Everything You Need to Know to Design the IKEA Closet of Your Dreams

Everything You Need to Know to Design the IKEA Closet of Your Dreams

Those Swedes sure do love to organize. Flip through any edition of the IKEA catalog, and the first impression you’ll likely get is: a place for everything, and everything in its place. But don’t our cluttered, modern, go-go-go lifestyles make it seem impossible to live up to this standard? Most especially in that most dreaded place in our homes — the closet. Chances are, if you’re a Curbly reader, you love organization just as much as we do. And you may need a little help figuring out how to make your closet system work for you. That’s why today we are talking all about how to design the closet of your dreams using IKEA closets.                

We’ll go over the entire range of IKEA closets, plus real-life examples of how they are used, hacks, tips for installing an IKEA closet, organizers, and more.

Let’s whip those IKEA closets in shape! 


Closet Systems from IKEA 

IKEA makes it easy to stay organized with their large range of closets. From wardrobes; to children’s closets; to totally customizable, open clothes storage systems; and more organizing accessories than you can count, they’ve got everything you need to turn your closet into your favorite part of your home.

Let’s start with their simplest system first: wardrobes.

IKEA Wardrobes

Possibly the biggest conundrum a renter or homeowner can face when struggling with storage is: no built-in closets. The worst! Thankfully, IKEA has lots of options if you’re looking to buy an inexpensive, fuss-free wardrobe to create, or add to, your clothes storage.

Check out these IKEA wardrobe options: 

Best higher-end wardrobe: TYSSEDAL, $399

White and classic with a traditional build, this wardrobe features two mirrored doors, a clothes rail, shelf, and one drawer. The ledge on top prevents items from being pushed off when you’re grabbing things in a hurry. 

Best bang for your buck: BRIMNES, $129

With two doors for hanging clothes, a full-height section for shelves, and a mirror, the BRIMNES provides the most clothing storage space in its budget. And it comes in black, too.

Best kids’ wardrobe: STUVA, $229 

The STUVA is geared towards children and preteens, with its colorful FRITIDS doors available in blue, pink, red, or white.

Best compact wardrobe: TRYSIL, $199

The sliding doors of the TRYSIL make these IKEA closets a good choice for tight spaces. 

IKEA BREIM wardrobe
Image source:  IKEA

Best temporary wardrobe: BREIM, $29.99 

If you need something temporary, or to store off-season clothes in a spare room, the BREIM is super affordable at only 30 bucks!


Freestanding IKEA Closets

Sometimes a wardrobe is just too bulky for your room. Enter the freestanding closet system! A mix of open and closed storage is the key to keeping this type of closet organized and beautiful. That way you can display the pretty things, and hide the clutter.

Naturally, there is a wide range of modular IKEA closets to choose from:

ELVARLI 

Forgive the upcoming gushing, it’s just that I’m a little in love with IKEA’s ELVARLI line. Those clean, minimal lines all in white just make my organization-loving heart race. 

The ELVARLI was designed to be completely customizable, so while you can choose one of the pre-made options from the website, you can also build your own using the ELVARLI planning tool. I’ll go into more detail on IKEA’s handy planners below. For now, just know that the sky is the limit! (Or your budget. Your budget is the limit).

Think you’re too messy to make open storage work for you? Take a look at how much clothing Igor from Happy Interior Blog stuffed onto his ELVARLI:

Happy Interior Blog

It works, right??

Or, check out how to  turn your ELVARLI storage unit into a standing vanity with tons of drawer space:

And I’m dying over designer Sam Szabla’s walk-in closet using ELVARLI!

ALGOT

IKEA ALGOT closet organization
Image: Just a Girl and Her Blog

The ALGOT series is one of IKEA’s most modular storage systems. Think of it as the ELVARLI’s more affordable, and more flexible, predecessor. Once you’ve attached the upright brackets to the wall, the shelves can be easily rearranged using the pop-in brackets, without tools. It’s very inexpensive, too; the configuration below costs only $152.50, and look how much clothing you can store!

IKEA’s ALGOT closet is a fabulous solution for small closets because of how much you can store in just a simple setup.

The ALGOT system is great for children’s closets, too!

