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. Jessica says

    I just wanted to let you know that the Domino Magazine link at the bottom of this post no longer works – I’d love to see this example if you are able to find a link that works!

    This bedroom is amazing! I am going to close on a house in July and the bedrooms don’t have very big closets – I might try to get my husband to agree to take on this project with me!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Jessica,

      Sorry that link at the bottom over to Domino magazine wasn’t working for ya (they’ve since folded and closed down their site). Very sad. It was basically a similar solution to our built-in storage project except they created an arch of cabinetry that stretched over the head of the bed as well (since there was no window there). Hope it helps!


  2. Jaedyn says

    Oh wow! I love this transformation so much! We also have an old home (built in the 40’s), and have been scratching our heads trying to figure out a good layout for our master room. A closet had been built as an afterthought, and it cuts into our space, making it impossible to have a nice “flow” in the room. But this is completely PERFECT for our room!! I’m definately doing this to our space! Thanks for the inspiration!!

  3. Julie says

    Hi! My husband and I just bought a tiny, mostly remodeled home and I came across your site while exploring paint colors. I love what you have done and you’ve given me great ideas.

    We too are considering the Ikea wardrobes because the master doesn’t have a closet (at all). Have you been happy with them? Did you consider the actual sliding doors that they sell vs. the drapes? I need to go look at them at the store to fully grasp what they look like and all the “inner components.”

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Julie,

      We actually considered doors but since we knew we’d be sleeping between them (and because John gets up a bit earlier than me) we liked the fact that curtains don’t slam like doors (they’re very quiet to slide open and shut). We also actually got two differently sized wardrobes (the window above the bed is off center, so John’s wardrobe is a bit wider than mine) and in using two differently sized wardrobes, only one of them could be fitted with doors (mine was a less regular size so it didn’t come with a door option). Needless to say, this made curtains seem like the way to go! And over a year later we’re still loving everything about them. They’re easy, convenient and they really add ambiance and softness to our master bedroom. Hope it helps!


  4. Kara says

    Oh my gosh, I stumbled on your site today and LOVE it!!! We bought an old 50’s home for our first house and have been redoing everything. We also are huge IKEA and West Elm fans (I have the same capiz shell lamp!) I really love what you did with the bedroom and think that would work great for our master bedroom since my husband currently has NO closet space. We would be covering up a window with one of the wardrobes and in the center would just be our wall and headboard. My question is, should I still put up curtains in between the wardrobe to complete the look or should I just go with some artwork?

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Kara,

      So glad you found us! If you don’t have an exposed window that’s visible between the wardrobes I would definitely hang some art work in lieu of curtains (or even a curvy round mirror to bounce around some light). Hope it helps! Happy decorating…


  5. tiggyT says

    hi Sherry,

    what you’ve done with the bedroom is fantastic, getting such a sleek finish is especially impressive considering the dimensions are unsymmetrical. i was just wondering what you do to block out the light from the window when you want to sleep – do the curtains close over the lamps or is there a blind somewhere that i can’t see?

    i’ve only recently found this site –
    *LOVE* your home, it is the perfect blend of cosy and stylish!


    • YoungHouseLove says

      Thanks Tig! We actually have a roll down shade to block out the sunlight that hides under the white roman shade on the bigger window, and we leave the smaller window above the bed uncovered since the sun doesn’t rise from that side of the house so the room remains pretty dark even without it covered. Hope it helps!


  6. Joelle says

    John and Sherry,

    I love you site and all the things you have done to your house! Question – our bedroom has a vaulted ceiling but I am in love with the way the molding looks against your wall color. Can you put molding up in a vaulted ceiling or would that look weird?


    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Joelle,

      It really depends how things work out, but implementing our built-ins with a vaulted ceiling could still frame the bed out nicely and look great. You’d definitely have to be sure that they look wall to wall like ours (since freestanding boxes will look out of place if they’re not visually attached to the room in some way) and hopefully you can still add that decorative molding for a polished and grand look even though they won’t meet the ceilings at the top. Hope it helps!


    • YoungHouseLove says

      West Elm- we love it too! It’s not available there in the round shape anymore (although there’s a similar capiz chandelier that’s rectangular) but perhaps google or ebay will help you find one that’s a closer match (or even identical). I’d search for “capiz chandelier” and see what comes up. Hope it helps!


  7. says

    I come via ikea hacker. I love your added closet space. It looks fabulous! I am also part of a young family with an older house (1958), but we have a walk-in master closet(!) that is original(!!).

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Wendy,

      So glad you found us! I can’t believe you’re the lucky owner of an older home with a walk-in closet in the master bedroom. Talk about hitting the jackpot!


  8. Jill says

    Well, this is crazy…. I just stumbled upon your site last night doing a search for toilet paper storage and then this morning, you’re featured on IKEA hacker! And to top it off, it looks like at least one of you lived in the new dorms at UVA (as did I!) Small world. Awesome job on your site and your home!!!!

  9. says

    I don’t remember how I found your blog, but I love it and I LOVE the work you did on this bedroom. Question: where did you get your pretty blue bed cover (comforter or duvet)? I love white print on it!

    P.S. For your readers, I think you can still find a round capiz chandelier at Cost Plus World Market for only $65.

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Amy,

      Good to know about the chandy at World Market- thanks! As for the duvet, it’s from West Elm but is no longer available. Maybe ebay? Happy hunting…


  10. says

    I just got hooked on the Ikea Hacker web site. You’ve done a beautiful job with your home!

    When I first looked at the picture of your bed I thought the dog was a toy. I had to look again and read the comment! LOL

  11. Ashley says

    i love your site! we just bought a new home and i am feeling a little overwhelmed with all the emptiness to fill. i was wondering what color paint you used in your master bedroom?

  12. says

    I found your blog via IkeaHacker, and I just wanted to say that I LOVE what you did with the room!! The wardrobes tryuly do look like they were built-in now.

    My husband and I also have a 50-something year old little house with small rooms and not much closet space, so I’m definitely bookmarking this idea away as a possible project for our own space. :)

  13. says

    So, so gorgeous! And smart! I wish my husband and I were that crafty.

    I cracked up at “the dreaded Allen wrench.” It’s so true. I cry a little every time we have to build something from Ikea.

    Off to dig into your archives!

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