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. Heather says

    Hey there,
    I just stumbled across your blog and let me tell you, i am SO inspired!! My husband and I will be closing on our home within weeks and I have been looking for storage ideas as the house does not have many closets and the rooms are on the small side. I LOVE LOVE how you used the ikea wardrobes in your bedroom. Your whole house is beautiful. One sidenote however, the pictures of the process you went through in putting up the wardrobes do not seem to be showing on my computer. Nor do the pictures of your floorplan. Any idea on what i can do to be able to view them? Any input would be appreciated. Also, another question…out of curiosity, what are the dimensions of your bedroom? I will be in touch as i start working on my own home within the months to come. Thank you for your ideas and for helping me to become EXCITED rather than overwhelmed about the upcoming process!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Heather,

      We’re so excited you found our site and we’re sorry about the pictures not loading! We’re actually switching everything to our new site: so in the transition things might be a little choppy but they should be up and running asap (in fact some of them are even up now). Oh and our bedroom is 12×13. Good luck with your own home makeovers!


  2. Robert says

    Great site… We just purchased our first flat here in London. If you’re ever planning on being in the area then we have a job/major challenge for you. One bed flats here are exactly overflowing with storage space and I’m running short on ideas.

    Would you have any suggestions for storage over the door frames without making it look like you just chucked a couple of cabinets over them? That’s the best I’m coming up with at the moment.

    Also, Thanks for the idea on the wardrobes. We were dreading the thought of Ikea but you made them look great, these will save us a minimum of $2000 from the other options we had considered. The main difference we will have will be the lack of a window above the bed so I’m wondering how I can dress it up without having that feature or highlighting it like you have. Any thoughts?

    Thanks again,

    • says

      Hey Robert,

      Instead of a window above the bed you can hang a big mirror (which will create the same effect and bounce around lots of light) or even hang a nice piece or art or an unframed canvas up there for a nice little focal point between the built-ins. Either way it’ll look just as lovely as a window! As for the shelf above the door question, I have no ideas other than to select something crisp and clean like a nice white floating shelf and maybe carrying it across the whole wall of the room (or even around the entire room) to create a sleek ledge for storage that doesn’t look very temporary or tossed up (and resembles the look of a custom built-in more). Hope it helps!


  3. KT says

    I am getting very addicted to your site. We live in NoVA and are in the process of searching for a home to buy (put an offer on one this week). I love how you updated your bedroom, would you mind sharing the name ofthe lighting store you used? I have a feeling we will be needing to update a lot for whichever home we end up with. Please feel free to email if you prefer.

  4. Debbie says

    I love your master bedroom makeover. I husband and I moved into a 15 year old split level and have NO CLOSET SPACE. I have one question about your room… did you have a closet to begin with? If yes, did you keep that space as well?

    Thanks so much, and your directions for painting cabinets were very helpful!

    • says

      Hey Debbie,

      Yes, we did keep our tiny existing closet for hanging full length things like suits and dresses (since the wardrobes only have shelves on the bottom half). Hope it helps!


  5. says

    We just bought a ranch built in 1957 in Denver, Colorado last friday! Needless to say, your blog came around at just the right time (I think your wedding was featured on Snippet & Ink?) We are facing a similar issue in our bedroom…gotta love the “closets” in a house from the 50’s! I know that your blog is going to be a great resource as we begin to renovate…after our wedding in September! Thank you for sharing!

  6. aiisa says

    OMG! Reading your story of the master bdrm makeover had me laughing my head off (& my kitties looking at me like I am _crazy_). You guys totally pulled this off! I tried something similar in an old apt, but it did not work out, and I ended up reselling the PAX and reconfiguring my closet instead. Once again, great job!

  7. Linda says

    LOVE IT! You are both very creative and full of great design sense.
    Thanks for sharing and inspiring us! Linda

  8. Kristy says

    That is amazing. Love your ideas. Can you tell me the brand of closets from ikea or the web address? I can’t seem to find the ones you used. Thank you~

  9. Erica says


    I have embarked on this project too! I NEED HELP! First I found two identical wardrobes on craigslist that were the right size $20. I brought them home last night and put casters/wheels on them (I have a dog so everything has to be on wheels so I can vacuum) NOW, I am trying to put up the header and I have an old 50’s house with plaster ceilings. I got the wood and some brackets. I also got these plastic screws that are supposed to be really strong in plaster. I don’t think they are going to be secure enough. I know I will have nightmares of this header falling on me in the middle of my sleep. So I started drilling and looking for studs. I can’t find any in these plaster ceilings? HOW DO YOU FIND A STUD IN A PLASTER CEILING? HOW DID YOU ATTACH YOUR HEADER TO THE CEILING?

    I hope you get back to me soon! I am in the middle of this project. . . and need advice.


    • says

      Hey Erica,

      We actually had a handyman friend come over and help us with our header because we had a hard time finding studs in our plaster ceiling as well. He was able to go up into the attic and look at the way the beams ran and knock on the ceiling until he found one. Then of course to make sure we were right on it we drilled a screw in and it held like crazy. If you hit a stud you won’t need plastic screws or crazy anchors since good old long metal screws will hold your wooden header into the wooden beam overhead like a charm. Hope it helps! And don’t be afraid to ask for help from a handy friend or even hire a handyman for the day to get that header up and keep yourself safe from falling lumber in the middle of the night. Trust me, it’s totally worth it!


  10. erica says


    I went up in the attic and did just that. It’s the only way to find them that worked. Love this project. . . curtains tomorrow.

    Thanks for the ideas and help!

  11. Jennifer says

    Looks beautiful. Very inspiring. Windows over the bed are tricky. One question – how do you cover the window at night? The lamps look like they prevent the curtains from closing.

    • says

      That window is on the opposite side of the rising sun so it stays uncovered all night. We do wake up with a bit of light in the room but nothing too bright (which actually helps us get up). Hope it helps!


  12. JillyB says

    I’m working on a similar project in our closet-less, 109-year-old mill house. How did you hang the curtains in the closets? I can’t decide if I should hang a rod inside or outside the top of the closet frame. Thanks!

    • says

      Hey JillyB,

      We used cheap metal curtain rods (sort of shaped like a long “U” and attached them to the sides of the baseboard that we used to extend the top of the wardrobes to ceiling height). In essence, they protrude outside the top of the wardrobes and the curtains drape down to the floor in front of both of them. They really didn’t look finished until we hung the wooden header from the ceiling to obscure the bunched curtains over the tops of the rods. Once that was up everything looked built-in and seamless. Hope it helps!


  13. Jenny says

    That project turned out awesome. We are currently renovating our house, which was built in 1890. The closets are small and had 3 hooks each. That was all!!!! Too bad I don’t just have a work dress, a sunday dress, and my everyday dress. haha!

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