Terrific Broth

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

Category: Projects Page 1 of 40

Create a Walk-through Closet Space with IKEA PAX

IMG_9771

IMG_9762

IMG_9815

IMG_9778

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.

IMG_9700

IMG_9699

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.

IMG_9715

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.

IMG_9723

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.

IMG_9697

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.

20191124_164100

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…

IMG_9692

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:

IMG_9705

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:

IMG_9738

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

IMG_9725

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

IMG_9727

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.

IMG_9728

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.

IMG_9703

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.

IMG_9707

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

IMG_9710

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:

IMG_9697

IMG_9708

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.

IMG_9744

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.

IMG_9746

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.

IMG_9702

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.

IMG_9751

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.

IMG_9752

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.

IMG_9782

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:

IMG_9730

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

IMG_9733

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.

IMG_9735

IMG_9741

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.

IMG_9742

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

IMG_9743

IMG_9815

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.

IMG_9778

The (almost) final product!

IMG_9771

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.

IMG_9784

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!

IMG_9774

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!

Bed, Bath, and Beyond

IMG_9607

Three weeks have passed since I left you with the photo above and this length to-do list mostly for the basement bathroom. Since then I have been slowly figuring out the big ticket items. I’d like to give you an update on our progress, and here is the to-do list first:

Getting new bath vanity and sinks
Bathroom fixtures! Vanity! Toilet!
Glass shower door by professionals
DIY install 4 new doors for the bathment bedroom, bathroom, and entry, including a pocket door between the bath and the bedroom
Closets in the bedroom!
Baseboards and trims in the bedroom and media room

Vanity, sink, and plumbing

As you can see the first four items are all for the bathroom. We actually bought vanity and sinks before summer, but the incompetent contractor (whom we have fired) did the plumbing wrong and they have to be returned. Thanks for IKEA’s full refund policy we were able to minimize the lose, then we found this similar one on Wayfair:

Faycelles Rigel 48" Double Bathroom Vanity

Ordering vanity and sinks online felt intimidating. Before pulling the trigger, we triple-checked with our new plumber that this one would fit our space AND work with the rough plumbing. It will be delivered to our home this weekend, and our plumber Chris will come first thing next week to look at it in person and make sure it is really gonna fit. Speaking of Chris, he is truly amazing! He is not only knowledgeable and experienced, but also super transparent about his approach. After giving us all the information we need, he even suggested NOT to book him until we figure out the shower door installation, which should go in first before the vanity.

A new glass shower door

Following Chris’s advice, we shifted our focus on finding a shower door. Slav wants a see-through glass shower door to make the bathroom feel bigger. After getting several quotes, we trusted our business to a local company called L and L Glass. They are specialized, professional, and never pushed any product on us. Among all the quotes they are not the cheapest, but we have already learned in a hard way to not go with the cheapest!

Our final choice is very similar to the inspiration photo below. The difference? Ours will be composed of two clear glass panels, one fixed and one swinging door. We also opted for a single knob instead of a handle for the door.

Seneca Adjustable 72.75" x 74" Hinged Frameless Shower Door

To date, the shower door will be installed after the Thanksgiving weekend, then Chris will come in the following week to install the vanity, sinks, faucets, shower fixtures, and toilet. After he puts everything together, as the last step – we will install the medicine cabinet which has been collecting dust in the basement for 6 months!

Doors, doors! And doors…

IMG_9479

IMG_9451

With all the bathroom work scheduled in early December, we might (!) have a complete bathroom by mid-December, minus the doors. Yes, the doors. There are three empty doorway waiting for their doors, and as we are on it, we will replace the basement entry door under the stairs too.

IMG_9268

This entry door and the media room-bedroom door are easy-peasy. They are both in standard sizes, so we simply ordered the doors from Home Depot website. However, the two doors leading to the bathroom are merely 76″ tall. That means we need to either cutting the standard door down, or customize-building them. I am still trying to figure out the best  and cheapest way to go about it. Luckily we do not have to have doors to actually use the bathroom…

Now the fun part: working with the PAX

With all the bathroom stuff (almost) figured out, I finally had some mental capacity for bedroom closets. Slav is completely hands-off on this project, so I am taking full responsibility of the design, the purchase, and the assembly (hopefully Slav will lend a hand there…). Although there are a lot of decision to make, it feels like a good break from the bathroom decisions!

To make things easier I decided to design and purchase my closet first. My request of closet is simple and does not require fancy add-ons, And because it is sitting along a long wall, the design challenge is minimal. Slav’s side of the closet is a lot more complicated because of the location of our basement windows. So I hope what I learned from designing and installing my closet will be helpful to the design of Slav’s. So stay tuned for the big closet post!

Baseboards and trims

The very last thing we need to tackle to complete the basement reno 1.0, is to install all the baseboards and trims. This step should come after installing the closet and doors, which means we will likely not get to this part until January. Since we have already picked out the profile we wanted, it should be a fun and easy project when the pressure of bathroom and holidays is behind us. Right now, the bathroom and the closets! I cannot wait to come back with some completed installation of…anything, the closet, or the bathroom, anything really! We will get there, I promise!

