Our new PAX system (mostly complete)

EngineerChicJune 24, 2012

I am SO excited and although I'm just a lurker here, I figured you guys would be able to relate :) A quick disclaimer - we are still mid-construction so some of the trim isn't painted & you may see patched areas of the walls that need paint.

We are adding a second floor to our house (actually, replacing the second floor that was more of an attic than actual living space). It's not a big house, so fitting 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms up there was a challenge.

The way the space worked out, we had a choice in the master bedroom:

1 - Build a walk-in closet that you'd walk thru on the way to the bathroom. The closet and bathroom would take up the back corner of the house, so there would be no window to the backyard.

2 - Skip the walk-in closet in favor of a wall of closets & a window to the backyard.

We opted for #2, but instead of a traditional wall of closets we went with a wall of PAX. So we have 2 wide & 2 narrow PAX units in the space. This may not have saved us any in construction costs but it definitely saved us an extra 4" of floor space in the path to the bathroom. We assembled the units this weekend.

Bragging for a minute ... DH helped get the frames assembled and into place. And he held the door while I installed the hinges. But I did the rest of it myself (building all the drawers, installing them, the lights, even lugging the pieces up the stairs).

A little overview of what you are looking at ... I don't have a before picture, really. But behind the dog is a window that looks out to the backyard, it also faces due South so we get nice light from there. That's the reason I didn't want a walk-in closet (and I find they become a home for a ton of stuff that I'm too lazy to throw out). If you walk to the window and turn right you enter the small (but serviceable) master bathroom.

Here we have all 4 units in place & attached to the wall. We just barely cleared that electrical outlet. I'm really glad I made sure the electricians put it on that side of the stud, as opposed to the other side. There is another outlet between the end of the PAX unit and the back wall of the house, and we plugged the lights into that outlet.

Look - the light bars! I need to buy another one because it didn't occur to me that when you have a solid shelf it will block the light (duh).

This is mostly complete. DH has the two units on the left & I have the two units on the right. I need to get a wide shelf for DH & another light bar for me & another narrow shelf for me. DH has 3 narrow glass shelves but he's still not sure where he wants them, so they aren't installed yet. Oh, and it needs doors. There is one door on, but it's open.

This is where we finished tonight (we did clean up all the cardboard b/c tomorrow is recycling pick up). There is one mirrored door on (you can sort of see the bathroom in the reflection, the walls are a gray-blue but they look green in the reflection for some odd reason). There will be a pair of mirror doors in the middle and a pair of painted wood doors on each end. We bought the Hemnes doors, sanded them, and primed them. I still need to paint them to match the trim (SuperWhite by Ben Moore). Once I see how badly they mis-match to the white melamine I will know if I need to paint that as well (I really hope not).

The best part about this is that there's no chance to hide a bunch of stuff in the back of the closet. Oh, and DH and I are not freakishly tall, if those hanger bars are any taller I have to go on tip-toes to put stuff up there (I'm 5'7", he's 5'9").

As a longer term project I want to make it look really built in by adding baseboard to the base (to wrap into the rest of the room) and adding wood to the top so it mets the ceiling. The wiring for the lights is up there, though, so I need to design that with some access panels to get to the wiring.



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That looks great! Does anyone know if these can be installed an EXISTING closet? I'm looking to do my and my husband's closets, but not sure if a system like this is best or another kind that doesn't have the outer "shell".

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 12:17AM
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You can install this in an existing closet. The issues you will face are:

1 - most closets are wider than the door to the closet, so if you wanted to use drawers you have to make sure they will clear the doors you have. Which means either you cleverly arrange things so the drawer-sections are in the middle or you waste a few inches at each end of your closet (so sad to waste closet space).
2 - Your closets may be deeper than these units, so that might make for an awkward reach (reaching in more than you are used to).

But I've seen pictures of PAX units used in walk-in closets without doors and they were really pretty (and functional looking). The shell can be limiting because it only comes in 3 widths, but it's also a way to make life easier because all the shelves, drawers, rods, etc are pre-sized for one of those widths. It's like Lego's ... maybe you can't make a castle that is exactly 5.25" x 7.83" ... but they have all these cool accessories you can use on your creation (like Lego wheels and Lego people and Lego flags).

