The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Tag: Bedroom Page 2 of 8

Create a Walk-through Closet Space with IKEA PAX

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Growing up, Slav and I both stored clothes and linens in wardrobes and armoires. We like that they give more structure elements to a room, and prefer their furniture-like look to bi-fold or sliding doors commonly used on built-in closets. Not surprisingly, when the time came to design our master bedroom storage, the only request from Slav was using free-standing wardrobes.

Aside from this request, the rest of the decision was left completely to me – what kind of wardrobe system to use, the style/color, where to put them in the room, the overall dimension, and the interior design. Having to make all these decisions were stressful to say the least – although Slav does not like to make decisions, he does have preferences and high standard. After a few weeks of research and price comparison, I decided to give IKEA PAX a try.

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Why PAX

The reason of choosing PAX is three-fold. First, the ceiling in our basement is only 90″ tall and hard to accommodate pre-assembled wardrobes. Second, we have two windows and one doorway in the closet room. Their location greatly limits the layout of wardrobe. Only IKEA PAX, whose frames come in different width and depth can enable maximum storage around these obstacles.

The first picture below shows the two basement windows, which we have to get around. I planned one of the closets be at the corner in between the windows, and another on the right side of the window on the right.

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This picture shows the same corner from another angle. The second closet would locate between the right window and the soffit, which can be seen at the right upper corner of the picture.

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The third closet would be on this short wall, on the other side of the bedroom. It needs to fit between the vertical column/soffit and the light switch.

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The last and the most important reason of choosing PAX is its highly customizable interior. Slav and I have very different needs regarding clothes storage. He has a lot more clothes and much more hanging items, whereas most of my stuff are folded. Therefore, the same pre-assembled closets will not meet our separate needs as well as the PAX.

Purchasing and getting the PAX home

was part of my responsibility too. Usually Slav is very helpful with anything requiring heavy lifting, but this time he was really out of commission due to the busy work schedule. I ended up making three separate trips to our local IKEA, which is 45 minutes away from my house to get the materials home with my mini-SUV.

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One note for myself if I were ever doing this again, will be to have the PAX delivered. These flat boxes are heavy and frankly speaking, hard to drive with. Our whole order contained 43 flat boxes: 7 frames, 9 doors (including three mirrored glass doors), 19 drawers, and 8 dividers. In addition there were bags of metal hinges, clothes rails, pulls, etc. Consider the driving time spent on three trips, as well as the manpower consumed to move the heavy boxes through the warehouse, load them onto and unload them from the car, the delivery fee is simply worth it.

Look at these boxes on the floor, which are just for my side of the closet – about 1/4 of the entire order…

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The assembly

Assembling individual elements of the PAX, such as drawers and frames, was surprisingly simple. Basic tools including a power drill, a handheld screwdriver and a hammer were all I’ve used. It does take time though: the material handling, including unpacking, transporting parts, and taking the packaging out took surprisingly long time compared to the actually assembly.

For frames, I laid the parts for each frame on the floor and followed the simple instructions. Roxie was around for emotional support and slowing down the process by kicking the hardware around:

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Below are a series of pictures I took while assembling one of the frames – I assembled 7 total! I usually lay everything out on a the cardboard first:

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Then put in the screws, dowels, and corner pieces in place according to the instruction:

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From this point the whole thing just came together like a Lego. Do not forget to tighten the connections:

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The last step of the assembly was to put on the back panel, which not only closed up the frame, but also kept the frame square.

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Standing the frames up was a real struggle. They got so heavy after assembly, which was unexpected. I definitely recommend two people for this part. You do have the option of assemble the frames standing up, but this also requires two people in order to keep the frame square.

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Compared to the frames, assembling drawers was easy and quick. All the PAX drawers are put together in the same way, regardless which width, depth, or what kind of front panel they employ.

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I assembled the first drawer by itself and then started to tackle multiple drawers at a time. The progress was quick and very satisfying.

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Secure and link the closets

All three of our closets are composed of multiple frames. To make sure that the frames were align with each other, we linked the neighboring framed as well as secured them onto the wall behind. If you wish to do the same, make sure you get to this step before installing interior organizers such as drawers or shelves.

