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

by on Jul 27, 2022

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.                

ikea closet organization
Image: IKEA

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 into shape! 

Jump to the section:

IKEA makes it easy to stay organized with its 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 Closets and 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.


Best higher-end wardrobe: IKEA TYSSEDAL

White and classic with a traditional build, the TYSSEDAL wardrobe features two mirrored doors, a clothes rail, a shelf, and one drawer. The ledge on top prevents items from being pushed off when you’re grabbing things in a hurry. Price: $429.

Best bang for your buck: IKEA BRIMNES wardrobe with 3 doors

Best bang for your buck: IKEA BRIMNES wardrobe with 3 doors

With two doors for hanging clothes, a full-height section for shelves, and a mirror, the BRIMNES three-door wardrobe provides the most clothing storage space in its budget. Available in black, gray, and white. Price: $229.

IKEA SMÅGÖRA wardrobe for kids and teens
IKEA SMÅGÖRA wardrobe for kids and teens

Best kids or teens wardrobe: IKEA SMÅGÖRA wardrobe

Charming and functional, the IKEA SMÅGÖRA wardrobe is our top pick for kids and teens. With two selves and a hanging rod, this wardrobe is perfect for your little ones. Only available in white, but easy to customize with your favorite knobs and pulls. Price: $179.99.

IKEA HAUGA wardrobe with sliding doors
IKEA HAUGA wardrobe with sliding doors

Best compact wardrobe: IKEA HAUGA wardrobe with sliding doors

The sliding doors of the HAUGA make this IKEA closets a good choice for tight spaces. We also like the rails at the top. Perfect for keeping extra storage boxes on top in place. Price: $269.99.

IKEA BRIMNES wardrobe with two doors
IKEA BRIMNES wardrobe with two doors

Best narrow wardrobe: BRIMNES wardrobe with two doors

Not only is BRIMNES our pick for “most bang for your buck” but there’s also a two-door version that is just perfect for narrow spaces. Coming in at just over 30 inches wide, the BRIMNES is IKEA’s most narrow wardrobe option available. Available in black, gray, and white. Upgrade with your favorite style of knobs and pulls! Price: $159.99.

IKEA VUKU temporary closet
IKEA VUKU temporary closet

Best temporary wardrobe: IKEA VUKU wardrobe

If you need something temporary, or to store off-season clothes in a spare room, the VAKU is super affordable at only 15 bucks! Lightweight and easy to move around or store when not in use. Price: $14.99.

IKEA SMÅSTAD / UPPFÖRA kids wardrobe
IKEA SMÅSTAD / UPPFÖRA kids wardrobe

Best kids’ wardrobe: SMÅSTAD / UPPFÖRA, $198

The SMÅSTAD / UPPFÖRA is geared towards children and preteens, with its colorful doors available in white, green, pink, and gray. Entirely customizable and ready to mix and match.

IKEA Open Closet and Wardrobe Systems

Sometimes a wardrobe is just too bulky for your room. Enter the open 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. Most of these systems are infinitely flexible and will prove to be a good investment for years to come.

IKEA ELVARLI wardrobe system

How to maximize the ELVARLI closet
Image: Cosmopolitan

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.

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

How to turn a dresser into a vanity
Image: Idle Hands Awake

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

Sam Szabla ELVARLI walk-in closet
Image: Sam Szabla

IKEA JONAXEL wardrobe system

IKEA JONAXEL wardrobe system
IKEA JONAXEL wardrobe system

The JONAXEL series is one of IKEA’s most modular storage systems. Think of it as the ELVARLI’s more affordable, and more flexible cousin. 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 above costs around $200, and look how much clothing you can store!

The JONAXEL system is great for laundry rooms and bathrooms too!

IKEA PAX Closets

If you’ve never heard of PAX, you are in for a treat. It is IKEA’s most versatile closet in that it can be freestanding, built into an existing closet, an open or closed closet system. PAX does it all.

Fashiion Carpet IKEA PAX walk-in closet
Image: Fashion Carpet

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).

IKEA PAX open closet
Image: Styled Snapshots
Built-in PAX wardrobe idea
Image: And Christina
PAX wardrobe
Image: Just a Girl and Her Blog

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!

How to use IKEA’s Planning Tools

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 “Design it yourself” on any PAX product page, or from the main Planning Tools landing page.

Accessing the PAX planner from a product page.
Accessing the PAX planner from a product page.

Once you’ve launched the planner, you can choose how you would like to get started: Guide me, Design from scratch, or browse inspiration. Experiment with all three options and choose the path that feels easiest for you. The IKEA Planner will lay out all the options with prices, so you’ll make sure to stay within your budget.

Screenshot of IKEA PAX planner getting started options.
Screenshot of IKEA PAX planner options.

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

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 let you know if the items are in-stock at your local IKEA store. You can add all the items in your list to the cart to purchase online for pickup or delivery. Any which way you go, be sure to select that ‘Save for later’ option, just in case!

IKEA PAX planner checkout

Assembling and Installing IKEA Closets

how to assemble a pax wardrobe
Image: Chris Loves Julia

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 lifelong 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, JONAXEL, 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 partner, Taskrabbit!


ikea pax hack
Image: House and Home

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:

built-in IKEA wardrobe
Image: The Sweetest Digs
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 the roof eaves!

IKEA PAX closet hack
Image: Ikea Hackers

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

raised ikea pax hack
Image: Design*Sponge

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

wallpapered pax wardrobe
Image: Jenna Sue Design Co.

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

colorful ikea pax wardrobe hack
Image: Livet Hemma IKEA

This idea works for drawers, too!

A large white drawer with leopard print interior.
Image: Made By Girl

Alternative IKEA Closet Hacks 

So you’ve seen how to use an ELVARLI, JONAXEL, 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:

Ikea Kallax closet hack
Image: Twin
kallax closet


Image: The Penny Parlor

BILLY bookcase closet hacks:

IKEA Billy bookcase closet hack
Image: Southern Revivals
IKEA Billy bookcase closet hack
Lauren & Chad’s Vintage Comfort (Image credit: Lauren Naimola)

IKEA RAST wardrobe hack:

ikea closet hack
Image: Homemade by Carmona

Check out more great closet ideas from Curbly

Looking for more IKEA Hacks?

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!

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