A couple weeks ago we shared how our closet looked after painting everything. In case you need a reminder:
Yes, those are IKEA PAX closets. We built bases for them to raise them up the height of our baseboards; filled the extra holes and added facing; added base, crown, and a ceiling treatment; and painted everything the same, beautiful, Farrow & Ball Lamp Room Gray. And this week, we brought the cabinets home with custom, flat drawer fronts for each of the drawers, and we want to share as many details as we can on how we did it.
The Ikea Pax system comes with great, soft-close drawers but there is a lot of space above the the drawers so you can easily open them. We didn’t add drawer fronts to our last closet–you can see how it looked here. Still nice, but not as custom looking.
Mounting Custom Drawer Fronts on IKEA PAX Closet Drawers
The trickiest part to this was honestly getting the drawer sizing and spacing nailed down. The problem is, areas with 5 drawers have less spacing per drawer than areas with two drawers. Not huge differences – like less than 1/16 of an inch per drawer, but it adds up and if you use the same spacer for areas with differing drawer counts, you’ll be left with too much or not enough space at the top.
We made out of drawer fronts our of solid pine, cut to 7 3/8×37 1/2 (for the ~40in wide PAX cabinets). This would give us 3/16 spacing around each drawer on the 5-drawer cabinets, and fractions over that on the 2 and 3-drawer cabinets. We painted them the same color as the rest of the closet, and predrilled for hardware.
We used a leftover piece of pine from cutting the drawer fronts to length as a template for our hardware. We simply marked the spacing for the hardware on the template, laid it over each drawer front on each side, and drilled into the face of the drawer.
Now this might seem like an odd time to mark for hardware, but the problem is this: you need to mount your drawer fronts from inside the drawer, so you don’t have visible screws. But you need the spacing right before you can mount it. So we decided to use our hardware locations to temporarily mount our drawer fronts in place from the front, then we could open the drawers, attach them from behind, and remove the screws from the hardware holes (so the hardware could be added). Did that make sense?
Of course, you also have to find a way to mount the drawer fronts before you screw them in, so they can be adjusted until the spacing around each drawer is correct. Our solution for this wasn’t super elegant, but it worked great.
We stuck 3 command strips onto each drawer front, then used a spacer underneath the drawer as we put it in place and centered it. Then pressed it into the command strips.
Obviously the weight of the drawer fronts is a bit much for command strips to hold for long, so you have to work quickly. But they held even when we added the weight of another drawer front as we spaced them out from bottom to top.
And once we had the spacing we were comfortable with, we mounted the drawer fronts with temporary screws through the hardware locations.
From there, we used 6 screws, 1 3/8in long, to secure the drawer front from behind (2 at each end and 2 in the center-ish). Then loosened the screws in the hardware holes about halfway out to use as temporary drawer pulls so we could still open them as needed.
Adding the Hardware
Remove the temporary mounting screws from the drawer and drill a hole large enough for your hardware mounting screw to fit through.
Drawer hardware almost always comes with screws for mounting, but if it’s one that mounts from behind (like ours) they’re likely too short for this type of drawer set up. Essentially we’ve doubled the thickness of the expected mounting location by adding a drawer front. You can either take one of your pieces of hardware to the store and find longer screws with compatible thread sizes, or do what we did.
I used the bit for my Kreg Jig to drill holes from inside the drawer, so our screws could reach the knobs. Kreg Jig bits come with an adjustable depth stop, and the size of the bit was perfect for the heads of our mounting screws to sit inside the pilot holes.
After I finished each drawer, it was just a quick vacuum and dust to clean them out. which I had a little help doing.
We used these 1″ round knobs in brass, and opted for two on each drawer since the drawers are so wide. Also, can you believe how good that ottoman looks in here with the rug and the paint?
We’ve had a lot of questions about why we used IKEA in the first place if we were going to do so much custom work. The answer is simply that we aren’t cabinet builders. And if we didn’t use IKEA as a starting point, we would be doing everything we’re already doing, as well as learning how to build cabinet boxes from scratch (and drawers and shelves etc.). So even though it may seem like customizing IKEA is just as much work as building custom cabinetry, it’s really not. Not even close, haha. And we couldn’t be happier with how it’s turning out and are so excited to show you the whole thing, finished (!), next week. But… one last peek…
Hi! I love this space!
I am currently trying to design my closet with pax.
Can you share what height pax you ordered?
I couldn’t find it anywhere in the post, so sorry if I missed it!
I am trying to decide on drawers vs hanging clothes and shelf height and what you did looks perfect!
