Installing Ikea Pax Doors as Sliding Closet Doors (Ikea Hack)

Be sure to check out our follow-up post on this project, answering some FAQs!

Way back, I blogged about our 2012 kitchen renovation. In that post, I mentioned that we had gotten rid of some hideous metal bifold doors on two side-by-side closets in our kitchen.

Bifold doors in closet

We had no good follow up solution for doors. Neither did our kitchen contractor. Or some other contractors we brought in to look at them. It was like some great mystery.

The biggest issue was that we didn’t want bifold doors again. The closets were small, and any bifold door, when open, seemed to take up like two-thirds of the opening. Meaning it was difficult to reach things in the closet, even when the bifold door would be open.

Below is a super old picture that I took in the days we were moving into the house. You can see how the metal bifold door blocks an annoying amount of the closet door opening.

Bifold doors in closet

Another problem was that our closets had no overhang. The closet door opening went completely from floor to ceiling. This seems to be very unusual. There’s always some sort of drywall or framing at the top of the closet door opening. We didn’t have that, making it very difficult to find doors to fit the opening. We were also hesitant to frame in any part of that opening at the top. We loved having easy access all the way to the top of the closet.

Here’s a photo that more clearly shows how the closet opening goes from top to bottom:

Closets with no overhang

Since there was no overhang, sliding doors or barn doors were also out as an option. We brought in about two or three contractors, including a DOOR SPECIALIST, who had zero ideas for what to do, except perhaps making custom size bifold doors. (The standard 6 feet and 8 feet doors wouldn’t work. The opening should’ve fit 8 foot bifold doors … if we did decide to go the bifold doors route again.  But since we had hardwood floors installed during the kitchen renovation, that changed the height of the opening to like 7 feet 10.5 inches or so. No longer a standard size!)

So, our pantry sat open, with no doors, for like 18 months after our kitchen renovation.

This closet issue started getting on my last nerve. #FirstWorldProblems.

Thanks to the layout of the house, you can see the pantry as soon as you walk in our front door. It’s like greeting houseguests with, “Hello, welcome to our home, LOOK AT OUR PANTRY CLUTTER.”

Finally, we decided that there was no other solution than to frame in a portion of the upper closet opening. Luckily we were able to make it nice and small, still giving us decent access to the top shelves, but it is harder (er, impossible) to fit anything large up there anymore.

We opted for Ikea Pax doors, thanks to their design, sturdiness, and most of all, reasonable price tag. (Have you ever priced custom size sliding doors? Holy Hell. How about SIXTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS? The two Pax doors, and all related supplies, cost us about $400. Score.) Ikea Pax is a wardrobe closet system that Ikea offers.  Typically these doors would be attached to a wardrobe (like a piece of furniture) that you’d buy along with the doors.  But we only purchased the doors, not the wardrobe.

Using Ikea Pax Wardrobe System Doors as Sliding Closet Doors (Ikea Hack). Easy DIY project!

 

Drywall Framing for Closet Overhang

The bulk of the Ikea Pax Door installation involves a top track. Well, since our closet had no overhang, we needed a structure to mount the track on. We enlisted the help of Ken’s stepdad, who is a handyman, to do the framing, since that was well out of our comfort zone (especially if we wanted it to look nice).

I’m not entirely sure about the terminology here, so I’m just going to describe what was going on.

First, his stepdad purchased some lumber materials and built a framing “box” that was the width of each closet door opening. He then installed it at the top.

Building framing for drywall addition for closet overhang Framing for drywall in closet overhang

Here’s what it looked like from underneath:

Drywall framing

Then, he cut the drywall pieces to size and screwed them to the new framing. This also involved some metal corner/edging pieces.

Screwing drywall to new framing Attaching drywall to new framing

Next up, he put a layer of mud on it. He had to get going, so we waited for the mud to dry, and then did the second layer of mud ourselves and then sanded it and painted it. (Not pictured). I’ve gotten damn good at patching drywall holes, but wow, mudding an entire new drywall surface was difficult!  I made a mess of that second coat of mud. It was really uneven, even after sanding it down. Especially where the framing meets the ceiling.  In the future, I can definitely foresee getting that repaired professionally. It doesn’t look bad from a distance, but it’s one of those things that I KNOW IS THERE.

