How to Use the IKEA PAX Wardrobe Planner + Our Master Closet Mood Board

March 31, 2020

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Earlier in March, just before everything started shutting down, we were able to run to IKEA and pick up everything for our Master closet. We’re so grateful for that, because we have a project we can work on while staying home for the next month! But let’s try and remember what this room used to be.

How to use the IKEA PAX Planning Tool

Nothing, actually. It didn’t even exist! As a reminder, this was the open second story space above what the previous owners used as their dining room below. We added a floor, walled it in, and opened it up to the Master bedroom to become our new Master closet.

How to use the IKEA PAX Planning Tool

How to use the IKEA PAX Planning Tool

This is our third time using IKEA PAX wardrobes, the last time being in our previous Master closet, and anybody who has done an IKEA PAX closet knows the first hurdle to get over is planning.

IKEA PAX Custom Closet

There are a few things to understand before using the IKEA planning tools. First, they are in-browser applications built using Flash. Just saying that, some of you will think, “ok… does that mean something?” While the rest of you will think, “Oh, yikes.” Quick background, Flash is a programming platform that used to be all the rage, but nowadays browsers hate it. It drains battery super fast and has constant security vulnerabilities (ie, opens up your computer to malware and other Internet-based attacks). 

At some point (in the near future, I would hope) IKEA will need to update the planner. When that happens, a lot of the usability issues you see with the current planners they have will hopefully be no more. But as for now, here are a few best practices for using the IKEA PAX planner (or any of their other space planners):

• Choose your browser wisely. Safari is horrid with it, so avoid that one. Chrome works best as of now, but they will be dropping support for Flash soon. You can get plugins for Firefox and Internet Explorer (or Edge, now) that mostly work. 

• If you click and it doesn’t respond, it’s most likely “thinking.” Give it at least 30 seconds before clicking something else, otherwise it’s going to all of a sudden catch up and your entire plan may be all screwed up (too many cabinets added, drawers in the wrong places, etc.)

• Be sure you don’t have anything selected when you try to move the camera angle. If you have something selected, instead of moving the view it will move whatever is selected and that can be obnoxious to get set back in place. 

In short, be patient with it. It’s going to stall, it’s going to go slow, it’s going to put things in weird places. But take your time and you’ll be great. 

How to Use the IKEA PAX Wardrobe Planner
1. Layout the room

When you first open the tool, it starts you with a square, generic space. You need to first make it the size of your space, walls, doors, nooks, windows, all of it. You can change the wall color and flooring as well, but we won’t worry about that here. First, click the “Build walls” option.

How to use the IKEA PAX Planning Tool

You can resize a wall by inputting measurements into the dimensions boxes on the right of the page, or by grabbing the anchor points (represented by circles in the corners of the intersecting walls) and dragging them. You can also click the “Split wall” button to break the wall into however many pieces you need, then click the anchor points and drag them into place.

How to use the IKEA PAX Planning Tool

How to use the IKEA PAX Planning Tool

Once you have the layout of your room, you can click the green “Done” button and add any doors or windows that your space might have. Window and door dimensions are adjusted similarly to walls, by clicking and dragging and also inputting exact measurements into the dimension fields to the right.

How to use the IKEA PAX Planning Tool

2. Add the cabinet boxes
The trickiest part with an IKEA PAX wardrobe system is getting it to fit well. There are three different widths, with two heights and two depths for each. You also have three cabinet box color options – so all together there’s a good amount of flexibility. Even still, make sure you plan for at least 1/2in of space between any cabinet box and wall, and 1.5in of space between a cabinet box and ceiling. You can (and should) add trim/moulding to the PAX system to close those gaps and give yourself a clean, custom, built-in look.

How to use the IKEA PAX Planning Tool

Use the filters in the Frames section to cut down on options shown, so you’re only using cabinets relevant to your space. Simply click and hold on the cabinet you want in the menu on the right, and drag it into place on the mockup on the left.

How to use the IKEA PAX Planning Tool

Once in place, you can click the focus button to zoom in on that single cabinet box.

How to use the IKEA PAX Planning Tool

This is helpful for when you’re ready to customize each cabinet with drawers and other fittings.

3. Customize each cabinet
Once you have a cabinet isolated and focused on, you can begin customizing it using the menu options on the right. Everything is optional, and there are so many things you can choose from – for our closet, for example, we don’t even have doors (except on one cabinet, which we’ll explain in a later post). For the purposes of this post, we’ll just add some interior organizers.

How to use the IKEA PAX Planning Tool

As with the other steps, you simply click and drag the organizer you want to where you would like it placed in the cabinet. As you do, you’ll see measurements appear that will help you space things out properly.