Here Abby from Just a Girl and Her Blog breaks down how she designed a closet for herself and her husband. And she even shares how to measure for an IKEA ALGOT closet system:  

Related to the ALGOT system, the ANTONIUS wire frames and baskets can be used in addition to an ALGOT closet, or as an entirely separate closet organizer, as in this storage idea from Personally Andrea.

Those homemade chalkboard labels started out as wall plate covers!


If you’ve never heard of PAX…you are in for a treat.  

The PAX is IKEA’s luxury closet line that starts at budget prices. And as always, it’s completely modular and customizable.  We are talking OPTIONS. So many, in fact, that it can be a bit overwhelming to shop for a PAX system. So let’s break it down!

What are IKEA PAX wardrobes?

The PAX is a customizable closet system that can be used to organize an existing closet, as a stand-alone closed wardrobe, or as an open clothes storage solution (like in that stunning example above).

How do you design and install a PAX closet?

Okay, so you’ve decided you want to organize your life with a PAX closet system. Now what? Here are some key things you need to know to get started:

Now that we’ve covered the very basic basics, let’s design an IKEA PAX closet!


IKEA loves making things easy for us. That’s why the brilliant minds behind the home furnishing giant created online planning tools for its storage systems. So we, too, could have a place for everything, and everything in its place.

IKEA PAX Planner  

You can access IKEA’s PAX planner two ways: click “Customize this combination” on any PAX product page, or navigate to “Planning Tools” in IKEA’s footer.  

You can find the ALGOT and ELVARLI Planning Tools on the main tool page, too!

Once you’ve launched the planner, you can choose an existing combination to customize, or “Create Pax from scratch” to design your own custom PAX closet. 

how to use ikea pax planning tool
Image: IKEA

Don’t forget to create an account so you can save your design!

The most fun part about designing your own closet is choosing interior closet organizers. These are the nitty-gritty organizing details that make me drool (yeah, I’m an organizing freak. You know you are too).

IKEA’s KOMPLEMENT series has every kind of closet organizer you can imagine to maximize storage space in your PAX. 

But, my absolute favorite thing about IKEA’s planners is that once you are finished with your design, the tool will generate a shopping list and sort all the items by where they are located in the store. PURE. GENIUS.

ikea product list
Image: IKEA

Assembling and Installing IKEA Closets

So how hard is it to assemble your own IKEA closet system? Well, that depends a little on your level of patience. If there’s one negative association IKEA has, it’s that putting together furniture can be a pain in the [insert your favorite expletive here].

But remember, IKEA designs their furniture so that it can be assembled by absolute beginners, with a bare minimum of tools. So it’s really not THAT hard! In general, if you can follow directions, and know how to hang a picture with a nail and hammer, you can assemble an IKEA closet or wardrobe.

From my experience as a life-long IKEA fan, and frequent assembler of IKEA furniture, here is my advice on how to install all types of IKEA closets as painlessly as possible:

  • Don’t go it alone! Large items, like the PAX, ALGOT, or ELVARLI systems, require two people.
  • Triple check your shopping list before you leave the store to make sure you have ALL the parts.
  • When you get home, organize the boxes in the order that you will need them, with the first items (usually, the largest) easily accessible.
  • FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS TO THE LETTER. I know that seems redundant to say, but often when something goes wrong, it’s because a step was missed.
  • Check out IKEA’s instructional assembly videos for tips.
  • Use an electric drill or driver to insert screws, it will save you so much time!

And don’t forget, if you feel stuck, you can always hire help through IKEA’s assembly services!


IKEA PAX Hacks

We love IKEA hacks around here! Here are some gorgeous PAX closet hacks to inspire your own closet makeover.

How to make a PAX wardrobe look built-in:

A bed with white bedding is reflected in a wall of mirrors.
Image: Braun + Adams

This hack is not for the faint-hearted — a custom PAX installed under roof eaves!

This PAX wardrobe was raised onto a custom wooden platform and finished with floating shelves. The chunky knobs add a stunning touch!

A wallpapered back, plus framing added to the doors, make this PAX look like a totally different piece.

Or simplify this idea with squares of paper added to one of IKEA’s PAX door options: 

This idea works for drawers, too!


Alternative IKEA Closet Hacks 

So you’ve seen how to use an ELVARLI, ALGOT, or PAX system to organize your bedroom closet. But if you are really out to DIY, check out these other ways you can use IKEA products to build a custom closet.