Before sanding and painting though, we made the drill holes for the Ikea Pax Doors top track, in case we messed up, we wouldn’t have to patch the paint again. Also, we assumed we’d be bumping into and scuffing that section as we installed the doors. Hence the unfinished paint in some of the pictures below that depict the installation

Customizing the Ikea Pax Door Top Track

First, we had to remove a “lip” from the Pax door track so that the track would sit flush against the wall.

We followed a tutorial to remove the lip that we had found on a website called Ikeafans. As I went to look up the link for this blog post, I saw that Ikeafans shut down at the end of 2014. How sad! But, I was able to pull an archived version of the page from archive.org. Check it out here (note that archive.org is sometimes slow to load).

However, the person in the tutorial mentioned they used a hacksaw to remove the lip, and that it took about 1–2 hours. We used a Dremel at first, and it still was taking forever!

We clamped the top track to a folding table (which serves as our workbench!) so it wouldn’t move.

Cutting lip of Ikea Pax door top track Cutting lip of Ikea Pax door top track Cutting lip of Ikea Pax door top track

Then we started using the dremel to remove the lip. After about 20 minutes of work, this was the only progress that had been made. (Don’t worry about the scuff marks. This side of the track faces the wall, so you don’t see the marks).

Cutting lip of Ikea Pax door top track

We decided to whip out some bigger guns. The reciprocating saw. This made the job go MUCH faster.

Using reciprocating saw to cut top track of Ikea Pax Using reciprocating saw to cut top track of Ikea Pax Using reciprocating saw to cut top track of Ikea Pax

 

Installing the Ikea Pax Doors as Sliding Closet Doors

Then, we installed the top track on the new closet framing overhang. Then we also hung just the frames for the Pax closet doors on the track to made frames slid well on the track.

Installing Ikea Pax Doors as Sliding Closet doors Installing Ikea Pax System as Sliding Closet doors Tracks and frames for Pax doors

Side note: We have purchased a LOT of stuff from Ikea over the years. I mean, like, a lot. Bed frames, dressers, shelves, desks. You name the furniture, we probably have an Ikea version of it. So, please take my word for this. These Pax doors, when assembled, where the HEAVIEST THINGS WE’VE EVER PURCHASED FROM IKEA. Maybe from anywhere. Like almost-impossible-to-maneuver-heavy.

We had actually assembled the Pax doors earlier, and went to test them out on the top track, and it was almost too heavy to move around for testing purposes. So, we removed the glass panels from the door frames and just used the frame itself to test out sliding. It worked fine! The metal frames are light and easy to pop in and out of the track.

Afterwards, we popped the empty frames off the track and then installed the class panels in the frames, using the instructions that came with the Pax Doors. Then we carefully moved the doors into the kitchen (wow, heavy!). Thanks to the heaviness, we did have some trouble getting them on the top track. It took quite a few tries (including a few periods of rest where one of us would hold the door steady while the other took a breath). This is definitely not a job for one person.

We had opted for the “Sekken” style, which was frosted glass.

But once the doors were on the top track, they slid beautifully and we were now able to cover up our pantry contents!

Ikea Pax doors as sliding closet doors Ikea Pax system as sliding closet doors

I was so happy to have this project done. It finally felt like our kitchen was complete! We had done our full kitchen renovation, followed by our DIY Ikea Banquette, then this Ikea Pax Sliding door project! It finally felt like our kitchen was a finished product!

Have you had any troublesome closet doors in your home? What solution did you come up with?

What to Cook and Eat during a Kitchen Renovation (Complete meal plan ideas)

Temporary Kitchen Setup during Kitchen Renovation

A few weeks ago, a coworker was saying that she and her husband wanted to renovate their kitchen, but she was completely stressing out about how she would cook and feed her family during the six week renovation.

I had this exact fear when we renovated our kitchen a little more than two years ago now! I gain weight just by THINKING about dining out excessively (I kid, but only a little). So there was no way I wanted to eat takeout every meal for our scheduled six week renovation.

 

Meal Plan Ideas during a Kitchen Renovation (What to eat during a kitchen renovation)

 

But, with a little bit of planning, we only had to dine out a few times! Is eating during a kitchen renovation going to be the healthiest or cheapest food of your life?  Nope. Is it going to be the most environmentally-friendly time of your life considering all the paper plates and utensils you’ll be using? Nope. (Unless of course you want to wash dishes in your bathroom sink). But should it keep you from getting that awesome kitchen you want?  No way!