This is a link of someone who went all out and converter their reach in closet to a PAX system ... they did drywall and everything!

Here is a link that might be useful: Super cool PAX hack

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 12:54AM
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That looks great! I am considering using PAX in my Master where I am moving walls to take advantage of a long, long not super wide room. Would put them as a divider of sorts and then back them with tongue and groove to disguise. (My master is an attic space.)
I am a clothes horse so it will take my eight foot by 3 foot L and turn it to walk in.
I LOVE IKEA. I know it's not solid wood, hand built but I have used pieces from Ikea in every place I've lived since college. I love antiques and have some really cool antiques, really old repurposed pieces and also a few high end pieces. (My upholstered pieces are Ethan Allen, Not super high but better than a lot and have stood the test of time).
I can add a lot to a room from Ikea and even if you don't like the Ikea style, although it goes with a lot, you can use the organizational items and things like nice white plates, cool vases,etc.
I think you made a good choice putting in the window!
BTW, beautiful dog.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 11:42PM
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Bahacca....If you live anywhere near an Ikea you should spend an afternoon there....Take measurements and a measuring tape (or they have them there) and take pics and sketch stuff out and look at their website. Have some cheap Swedish meatballs. If you don't buy one thing (You will leave with something under 20 bucks for sure! Something you didn't even know you needed but think could change your life)...if you don't buy one thing you still will have had a great darn time!!!
I promise I don't work for Ikea!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 11:47PM
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Hi Ann - thanks for the compliments on the system and the dog :) He's an American Eskimo Spitz mix (no idea what the other half is). I'll tell him you said he was beautiful, he loves compliments. He supervised the whole construction process.

And I totally agree about spending time at Ikea. DH & I went there twice. First to look at the systems & get familiar with the options. We brought home the pamphlets & stuff to really be sure we knew what we wanted. Then we went a second time to finalize everything & pull the trigger on the order. Having the time in between really helped because we measured how much closet rod space we each needed. He wears woven shirts so he needed more (most of my tops are knits that should be folded or else they get shoulder-nipples).

The only thing I would change ... I wish they made hinged doors for the medium width frames. I really like those and would have gotten 2 of those widths for each of us, but the sliding doors looked too contemporary for our space (and I like the funcationality of the hinged doors more). But this is working out well & I'm looking forward to getting the doors painted & installed.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 1:01PM
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That looks terrific!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 1:45PM
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EngineerChic - I thought PAX only came in two widths - 19 5/8" and 39 1/4". What is the third width?

The PAX widths/depth/height did not work for us in our closets, so we hacked the kitchen cabinets to work as wardrobes. So, if someone reading this is willing to hack the cabinets, you might look into the kitchen cabinets if the PAX system won't work for you.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 8:32PM
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The third one is 29" (roughly) but you can only use it with sliding doors. Its a great size, IMHO. If they had hinged doors for it I would have gone for a double rod in one unit and lots of shelves in the other. It would have increased my hanging storage space by 10".

I have heard that their kitchen cabinets are built even better than the PAX skeletons, so you probably wound up with a better solution by going that route. Even though it takes more thinking to make kitchen cabinets work as wardrobes, you get a stronger system that way. I considered that briefly and decided to just go with PAX since it did fit the space.

The other benefit of using kitchen cabs is you can make it look built in more easily (or, more seamlessly, not sure it's really easier just that it can look more perfect in the end).

Sorry - long answer to a short question :)

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 6:53AM
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Well now that you told me the width, I can find it on the website, LOL. Have no idea why I couldn't find it before. Thanks for the information.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 7:16PM
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Yes! I'm glad I'm not the only one to choose a window over a closet. My builder wanted to build a closet for me out into the hallway but it would block the window at the end of the hall - I love a window at the end of a hall! So I said no, we would just use wardrobes in the bedroom instead.

Questions - do you have a dresser beside this? How big is the entire unit?