How to use the IKEA PAX Planning Tool

There are a lot of options you can choose from, but one tip we’ll give is, if you’re going to have drawers on bottom, make sure you add a shelf above the top drawer to help enclose it. It’s a simple thing, but really helps with the “custom” feel.

How to use the IKEA PAX Planning Tool

And that’s really all there is to it! It’s a really well-designed tool – any issues you run into are likely due to the Flash platform, as opposed to the design of the program. We followed all of these steps for our closet. Here’s our layout:

How to use the IKEA PAX Planning Tool

It’s similar to the example layout above, just smaller. But still so much space for a closet. Here’s how the rendering came out after we finished our plan:

How to use the IKEA PAX Planning Tool

How to use the IKEA PAX Planning Tool

And of course, best of all is the price. This entire closet system cost less right around $2000 after sales tax. We’ll spend another $500 or so on lumber, moulding, trim, and paint to make it really look built-in, but $2500 is a far cry from the $15K+ we were being quoted on a custom-built closet solution. And by the time we’re done with it, you won’t even know the difference. Seriously, we can’t wait to show you.

How to use the IKEA PAX Planning Tool

But I will say, we got a jump start on cabinets, and here’s where we stand as of this morning:

How to use the IKEA PAX Planning Tool

There are a few things that the renderings don’t show. The inset portion in the back will be shoe shelves and there will be a pivoting mirror (we’re hoping to find a custom place to do that) a couple feet out from the shoes so you can still reach behind the mirror. We decided to include a desk/vanity area in the closet in front of the window, too. We were originally going to do more cabinetry, but really wanted a sit down vanity or quiet place to work and look out the window.

Here’s a look at the direction we’re headed.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

A beautiful chandelier for the center (I think we’ll add some wall sconces on either side of the shoe wall, too) that will hang over a tufted leather ottoman. We felt like it would honestly feel cramped in here with an island, so we’re going for an ottoman for now and I’m excited! We’ll be painting the walls, cabinetry and trim all the same color–Farrow & Ball Lamp Room Gray. It’s the color of the trim in our bedroom so it will be nice to carry that through in a big way in this space. You can see a vintage desk, the chair that will go with it and a vintage rug I picked up for the space.

The mirror is the biggest thing up in the air right now. Of course we’ll use our arched mirror elsewhere in the house (I can think of about 100 places), but we’ll trying to find someone that can make the mirror in my head. I’ve had a lot of recommendations to call our local glass or metal working shop so I’ll start there.

This week, we’re working on building up the closet and building it in! And we’ll be sure to share exactly how we did it next week!

See our closet inspiration photos here, and a current closet video tour here!

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What do you think?

  1. Zsulahicka says:

    We moved in to our new home Dec 2020, the closet is completely dis functional. I considered building but with the price of lumber right now, it’s impossible without breaking the bank. Your plan seems like a no brainer, the space is beautiful and for the price, I’m all in!

  2. Gina says:

    ok, am i crazy or is the ikea pax planner different than what you used? Im on their site and the planner for pax is horrible. i cant add my weird walls, only normal walls :(

  3. Elise says:

    Oh. My. Goodness. THANK YOU for writing this IKEA Pax Planner guide. I was pulling my hair out trying to get it to (a) load and (b) work at all. I finally got it working on Chrome with Flash manually enabled, but it’s buggy AF. Thanks to your guide, I know the flow of what I need to do and I will persevere :) Beautiful designs, by the way! I will have to stay and look around your website and blog. xxo

  4. Sarah says:


    Do you mind outlining how you closed in the open space to create a second floor? Did you have to cut into the walls? It looks like your contractors were able to secure bracing to the wall and then use hangers for the floor joists… is that correct?

    Thank you! I just love the finished space and I am inspired to try something similar!

  5. Lisa says:

    I found the swivel mirror that you were after. I sent it to you in a message. X

  6. Ash says:

    How do you prevent the clothes from becoming dusty? And is there a space for purses too? I love it and I can’t wait to see its progress!!! It’s going to be such an incredible closet!!
    Also, a tip for in-store IKEA help for anyone who needs it, call ahead and make an appointment to ensure a sales rep is available to assist you :)

  7. Love the tufts, velvet, and moodiness of the palate! May be a walk-in you may not want to leave.

  8. Halle says:

    I’m excited for you! Do you think the PAX would work in a regular closet (as in, not a walk-in). I have an old Victorian house which has lovely, large rooms but tiny closets. I have a dream to make our master closet more functional, and I’m wondering about basically setting a PAX cabinet inside of it. Would that be weird?