Here are some tips and tricks that helped us!

 

Helpful Kitchen Tools During a Kitchen Renovation

  1. Countertop Oven. When I got my first full time job and moved into an apartment, I realized that my oven sucked. The temperature was never calibrated properly, and it always burnt my food. So, I bought a little countertop oven. It was great! I used it my entire 2.5+ years in that apartment (and my subsequent apartment) to cook anything that required baking. It won’t fit a 9×13 dish, but since I was living alone, a standard 8×8 dish was always just fine. When we moved into this house in 2009, I just stored it in the attic, and when the kitchen renovation rolled around, we pulled it out of storage!  Mine is old, so I can’t find the exact model, but it was certainly not fancy or expensive, and it still worked great! But there are plenty of more expensive models.
  2. Microwave. Mmm. Microwaved meals. Everybody’s favorite, right? Well, it’s only for a finite amount of time, so a few microwaved meals here and there won’t kill anybody. Especially the ones I think are higher quality like frozen burritos from Trader Joe’s, or Trader Joe’s Sweet Potato Gnocci with Butter and Sage. Even some spaghetti-o’s with Texas Toast (heated in your countertop oven!) is a perfectly acceptable choice! So, make sure you don’t put your microwave in storage during your renovation or throw it away too quickly if you’re getting all new appliances!
  3. Electric panini maker. This was great for making grilled cheese and other warm sandwiches!
  4. Crockpot. Oh, how the crockpot was so fantastic during our kitchen renovation. We bought lots of crockpot liners to simplify cleanup as well.
  5. Outdoor Grill. We also used our charcoal grill for lots of food that we typically would’ve cooked inside, as well as for our normal grilling foods like steaks! (We have a Weber 22.5 inch Kettle Grill, but any outdoor grill would do!). To simplify grilling, we pre-marinated and then froze lots of meats! If you happen to have an indoor electric grill, that would also work great!  (We didn’t, and we were just fine)
  6. Hot plate. Although we went our entire kitchen renovation without a hot plate, I was tempted to buy one a few times. We already owned all the previously mentioned tools, and I was hesitant to spend money on something new, like a hot plate. But I could definitely have seen it be useful for things like boiling water for Macaroni and Cheese or other pastas during a renovation.
  7. Lots of disposable kitchen stuff such as plates, utensils, and bowls.
  8. Bonus item: Although we didn’t have one at the time, I have grown to love the pressure cooker I bought about six months ago. There is some light cleanup involved (but usually just the single pressure cooker “pot”), but it is great because you can even brown meat or sear steaks in it!

 

What to Eat during your Kitchen Renovation

 First and foremost, have a meal plan (more on that below).  That will help you pare down the equipment you would need during your renovation.

  1. Freezer Meals. Any glance on Pinterest these days, and you’re likely to find tons of pins for Freezer Meal ideas. I’ve been meaning to try it in earnest myself. So, experienced freezer meal cooks would probably have no problem lasting their entire renovation with a freezer full of homemade meals. Unfortunately, that seemed kind of overwhelming to me at the time.  But, in the weeks leading up to the renovation, I did make double batches of a few meals that I thought would freeze well, like manicotti italian casserole (one of our favorites), salisbury steaks, and chicken enchiladas (links to recipes are below!). I think I ended up with six frozen meals total. To cook them or heat them, we used the Countertop Oven!
  2. Pre “anything” from the supermarket. Pre-cooked chicken packages? Sounds great! Pre-made salads and wraps from the deli aisle? Perfect. Rotisserie chicken from Costco? Yum! Pre-made things are obviously more expensive, but I think it’s well worth it during a renovation! I don’t want to be chopping up individual ingredients for a salad on a folding table. Save yourself the frustration and buy it premade!
  3. You know all those “processed foods” that everyone hates on these days? I’m not a fan of processed foods either, but mostly because of taste. Start stocking up! Again, this isn’t forever. So loading up on things like hot dogs, frozen fish sticks, chicken nuggets, and spaghetti-o’s will help you have some options on those nights that you’re desperate for a meal idea! There are some healthier ideas too like packages of fully cooked chicken sausage.