Life Happening + Basement Electrical

Life happening

For the past three months, we’ve been on pins and needles waiting for the basement bathroom to be completed. The promised July 8th deadline was abandoned with no new deadline, and the progress was very slow.

IMG_9134

When I say slow, I mean SLOW. The three pictures below showed the tiling of two of the bathroom walls, which took three months. THREE MONTHS! Some days we came home saw three tiles laid, and other days we only see tools being moved around.

IMG_9132

IMG_9136

IMG_9148

When an adult decided to not do his job there is really nothing you can do. By adult I mean our contractor. I considered firing him multiple times during the renovation, especially after he missed the July 8th deadline. But Slav advocated to keep him at least the quality of his work was decent. But when the wall of dark tile was laid, we could definitely see a drop on the quality of the work. And this was the last straw that breaks the camel’s back.

IMG_9665

Another red flag with this contractor is that none of his subcontractors showed up on time. His drywall-er came in at night without notifying us, and his plumber friend never showed up. More recently, after we painted the basement, his electrician who wired the can lights was expected to come back and finish the rough-ins and installing the outlets and switches. But for weeks, our contractor failed to get him back. More ironically, this electrician is actually our contractor’s brother! How could we trust a contractor if his own brother does not want to work with him?

IMG_9559

When October rolled around, we realized neither electrical or plumbing would be finished by professionals. Our then contractor, despite his lack of experience, was planning to finish everything himself. This explained why he was not making progress – he does not know HOW to finish these things properly.

IMG_9666

By this point we just want to get the project wrapped up. We did not need a functional basement right away when we hired this contractor, but that was assuming the project would have been finished by July 8th. Slav’s mom is coming for Christmas and we are looking forward to hosting more family and friends in the coming spring. Besides we are just too tired of seeing exposed electrical wires by now!

In the bath

IMG_9607

So, this was the state of the union as of Oct. 23rd, the day we let the incompetent contractor go. It may look like we were close to the finishing line, but unfortunately we were not.

The Unfinished surfaces

IMG_9669

For one, the dark wall of tiles are not grouted, and the white tile wall has several unfinished edges we have to cover somehow. Slav will finish the grouting himself – we have ordered the right colors of grout and silicone caulk. And I will be tackling the painting drywall work as soon as Slav finishes grouting.

IMG_9670

On a side note, Slav actually does not have any grouting experience either. But he is handy and good at learning new things. And he takes his time. If there is one bright side of this unfortunate contractor experience, that is I now appreciate Slav a lot more for his dependability and responsible work ethics. Apparently not everyone is a man of integrity but I am lucky to be with a good one. 🙂

Installing fixtures and finishing plumbing

The next step will be installing all the bathroom fixture, including the toilet, vanity/sinks, medicine cabinet, and shower fixtures. We have brought in an expert for the work, who pointed out several plumbing mistakes our previous contractor made with the first glance. Nothing cannot be fixed, and we are looking forward to a functional toilet down here really soon.

IMG_9668

Bathroom electrical finish

In addition to general electrical finish, such as outlets and switches, we needed to add two more mini can lights in the soffit which involves drilling the tiles. We brought in a wonderful electrician (his name is Paul) who installed these babies in just one morning:

IMG_9674

Paul also installed all the switches and outlet for the bath. His work completed the electrical in the bathroom, including two ceiling can lights, two mini can lights on the soffit, and one bathroom fan.

IMG_9690

IMG_9675

Finishing the electrical for the rest of the basement

We also asked Paul to finish the rest of the electrical here for us. The previous electrician, the brother of our previous contractor, seemed to have done a decent job (phew). With Paul’s help, we added breakers to the subpanel, finished all the can lights, installed all the switches for can lights as well as all the outlets:

living room can lights

IMG_9686

controlled by two three-way dimmer switches:

IMG_9680

IMG_9682

Bed room can lights and switches:

IMG_9687

IMG_9677

IMG_9676

Paul also installed the wall sconces in the bedroom.

IMG_9685

IMG_9672

They are on dimmer and give the best warm light in the evening:

IMG_9689

The new to-do list

As we are coming down from this intense rollercoaster ride, here is the to-do list we still have to tackle for the basement reno 1.0.

Finding new bath vanity and sinks (the one we purchases back in June does not work with the plumbing our contractor did… SAD!)
Installing bathroom fixtures + medicine cabinet + vanity
Installing a glass shower door
Installing closets in the bedroom
Installing 4 new doors for the bathment bedroom, bathroom, and entry, including a pocket door between the bath and the bedroom
Installing baseboards and trims in the bedroom and media room

These tasks will for sure take us beyond the holidays, so we would have to move into the basement without baseboard or even doors. But that is OK as long as we have a working bathroom! So for now, we are focusing on bathroom finishes and everything bathroom. Stay tuned, friends!

Page 1 of 40

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén