DIY Master Closet Makeover

Is there anything prettier than a clean, organized closet? The master closet in my house was okay, but it just wasn’t as functional as it could be for the size. So I decided to fix that and redo my closet! It took forever for these Ikea Pax Wardrobe units to arrive but they finally did! I am so happy with the way it transformed this closet. Want to transform your closet too? Just follow along these steps. I would highly recommend using the Ikea Pax Wardrobe planner. It helps you know exactly what you’ll need.

Supplies needed:

Let’s Begin!

The first step in this process was to demo the existing closet. I had to take down all of the shelves and rods. I used a razorblade to score along all the caulking first and then used my mallet and prybar to get everything off. Make sure to get all those leftover nails out of the wall if you have any. Then I used spackle to fill all of the holes that were in the wall.

Next, shiplap!

I decided that I wanted to add shiplap to my ceiling. This may seem extra but it really makes the room look bigger and just plain amazing. I cut the boards to length and then used liquid nails and my nail gun to attach it to the ceiling. I had a lot of questions about the seams in the shiplap. I would do one long board and then one short board, and then come back with a full board. It ended up being every other board and once you fill those seams, they really aren’t that noticeable.

Then I caulked all along the edges to fill those small gaps and filled those nail holes. This part is pretty tedious but I love watching those gaps and holes disappear!

Paint time! Painting the ceiling is always killer but it makes such a huge difference. I used bright ceiling white in an eggshell finish. Usually on ceilings, you just use a flat paint so that light doesn’t reflect off of it. Eggshell doesn’t shine too much though and it worked out great.

I also swapped out the lights in my closet. I love the new ones. They are slim and bright. No more weird tiny lights in here!

Add some cute wallpaper

I knew that there would be a section of my closet that wouldn’t have built-ins. So I decided to get some removable wallpaper and put it up to make it look nicer. It was kind of a pain to install. I think because of the texture that was created when I took down the shelving, it made more bubbles and air pockets. But it totally worked out and looks amazing.

Storage for the wall!

I decided on the wall that won’t have the wardrobes, I wanted to add some hooks for storing hats and such, an ironing board, and a spot for my iron. I nailed up some boards that I could attach hooks to and then painted them white. I also attached the folding ironing board and its own little cupboard that holds it. I also painted this white. I couldn’t find a cupboard that I liked to hold my iron so I built one. It wasn’t too hard. You could also just buy a basket and put it in there. I wanted something that could have a door to it so that it would hide the iron.

Finally, on to the Ikea Wardrobes

The first one I put together took awhile but the next four only took 45 minutes each. I put 2 small sizes on each side and three bigger in the middle. I took the baseboards off so that I could build a base for these to sit on flush. I cut the side baseboards to the depth of these units (22 in deep). I wanted to use the long baseboard for the front of the unit so I was very careful when I was removing it.

Building the base

I cut a piece of board the length of the units. Then I screwed it into the studs in the wall. I just used regular 2x4s for this part. Then I attached the side pieces and made sure to screw it into the studs on that wall. I attached the front piece and added middle supports. I enlisted my husband’s help to get the units on top of the base.

My ceilings were crooked, of course, and so it made it a little trickier. I ended up moving the units up a little bit to where they fit. There ended up being a 7″ gap on either end. I put boards in between each unit and then screwed them together. It was so satisfying to see that gap close! Then I put a 16′ baseboard on the front. I’m so glad I saved that and didn’t have to buy it. It really makes it look built-in!

I put some trim on the top, using shims where there were gaps. Walls and ceilings are never perfectly straight. It always creates problems but there are ways you can work around it! On the sides to get the boards completely flush against the wall, I had to modify it a little bit. I had half an inch overhang on the side so I cut a piece of wood at 1/2 inch. I glided it along the wall with my pencil and then cut it. It fit perfectly. Here’s a video that shows this process a little better 🙂

Time for drawers!

Next step was to assemble all 16 drawers. So many drawers! But totally worth all the time it took to put it together. I had to watch a YouTube video to figure out how to slide the drawers in. I love that everything is on YouTube these days!

Next step, face fronts and filling holes

I used wood glue and a couple of nails to attach wood fronts to all the drawers. I used stacked washers as spacers between them because that’s what I had and it worked great. The drawer fronts made it look so much better and custom! Occasionally there were some nails that didn’t sink in far enough. I used my nail punch tool and hammer to make it go back in. It works great.

I put removable wallpaper on the back boards of all the units because it was so cheap looking. If I didn’t do wallpaper, I definitely would have done something else. I’ve seen people put backboard on them too.

I got some shelves put up and added face fronts to them. It looks so good! I put face fronts on everything in this closet. It just makes it look built-in. Then I proceeded to caulk all those seams and fill those holes! There were about a million holes on the sides of the units that I had to fill but it was worth it. Ikea has some plugs for the holes but I didn’t like the way they look. Then I sanded the filled holes using 220 grit sandpaper. While waiting for the drawer pulls to be installed, I put tape on the drawers so I could open them easier. Just a little DIY hack for you there!

I also put some spackle on the sides of the drawer fronts and then sanded it down. It covers the raw wood and makes it more smooth. With the spackle that I linked above, you can just wipe off with a wipe or a wet rag. But when I did that on the holes in the units, I felt like I could still the indents of the holes. So that’s why I chose to sand instead this time. If you decide to add a face frame to the Ikea drawer system, the drawers sit back enough for a 3/4 in wood to sit perfectly flush with the frame.

Prime and Paint!

Next step is to prime! I’m painting primer on the insides of the units and the drawer fronts but not the MDF I used to frame out the units because those were already primed. After painting the primer, I realized there were some cracks in the wood. I filled those with the spackle and sanded it down. I also sanded in between coats of primer to make sure it’s smooth and didn’t have rough spots. I love using the taping knife to paint the baseboards so I don’t have to tape off the floor. You just slide it under the baseboard and it covers up the floor while you paint.

Last step, finishing touches!

Surprise, surprise, I chose to paint everything white. I did bright ceiling white and I love how it makes the room seem bigger. After you are done painting, it’s time to install any hardware you want. I love the contrast of the white with the black handles! I also added some motion sensing lights. It’s so fun how much it brightens the closet up. When everything is all said and done, it’s time to organize!

It looks so good in this closet. I still can’t believe I did all this while pregnant! Even my husband was impressed. There’s a place for everything and everything in its place in this closet. And it looks gorgeous! Follow me on Instagram for more home projects @spetrichhome

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One Comment

  1. SO impressive! I’ve started laying out a closet system from IKEA and this encourages me. And you are a perfectionist who adds some great touches I wouldn’t have thought of, like the drawer fronts. Well done! PS: if you do a follow up, I’d like to see the storage wall and how you managed the shoes. Great job and super helpful videos.

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