Matthew Jenkins, an IKEA closet specialist installer, recently faced the challenge of revamping three closets under a time crunch due to the imminent arrival of a second child for his clients. The original plan to use the IKEA PAX system was thwarted by availability issues, prompting Matthew to get creative by using IKEA SEKTION high cabinets from the kitchen department as an alternative.

“Originally, I had planned the 3 closets using PAX. Once we agreed on a plan, I went to IKEA to do the purchasing only to find out the IKEA PAX, especially the shallow depth frames, will be unavailable until they are reformulated in July,” explains Matthew. “This couple couldn’t wait that long as baby #2 was due soon, so I came up with the idea to use IKEA SEKTION high cabinets and cut the KOMPLEMENT clothes rails to new widths.”

He shares his process of transforming IKEA kitchen cabinets into an efficient reach-in closet system to fit the existing space.

Materials and Tools:

  • SEKTION High Cabinet 80-inch tall, shallow depth
  • MAXIMERA drawers
  • FÖRBÄTTRA interior drawers
  • SEKTION suspension rail
  • 5 Minute Mud
  • Joint Compound
  • Paint Supplies
  • Water-Based Texture in a Can
  • Laser Level

Reach-In Closet System using IKEA Kitchen Cabinets:

removing the old closet and mudding the wall
Photo Credit: Matthew Jenkins

First, he removed the 1990s closet storage system and the original wooden bar and rail from the space.

He then patched the walls with the 5 Minute Mud and applied a skim coat. Next, he used canned texture spray to match the original walls and touch up the paint.

IKEA kitchen cabinets hacked into a reach-in closet system
Photo Credit: Matthew Jenkins

After the space was properly prepared, he assembled all the SEKTION frames and hung them in place on the suspension rail.

“The nice thing about using SEKTION instead of PAX is that you can float the cabinets, allowing the floor to be used as additional storage. Also, I didn’t need to remove or inset the frames in the baseboards,” he adds.

Create an Efficient Reach-In Closet System Using an IKEA Unexpected Gem
Photo Credit: Matthew Jenkins

He also cut down the KOMPLEMENT clothes rails to the new widths. “For the width of the railing, take the width of the cabinet less 1 ⅞” inches. For an 18”-wide cabinet, the railing was cut down to 16 ⅛ inches wide”

Matthew used an angle grinder and deburring scraper to complete this task. “In hindsight, a hacksaw or a bandsaw would probably have been cleaner,” he adds.

IKEA kitchen cabinets hacked into a reach-in closet system
Done! Reach-in closet system using IKEA kitchen cabinets | Photo Credit: Matthew Jenkins

Why did you decide to hack the item?

IKEA PAX was not going to be available in steady supply until July.

How long and how much did it cost?

Labor charges for this project was approximately $800, including demo, wall prep, painting, assembly and installation.

Materials from IKEA totaled $1,099 plus sales tax and delivery fee.

What do you like most about the hack?

How large the drawers are and the close fit on the left-hand side, clearing the door jamb by ¾ of an inch.

What was the hardest part about this hack?

The most challenging part of the hack was cutting the KOMPLEMENT rails to size with an angle grinder and cleaning up the cuts with a deburring tool

Looking back, would you have done it differently?

Looking back, I would have changed the layout slightly to improve access and flexibility within the space. I probably would have changed the far left hand side and flipped the far left 18 inch frame in the left hand corner and the 24 inch cabinet with the drawers. It’s a little tight, access wise, to the 18 inch frame since the wall return is about the same width. However, the client was more concerned with larger drawers for storage. Closets are a battle of inches and making compromises to suit the space.

And other thoughts/ comments that you have received about the hack

I feel like this was a great solution given the supply issues of IKEA PAX system. In certain aspects, it works even better than PAX. The only downside is the shallow depth cabinets only come in 15, 18, and 24 inch widths, however we could pair 80 tall high cabinets with two 40 tall wall cabinets to utilize wide cabinet widths. However, that limits flexibility for long hang and adjustable shelves.

Visit Matthew Jenkins’ website and follow his Instagram account for more inspiring DIYs.

See also Matthew’s reach-in closet with PAX wardrobe hack:

IKEA PAX used for reach in closet to double the space
Photo Credit: Matthew Jenkins

The client wanted to know if I could make a built-in wardrobe to cover the existing reach-in closet with a secret pass-through to double the storage space.

I loved the challenge and jumped at the chance to work on this massive IKEA PAX hack. This IKEA hack is a superb storage solution if your closet area doesn’t allow for a walk-in closet design or you have an existing closet space you want to maximize.

Here’s another wardrobe hack using IKEA Kitchen Cabinets

IKEA kitchen cabinets hacked into a wardrobe
Photo Credit: Min

Min used four 60cm wide METOD cabinets and two 40cm wide ones, 320cm in total, to span the wall of the room and create the wardrobe she wanted

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