How to set up and organize an Ikea Pax wardrobe for men’s clothing and accessories, plus some fun additions to make it feel more customized.
Our bedroom is abnormally large, but not in a good way. It’s long and narrow and there are five (yes, five!) doors plus a big set of windows that make furniture layouts less than ideal. Paired with that awkward size is a small walk-in closet that my husband and I were sharing.
We were fine with sharing, and all our clothes fit well in the same closet, but we just kept thinking that it was silly to have such a big bedroom with lots of empty space while having such a small closet we were jam-packed in. So after almost a year of dreaming and a full month of hands-on planning, we finally clicked “Order” on a new Ikea Pax closet for my husband to use.
The Layout We Chose
There was only one wall that could accommodate the Pax wardrobe, so I knew exactly how much space I had to work with. I couldn’t go any wider than 103 inches. All I had to do was play around in the Ikea Pax Planner until I found a wardrobe combination that fit within those measurements.
I ended up going with two 39″ wide units and one 19″ unit. That gave me enough room to build it in and add spacers and moulding (more on that later). After I decided on the frames, I spent about a month on-and-off working on where shelves, rods, and drawers would go.
This isn’t like a standard closet where you already have shelves and you plan your organization around them. An Ikea Pax wardrobe is a completely blank slate. You have to decide what height the clothing rods are, how many drawers are added, which shelves can go in which pegs to make sure there’s space for door hinges, the list goes on.
After a month of logging in every few days, I finally landed on a layout that would hold all my husband’s shoes, hanging clothes, and accessories. I nervously clicked “order” and started rearranging my bedroom the next day. One week later, the units were delivered and we got to work. [Unfortunately some of the items were out of stock, but we adjusted our plan to leave those out.]
Organizing Hanging Clothes In An Ikea Pax Wardrobe
The first section we tackled was the hanging clothes. We had one full 39″ unit to hold all his hanging clothes (minus coats and suits, those will go in a coat closet that we are building next month). I started by adding the C-shaped divider that would go on the bottom half of the wardrobe. Then I grabbed his longest shirt and held it up to see how high the rod should be.
Hanging shirts in a pax wardrobe
I installed the top rod two peg holes higher than his longest shirt so we would be sure nothing would drag against the C-shaped shelf. Then I hung up all his shirts on the top rod and arranged them by shirt type and sleeve length. This makes it easy to find exactly what he’s looking for and looks aesthetically pleasing.
These slim flocked hangers really helped us make the most of this unit because they allow the maximum amount of clothes to fit in one space. I get mine from Walmart, but you can find them in most big box stores and on Amazon too.
Hanging pants in a pax wardrobe
For his pants, we used open-ended hangers instead. Since they were going in the C-shaped divider section, it is down pretty low, and the rod is kind of far back inside the cubby. That area was hard to get to when I tested regular hangers there. We almost felt like we needed to sit in the floor just to use that spot.
I ordered open-ended hangers with a rubber grip to help pants stay in place, and so far they have worked out really well. Instead of having to squat down to remove a hanger from knee-height, we can just slide the pants right off the hanger while leaving it in place on the rod. It makes it much easier to put them away after washing, too.
Filling The Lower Gap Of A Pax Wardrobe
The other side of the C-shaped divider was an area I struggled with for a while. You can actually add additional shelves or drawers to this spot, or you can leave it open for long dresses. I originally planned on adding more drawers, but that took the price over my budget.
I decided to leave it open for now, then add the drawers later if we needed them. But it turned out to be a great decision because I realized I didn’t have anywhere for his dirty clothes hamper to go in the original plan. That space was the exact size to hold two slim hampers (one for whites and one for colors). It was meant to be.
Organizing Shoes In An Ikea Pax Wardrobe
The next section to organize was shoes. My husband is a sneaker collector, and he has a lot of shoes. This was honestly the hardest part about planning this closet for him because I really didn’t think they would all fit. I was fully prepared to give up part of my closet for more of his shoes, but miraculously, they all fit in the Pax.
