Today I’m sharing the Ikea Pax wardrobe hack that I recently used to transform my bedroom.
We inherited the long stretch of built in Ikea Pax wardrobes when we bought the house. Although I wasn’t enamoured of the expanse of MDF panelled doors, we had gained an extra bedroom in the move and were short of wardrobes. Also I admit to being a bit excited at the prospect of increasing my clothes storage space exponentially. This, despite the fact that for about 9 months of the year, I am mainly wearing just the one “outfit”.
My original plan was to replace the wardrobes when we eventually decorated the bedroom. However, when it came to it, there was no money in the budget. Plus I had grown accustomed to the practicality of my Ikea Pax wardrobe set up, with its fancy internal components and pull-outs perfect for harbouring my growing collection of fleecies.
I persuaded myself that if I painted the wardrobes to match the rest of the scheme, they would simply melt into the background and be unobtrusively wardrobey in the background, detracting not at all from the splendour of the rest of the room.
I was managing quite happily to ignore my Ikea wardrobes and enjoy the glamour of my made-over bedroom, until showing one of my friends the room prompted a reality check.
“The room looks fabulous” he enthused, while standing with his back to the wardrobes, “….from this angle.”
And in case I wasn’t quite getting his meaning, my friend (known it must be said for his straight-talking tendencies) elaborated: “From bling” (facing into the room) *shuffles theatrically round 180 degrees* “to ming”. (Is this a Scottish word? For non-Scottish readers of this blog, allow me to clarify: this was not a compliment.)
I needed a wardrobe fix. Removing them was not an option. The Houses Husband had sanded the floor around them, in a saga that involved two faulty hire sanders, eventually having to sand the entire floor with a hand-held sander on his hands and knees, and a vow that any further floor sanding tasking would result in immediate withdrawal of all DIY services.
I decided not to call his bluff and, since efforts to disguise the wardrobes had flunked, I applied myself to making a feature of them instead.
I’d seen some Ikea Pax wardrobe hacks involving wallpaper. My problem though was that I had panelled doors. I pondered trying my hand at some decoupage style panels but that sounded fiddly with a high risk of mishap.
I scoped out replacing the doors with flush ones (Pax doors are super cheap) but unfortunately my wardrobe is an older model and the sizes have since changed.
While I was mulling over options, I spotted this in the H&M sale.
I had to have it. (Buy first, think later, always.)
Luckily a plan crystallised: to create fabric covered panels which would make it appear as if my wardrobes were a full length window looking out onto a misty mountain vista.
In case any of you would like to try a similar project, here’s a run through of how I did it.
Step 1- Sourcing the fabric
Unfortunately H&M are out of stock of the fabric panels I used. They do however usually have one or two funky photo print curtain panels in stock. I needed three panels to cover my five panels. At just £6 or so each in the sale, my panels were a steal.
If you can’t find a curtain panel design you like, an alternative would be to use a duvet cover. Or even have a photo of your choice printed onto fabric for a completely bespoke design.
Step 2 – Get the MDF panels cut to size
I calculated the size I wanted each panel to be, by measuring my existing wardrobe doors and calculating enough clearance around each panel to “frame” it. (eg. if the wardrobe door was 200 cm tall, the panel would be 196 cm tall to leave 2cm at the top and 2cm at the bottom.) I had to be careful to make sure that the new fabric covered panel would be big enough to cover the existing panels on the door. If you were doing this method with flush doors, then you could have smaller panels if you liked, leaving a bigger “frame”.
I headed off to B&Q with my measurements, chose a sheet of thin MDF, and had the lovely man at the cutting station run me off 5 identical panels of exactly the right size. At B&Q you have to buy the whole sheet – mine cost around £16 – but there’s no charge for the cutting. If you don’t live near a B&Q, I imagine most local timber yards would be able to do this for you.
Step 3 – Ironing
A boring but necessary step…
Step 4 – Cut the fabric panels to size
I laid the curtain panels out on my dining table which extends longer than the length of the panels. If your’s doesn’t you’ll need to find another suitable flat surface large enough to work on.
I laid the MDF panel on top of the fabric then cut the fabric to size leaving about 2 cm overlap all the way round. Depending on the pattern of your fabric, and the repeat, you might have to take a bit of care with the position of the fabric on the panels to ensure that the design will appear the way you want it once hung.
Step 5 – Spray Glue
I tilted up the MDF panel along one of the long edges, being careful not to alter its position on the fabric and applied spray adhesive to the underside. I then carefully placed the panel back in position and pressed it down against the fabric. This on its own wouldn’t have been sufficient to fix the fabric, but I think it helped to secure it in place, preventing slipping during the next step.
Step 6 – No More Nails
Because the MDF panel was so thin, my staple gun was not suitable for the job of fixing the fabric to the panel. So I used No More Nails glue instead. You need a special “gun” which makes it relatively easy to apply an even line of glue. I roped in the Houses Husband for this step. I followed the same principle as stretching a canvas to get an even, wrinkle-free finish – working from the middle of opposing edges outwards towards the corners. We applied the glue in sections of about 30cm long on opposite sides and then, pulling the fabric taut, we folded the overlap on both sides over onto the glue and pressed it into place.
At corners we cut some of the fabric away and used spots of glue to fix the fabric neatly in place.
Step 7 – Gluing the panels onto the wardrobe doors
We were sceptical about whether we would be able to simply glue the panels onto the wardrobe, but No More Nails triumphed again. It gave us just enough time to manoeuvre the panel into line, but had enough stick to ensure that a minute or so of holding the panel firmly in place was sufficient to secure it, without any sliding.
There you have it. I’m planning leather pull handles to finish it off. But I’m delighted with the outcome. It’s brought some sorely needed character to this side of the room. It’s possible (likely) that I will get bored of the design in time. However, switching over the fabric on the panel to a different design would be really easy. Meantime, I will enjoy lying back and enjoying my new scenic outlook.
Are your wardrobes letting your bedroom down? Would you consider hacking them? I’d love to hear ideas you’ve tried or have brewing.