Adding Ikea Wardrobes For A Built-In Bed Nook & More Storage

We started 2008 with a home improvement bang like no other. We were up at 8:20 am and on the road to Ikea by 9. What would motivate two sleep-deprived twenty-somethings to get up that early on our last day off? How about the thought of gaining not one, but two more bedroom closets?! That’s right, we finally decided that one tiny closet in the master bedroom (which forced John to keep all his clothes in the guest bedroom) was not enough. So on New Years Day we (fittingly) resolved to do something about it.

Here’s the New Years Day play by play:

8:20 am- Up and at em’.

9:00 am- Hit the road for Ikea.

11:00 am- Arrive. Hightail it to the closet department.

12:30 pm- Leave $460 poorer with two giant wardrobes to flank the bed (plus tons of interior fittings).

2:00 pm- Arrive home. Rest.

2:05 pm- Enough sitting around. The wardrobes aren’t going to put themselves together.

2:06 pm- Forget to shoot a “before” photo, but here’s an old pic for reference:

2:15 pm- Move out the side tables and get out the dreaded allen wrench.

3:50 pm- One wardrobe frame done, one to go.

4:30 pm- Build second wardrobe frame. Re-hang curtains on back wall in an attempt to enlarge that tiny window

4:35 pm- Enjoy a victory bowl of cereal after shooting this “during” photo.

Wardrobe During

5:25 pm- Quick trip to Lowe’s to get long screws to anchor the behemoths to the wall, which annoyingly Ikea didn’t provide.

6:15 pm- Install six glorious shelves and a hanging bar in Sherry’s wardrobe.

7:30 pm- Install three drawers and a hanging bar in John’s wardrobe (two shelves were also meant to be added, but we realized we bought the wrong size- d’oh)

8:30 pm- Burger King run. We can’t survive on cereal and home improvement endorphins alone.

9:30 pm- Finally get all of our clothes, shoes, bags, and belts into our two fantastic wonderful beautiful new closets (the guest bedroom closet is now empty- amazing).

10:00 pm- Hang matching white curtains on both wardrobes. Step back and HATE them (we thought it would look soft and elegant- it wound up looking like a cheap Trading Spaces project).

Bedroom Curtains

10:05 pm- Realize we both like it infinitely more with the curtains pushed to the side (they look more like fancy built ins, and not like a cheapo bookcase swathed in fabric).

Wardrobes After

The next few days were full of progress. We ran to Home Depot and grabbed 7 inch molding to add to the tops of the wardrobes so that they appear more flush to the ceiling (bridging that 4″ gap that used to be painfully obvious on top of each wardrobe). Our next stop was Linens N’ Things where we picked up a few heavy curtain panels in rich chocolate brown. Back home we extended the wardrobes to the ceiling with the molding, hung the new brown panels around the window, and rehung the curtains in front of each wardrobe flush with the ceiling. Here’s what it all looks like now that we’ve bridged the gap. The wardrobes were definitely looking better with the gap bridged, but we weren’t so crazy about the dark chocolate curtains.

Actual Bedroom

So we returned ’em and went on a curtain shopping spree. In fact you wouldn’t believe us if we told you how much money we spent. But we’re going to tell you anyway- close to $500. Yeesh. That’s a lotta loot. But we realized we needed lots of different curtain choices to make a final decision, so we got oodles of options (from Bed Bath & Beyond, Linens N’ Things, and Target) and then took them home for a little curtain fashion show (don’t worry, we returned every pair except for our favorites).

Here’s Burger sniffing out the competition:

Burger n curtains

Although we had many (many) curtain panels to choose from, there was immediately a clear winner. The gorgeous khaki chenille-esque curtains with the subtle crosshatched pattern for a little added texture from Bed Bath & Beyond. Bellisimo.

Bedroom After

As our curtain crisis came to a close, then came the exciting hunt for plug-in swing-arm lamps for above the bed. Ok, maybe “exciting” isn’t the right word, but I tend to get a little thrill when I can check any project off my list.

After striking out at several places including Lowe’s (no swing-arms), Restoration Hardware (too pricey) we had just about given up on Richmond’s lighting stock. Luckily, we ended up visiting my parents in Northern Virginia and stumbled upon a Lamp Factory Outlet.

There, amongst endless rows of table lamps and chandeliers, we found the perfect option: two brushed nickel, plug-in, swing-arm lamps for only $40 a piece. About $200 dollars cheaper than most of the other options we saw. We snagged ‘em (the last two in stock!) and as of last night they’re officially swinging from our bedroom wall. We couldn’t be happier with the dramatic result:

Bedroom with Lights

The room definitely looks more finished and hotel-ish, so we can’t wait to curl up with a good book and order some room service. Ok, wishful thinking.

Here’s a close-up. You can see how we tucked the base behind the curtain and angled the lamp arm around the edge for a more polished look.

Detail Light

But alas, this project wasn’t quite finished. Instead of having two refrigerator sized boxes on either side of the bed, we wanted them to look more finished. So we decided to mount a wide piece of wood to the ceiling that would hang in front of both wardrobes and serve as a header (to make the bed feel like it’s tucked into a built-in nook). I know that sounds confusing, so I’ll just let a few pictures do the talking.

Here’s a photo of the wardrobes before the header:

Bedroom Before

And here’s a during shot:

Bedroom During

Now I’ll ask for a drum roll. After painting the header and re-hanging the curtains, the eight inch plank of wood makes a major difference. And the crown molding is the icing on the cake. Here’s a detail shot so you can get up close and personal with our new master bedroom built-in:


And here’s a shot of the full monty:

Bedrooom After

Now laying in bed truly feels like you’re tucked into a cozy little nook instead of squeezed between two large, unrelated pieces of furniture. The whole layout looks a lot more deliberate, which is exactly what we were going for.

