When we moved in, I’d already ordered our furniture, and while the wardrobe fit width-wise, I didn’t take the depth into account which left us with a huge box that caused the following problems

  1. We had to crab-walk around the bed
  2. Our washing didn’t fit properly next to it
  3. Our bedroom look tinier than it was
  4. I didn’t have a dressing table
Large wardrobe in a small bedroom with a drying rack next to it

The first problem to solve was our washing, I wanted it out of the bedroom. You can read more about that in my utility room makeover.

Next, I went to Pinterest to try and find inspiration for an open wardrobe that would fit better. I was inspired by The Gem Picker’s open wardrobe and started designing my own using a MALM dresser, shelves with a curtain rail attached and potentially a tiny dressing table.

Illustration of an open wardrobe concept

However, we have plasterboard walls and I was scared to put so much weight on them. I then found this on Pinterest and was instantly inspired.

DIY desk using IKEA KALLAX units
Found on Pinterest

I took my brainchild to Photoshop and came up with this:

Illustration of an open wardrobe concept

I was so excited because using the KALLAX unit from IKEA meant that we’d save over 20cm of depth, less weight would be placed on our naff walls and I could have a bigger dressing table (yay!).

I ended up deciding against the third small KALLAX unit in the end. Firstly to save money and also because I didn’t think I could fit two rails in that space. I was right.

What you’ll need

This project is obviously very unique to our space, so I’ll explain how I did it for our space. We have very tall ceilings, meaning the two KALLAX units stacked worked for our wall, so measure your space and adapt as needed.

Wardrobe

  • 77×77 Kallax unit
  • 42×147 Kallax unit
  • 4x Kallax Drawer inserts
  • Angle brackets (these)
  • Mending plates (these)
  • Wood screws

Clothes rail

  • 0.91m Clothing rail (this)
  • 2x Rail bracket (these)
  • Hacksaw
  • Spirit level
  • Appropriate wall plugs
  • Screws

Dressing table

  • 1.21m Clothing rail (this)
  • 2x rail brackets (these)
  • 18mm white furniture board or MDF painted white cut to size
  • 19mm furniture feet (these but in white)
  • Mounting tape
  • Mirror

Total cost: £168.86

We already had the tools, screws, mounting tape and we upcycled our old wardrobe doors to make the dressing table, so you’ll need to add these to your budget.

Building the wardrobe

  1. Build your two Kallax units
  2. Move them into your desired location, placing the 42×147 unit on top of the smaller unit
  3. Once in place, add the angle brackets where the units make an L shape by predrilling holes and screwing in some wood screws to make sure they don’t move
  4. Repeat step 3 with the mending plates where the units meet on the straight side
  5. Build your Kallax drawer inserts, following the instructions and place them in

Creating the clothes rail

  1. Use a measuring tape to mark the length of your clothing rail pole
  2. Using a hacksaw or reciprocating saw, cut the pole to size
  3. Decide where you want to install your pole, use an item of clothing to figure out the correct height
  4. Place the rail bracket on the wall and mark the holes with a pencil
  5. Install the rail bracket using the appropriate method for your wall type, as ours were plasterboard so I predrilled a hole, added self drill plasterboard wall anchors and screwed the bracket into the wall
  6. Place the clothing rail into the wall bracket with the second bracket on the other end and have someone push the KALLAX units to the correct place
  7. Using a spirit level, make sure the rail is straight and mark the KALLAX unit where the holes are
  8. Repeat step 5, however this time you only need to predrill a hole the size of your screw as you won’t need any anchors to drill directly into wood
  9. Add the clothing rail and voila!
  10. Repeat all steps again if you’re adding a second rail

Adding the dressing table

  1. Repeat step 1 and 2 above to create your legs, we measured them at 77cm each to match the height of the KALLAX unit
  2. Install the rail brackets on two corners of your furniture board, taking any skirting boards into account 
  3. As the angle brackets create a tiny gap between the KALLAX and furniture board, we used mounting tape to secure the furniture board to the KALLAX, but you can also use long wood nails if you prefer
  4. Add the poles with the furniture feet on them
  5. Install the mirror to the wall

Reorganising our stuff

As the new wardrobe technically has less space, we needed to reorganise the bedroom as it was filled with things we either didn’t need, could live elsewhere or needed organising.

Fortunately, we have four huge drawers under the bed and they were stuffed with shit. So, I initially decluttered everything, binning, donating or recycling things I didn’t need. 

Then I repurposed my drawers, one for all my camera and computer equipment, one for my crafts and some misc items. 

Finally, I reorganised James’ clothes drawer using SKUBB boxes so one of them fits all his underwear, t-shirts and jumpers. The other, I don’t want to look in because he organised it.

The result

Long story, short — it worked! 

DIY IKEA open wardrobe using KALLAX units

Firstly, we can finally walk around the bedroom easily after gaining 20cm at the end of the bed, meaning no more smashed shins on the corner of the bed!

It’s also made the room look and feel bigger because the new wardrobe doesn’t take up the entire wall, plus the mirror helps to reflect the minimal light we get in there.

Most importantly, all our stuff fits! We actually have three free drawers to grow into, which is important when you’re designing a space so you don’t outgrow it immediately.

I’m over-the-moon about my dressing table. I used to get ready at our dining room table or in the entryway, so it’s so lovely to have a dedicated space to get ready. I’m going to upcycle the stool, but I found it on Facebook Marketplace for £2!

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UK based content creator sharing organisation hacks, budgeting tips and small space living solutions.

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