KALLAX closet hack:

BILLY bookcase closet:

IKEA RAST wardrobe hack:


Are you ready to make your own IKEA closets? Which system do you think you would pick? And which closet in your house is the biggest disaster zone right now? We’d love to hear what you think of our IKEA closet design guide!

The 100 Best IKEA Hacks of All Time

The 100 Best IKEA Hacks of All Time

100 Best IKEA hacks of all time.

We’ve rounded up one hundred IKEA hacks that prove you can have champagne tastes on a beer budget. Each of these hacks illustrates the power of transformation – basic warehouse pieces are cleverly altered in beautiful ways that make them feel custom. This round up has me feeling like Aladdin on a magic carpet ride – so come along with me! I can open your eyes, take you wonder by wonder, over, sideways and under on a magic IKEA hack ride. All hacks are listed in alphabetical order by their original IKEA birth name. 

ALEX

IKEA Hack ALEX - filing cabinet
Sugar & Cloth
IKEA Hack ALEX - desk DIY
A New Bloom
IKEA Hack ALEX desk
The Lifestyle Directory
IKEA Hack ALEX storage unit
Full Time Fiesta

ALSEDA

IKEA Hack ALSEDA ottoman
Curbly via Mormorsglamour

BESTA

IKEA Hack BESTA credenza
Sugar & Cloth
IKEA Hack BESTA credenza
Petite Apartment – IKEA hacks
IKEA Hack BESTA
A Beautiful Mess  –  BESTA IKEA hack TV console idea (entertainment center)
IKEA Hack BESTA
Place of My Taste
IKEA Besta cabinet hack
The Vintage Guru Shop – IKEA cabinet with vintage legs

BILLY

IKEA Hack BILLY
The Makerista
IKEA Hack BILLY
IKEA Hackers– built in book case
IKEA Hack BILLY
Golden Boys & Me IKEA hack DIY kitchen island

BORBY

IKEA Hack BORBY
Thou Swell
Note: we tried to find all of these and make sure they’re still available on IKEA.com. Some models have been discontinued, but you can usually find a similar item to substitute.

DOKUMENT

IKEA Hack DOKUMENT
IKEA

EKBY

IKEA Hack EKBY
Teste De Lengo
IKEA Hack EKBY
Nalle’s House
IKEA Hack EKBY
Houzz

EKORRE

IKEA Hack EKORRE
Sarah Sherman Samuel

EXPEDIT

IKEA Hack EXPEDIT
Amy Krist
IKEA Hack EXPEDIT
Honey Bear Lane

FAKTUM

IKEA Hack FAKTUM
IKEA Hackers – platform bed with storage

FAS  

IKEA Hack FAS
IKEA Hackers – table lamp

FIRA

IKEA Hack FIRA
Curbly

FJALKINGE

IKEA Hack FJALKINGE
100 Layer Cake-let

FOTO

IKEA Hack FOTO
Lulus – floor mirror 
IKEA Hack FROSTA
Design Sponge

FROSTA

IKEA Hack FROSTA
Coroflot
IKEA Hack FROSTA
Vtwonen
IKEA Hack FROSTA
Apartment Therapy

GRUNTDAL

IKEA Hack GRUNTDAL
Just a Girl and Her Blog
IKEA Hack GRUNTDAL
Apartment Therapy – wall mirror

HEAT

IKEA Hack HEAT
Curbly – IKEA hack gold wall mirror with

HEMMA
 

IKEA Hack HEMMA
Curbly via Instructables

HEMNES

IKEA Hack HEMNES
The Vault Files

HYLISS

IKEA Hack HYLISS
Remodelaholic
IKEA Hack HYLISS
Proverbs 31 Girl

INBJUDANDE

IKEA Hack INBJUDANDE
Poppytalk

INGO

IKEA Hack INGO
East Coast Creative
IKEA Hack INGO
IKEA Hackers

IVAR

IKEA Hack IVAR
Nur-Noch
IKEA Hack IVAR
IKEA
IKEA Hack IVAR
Nur Noch
IKEA Hack IVAR
Style by Emily Henderson

