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15 Things to Know Before Buying an IKEA Wardrobe

We own two IKEA wardrobes. Discover 15 things you need to know before buying and assembling an IKEA wardrobe for your bedroom, office, garage or wherever you need to store stuff.
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IKEA wardrobe in showroom bedroom in IKEA store

Our heaviest, biggest piece of furniture is this massive freestanding IKEA wardrobe we bought.  It’s about 4 feet wide and 7 feet tall.  It’s a beast.

Our previous home had no closets (it was a fabulous little house with some quirky design features).  That meant we needed to create our own closet space and hence bought the best of a wardrobe from IKEA.

We still have that sucker.  The movers sweat blood and tears hauling that thing.  It’s in our basement now storing coats out-of-season.

While you can get freestanding wardrobes from IKEA, you can also get built-in ones and smaller versions of what we have (we have a small wardrobe from IKEA as well).  In fact, there are few places that offer as many wardrobes and closet alternatives as IKEA.

However, before you run out and buy the first one you see, learn more from our list 15 IKEA wardrobe buying tips below.

1. You get what you pay for

IKEA wardrobes actually come in a wide range of designs and styles that span from high end to the more moderate to even somewhat flimsy wardrobes made for just a little extra temporary storage. Not everyone needs a wardrobe that is going to last a lifetime, but if you’re looking for a wardrobe that can hold a significant amount of clothing or a complete system, then you’ll want to invest in higher-end lines like the PAX system. Not only will higher-end lines be more sturdy and stable, but they generally use better quality components. If you are looking for something that will be more long-lasting and durable, you might want to invest in a high-end line like the PAX system. If you just want to offer a place for guests to hang a few clothes in your office turned guest bedroom, then you can pick one up for $100 or less.

2. Even more flimsy wardrobes become more sturdy by affixing them to the wall

IKEA wood wardrobe attached to the wall in bedroom

While IKEA wardrobes are free-standing, the weight of what you put in them can make them subject to tipping or falling. In addition, the frame is not as sturdy when it stands on its own. By attaching the wardrobe to the wall, however, not only do you significantly improve the strength of the wardrobe itself, but you also reduce the potential for it to tip and fall. This is particularly important if you are installing your wardrobe on carpeting. The cushioning from the carpet can make the wardrobe extra unstable. The one caveat to this is if you are creating a custom freestanding unit that is several components long. In that case, you will want to make sure each unit is firmly attached to each other, but if you can even attach the side of one end unit to a wall, you will significantly increase the stability of the unit as a whole.

3. Some systems are completely customizable

IKEA carries several lines of wardrobes that can be completely customized, but there are probably none as popular as their PAX system. Having a custom closet installed can run you several thousands of dollars, but you can often get a complete PAX system installed for around $1,000. In addition, if you want to save a little more green, you can always assemble and install it yourself. Even if you purchase a lower end unit, however, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a range of customizable options available.

4. You can have custom IKEA wardrobes built and installed for you

Young woman assembling IKEA furniture in apartment

While IKEA may be known as the ultimate DIY store, that doesn’t actually mean you have to do it yourself. IKEA itself can send out a team to assemble and install your wardrobe for you, but there is a caveat to this. If you are installing a wardrobe as a wall unit – or outside of a closet, IKEA will not install it if you have baseboards. While you can remove the baseboards yourself if you are able, if you are not able, you will need to hire another company to assemble and install your wardrobe for you. Thankfully, there are also a number of companies that actually specialize in customizing, assembling and installing IKEA wardrobes. Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of a customized IKEA wardrobe versus a custom built wardrobe is that the pieces can all be disassembled and reassembled when you move. Needless to say, your closet will most likely be a different size or have different dimensions, but that too is the beauty of IKEA. They have sold many of their most popular lines for decades and you can still buy outdated lines online. That means you can use the pieces from your old home and supplement them with new pieces to customize your closet in your new home.

5. Even if you are assembling and installing it yourself, you may want to have it delivered

Unless you are installing just a single wardrobe unit, you may want to have a larger or custom unit delivered. A custom unit can consist of 20 or more very heavy boxes. This means having your unit delivered is particularly advisable if you have stairs, live in a 2nd or 3rd-floor apartment, or any place where you can’t back a truck up right up to your front or back door and unload quickly and conveniently. If you do plan on transporting your wardrobe components home on your own, you will definitely want to take a truck and having a dolly on hand would also be advisable.

6. They can grow and change with you

Probably one of the best aspects of IKEA wardrobes are their extreme versatility. You can use them as free-standing units or use them to customize almost any size closet. You can use them in a master bedroom with a standard closet and then use them in a children’s room or craft room if you move to a bigger house with a custom closet or larger master closet. IKEA pieces also mix and match well, so you can even create your own customized system using pieces such as a PAX wardrobe and Billy bookshelves.