So beautiful! Can you you tell me how you got the drawers flush with the frame? From what I can tell the PAX drawers are flush (or very close to) the frame. It would seem like adding the custom drawer fronts would stick out? Also, did you use the provided backing on the frames or just your drywall? Thanks for sharing and the inspiration!
Did you guys use the backer board that came with the ikea shelves? I’m currently installing the billy shelves and there is a very large gap without that board…wondering how you guys did it? Thanks!
Can you show how Chris did the floating shelves?? I’ve been wanting to do the same in my closet but lost on how to begin.
I’m planning my own pax closet right now and was just wondering what you’re doing for your hamper situation. In your last house you had the pull out hamper right? Maybe I missed it, but I’d love to know what your solution is!
Do those wide drawers open easily with just a simple tug of one knob? Or, do you need both hands to open and close the drawers?
I just wanted to say THANK YOU for all the instructions and inspiration that you shared. I’ve been working on our closet and literally followed every step you shared on Instagram and on this blog. I’m currently filing a millions holes on the closets and even though its tedious, i know it will be so beautiful after painting.
may I please borrow you and your husband for an in-person tutorial in my (much smaller, but wanting to be that big) new closet? like a week or two? no seriously… want to visit Hailey, Idaho?
You have explained! in this post, in a wonderful way and it has become a piece of cake for me to understand it very quickly and easily…
Your post deserve to be pronounce, impressive. I had no trouble reading through the content. The good thing is I have learned something new today! Cheers…
The customization was worth it. The closet is looking great! Looking forward to seeing the final reveal.
Beautiful! I’m interested to know if the paint holds up on the PAX system since it’s kind of a plastic-y finish to begin with. We have the system and I would love to upgrade it. Thanks!
Love, love , love so many parts of this closet! Wondering however, why you chose to place shoes in such a prominent place? Typically worn and real shoes are not something you want to gaze at from far away, are they (as opposed to fancy shoes in a store)? Seems like it would have been a great chance to do some sort of feature wall?
This looks amazing!! Do you mind me asking the size of this room? It’s the perfect amount of space!!
It looks like some of the filled shelf holes aren’t smooth – is there anything you would do differently for filling/painting those if you were to build another closet with Pax?
How does a person start with a redesign of their own closet? I have no idea where to begin on our own closet
Love this look! It is beautiful. When you painted, did you spray or roller the shelving?
Stunning! Would love to know more about what you used to spray the drawer fronts. It looked like a bouncy castle or maybe a tent on stories, I need to do something similar to keep the bugs away while my paint job dries.
Really, you have no comments about the recent tragic events? As a long-time follower, I can’t help but be disappointed by your silence.
She has been doing so much over the last week. I am amazed that you’d make a comment like this considering you are a long time follower. They have clearly set the bar on the right social media behavior and are so sensitized+thoughtful in how they are amplifying melanated voices.
I am not on Instagram, so my only connection with Chris Loves Julia is this blog. And on this blog, the brand/ business did not comment. I assumed their silence on the blog this past week was out of respect for recent events, but I would have appreciated that being said, either when the moment of silence started, or when it ended.
It sounds like you guys did some great work on Instagram, that’s great to hear. Where are the highlight bubbles? If they are only on Instagram, then, why? I know that not everything you post on Instagram makes it to the blog. But everything on the blog does make it to Instagram.
I’m curious to hear why you made the distinction between your platforms.
Certainly, Instagram is an immediate type of communication. I can understand why you would utilize it. I think my perspective is that if you are intentionally keeping silence for a period of time, then say so. It invites others to join in, or at least understand you are being intentional. Keeping it simple, yet communicating, is helpful. There have been multiple times in the years I’ve read this blog that there haven’t been posts/ random schedule of posts, and it’s been acknowledged at a later point that there were some health concerns going on. Not posting on the blog for seven days and not saying anything is out of the ordinary. Expecting your readers to know why is expecting an awful lot.
I was surprised too, JJ.
However, CLJ was very active on IG posting black designers and ways to help. I assumed there would be a summarizing post on Monday (or Sunday) given that they posted an action list including scholarships for their Good Influencer brand offered to POC. Most major blogs I follow posted something to summarize what you are doing.
A gentle reminder CLJ, not everyone has Instagram. I took a break from it at the beginning of the year and I realized that I am missing 60-70% of your content (allll the construction updates!!). What you post on Instagram is not yours and it isn’t guaranteed to be permanent. Your blog is yours and you get to decide what is on here permanently. If I hadn’t been following you on Instagram, I wouldn’t have known why you stopped (though I could have guessed), why you decided to start again and what you did.
My guess is that it will be a casual Friday post? Maybe? Maybe not? The point is, you took a stand and did something good and you didn’t just take a “vacation”. Let us know!
