B&A: I Hacked an IKEA PAX System into a Storage Vanity for Less than $1,000

published Apr 13, 2023
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Bedroom with small desk and mirror next to fireplace before adding Ikea Pax vanity.
Credit: Lily Zacharias

I love nothing more than sitting down at a vanity to get ready, but I love nothing less than the clutter that inevitably gathers on top of it. My bedroom has a 6-by-2-foot space that should fit a vanity perfectly, but I could never get it to match the clean, zen vibe I wanted for the room. 

Eventually, I gave up on my vanity dreams and the space became home to a loveseat, which served little purpose besides becoming a landing pad for clothes.

Credit: Lily Zacharias

At the start of 2023, I was fed up with clutter, doing my makeup in the bathroom, and this little space not living up to its full potential. 

I resolved to find a solution that met the following three criteria: 

  1. Comfort. The desktop needed to be a non-standard height to accommodate a family heirloom chair.
  2. Aesthetic function. The space is right next to my bed, so the solution needed to not only be attractive, but also conceal any clutter.
  3. Budget. All in all, I wanted to spend less than $1,000. 

Enter: the IKEA PAX system. I used IKEA’s online planner to design a three-cabinet setup with floor-to-ceiling storage and an adjustable desktop that could be installed at the exact height of my chair.

Credit: Lily Zacharias

The boxes were about an inch taller than my wall, so I hired a handyman who specializes in IKEA installs to trim it down and make sure the unit was perfectly level so the doors would hang correctly. 

The side cabinets feature a combination of shelves and drawers to hold all my makeup, skincare, bulky sweatshirts, pajamas, and winter socks. I installed three wide shelves in the middle to display my cutest shoes, which freed up tons of space in my closet.

Credit: Lily Zacharias

I strategically styled the desktop to hold only the essentials: a well-lit makeup mirror, a tray for daily jewelry, a canister of cotton rounds, and a tiny desktop trash can. The key to this whole solution is the pull-out shelf that lets me see all my makeup at a glance, then quickly tucks right back out of sight. 

Credit: Lily Zacharias

The finishing touches that pull the look together are a fluffy rug to rest my feet on, white plastic plugs to fill all peg holes, extra-long door handles, and leftover Rifle Paper Co. wallpaper to line the inside — and match my closet just down the hall. 

One weekend of installation and organization and $950 later, my room has never looked so polished, chic, and, most importantly, clutter-free!

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