KALASA

IKEA Hack KALASA
Teste Di Legno

KLUBBO

IKEA Hack KLUBBO
Deko

LACK

IKEA Hack LACK
Hommie UK
IKEA Hack LACK
Triple Max Tons

LAPPLJUNG RUTA

IKEA Hack LAPPLJUNG RUTA
The House that Lars Built

LERBERG

IKEA Hack LERBERG
Weekday Carnival
IKEA Hack LERBERG
Burlap & Lace

LINNMON

IKEA Hack LINNMON + LERBERG
Advice From A Twentysomething  – simple desk
IKEA Hack LINNMON
Curbly – music production desk

LUDVIG

IKEA Hack LINNMON
IKEA Hackers – standing desk

MALM

IKEA Hack MALM
A Beautiful Mess
IKEA Hacks MALM
Curbly
IKEA Malm bedframe hack
Sugar & Cloth

MARIUS

IKEA Hack MARIUS
The Kitchy Kitchen 
IKEA Hack MARIUS
Curbly

MINNA

IKEA Hack MINNA
IKEA

MOPPE

IKEA Hack MOPPR
IKEA

MYSINGSO

IKE Hack MYSINGSO
Kristi Murphy

NORNAS

IKEA Hack NORNAS
A Beautiful Mess – bench
IKEA Nornas table hack
 Kicsihaz – bar cart

OLEBY

IKEA Hack OLEBY
Curbly – simple cutting board

RACKA

IKEA Hack RACKA
A Little Bit OCD

RANARP

IKEA Hack RANARP
Lovely Indeed

RAST

IKEA Hacks RAST
Bliss at Home
IKEA Hack RAST
Hello Lidy
IKEA Hack RAST
Decor 8 Blog
IKEA Hack RAST
Style Me Pretty – campaign dresser
IKEA Hack RAST
Redbook
IKEA Hack RAST
Addison Meadows Lane
IKEA Hack RAST
Hawthorne & Main
IKEA Hack RAST
Midwestern Girl DIY

RIBBA

IKEA Hack RIBBA
Curbly – under bed storage
IKEA Hack RIBBA
Lindsay Stephenson

RORT

IKEA Hack RORT
The Every Girl

SELJE

IKEA Hack SELJE
Curbly
IKEA Hack SELJE
See Kate Sew

SINNERLIG

IKEA Hack SINNERLIG
Curbly

SJOSLEV

IKEA Hack SJOSLEV
Hayley Photography

SKOGSTA

IKEA Hack SKOGSTA
Style Me Pretty

SKOGSVAG

IKEA Hack SKOGSVAG
Farm Fresh Therapy

SODERHAMN

IKEA Hack SODERHAMN
Petite Party Studio

STALL

IKEA Hack STALL
House Tweaking

STAVE

IKEA Hack STAVE
Curbly

SVARTAN

IKEA Hack SVARTAN
A Beautiful Mess

TARVA

IKEA Hack TARVA
In My Own Style
IKEA Hack TARVA
Cheaper and Better DIY

TRADIG

IKEA Hack TRADIG
IKEA Hackers – ceiling pendant lamp

TUPPLUR

IKEA Hack TUPPLUR
Curbly

VIKTIGT

IKEA Hack VIKTIGT
Curbly

VITTSJO

IKEA Hack VITTSJO
Little Green Notebook
IKEA Hack VITTSJO
Style Me Pretty
IKEA Hack VITTSJO
Style Me Pretty – bar cart
Vitttsjo Ikea hack coffee table
Simple Details

VURM

IKEA Hack VURM
Curbly – simple indoor herb garden
A 330-Square-Foot NYC’s Rental Has an IKEA Closet Hacked into an L-Shaped Desk

A 330-Square-Foot NYC’s Rental Has an IKEA Closet Hacked into an L-Shaped Desk

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.

Name: Aparna Sudhakar and husband, Simon
Location: Manhattan, New York
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 330 square feet
Years lived in: 2.5 years, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: My husband and I share this cozy little one-bedroom (almost like a studio) home in the bustle of the Big Apple. We’re both architects and love making custom things. The gloomy months of quarantine made us realize that our walls needed life and our tiny space as a whole needed a story. Starting with an organic growing living room wall filled with unique handmade art, craft, posters, and gifted items, our goal was to tap the maximum potential of every usable square foot in our apartment. A few months of layering our place with things we love and need gave it a warm makeover and became so personal to us. We love that we made our first apartment together as a married couple something beautiful, creative, and memorable!

