Closet Hacking, Part 2

It’s not quite done, but I’ve made major progress on my closet makeover this week. In my last post I showed you how I dealt with hanging a closet rod from my sloped ceiling, and mentioned that I was planning on replacing the crappy metal mesh drawers with a built-in solution. That was by far the hardest part of this project, but it’s done!

Ikea hack: how to add Ikea drawers to a non-Ikea closet

This was one of my biggest carpentry projects to date, and while it wasn’t easy, I’m happy to share what I learned in case you’re thinking of tackling a similar closet makeover.

So if you’re like, “That looks finished to me,” what you can’t see is that the rest of the space outside the frame of the camera is a bit of a disaster zone. Plus I’m still working on a few finishing touches for the space to take it up a notch. But it’s currently a vast improvement over how it started. In case you missed it, this is the before: My closet, pre-makeover

Part of the reason I wanted to move the closet rod was so that my shoe rack would fit underneath, and as you can see, now I can actually use the top row of the rack! Which means that there are fewer shoes on the sides, so they’re way easier to see and access. It’s still not my ideal shoe storage situation, but it’ll do for now. I’m trying to decide whether I should build a wood rack, or install a wall-mounted shoe rack, like these. One of the things I don’t like about this rack is that since it’s not solid, it’s not great for flats or wedges. What would you do? Do you have an awesome show storage solution you recommend?
Ikea Hack: How to add Ikea drawers to a non-Ikea closet

Ok, so onto the nitty-gritty.

Instead of buying Ikea’s Pax wardrobe boxes, I built-in my own 3/4″ plywood boxes, and installed 13 Ikea Komplement drawers. I also added trim mouldings, and painted it all to match. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be, mainly because NOTHING in this closet is square. Not the floor (it slopes to the outside, possibly because this may originally have been a porch), and definitely not the walls. Would it have been easier to use the Pax wardrobe boxes? In a different space, probably, but in this particular space, maybe not. I would have had to cut them down significantly, and the non-squareness might have still required some hacking.

When I was in the middle of traipsing up and down my stairs with a heavy piece of plywood that needed trimming again, or re-drilling holes for the drawer slides to line them up properly, it was easy to curse myself for not just buying the boxes that are made to work with these drawers. But in reality they may not have been as easy to deal with as I imagine, and they (probably) wouldn’t have looked as good in the end. Plus, I definitely saved some cash doing it this way. Ikea Hack: How to add Ikea drawers to a non-Ikea closet

Before I started this I googled for tips on how to add Ikea Komplement drawers to your own closet, and I couldn’t find any. There are lots of Pax hacks, but they mainly consist of people adding trim to Pax wardrobes to make them look built-in. That means I had to learn from my own mistakes, and you can, too.

Tips for Ikea Komplement Drawer Installation

You’ll need the following supplies:

Level
Measuring tape
Drill
Screwdriver (you may want both a manual and electric screwdriver)
Drill bit (I used a 3/16″ bit)
Pencil
Approximately 1/2″ self-drilling screws
Scrap wood

The drawers come with two slides. They each look like this:

Ikea Hack: How to add Ikea drawers to a non-Ikea closet

There’s a little hook on each one that hooks into the back of the drawer, and a peg on the front that fits into a hole near the front of the drawer. There are 4 holes on the bracket that attaches to the wall, but only the two larger ones are meant to be used. After some trial and error, I realized that I could put some small self-tapping screws into the smaller holes to keep the bracket aligned while I checked whether it was level, and then drill holes for the actual screws. This prevents you from drilling a large hole, and then needing to move things over just a smidge, but not being able to because the hole is too close to the previous one.

The system I eventually worked out is the following:

Measure 8 inches up from the bottom of the previous bracket to where the bottom of the next bracket will go. Align the bracket so that it’s the correct distance from the front of the box, and attach it in place using one small screw through the small, second-from-the-front bracket hole. Set the level on it while using another small screw to secure it through the small, second-from-the-back bracket hole. Doing this all myself, it was easier to hold the bracket and screw in the small screws with a manual screwdriver.

Do the same with the bracket on the other side, setting a piece of scrap wood between them and setting the level on top to make sure everything is still lined up.

Then drill the holes with the 3/16″ drill bit for the actual screws that the drawers came with, though the front and back holes of the brackets. Mark the depth on the drill bit with a piece of tape so that you don’t drill too far and go through the side (I did this once, oops).

Screw in the brackets with the actual Ikea screws.

Repeat.


If you’re wondering why the drawers go up higher on the right than the left, it’s because I was planning to add a built-in pants rack above the drawers on the left, but ditched the idea after it seemed impractical to actually put up because of the sloped ceiling. So in retrospect, I could have added another couple of drawers on the left, but now I’ve decided to use the space in another way. To be continued!