Pre-arranging shoes before placing in closet
To decide shoe placement, I first had him line up his shoes in the floor in the order he wanted them. Normally, I would do this by shoe type or height, but sneaker collectors are very particular about which shoes sit next to each other. Once he had them grouped into sections, I placed the first row to determine the height of the next shelf.
place one shelf at a time working upward
I organized the shoes one in front of the other so we could fit them all into one section. We had to slightly angle them so they’d fit in the depth of the wardrobe, but it worked out perfectly. I went one shelf at a time lining up the shoes then adding the next shelf above. It’s much easier this way instead of putting in all the shelves first then adjusting heights later.
extra shoe storage
All his sneakers fit in the middle unit, so all that was left were dress shoes, boots, and his “fancy sneakers”. (He wanted three certain sneakers to be separate from the others because they’re a different type.) The boots went on the upper shelf above his hanging clothes and the fancy sneakers went on a shelf in the small unit along with two pairs of dress shoes.
Organizing Ikea Pax Drawers
Once the hanging clothes and shoes were in place, I moved on to the drawers. There were still some empty shelves in the 19″ unit, but I wanted to see how much I could fit in the drawers first in case some pants or shirts needed to be folded on them.
organizing socks and underwear in ikea pax wardrobe
Under the sneaker shelves, it was fitting to put socks there. I used a bamboo expandable drawer organizer to separate short socks and tall socks, then filled the extra space on the end with a canvas bin for underwear and open corner for pajama pants.
organizing folded t-shirts & shorts in ikea pax drawers
The next two drawers hold shirts and shorts. The t-shirts are file folded and lined up horizontally so there are two even rows. You can fit more shirts in when you line them up longways instead of in vertical rows, and it’s easier to put away clean laundry this way too.
For his shorts, most are that slinky basketball short material that tend to fall over if they aren’t packed in. This material does better when they are in shorter rows, so we lined them up vertically instead. Dressier shorts are in the next section, divided by another expandable bamboo divider, and the final third of the drawer is an overflow spot for flannel shirts and whatever else he wants to add in the future.
Organizing Folded Pants In Ikea Pax Drawers
In the 19″ unit, we used those smaller drawers to hold his sweatpants and denim jeans. File folding works best for this size of drawers, but they aren’t deep enough for a true file fold of pants. So we folded them like normal, put them in the drawer, then pushed them down a little to loosen up the fold so they fit heightwise.
This actually works out better because it gives you a really loose fold, almost like being rolled, which results in no folded crease lines at all. We were able to fit six pairs of pants per 19″ drawer and haven’t seen a crease line since. This turned out to be the best pant folding hack ever!
Organizing Men’s Accessories In Ikea Pax Drawers
The last drawer on the 19″ side holds all of his winter hats, ties, gloves, and belts. Toboggans and beanies are folded in a vertical row, a divided canvas sock organizer holds rolled up ties and belts, and the back end of the drawer holds a larger winter hat and summer bucket hat. We used a different drawer divider here because the bamboo ones were too long.
Customizing An Ikea Pax Wardrobe To Look Like A Boutique
Once all the main clothes were added, it was time to add accessories to customize the space. We really wanted the closet to have a fancy gentleman’s boutique feel. My husband is very into fashion, and his biggest request to have a Pinterest-worthy closet. Accessories are the perfect way to do that.
Men’s Jewelry & Accessory Storage In Ikea Pax
One thing that really gives it an upscale feel is this leather jewelry box. It sits on the lowest 19″ shelf, so it’s easily accessible. He can store sunglasses, bracelets, rings, cologne, pocket knives, his wallet, and random accessories here. It has so many separate pockets, so he can arrange and rearrange as needed.
Hat Storage Bins On Ikea Pax Shelf
He has a lot of hats, and I had such a hard time figuring out how to store them all. Hanging them on hooks wouldn’t work, clothes hanger clips would technically work but they’re kind of hard to use, and there were way too many caps to fit in a drawer.
You won’t believe what I found to store them on a shelf—refrigerator bins! These refrigerator bins are extra long so they fit in the Pax unit perfectly, and I was able to line up all his hats inside the containers with the bill facing up. He can easily pull out the bin, remove a hat without the others falling over, and nothing ends up getting lost in the back of the wardrobe. It was the perfect container for the job.
Shoe Risers & Hat Stand Display Shelf
The top shelf of the 19″ unit ended up being empty, and we didn’t have anything to fill it with, especially since it’s so high up and hard to get to. We took advantage of this space by adding acrylic shoe risers and a hat stand to hold a pair of dress shoes and a fedora. They look like they’re on display in a boutique shop, and he loves that.