Thank you for posting this - glad I'm not the only crazy one :-)

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 9:31AM
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Hi Momo,

We plan to have 1 dresser besides this for bulky out of season stuff (sweat shirts) and yard clothes (stuff you wear to work in the yard). There is a spot for that dresser in the room, it will be on the other side of the window (second photo, window on the left side of picture).

The entire unit is just under 10 feet wide. In my mind, it's the equivalent of a 5' long walk in closet with space on both sides. The PAX units are almost 8' tall, which gives a lot of space and somehow having the PAX skeleton that high makes me want to use the whole height ... I think it's because I can see the whole space. The PAX doors are much taller than our closet doors in the other bedrooms. So when I open the PAX I see all the way up, but when I open a closet I only see 6.5' and stuff that is higher appears "lost".

As soon as we get final inspections signed off we can have the last coats of poly put on the stairs and then we can really move into the units. That will be the big test of how well it will work.

Even if it's awful, though, I am so glad to have that window :)

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 1:58PM
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OK, here is probably a stupid question. We are putting PAX in two bedrooms and I'm not sure how to get the lights out of the cupboards. Do you drill holes from unit to unit? It seems there's a transformer or some sort of box you put in each, wrap the cord around, then drill into next unit, probably out through top, and finally drill out the back (or side) into the wall? How big is the hole? Any help greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 7:52AM
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Sorry for the delay in answering...

For the lighting there is a hole in the top panel already that the cord barely fits thru (you might have to do some serious wiggling/pushing to make it fit). So you install the light bar, feed the cable through the top of the wardrobe unit, and connect the cable to the transformer unit. These things are so tall that if you slide the transformer unit toward the wall behind the wardrobe, you won't see it.

Each transformer unit can be daisy-chained (within reason, you can't connect 8 of them in series). So we had one power cord that we snaked down one side of the wardrobes and plugged into the wall. It's pretty discreet, you have to look for it (3M makes cable clips that keep it tidy and snug to the cabinet).

I hope that helps,

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 9:24PM
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Would love to see a pic when you are moved in with all your clothing, etc in there and the doors on. We'll be getting the Pax for our bedroom so I'm always interested in seeing a real-life version!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 9:52AM
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Just wondering if you've filled your Pax closets up yet and if so, how they are working for you?

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 12:04AM
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We have stocked them with clothes and they are working really well. I didn't get the wooden doors all painted before it got cold, so I haven't installed them yet. I did install the mirror doors in the middle units.

I am really happy with them. I'm using them in different ways than I expected. For instance, we put in 2 wide, wooden drawers above the wire shoe drawer in my closet. I had been using them both for jeans and t-shirts. When the weather got cold I put the t shirts in a storage box that fits into the shelves at the top of the unit, and left 1 drawer for jeans. The other drawer is now holding my boots. They lay flat, which is great! I fit 2 pr of long boots in there and 2 pr of calf- height boots as well.

I wouldn't have expected to use that drawer for boots but it works well and I wear them more because I can see them better (they aren't at the bottom of a dark closet.

The only thing I don't like is that my fav pants hangers are thick at the top. They clamp the bottom cuff of pants and are over 1" wide. Those take up a lot of space and when I have too many extras in there it feels crowded.

Otherwise, it's working well for both DH and I.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 9:48AM
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dekeoboe, I would love to see a picture of your kitchen cabinets that you hacked to make into wardrobes--please share!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 2:28PM
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These are in the spare bedroom.

And this is in the laundry room

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 10:18PM
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Hi. That's a great closet. Thanks for sharing. We've just installed a similar setup in our bedroom. We had room for two 39" and two 19" units as well. I also picked the hinged doors, because I found the sliders to be too modern for my taste. We're almost done, but I'm still playing around with what goes inside. I'm wondering, what did you do with your shoes? I wasn't crazy about that slide out unit thingy, because too many of my shoes are open toe or else too big - like hiking shoes and sneakers, or hubby's giant feet :-)

What solution did you use for shoes? Also, did you put sweaters in the drawers? I find that when I put sweaters in a drawer I keep wearing the top one over and over because I can't see what's underneath.

I really appreciate any advice you can give before we finalize. Love what you've done -- and your dog!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 6:39PM
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