Using my side of the closet as an example, it is made up by two frames and should go onto a short wall pictured below. We cleaned and vacuumed the spot before putting two frames here side by side:

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Notice that we did not install any baseboard prior. Unlike the BILLY bookcase, the back of the PAX frames is straight and does not have any cutout to allow existing baseboards.

As you can see, there are three vertical lines of holes on the sides of each frame. Putting bolts (included in the purchase) through the corresponding holes between the two neighboring frames could align and secure them to each other.

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Each frame also came with two adjustable feet, which help the frame to stay level. After the two neighboring frames were linked and leveled, we used designated hardware (also included in purchase) to attach them to the wall. Now this whole closet was solid and not going anywhere.

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Interior Organization

After securing the frames to the wall, it was time to install drawers and shelves. I used the IKEA design tool to plan our PAX closets. When printing out the design, it included very clear instruction on where exactly the interior organizers should go. Remember the vertical lines of holes on the sides of the frame? The drawer slides, shelf supports, and door hinges were instructed to go into specific holes (numbered on the instruction). This is to make sure that each part operate smoothly without interfering with the operation of others.

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With the help of instruction, the installation went pretty fast. For electrical outlets behind the closet, Slav exposed them by cutting open the back panel of the frames.

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For my side,I chose to have two hanging bars and two sets of drawers. It is a relative simple design, which allows for maximum storage.

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I also added a pull-out hanger for scarves, as well as a hanging clip for hanging bath robe and nightgown. Again, the customization feature is the No. 1 reason we chose PAX.

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Slav’s closets

After learning from my mistakes during assembling my side of the closets, I got a lot smarter putting together Slav’s side. His side includes two standing units: a corner unit, and a straight unit. The straight unit is basically a replica of mine; the only difference is that his is made of two narrower frames:

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Before securing the straight unit, I built the corner unit to ensure the same space was left on each side of the window:

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The corner unit is composed of three parts: one deep frame next to the window (pictured above and below), one add-on frame which sits 90 degree next to the deep frame, and one single-frame addition. The add-on frame and the single frame are shallower than all the other frames to save the floor space.

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The picture below was taken from the bedroom doorway. Using deeper frames on the left side would have blocked too much of the view while entering the bedroom. I prefer the lighter visual effect offered by shallower closet, to the storage we lost by not using deeper frames.

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After everything was positioned correctly, we linked all the neighboring frames and secured them onto the wall. Then the drawers went in:

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Slav’s straight closet contains 8 (!) deep and wide drawers and two hanging bars. This guy has lots of shirts!

The straight closets will get sliding doors eventually, and I chose mirrored doors for the corner closet. The mirrors certainly made the dark closets to feel lighter and the basement bedroom brighter.

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The (almost) final product!

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Here are a few shots I took in the morning after installation. All three closets were leveled, secured, and completed with all the interior organizers. The corner closet received its mirrored doors. The only work put on halt was the sliding doors, which will go in after we are 100% happy with the interior organization.

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The space under the window will be filled with a bench or some kind. We are also on look out for a new laundry basket. Slav’s college pop-up laundry hamper will finally retire from our master bedroom!

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We put the closets together around Thanksgiving. A week has passed since then, and we are generally happy with the quality, the layout, and the interior design. Lining the closets on both side of the room did not make the room feel narrow, and the storage they provide was more generous than we expected.

Costwise, I think we spent ~$2600 on all three closets (not including our time and gas to transport them). Our order includes 7 frames, 19 drawers, 3 pull-out trays (they are more expensive then fixed shelves), and several additional shelves for the add-on frame.

Timewise, it took me four days in total, from the design to installation. Around 8 hours were spent in local IKEA store to research the internal organization, design the closets with the help of IKEA employee, and collect/purchase all the items. This 8-hour period does not include the driving time. At home, I spent three solid days on assembly and installation, including one 8-hour day for my side (with fair amount of mistakes made along the way), and ~12 hours for Slav’s side.

