By Amy Neason published
There are few things in the interiors world that will unfailingly conjure such a visceral reaction as Ikea hacks – and Ikea wardrobe hacks are no exception! Whether it’s the creativity, the thriftiness, or the sheer element of surprise, we just can’t get enough of them.
We’ve selected the best of the best to provide you with a little inspiration and insight into the potential of the humble Ikea wardrobe. From small fixes to more elaborate projects, consider whether your own wardrobes might benefit from a IKEA hack, and wait for the compliments and exclaims of shock to roll in...
1. Upgrade the door handles
A small but mighty hack, you can never underestimate the transformative power of stylish door handles. Whether it’s on a dated kitchen you can’t afford to renovate, or bathroom cabinets that need a refresh, they will change the look of the entire room. In this beautiful project, Gemma Tucker, founder of Balance Interior Design, employed this hack to upgrade bedroom wardrobes.
‘We used the Ikea Pax wardrobe system to create much needed storage and order in this dark and relatively small basement flat bedroom,’ she says. ‘Mirrored wardrobe doors were chosen to improve the sense of light and space and we opted for beautiful brass ‘Holy Wafer’ handles from Superfront to elevate the finish of the wardrobes and pull through with the brass detailing in the wall lights.’
Gemma highlights how you don’t need to break the bank for a high end look, and it’s often just the finishing touches that require a little investment, ‘Upgrading ironmongery on high street pieces like this makes for a cost effective and personalized design.’
2. Create a custom built in look with wood trim
There is something truly beautiful about cabinetry that fits a space perfectly, but this has always come at the high price of commissioning expert carpenters and joiners… until now! American-based photographer Erin Kestenbaum talks us through the incredibly impressive hack she completed in her coastal Connecticut home. ‘My intent was to create a closet that looked high-end, custom, built-in, but that also brought some drama to a small, yet highly visible space,’ says Erin.
With the Ikea Pax system as the base, Erin then added various shapes and styles of wood trims to make the wardrobe sit more seamlessly within the room. ‘In order to achieve the high-end custom look I envisioned, we added baseboards, crown molding and shoe molding,’ she says. ‘We also refaced the fronts and sides of the wardrobe units with wood strips and added wood drawer fronts.’
Using Farrow & Balls ‘Inchyra’, Erin painted the wardrobes and walls in the same deep teal green for a flawlessly bespoke look, while a stripey wallpaper on the ceiling completes the boutique feel of this walk-in closet.
3. Combine different pieces to create a wardrobe that works for you
You needn’t feel restricted to the constraints of existing Ikea designs. In fact, getting creative and thinking outside the box is the way to achieve something truly unique. In this project, Holly Marder of Avenue Interior Design Studio, decided to use both the Besta and Stuva storage units to create a bespoke built-in wardrobe idea.
‘We wanted to disguise a set of exposed radiator pipes, and increase the usability of this area,’ says Holly. ‘In order to work around them, we decided to combine Besta and Stuva to create a corner unit that offers a wardrobe and reading bench.’
‘The radiator pipes ran down and along the wall, taking up about 10cm of space and wouldn’t allow any furniture to sit flush against the wall,’ she explains. ‘To solve the problem, we used the Besta sideboard along the floor to create the base of the wardrobe and reading bench - this was 40cm deep and 60cm wide and sat against the pipes taking the overall depth to 50cm. We then placed the Stuva wardrobe on the top left corner of the Besta because it’s also 60cm wide so fits perfectly, while crucially being 50cm deep at the point above the pipes, offering the important extra 10cm and therefore sitting flush to the wall.’
‘We then had a 10cm gap along the back of the middle part of the Besta unit, so I laid a sheet of multiplex on top to hide it, and had a custom cushion made to sit on top and complete the look’.
4. Add cane panels to the doors
It’s the material of the moment, and one that’s destined be a key player in the world of interior design trends, cane detailing has a place in every style-conscious home - and now, thanks to Hannah Lodge of @thepalm_residence you can get the look by updating an existing Ikea wardrobe without breaking the bank.
‘Our whole house has a kind of vintage tropical villa vibe, and a key way we bring this into the spaces is through textures like cane, rattan, and linen,’ says Hannah. ‘We love cane webbing and wanted to create a bespoke wardrobe that blended into the wall color, but didn’t look too modern and new’.
Hannah began with Pax wardrobes and Bergsbo doors. ‘First, we cut the panels out of the doors using a jigsaw,’ she explains. ‘Then we primed the doors and carcasses with Zinser BIN primer - it’s the only one that works - and when this was dry, painted the doors in Farrow & Ball Oval Room Blue to match the walls. Next, we soaked large sheets of cane webbing we bought from Etsy in the bath for 30 minutes to soften the cane and, when they were dry, stapled the sheets of cane to the inside of the wardrobe door using a staple gun’.
5. Extend the wardrobe doors for an elegant look
It’s a universal truth that it’s almost impossible to not store things on top of cupboards, wardrobes and cabinets that don’t quite meet the ceiling. You may have the best intentions with stylish wicker baskets, but the clutter inevitably piles up over time. Christine of @littlehouseonthecorner knows this all too well. ‘We love clean and minimalist interiors, which is why we didn’t want to see all of the junk we had stored on top of our wardrobes.’
To achieve the minimalist look she desired, Christine decided to extend her Pax wardrobe doors. ‘We extended the door itself by screwing an additional piece of timber to the top of the door,’ she explains. ‘To disguise this, we then used cladding. We had all of the thin strips of MDF cut to the right size when we bought them and then it was just a matter of gluing them to the doors.’
Christine advises, ‘Take your time to space out the panels so that all gaps are the same, and don’t use cladding that’s thicker than 3mm as you won’t be able to open the doors. The trickiest bit of this whole project is adjusting the doors afterwards so allow for some extra time to get them perfectly aligned.’
6. Buy your doors separately
If you’re not feeling too crafty and want an easier fix, there are a range of companies out there who sell fronts to Ikea kitchen cabinets, wardrobes - and even kitchens! - that can simply be attached straight on.
Superfront is one such company that ranks particularly high in the style stakes, and their doors completely transform Ikea units into high-end-looking design statements. ‘Two of the Ikea cabinet systems that we offer fronts to are the Pax and the Metod,’ says Monica Born, co-Founder of Superfront. ‘Both work excellently as wardrobes - the Pax system is made for hanging clothes, while the Metod system is ideal if you also want visible drawers for a good overview of things such as underwear, t-shirts, bags, belts or jewelry.’
The great thing about Superfront is they have a curated collection of colours and patterns that are ready to fit into your home. When it comes to choosing, Monica offers the following advice, ‘I recommend having a look around the rest of your home to see how your wardrobe fronts can harmonize with your existing style. My own home is built in a 1930s Bauhas style, so I chose to mix different geometric patterns across the doors, and opted for chrome ‘Twine’ handles to suit the era of the house.’
7. Get creative with configurations
Making Ikea pieces work for you doesn’t necessarily have to involve complex carpentry or sourcing additional parts - many of their existing systems can be configured to create something truly bespoke.
Alex Bage, Bedrooms Specialist at IKEA UK & Ireland explains, ‘Our Plasta range is unique, as it’s been designed to cover both sleep and storage needs. This means you can create your very own oasis in the smallest of places.’
In this particular room, space for a separate wardrobe was lacking, but the Plasta range makes a modular solution possible. ‘By combining both a bed and wardrobe in one, you can have endless organisation solutions to keep your bedroom neat and tidy, as well as creating a feeling of additional privacy in the room.’
Interiors stylist and journalist Amy Neason was the Deputy Style and Interiors editor at House Beautiful for years. She is now a freelance props and set stylist, creating work for a range of national publications and brands such as Imogen Heath. She has previously worked at Established & Sons, and her skills include styling still life and interiors shots for editorial features and sourcing unique products to create inspirational imagery.
She is particularly respected for interpreting seasonal trends into feature ideas and style stories.
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