7. The ways you can customize IKEA wardrobes are almost limitless

IKEA wardrobes generally come in a number of different pieces that you can use to customize your closet or wardrobe to suit your needs. In addition to customizing the size, shape and functionality of your wardrobe, however, the ways in which you can customize the entire unit to suit your taste and style is unparalleled. You can cover the panels with wallpaper, paint them, stain them, add custom hardware or even beef up the elegance factor with crown molding. IKEA wardrobes can blend in with the most chic urban penthouses to the most shabby chic southern manors.

8. Great for more than storing clothes

Clothing is not the only thing wardrobes are great for storing, nor is the bedroom the only place they can be used. IKEA wardrobes also work well in a home office – or even a regular office – for storing office supplies, a printer, file cabinets, leaflets pamphlets, medical or dental supplies, or anything else you need stored away. They can even be customized to create a desk unit that can be shut away out of sight when you have guests or visitors. No more last minute tidying up before unexpected guests arrive. Just shut the wardrobe doors and viola, your messy office can be neat as a pin!

9. Can do double duty in loft or studio apartments

One of the great aspects of loft or studio apartments is their open floor plan. Conversely, however, some people prefer to create a separate bedroom space or break their large space up into smaller rooms. Needless to say, with all that open space, closet and storage space is also often lacking in studio and loft apartments. IKEA wardrobes can do double duty by not only providing more storage space, but can also help partition large open spaces into smaller rooms. You can create a separate bedroom, hallway or even an entire wall unit entertainment center with IKEA wardrobes.

10. Different types of IKEA components mix and match well

IKEA has a fabulous tendency to make all of its storage furniture in some very standard sizes. This means wardrobe frames can be paired well with bookshelf components, kitchen cabinets and drawers or even entertainment centerpieces. In addition, if you can’t find what you are looking for specifically at IKEA, there are also a number of businesses that specialize in making custom accessories for standard IKEA pieces.

11. A wardrobe doesn’t have to look like a closet – nor function as one

It is easy to get into the mindset of using something called a wardrobe to store clothes. However, wardrobes can be used to store anything from office supplies to dishes to cold weather gear. They can be used in a kitchen, pantry, mudroom, office, craft room or even used to customize a hall closet. If you live in a small space with just a kitchenette, you can use a wardrobe to create a pantry or extra storage space for kitchen essentials or small appliances like a panini press, waffle iron, toaster or microwave. You can even use them to create an entire custom wall unit in the bedroom.

12. Customizing a wardrobe unit will actually create more closet space

You might think that a closet is a closet and the size of the space is the size of the space. While on the one hand, you would be right about that, it doesn’t mean you are necessarily utilizing all the space that is available to you. In a traditional closet, you have a single hanging bar with a shelf on top. Whatever you put on that top shelf will often still leave several feet of unused space over the top of it – particularly if you have very high ceilings. Similarly, you are generally also wasting several feet of space below your hanging clothes if you keep shoes on the floor. Not only will customizing your closet with a wardrobe unit help you better organize your space, but it will help you better use it as well. This means by customizing your closet with wardrobe pieces from IKEA, you can sometimes literally double your usable space in the same size closet.

13. Not just for indoor use

Not only are the possibilities for using IKEA wardrobes indoors almost limitless, but that also isn’t the only place they can be used. As housing costs rise and space is at a premium, more and more people are turning to their garages for additional storage and even entertaining space. Whether you want to completely customize your garage or just create more storage, IKEA wardrobes can help you do just that. When using wardrobes in a garage, however, you probably want to opt for a higher end line which will be more sturdy. In addition, the higher end lines will tend to have better finishes which can resist staining from many of the greasier substances people often keep in their garages. You want garage storage to be stronger and more durable, so you will definitely want to invest in good, strong wardrobe pieces if you are going to use them in a garage.

14. You can design your wardrobe or closet online

IKEA offers an online tool that can help you customize your entire wardrobe right from you home. One caveat to this is that you will want to measure very carefully and be sure to measure the way they recommend. In some cases, they may recommend that you measure inside of a door frame and in other cases outside of it. You will also need to take other factors into account such as a floor lip or carpeting, as these could affect the final outcome. IKEA wardrobes offer a dizzying array of options, however, so you may want to ditch the online option and head into a store to speak to a live person. They obviously are well-versed in all of the many options available and can help you choose just the right pieces and components for your needs. If going to a store is not an option, however, you can still plan out a customized wardrobe from home.

15. You can buy prepackaged “customized” units

IKEA wardrobes are available as simple 2-door free-standing affairs, or large, more complex units that have a number of different pieces, parts and components. You can either have a unit completely customized for your individual space, or you can buy one of hundreds of different “customized” configurations. Some are even designed specifically to fit into standard closet sizes, so you can customize a standard bedroom closet without having to go through the hassle of creating an entire custom set of components. Customized units come in a variety of finishes and even offer options like sliding doors, mirrors and lighting.







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