Thoughts on PAX

Looking back, I think the most time-saving approach to PAX purchasing, will be to design the PAX in store with an expert’s help, then have the parts delivered to the room in which you want them to be installed.

Another good service to consider is the Click and Collect service. With this service, instead of pulling the items off the shelves yourself, you pay for the whole shipping list either in the store or online, wait for the whole order to be collected (usually next day), and pick up the whole order at the main lobby. It only costs $5 per order, which will be given back to you in the form of a gift card to use in the store (so it is virtually free).

The advantage of the Click and Collect service is that you are guaranteed to get the entire order without missing pieces. Let me tell you, there is nothing more annoying than buying a whole closet but being told that the store was one drawer short for your dream closet, and have to come back again just for that drawer!

Okay! This concludes a long post for a looooong PAX journey. If you are still reading, I am impressed. You deserve a hug. Here is a hug. And if you are hugging me back, I could use some massages on my back too. As a return to your kindness, I will be uploading pictures of these PAX loaded with our stuff and the whole master bedroom really soon. See you in a few days, friends!

Closing Up the Walls! A Basement Update

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I have not talked about the basement renovation for a while. Progress has been made, just not at the pace we were hoping for. But today, I think it has improved significantly compared to our last update and finally worth another post.

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First, drywall! The picture above shows the wall between the basement living space and the utility room. We took off the paneling here and some of the wall framing to open it to the living room. Below is how it looked like after we added soundproofing insulation around the furnace:

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Now, fresh drywall covered the insulation, I-beam, and the new framing around the doorway:

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We also removed all the ceiling drywall in the basement for new electrical and sound insulation. Since then, we have been looking at a sea of brown for a couple months:

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You can imagine my excitement when the ceiling drywall was hung. Bright and smooth ceiling made this space feel like a room again, even without paint:

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More drywall happened in the master bedroom. In addition to the ceiling, the newly framed soffit was covered and all the remaining walls were smoothed out:

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The vertical column next to the door contains the supporting column for the I-beam. It was exposed after we removed the closets dividing the two bedrooms.

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Inside the new soffit are the horizontal I-beam, a big air duct, and the HVAC pipes.

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A much improved look from this:

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The recessed lights and smooth ceiling definitely made the ceiling feel higher. Below is the space below Slav’s office, which will be our future walk-through closet.

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The space next to the bathroom will host our king bed and night stands. The pocket door to the right leads to the new master bath:

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Speaking of the new master bath, it is a complete different space now with the walls closed up:

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Under the window will be a shower area, hence the pebbled flooring and the red water-proof coating. The double-sink vanity and a big medicine cabinet will be mounted on the blue coating-covered wall:

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Neighboring the two doors will be the toilet. We asked the contractor to add a electrical outlet behind the toilet for a bidet attachment.

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It is not our preference to have the toilet so close to the doorways. In another words, I’d rather to have the vanity here and the toilet next to the shower. But the ceiling at this corner is lower due to an air duct, so it make the most sense to place the toilet under the lower ceiling. The pocket door will save some space in front of the toilet.

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With all the surfaces smoothed out in the bathroom, our contractor has started tiling. The floor tiles were completed last week:

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We chose a smokey black/grey color for the floor and pebbles in a similar color for the shower area. I think they complement each other nicely.

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Next week we expect to see tiles on the walls. The same dark floor tile will be carried up onto the wall neighboring the bedroom, budding against the pocket door. The end wall and the vanity wall will go white. We want the bathroom to look simple and sleek with big contrast.

I did not expect finishing drywall to be such a significant step in the basement renovation – all the sudden, all the rooms look like rooms again, which invites all the imagination on how they should look eventually. We still have lots of big decisions to make: paint colors, flooring, shower doors, bedroom closet layout, the color and finish of the stairs, and whether to drywall over the big section of paneling in the living space. Each one of these factors can drastically change the feeling of the basement.

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For example, what should we do with the living space paneling? It will not stay brown for sure. Slav insists in covering it with drywall, but I would like to paint it white first to see if they can disappear with a lighter color. What do you think? Drywall or paint?