I was thinking the same thing!
I’d love to see a post on the designers the featured in instastories. Many if them were so great, but I couldnt just click and visit their profiles, because they were nit clickable. Searching and adding was difficult and time consuming as I was making spelling mistakes and had other responsibilities. I couldnt see them all as a result.
oof, this was a really difficult comment to read and it certainly made some assumptions about the CLJ brand’s stance and the humans behind the blog and brand. I follow CLJ on Instagram so I have seen how they have muted their own content and been very active in trying to elevate voices in the black community.
This comment stung when I read it, but it also did make me think about how it might have felt confusing or frustrating for followers who are not on Instagram to see no mention of CLJ’s efforts here in this space. We should give folks the benefit of the doubt, in this case, that CLJ has been muting their content to support the Black Lives Matter movement. But in doing my own work I have learned that impact is more important than intent, and there’s always an opportunity to do different. Hopefully, we’ll see some overlap between the blog and insta on topics like this in the future.
ps: I LOVED seeing the diversity in the post about transitioning babes from cribs to beds!
To be clear, I am not an Instagram follower so this is my only exposure to the ChrisLovesJulia brand, which was why I was unaware of your response. I understand your position, but please also realize that there are undoubtedly many more like me who are not active in other social media areas and who would love to hear about your good work amplifying those voices on this forum as well. The more we hear from people speaking up the more others will feel empowered to join in the movement!
I mean, C’MON! This is stunning. It looks like a 15K closet for sure, with all your time and thought and brilliance poured into it. Its amazing.
Agreed! Amazing closet!
This space is just so gorgeous. What a dream!
Hi there where did you get the hardware? I’m looking for same style brass balls! Thanks- looks great
It looks amazing! Your hard work is definitely paying off!
Proof that you can get the custom looking closet of your dreams on a budget with some elbow grease! Always going above and beyond expectations.
I’m on mirror watch!! Can’t wait!
It looks great! I love the moodiness, and almost restrained simplicity and minimalism ( of course, now when the closet isn’t filled with clothes ????). The ottoman and that burgundy velvet chair ???????????? ( I hope it’s burgundy, can’t see it very well ) Love it, and can’t wait to see the room with lighting installed
Gorgeous! Also, starting with IKEA is more economical and it saves you so much time since it’s pretty much ready for you.
Dang y’all this looks good. I’m not planning to design my own closet anytime soon but I would 100% return here for guidance if I needed it!
Also want to say, thank you for taking the time last week to let black voices and black businesses shine. I gained a ton of respect for you both as people and as a business. I followed some incredible black women on Instagram as a result of your shares. Keep up the hard work <3
The spacing really gives it that high end, inset look! It’s amazing. Totally beyond my skill set but I’m very impressed.
This is beautiful! You two truly have a gift. How did you decide what direction to run the tongue and grove on the ceiling? Every decision you made was perfection!
These are so stunning. They look chic and timeless.
Hello :) I’ve been following along with you guys for 3-4 years now. In the past few months, I have noticed an increase in ads on your blog, to the point that its very difficult to read on desktop. Its much better on mobile but sometimes I really want to get a good look at your posts. Is there anyway to minimize the amount of ads for a better reading experience?
That looks like a lot of work. Job well done. It is beautiful.
Closet of my dreams!!!!! Looks amazing!
Looking fantastic! So great to have you back :)
I love love love this closet. I can’t believe the restraint you are showing. I would be hanging clothes and adding shoes while Chris was doing the drawers. Can’t wait to see it completely done and filled, it’s so luxurious.
Our wood grain Shaker cabinet fronts were designed for busy, high-traffic homes like ours. Clad with durable textured thermofoils, this line is compatible with Sektion, Akurum, Godmorgon, and Besta cabinets from IKEA. It's the perfect, practical way to add the warmth of wood to all the rooms of your home.
We have teamed up with Loloi to create a line of rugs that are as affordable as they are beautiful. This collection houses a great mix of traditional and modern rugs, in cottage-y colorways, as well as vintage-inspired beauties that you’ll want to roll out in every room.
We partnered with Stuga on a line of hardwood floors — The Ingrid is really livable, and the color is very neutral. It doesn’t lean warm or cool, it’s that just right in-between. We have really loved putting it everywhere in our house. It’s the best jumping-off point for design, no matter your interior style. In addition to being beautiful, Ingrid is really durable — we have three kids, and we always have a home construction project going on. Ingrid stands up to it all.
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We recently painted our study a dark, moody green color. This is after we first painted it a muddy green, then repainted it a blue-gray. I guess what they say is true; third time’s a charm! The journey was worth it, though, because I’m so in love with this glossy green in contrast with the […]
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