut
Clean cut

 Drywall painted

REINSVOLL doors cut
Cut doors
cut closet door under sloped ceiling
Dry fitting 1st tailor-made door for the sloped ceiling closet.
cut closet door under sloped ceiling
All doors ready

Step 5: Finishing

After the doors have been sawn and hung, you can adjust them with the hinges.

Then I mounted the leather handles. To align everything nicely, I projected a line on the doors with a laser spirit level. Marking the drill positions is then very easy and mounting is done in no time. Because the rightmost closet element has double doors, the second door from the right is the only one that opens to the other side from all other doors. 

To make the handles all look the same, I have chosen to deliberately mount the handle on the wrong side for this door. This handle is therefore on the hinge side and has no function. To open the door you must first open the other door. A little more work and a little less practical but it looks nicer and calmer.

PAX built in closet REINSVOLL doors under sloped ceiling
Built-in PAX sloped ceiling closet, done!
PAX built in closet REINSVOLL doors under sloped ceiling
OSTERNAS handles

Then I painted the top of the chamfered doors with matte wood lacquer. This is for the aesthetic effect and to (somewhat) prevent moisture from penetrating the doors, causing them to expand. I got color cards from the Gamma (dutch building material store) and had the smallest amount of paint mixed. I applied this with a small toy brush. In terms of color, this looks exactly like the original color of the doors. The color number is GN 062-05 Suit from Gamma (NL).

leather handles

Finally, I mounted a plinth against the bottom side, so that the plinth runs smoothly against the other walls.

After that, all that’s left is to tidy up the cupboards… and enjoy it every time I walk up the attic stairs.

PAX built in closet REINSVOLL doors under sloped ceiling

Costs and time required

Costs incurred

Cost IKEA: EUR 1128.00
Cost Materials: EUR 244.84
Costs blade: EUR 45.00
Costs handles: EUR 55.00
Total costs: EUR 1,472.84

Time

The result is very nice, but it was quite a time-consuming job. All in all, I spent about 8 full days with all the preparations, research, and implementation. This of course spread over several weeks. However, if you don’t have a sloped ceiling, the job of the built-in closet is much easier. And it can probably be done in 60% of this time.

I hope someone can make use of this for their own project – and maybe post their result as well to inspire others.

~ by Hugo

All images remain the property of the Author. Do not use without permission.

Jules Yap