Keep in mind that a kitchen renovation might be a perfect time to do a quick weekend getaway too! Yes, that would be three days of dining out, but it’s away from home, so that makes it totally different and okay, right?  Right?

 

Meal Plan for a Kitchen Renovation

I planned out 20 days of meals (with the intention to just repeat the 20 meals as long as the renovation continued), including a few days of healthy takeout like Subway and Sushi. Did we follow the meal plan precisely? No, of course not. For instance, one day we might have had a really heavy lunch and we weren’t hungry for dinner. And we were invited to a family party one evening and didn’t eat our normally-planned meal. But you get the idea. It was fantastic to have that framework there to avoid being overwhelmed at the idea of “What’s for dinner!”

  1. Sour Cream Enchiladas (Made ahead and frozen)
  2. Manicotti Italian Casserole (Made ahead and frozen)
  3. Turkey Avocado Panini
  4. Go out to eat
  5. Steaks on the outdoor grill. Pre-marinated ahead of time using this recipe (our all time favorite). Then we just wrapped them in plastic wrap, put them in a plastic bag, and froze them.
  6. Slow Cooker Pulled Pork BBQ (eliminated the last step of putting in oven to avoid dirtying a dish and just added BBQ sauce to the crockpot)
  7. Grilled Cheese with Bacon and Thousand Island Dressing (cooked using panini maker)
  8. Frozen fish sticks and frozen french fries (cooked in countertop oven)
  9. Rotisserie Chicken (store bought)
  10. Salisbury Steak (Made ahead and frozen. I didn’t make the mashed potato portion of this recipe)
  11. Frozen pizza (we like Freschetta. Cooked in countertop oven)
  12. Burgers and frozen french fries (pre-formed the patties and froze them. Cooked burgers on the grill!)
  13. Go out to eat
  14. Sourdough Chicken Panini (using pre-cooked chicken from Trader Joe’s)
  15. Garlic chicken cheese rollups (Made ahead and frozen)
  16. Trader Joe’s Frozen Taquitos (Cooked in microwave or oven!)
  17. Meatball subs (Just cover frozen meatballs with jarred sauce and put in the oven! Use a disposable foil tin pan for easy cleanup. Put meatballs on store-bought sub rolls. You can even add some Mozzarella cheese to the top and throw it back in the countertop oven for 10 minutes).
  18. Frozen chicken nuggets and french fries
  19. Frozen Bertoli “Complete” meal
  20. Hot Dogs and chips (can cook hot dogs in microwave).

REPEAT AS NEEDED.

If the food we put in the oven required a baking sheet, we covered it with nonstick foil to make cleanup easy.

 

Temporary Kitchen Setup

We setup a “temporary kitchen” in our basement.  It just consisted of two folding tables (one six foot and one square table)

 

Temporary Kitchen Setup during Kitchen Renovation

 

We had the microwave, crockpot, toaster, and panini maker very handy. We also had bins beneath the table containing things like ziplock bags and other cleaning supplies. We kept out our stainless steel utensil holder (pictured on the black table next to the dish pan). Serving and cooking utensils were probably the most frequently used non-disposable things we had to use. We also kept a dishpan handy, as well as canned and other packaged foods.  Also, things like cereals, breads, chips were kept handy on the tables.  Really, it wasn’t bad at all! Keeping it neat (er, well, as neat as possible), really helped maintain our sanity!

That’s it! See, it’s not as bad as you think, right?  What did you eat during your kitchen renovation?

DIY Banquette Kitchen Bench – Finishing Touches

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series DIY Ikea Kitchen Banquette Seating

After adding our spacer panels and putting the doors on the cabinets, we added a few finishing touches.

At this point, the top of our banquette looked like this (we were still missing that door on the end thanks to the damaged piece). We wanted to cover the top of the banquette with some sort of finishing panel for the top.

Top Panels

We purchased two 80 inch Ikea Perfekt panels and put them on top of the benches to get an accurate measure of where to cut them. We wanted a slight bit of overhang on each side, so we took that into account.

We took the panel over to our sawhorses and cut the panels to size.

We put them back on top of the banquette, and we thought it looked great.

We positioned the panels so the cut edges faced the “inside,” and you wouldn’t have to see the raw edges.