So that’s the story of two people trying to turn a 12 by 13 foot room into something special. Fifty year old houses don’t have giant master suites with monster closets and attached bathrooms, so you gotta do what you can to make a tiny room (that looks just like the other bedrooms) appear special. So what do you think? Mission accomplished?

***UPDATE: Since a lot of people have requested them, we snapped some photos of how the curtain rod is attached behind the header on the ceiling. You can see below how it’s a cheap-o curtain rod that sits on a bracket we attached to the piece of molding bridging the gap between the wardrobe and ceiling. We had to hang it down a couple of inches from the ceiling so there was enough room to lift the rod off (you can see the two holes above the bracket proving we learned this the hard way!).


  1. roxy says

    Hey Guys~

    It looks great!! What a great idea!! One question, I couldn’t help noticing that cool capiz light fixture you have over your bed. May I ask where it’s from?

    Take care!

  2. says

    Love the crown molding! Looks great!! Question- do you mind sharing which curtains you ended up going with and where they were from? I LOVE them and think they might work for us… the khaki colored, chenille-like ones with the pattern?? I would really appreciate it.

    By the way- your house is just fantastic and a real inspiration to me!!

  3. YoungHouseLove says

    Hey Roxy,

    The capiz chandelier is from West Elm. There are so many duplicates out there but only one for the price- $99!


    The curtains were from Bed Bath & Beyond. They were a pretty good price (maybe 25 bucks each?).

    Good luck girls, and happy shopping!


  4. Carla says

    Just found your blog and I must say that this looks awesome. Very cozy and master-y. Which IKEA wardrobes did you use to pull off the look?


  5. Lauren says


    Couldn’t make out from the photo how the header was attached. Can you explain? By the way, love your site!


  6. YoungHouseLove says

    The header is screwed right into a stud that we found in the ceiling (from behind so the screw heads don’t show). Although a handyman helped us with this step, in the future we think we could totally take it on since the only “hard” part was making sure that a stud actually existed (which was quite simple thanks to some knocking and a few nail hole checks). Hope that helps!


  7. Regina says

    Love the look and your blog. However, I must ask where do you put the alarm clock and/or bedside phone? Do you miss not having a bedside table.

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Regina,

      We actually keep our bedside stuff (cell phone, alarm clock, jewelry, contact case) inside each of our wardrobes on a shelf that’s around the height of a side table- which is still easily reached from bed. We just slip our hands behind the curtain and grab whatever we need… and it’s easy and clean-looking since it’s all out of sight. Hope it helps!


  8. says

    John & Sherry –

    You know I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now, and here and there I’ve been reading some archived posts. I have to tell you that this is my *favorite* YHL post!!! :) I’ve loved your master bedroom since I first saw it, but this post gives a whole new perspective on how it gradually came about. I especially love the way you shared your trial and error approach to the curtain selection and how you just kept fudging with things until you got the look you were after. Never be ashamed to return what doesn’t work, right? :)

    I’ve been reading a lot about interior lighting lately, and I really think your chandelier and wall lights *make* this room. They add that special touch, like a great pair of earrings and a bracelet :) Beautiful!!! And I know y’all are pleased as punch with how it turned out. You should be :)

    It’s gorgeous.


  9. Amanda says

    I was introduced to your blog recently by a coworker of mine. We are both commercial interior designers. We could design all day for others but when it comes to our own homes, we seem to get design brain freeze! Thank you for all your inspring posts. I’m officially addicted!

    I have to say this is ultimately my favorite. Partially because my husband and I live in a 60 year old house that has only (2) “closets” (and I use the word closet very loosely). I have finally convinced my husband that we should create this same look in our “master” bedroom. I have just a few questions. What did you attach the curtains to? Are they attached to the wardrobe or ceiling? Also – what white curtains did you purchase for this installation? I know you mention Vivan as your favorite whites at IKEA. Are these the same?

    Love the blog! Keep it comin’!

  10. YoungHouseLove says

    Hey Amanda,

    We actually used cheap thin metal Walmart curtain rods attached to the top of the wardrobes (not the ceiling) so the curtains can be easily removed for cleaning. Thanks to the wooden header (mounted to the ceiling across the whole wall in front of the built-ins) the rods aren’t seen and the whole thing look a lot more seamless.

    And although we love Vivan panels they’re too sheer for this job so we went with the more expensive, heavier weight panels (don’t remember the name but they were nice and heavy and cost about $30 for 2 (we went with four so we have two on each side that can part in the middle for easy closet access). Hope it helps! Happy hanging…


  11. says

    Hey Sherry, I know this doesn’t help you now that you’re finished with your curtain project, but I actually started sewing my own. It’s incredibly easy, saves you money, and best of all you can choose curtain styles and fabric patterns of your choice, and come up with crafty ways to use the remnants.

  12. tara doherty says

    I heart this master suite…I was wondering are both of the PAX wardrobes the same size??? And can I ask what size they are???



    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Tara,

      They’re actually slightly different sizes since the window isn’t centered but by hanging curtains to cheat the window a bit towards the middle of the room and using two slightly different sized wardrobes it makes the whole wall seem a lot more symmetrical. We think John’s is 39″ wide and mine is 29″. Hope it helps!


  13. John says

    Hi, my wife and I are having a disagreement about the lamps – I think your lamps are on vertical stands that extend all the way to the floor hidden behind the curtains and the bed and she thinks they are lamps with a short arm screwed into the wall behind the curtains. Which is it? We’re dying to know.

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey John,

      She’s right! They’re wall-mounted swing arm lamps that peek out (thanks to their long bent arm) from behind the curtains. They’re actually plug-in versions since we had an outlet conveniently located nearby so we didn’t even have to hardwire ’em. Hope it helps!


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