We’re a couple that loves to design and make things. The artsy, crafty items that my husband and I made for our space that add more character outnumber the things we store-bought. A quick glimpse at any direction in our apartment will have at least one element that was made by us and naturally speaks about our interests and who we are as people. Walking into and waking up everyday in a space that reflects so much of ourselves inspires us to always keep creating things we love and things that make us happy! Our DIYs include our entryway, kitchen tiles/paint, wall art/craft, custom 3D prints, and our corner work desk space.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Creative, Cozy, Lively, Efficient, and Organized!

What is your favorite room and why? Our bedroom. This is the brightest room in our apartment and had the most potential for changing layouts. To make the most efficient use of space and to maximize room size, we made a corner work desk/window seat, which has been the best addition to our home so far! We dismantled our IKEA closet and re-used the panels to create a desk with a flip-open top and a connecting window seat. The L-shaped corner is now sun-drenched and is our creative work space.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? String lights! You can never go wrong with these, they will amp up the coziness of your home 10 fold.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Your home should be a place you want to come back to for respite at any point of time. Choose a room, corner, or even a small thing that you want as part of your home. You can build up eventually. The best thing about DIY is that it doesn’t have to be permanent, your home can evolve with your changing taste to best reflect who you are. Start making notes for yourself anytime you see something you like. I have a running list on my phone for all the things we want in our home but cannot have right now. If it is not possible right away, the right time for it is not far away!

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.

B&A: A One-Day, $94 Hack Gives a Basic IKEA MALM Dresser a Style Boost

B&A: A One-Day, $94 Hack Gives a Basic IKEA MALM Dresser a Style Boost

Megan Baker

Home Projects Editor

Megan is a writer and editor who specializes in home upgrades, DIY projects, hacks, and design. Before Apartment Therapy, she was an editor at HGTV Magazine and This Old House Magazine. Megan has a degree in Magazine Journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She is a self-taught weighted blanket connoisseur.

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B&A: A Leftover IKEA KALLAX Gets a $40 Redo with High-End, Minimalist Style

B&A: A Leftover IKEA KALLAX Gets a $40 Redo with High-End, Minimalist Style

As far as versatile furniture pieces go, it’s hard to beat a classic like the IKEA KALLAX. It’s not only inexpensive, but it’s also available in multiple sizes, and is a sturdy enough piece to function in nearly any room of your home. It’s also endlessly hackable, as this redo from Joana Bianchi (@joana_bianchi) shows.

“I think everyone has had a KALLAX in their home at some point,” Joana says of the IKEA standby. “When I was renovating a friend’s bedroom, they needed some place to store paperwork and some random items, so I decided to figure out a way to incorporate this piece of furniture they already had into their new bedroom aesthetic.”

Joana wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted her project to look like at first, but knew she wanted it to have chunky legs as its base. So she started by building supports using a 2×4, then sanded, primed, and painted the body of the piece a soft beige color. (That came after her first pick didn’t go as planned: “I started by painting this piece gray, but then realized I didn’t love it, so I pivoted,” Joana says. “That’s normal and part of the process!”)

To hide the shelf’s contents, Joana cut plywood doors to fit the front of the shelf. She considered having the doors inset, to fit flush with the frame, but “because the doors could not be inset without messing with the inside shelves, I decided to use some pretty hinges that could be exposed and assemble the doors in front,” Joana says.

To add some texture to the door fronts, Joana covered them in burlap left over from another DIY. Then, to make minimalist handles, she cut half circles from plywood and painted them to match the body of the shelf. A little bit of scrap wood helps the handles stand out a bit to make them easy to grab.

“I love that you would never guess it used to be a KALLAX!” Joana says of the redesigned cabinet. Best of all? She only spent $40 on the glow-up, making this gorgeous (and functional) piece a bargain, too.

“This is a simple, low cost, one weekend project that I think anyone can achieve,” Joana adds. “It really transformed the look of an object that so many people have at home. It shows that you can make your home feel like you, even on a tight budget.”

Megan Baker

Home Projects Editor

Megan is a writer and editor who specializes in home upgrades, DIY projects, hacks, and design. Before Apartment Therapy, she was an editor at HGTV Magazine and This Old House Magazine. Megan has a degree in Magazine Journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She is a self-taught weighted blanket connoisseur.

Follow Megan