Since we completed the demo, almost 4 months have passed. This basement renovation has been a slow and painful process, but nevertheless, I am happy to be at a point that we enjoy thinking about the basement again. In the next a few posts, we will discuss how we are gonna use the living space, the flooring choice, and the potential bedroom layout. At the meantime, I am impatiently waiting for our contractor to finish tiling and wrap up the bathroom. Because after that, it will be DIY time again!

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Master Planning

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How are we in June already? The days in April and May were such a blur. We spent most of the April researching about basement renovation, interviewing contractors, and comparing bids. May was entirely devoted to making decisions on everything basement bath-related. Slav has been busy with his work during this whole time, and somehow we still managed to celebrate a birthday with friends.

The basement reno has picked up the pace. I’ve shown you the demo in the living room, bedroom, and bathroomthe installation of the egress window, the new electrical panel and recessed lighting, and how we sound proofed the basement. This week we crossed finishing line of framing and plumbing, which gave us a lot better idea of the new layout.

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1. The bathroom

To expand the bathroom we demoed the hallway closet, which I briefly talked about here. The goal is to accommodate a double-sink vanity in here.

The shower area

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The shower will remain at the end of the room, with the shower head on the left side. A double-sink vanity will be placed next to the shower on the wet wall, and a medicine cabinet will be installed above the vanity and under the soffit.

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The toilet will locate under the air duct and close to the doorways. I am not a big fan on having the toilet next to the door, but we’d rather place toilet but not the vanity under the low ceiling.

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We are in the process of picking out the tiles for the bathroom. We have basically narrowed down to using two tiles, a large dark one on one wall and the floor, with a white subway tiles on the other three walls.

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2. The master bedroom

By removing the closet wall used to divide the two bedrooms, we created a big and long bedroom. The I beam has been boxed in and will be drywall-ed over, which creates a natural divider to separate the sleeping area from the closet area.

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Under the egress window will be our sleeping area. We decided to put the king bed on the wall adjacent to the backyard for less noise, more fresh air, and east facing windows. The bed will be centered on the east wall of the master and flanked by the floating nightstands I built last year. The column to the right envelopes of the supporting columns for the I beam. I am considering putting a skinny bookshelf on the left to mirror the column on the right, which along with the I-beam creates the look of a sleeping nook.

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This is the view from the living room, through the two bathroom doors, into the bedroom. It will be a simple but comfortable space to nest.

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The front side of the bedroom, which is next to the front yard and under Slav’s office, will become a closet area. We plan to align wardrobe cabinets along the wall on both sides, which will provide more storage space than we currently have in the bedroom closets.

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3. The utility room

The last big changed we made is to remove the wall between the living room and the utility room. Remember the old laundry/utility room when we moved in? It was just a small hallway and hard to even open the dryer door. We first demoed a bedroom there to open up the utility area, and now with the living room wall coming down, we have the entire place opened up to the living room.

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We do plan to frame an utility room closet down the road to enclose the furnace and the water heater, and add a countertop on top of the washer/dryer. The small closet under the stairs will remain as a storage space.

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4. The living room

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Compared to other rooms, the living area changed the least. Aside from losing a wall, the only change is to add recessing lights and sound proofing in the ceiling. Instead of making this another living room, we will likely using it as a media/reading room. Before the sound proofing material went in the ceiling, electrical and Ethernet for TV box and projector had been put in. Slav has big plans for this space, and all I am responsible for is choosing a big and comfortable sofa down here. It will be a great room for late evening movies and friends to gather, but for rest of the year this big and empty room will probably remain big and empty.

The month of June will be hanging the drywall and tiling the bathroom, which will be done by a contractor. We will take the torch in July, after the drywall is finished.  Before moving down here we still need to paint, figure out clothes storage, and hopefully install some flooring at least in the bedroom before we move down here. We are far from fruition now, so it is hard to imagine to have smooth drywall and functional toilet again. There are still lots of decision to make (paint! shower doors! floors!)  and lots of little things to consider (tower bars! toilet holders! bathroom storage!). And I am trying to pump the optimism by keeping myself busy shopping. Cannot wait for everything to be over!

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