Then we screwed the panels from inside the cabinets using very short screws and fender washers for fear of going right through the top of the panel. (Not pictured, sorry).

Toe Kick

Next, we needed to add some sort of toe kick to hide the banquette’s base frame. We decided to use Ikea’s toe kick edging, called the Perfekt Plinth.

We had to cut the plinth to the appropriate length and height. So we took some measurements.

We cut it lengthwide using a miter saw.

Then cut the height using a circular saw.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that cutting Ikea pieces generates an insane amount of sawdust. The plinth was no exception.

You’ll notice that the cut was not the cleanest cut in the world, but since it would be hidden, we didn’t really mind.

We made sure the cut toe kick fit, then we repeated cuts for each of the four toe kick pieces we would need.

Then we placed the toekick, and repeated it for all the edges. We did not attach the toekick to the banquette or frame. Instead, we just created a sturdy “L shape” with the toe kick pieces and placed it around the frame.

We originally hot glued the edges together, but that didn’t work well at all. The glued pieces came apart within about two weeks. Instead, we recommend using something like this to attach the toe kick pieces in an L shape.

We have base moulding as well as shoe moulding (quarter round) in our kitchen. So, using a coping saw, we cut out some pieces of the toe kick so that it would fit flush against the wall.

Top Trim Piece

We don’t have any pictures for this next part. I was out of town for the weekend and Ken was feeling ambitious, so he did this without me around and he forgot to photograph the process!

For a more finished look, we wanted to add a top trim piece, which is pictured here.

He cut another Ikea Perfekt Panel and simply affixed the trim to the wall using Command Mounting Strips. . The trim is not actually attached to the banquette part, but it is directly above it, so the mounting strips really aren’t holding that much weight. It’s mostly to prevent the trim piece from tipping forward.

Future phases?

And that was about it! We took advantage of our new storage and put some items in the bench. In the future, we may try to caulk some of the small seams between some of the more visible pieces, like the two top panels and the top trim pieces, but for right now we’re happy with it as-is.

We also may explore making (or buying) cushions for the banquette. I’m not exactly a seamstress, so it seems pretty overwhelming to make fancy custom size cushions, but I might give it a whirl someday.

There you have it.  All about our DIY Banquette Kitchen Bench Seating we made using Ikea upper cabinets.  We’ll have a few other posts, including a list of some of the key tools we used, as well as an “outtakes” post, which outlines all the things that went wrong during the process.

Spacing our DIY Ikea Banquette Cabinets

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series DIY Ikea Kitchen Banquette Seating


This post will cover some important steps that will made our upper cabinets start to appear more like a single uniform bench!

Spacer Panels and End Panels

We realized that we did not want to put the cabinets flush up against one aother. We had some additional space to fill along the wall (i.e., the cabinets would not, as expected, take up the entire length of the walls. We knew this in advance when we were determining what size cabinets to purchase.

So we wanted to add a little “filler” between the cabinets to add an extra inch of width. Also, the sides of the cabinets themselves are not terribly pretty. In fact, when you’re installing these cabinets as, well, kitchen cabinets and not banquette benches, you add Ikea “Perfect” cover panels to the ends to make the exposed edge of the cabinet more finished and aesthetically pleasing.

Therefore, we wanted to add cover panels to separate the cabinets (I’m calling them spacer panels), as well as cover panels to cover the ends of the cabinets that would be exposed (I’m calling those the end panels).

We purchased two of the Ikea Perfekt Cover Panels for this purpose. We wanted the panels to be 15 inches high (the exact hight of the cabinets), so we had to cut the panels into 15 inch pieces (sorry, we didn’t take pictures of that step! We used a circular saw) Then we just placed the cut panels in their intended spots to ensure that they fit.

Although the cut edges of the panels are unfinished, we didn’t have to paint them or anything, because everything would be covered with another separate top panel (discussed in a future post).

(In the above picture, don’t mind that the side panel goes all the way to the floor. That was something we tried, but it didn’t work, so we eventually cut it shorter to match all the other spacer panels)

When everything looked good, we screwed the cabinets to the side panels! We used fender washers when screwing the cabinet to the panel to avoid the risk of the screw going all the way through the wood.

We clamped the side panel and cabinet together and screwed them together from the inside of the cabinets.