  9. Amber Gipson says:

    I can’t wait to see how your closet turns out! Would love progress shots :)

  10. Our thoughtfully curated wardrobe collection works for everyone in the family. Our range includes a wide choice of materials and colors to suit every mood, and different sizes to suit every look. This plan looks nice. Thanks for sharing this post about how to use the IKEA pax planner.

  11. Jacqui says:

    O may have suggested this before but I would try a shop fitting company especially if they do fashion retail. You might get lucky with a pre made option but especially if it is a joinery company they will know the mirror manufacturers that could help

  12. Jamie Marabillas says:

    I can’t wait to hear how you customize this! I am planning to use the Pax system in my small laundry room/mud room kind of as a locker set up so I will be following all your tips and tricks!

  13. Stephanie says:

    Love that you are doing this the same time I am working on building the Ikea Pax at my new house. Cannot wait to see yours finished. I was wondering what type of computer you used to access the planner. Mac? PC? I read that it does not work with Mac/ipads…. do you know if this is true?

  14. Sue Schrock says:

    Can I seriously just pay you to design one for me? I get so frustrated with the planner, haha!

  15. Danna says:

    The plan looks great! You have a nice size closet to work with.
    Because of your last Pax closet, we bought ours and have been enjoying it for almost 8 months. I tell everyone it’s the best $2000 we have spent. We too added drawer pulls and a rug to our space. It really personalizes it!
    For our shoe cabinet, I took a shallow Pax cabinet and put all shelving in it. Instead of the shelves being level, we slanted them. You can see each row of shoes. I was just about to purchase glass doors for the shoe cabinet but will have to wait a little while.
    Look forward to the process and especially the finished space!

  16. Austin says:

    So exciting! Hoping for a post on how y’all paint the Ikea cabinetry! *fingers crossed*

  17. Chantal says:

    So excited to see what you learned from your last closet and which features you are changing/keeping for this one! I love seeing the evolution of organization and access preferences and how they pair with a new space.

  18. Lauren says:

    Question (may have missed this part on a previous post!) Do you have doors to separate from the bedroom?

  19. Amelia says:

    Loving the plans so far and hoping you can make your mirror dreams come true. One idea I had regarding the swivel mirror…. since it will probably need to be fabricated anyway I was thinking the back side could be made into hanging jewelers organization (although I’m sure you have plenty of drawers for that in the regular pax wardrobes). It was just a thought I had. Can’t wait to see your progress and how it all turns out! :)

  20. Maria says:

    What do you think about the durability of the Pax system?
    Also, does Ikea offer in-store designers if you aren’t as computer design savvy say you guys?

    • Julia says:

      Yes, they do! And I have actually found that the computers AT Ikea seem to handle their system a lot more flawlessly. Like Chris mentioned, this is our third Ikea Pax closet and we keep choosing it. We find it incredibly durable and fun to organize.

  21. Elizabeth says:

    This is so timely! I was just researching the Pax system for our new master closet and I couldn’t figure out how to effectively plan it out. Thank you!

  22. Leila says:

    Can you beg your friends at Semihandmade to make doors for the Pax system?! We want to use in our bathroom space but need the closets enclosed and don’t like the standard ikea doors…

    • Julia says:

      Agreed!!!! They suggested using Sektion cabinetry, but we really wanted all the closet gadgets that come with PAX

      • Jamie Marabillas says:

        This would be amazing to have Semihandmade do a Pax line. I reached out a while ago and they also advised the Sektion, which I love but not for the space I need them for!

  23. EP says:

    When you say the cabinetry will be lamp room gray, does that mean you are painting the PAX units? Will you add drawer fronts to all those drawers? Trying to envision this. Thanks!

  24. Debra says:

    Thank you for the helpful instructions. Please make sure you have UV protection for the window in your closet as the sunlight can seriously fade fabric. I learned the hard way!

  25. Katie says:

    PB Teen has a gold swivel mirror like your inspiration. It has a pinboard on the back, but may be a good option to look into.

  26. Brenda says:

    Love the colors and tones your using. Gorgeous and classic!

  27. IKEA is so worth the work to get it just right for your space. And I love the burgundy! It’s going to look so good!

  28. Patricia says:

    Looking forward to this. One point in favor of an island; it’s fantastic for packing for a trip. Also, are you including valet rods that either project out or pull out so you can select outfits?

  29. Sharon says:

    My favorite posts are progress posts, so this post was great! Glad you have all the materials to start the DIY while we are all home bound.

    I would love to see more back tracking on your phase 1 accomplishments, too. I love seeing the pics and hearing your voice through your writing. Maybe there could be some recaps room-by-room. I would love it!

  30. Liz says:

    It’s going to look fabulous! Thanks for the tips on using the system. Can’t wait to see the next steps.

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We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

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