Motion Sensor Lights
This accessory is part beauty and part function. The Pax wardrobe is in the back of our bedroom, and there’s not a lot of light over there. Also, the wardrobe units are pretty deep, so it’s hard to see inside past the first half of the shelves. I found these motion sensor lights on Amazon that are rechargeable and don’t have to be hardwired.
It took a little trial and error to find the placement that triggered the lights to come on when the doors opened without being turned on from movement in the door gaps, but we finally got it right. The lights add so much functionality to each section, but it feels extra fancy to have them gradually turn on when the doors open. It’s been over a month and they still haven’t had to be recharged either, so I highly recommend them.
Another thing that took this Ikea Pax wardrobe over the top is the wallpaper backing. I found this brown stripe peel and stick wallpaper from Spoonflower and it reminds me of a gentlemen’s office in the ’50s. We adhered it to the Pax backer before installing, and it makes the whole unit feel “finished.”
It was a super cost-effective upgrade too because you only need it to cover the areas of the backing that are visible. We didn’t put it behind where the drawers are, so we only needed two small rolls of wallpaper.
Making Ikea Pax Wardrobes Look Built-In
What really took this new Ikea Pax closet over the top was taking the time to make it look built-in. We used inspiration and tutorials from A Beautiful Mess and Young House Love to build a base frame, add a filler piece to the corner wall, and add baseboard and crown moulding to match what was in our bedroom.
My handyman did it all for me since it was the week before Christmas and I was jam-packed with pre-holiday to-dos, but the project is easy enough to DIY if you have the time. Once the Ikea frames were built in, I just painted the moulding to match the room and painted the exposed side of the Pax wardrobe to match our bedroom paint. (PS: Use Zinsser Bullseye 1-2-3 primer on Ikea furniture to make them paintable.)
Ikea Pax Doors And Hardware
The doors we used were Ikea Bergsbo in beige, and the bronze knobs are from Amerock. I think you can make Ikea Pax doors look less cheap by using really nice knobs instead of the ones Ikea has. They’re easy to install as long as you have a drill; just make sure you put painter’s tape on both sides of the door before drilling the knob hole. This prevents the door finish from peeling and cracking.
I did consider getting custom doors from a third party because I really wanted wooden doors instead of the standard Ikea ones. But we were on a short timeframe due to the holidays, and the wait time for custom doors would put us way behind. I can always swap them later if I want, but I like the beige doors and don’t think the cost of changing them is worth it.
Shop Our Ikea Pax Wardrobe
Want to get this Ikea Pax look in your own home? Here’s a full source list of every product we used to build and customize my husband’s Pax wardrobe.
2 Large Pax Wardrobes in size 39 3/8 x 22 7/8 x 92 7/8
1 Small Pax Wardrobe in size 19 5/8 x 22 7/8 x 92 7/8
5 Bergsbo Doors in beige, plus soft-close hinges
1 Komplement C-Shaped divider
3 Komplement drawers for 39 3/8 x 22 7/8 unit
3 Komplement drawers for 19 5/8 x 22 7/8 unit
1 Mesh drawer for 39 3/8 x 22 7/8 unit
6 Shelves for 39 3/8 x 22 7/8 unit
4 Shelves for 19 5/8 x 22 7/8 unit
1 Clothes Rail in size 39 3/8
1 Clothes Rail in size 19 5/8
Motion Sensor Lights
Slim Beige Hangers
Slim Open-Ended Pants Hangers
Narrow Rolling Dirty Clothes Hampers
Bamboo Expandable Drawer Dividers
Small White Expandable Drawer Divider
Canvas Drawer Bins
Men’s Accessory Jewelry Box
Refrigerator Bins For Hat Storage
Acrylic Shoe Stands
Wooden Hat Stand
Bronze Door Knobs
Resources I Used
Ikea Pax Planner tool to design the layout and build my shopping cart
Ikea Home Delivery because pieces were too long for our vehicles
This tutorial from A Beautiful Mess for building the base frame and wall spacer
This video from Young House Love for attaching crown moulding to the top of the units
Local handyman to help with base frame and moulding (so worth it if you’re short on time!)
Tour Our New Ikea Pax Closet On YouTube
Want to take a virtual tour of the closet to really get a feel for the space? Here’s a walkthrough on YouTube. And don’t forget to subscribe to my channel for more Ikea Pax tips coming soon! Also, if you have any questions or ways you organize your own Ikea Pax wardrobe, I’d love to hear them. Drop them in the comments section below or in the comments of the YouTube video. I’ll answer them ASAP. 🙂