We repeated this for all the spacer panels.

Power Outlet Issues

Our L-shaped banquette would be blocking two power outlets, so we wanted to make sure they weren’t covered. So, just using a drywall saw, we cut holes for the outlets. There are probably a million other tools that would make this cut neater and more efficient, but we already own a drywall saw, so it was readily accessible, and we went with it.

We repeated this for the other outlet as well.

Installing Cabinet Doors

After the spacer panels were screwed together and the holes were cut out for the power outlets, we decided that this would be a good time to install the doors on the cabinets.

If you recall from our Introduction post, we opted for the Ikea Lidingo doors.

But, if you notice, the “corner” cabinet of our L-shaped banquette would be inaccessible and almost entirely hidden.

Since that cabinet would be blocked, so we opted for the smooth (and much MUCH less expensive!) Ikea Harlig Doors. (Which we had already installed in the above picture).

For the rest of our cabinets though, we installed the Lidingo doors. Installing the doors is quick and easy. We just followed the instructions in the package.

Here was the door hardware.

And installing the door hardware.

The doors then snap right into place on the hardware.

We were annoyed because one of the doors that Ikea sold us was damaged and we had to return it, but use your imagination that all of these cabinets had doors.

It’s looking a lot more like a banquette and not just some random cabinets sitting on the floor now!

 

 

Building Seating Supports for DIY Banquette

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series DIY Ikea Kitchen Banquette Seating


After we assembled the cabinets that would be used as our banquette, we realized that we wanted to add a little more support. These cabinets are meant to be just that, cabinets, and not necessarily designed to be sitting on. They’re not like lower cabinets that are designed for having heavy granite or marble placed on top of them.

When we sat on the cabinets / bench, we didn’t notice any clear bowing, but something about it didn’t seem quite as solid as we were hoping. We saw some potential for the cabinets to bow after many years of sitting. So we figured we’d just take care of it then and add some supports.

Here is the banquette without supports inside of the cabinets.

And here it is with the supports (note the 2×4’s) in the front (there are also some in the rear, pictured later).

First, we measured the interior height of each cabinet, and had two pieces of 2×4’s (for each cabinet) cut very slightly smaller than that interior height. We then placed them in the cabinet. We placed them different directions to maximimse the storage space inside the cabinets.

We filled in the tiny gap at the top with some shims.

First we pushed them in by hand.

Then took a rubber mallet and gently pounded the shims in more to ensure that the 2×4“ piece was fitted tightly. (We repeated this process for both the front 2×4” piece and the back 2×4″ piece)

Now it was time to secure the 2×4 pieces to the cabinet. We wanted the screw heads to sit flush with the cabinet, and not slightly elevated like when you normally screw something. So we decided on an improvised countersink approach (Here’s a Wikipedia article on countersinking, and a YouTube tutorial on countersinks). We don’t own a countersink bit and didn’t feel like spending the money to buy one. Since the top part of the cabinet / banquette would eventually be covered by a finishing panel, we didn’t need the countersink to look pretty, we just needed it to work (meaning the screw to sit flush).

What Ken did was use a small bit to drill a hole that would fit the screw.

Then we used a ShopVac to clear out a lot of the sawdust. (These Ikea pieces make SO MUCH SAWDUST when you’re cutting them. It’s unreal).

Then we used the larger bit to drill just down just very slightly (not nearly as deep as the first hole we drilled with the smaller bit.)

And then we cleaned up with the ShopVac again

Then it was time to attach the screw.

We used these #12 x 2 1/2 Flat Head Phillips Wood Screws from Home Depot.

After we attached the screws on the top of the cabinet (to both pieces of 2×4’s, we attached them on the bottom of the cabinet as well, using the same countersink approach.

Then that was it! We put the cabinets back in their intended location in the kitchen. When we sat on them, they felt much sturdier!

The pieces of 2×4 do cut into the storage space a little bit inside the cabinet, but it has not been a major annoyance. It is still a HUGE gain in the amount of storage!

In retrospect, I wish we would have painted the 2×4 pieces white before we decided to screw them in there. The unfinished wood is a little unsightly. But since they’re eventually covered by cabinet doors, nobody ever knows!

 

DIY Kitchen Banquette Bench Seating Using Ikea Cabinets