Create an organized office with the IKEA PAX system! Learn how to design and install IKEA’s PAX system to maximize your storage space!
It’s no secret that I love organizing at any time of year, but I get especially excited about it in January! The New Year always feels like a blank slate where anything is possible, and I was determined that this year I wanted to tackle one of the big organization projects that I’ve been waiting to take on since we moved into our house over a year ago now…my office!
My office space was one of the biggest things that sold me on the model of home we chose to build. Since I work from home, a really functional office space is absolutely essential, and this one had a ton of potential. It is technically the “bonus room” over the garage, and it is huge– about 22′ x 14′! When we moved in, it was a big, empty space, and I was excited to start filling it up.
Since I knew my office was going to be a big project, I decided to tackle it in phases. Right around Mother’s Day this past year, I completed phase one: my little nook!
I was thrilled to have a small piece of my office the way I wanted it, but the rest of it still needed some serious work. Probably the biggest obstacle that I was facing was that I had almost no storage space. The room doesn’t have a closet, and the storage pieces I used in my old office stayed with our previous house. I scrounged up any extra furniture I could get my hands on and did the best I could with what I had…
…but it still felt cluttered, and I knew I needed a more permanent solution. Enter, January! With the month of organization upon us, I decided that it was time for phase 2 of my office plan to get underway! I wanted to find a way to add functional, beautiful storage to this corner, so I started dreaming and scheming and looking into different options.
One option I considered was bookshelves. I had open bookshelves in my previous office and I really liked them, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted more closed off storage in this room.
My next thought was to bring in lower and upper kitchen cabinets. I knew this would give me tons of storage, but I began to worry that kitchen cabinets would look out of place in an office. As I took inventory of all of the items I was trying to store, I also realized that many of them were tall, vertical pieces that wouldn’t fit well in kitchen-like cabinets anyway.
Grab our free organizing guide, 7 Simple Starting Points!
This quick guide gives you 7 simple, practical ways to begin to tackle an overwhelming organizing project. (And once you get started, the momentum will help you keep going until it’s complete!)
How to Design and Install the IKEA PAX Storage System
I kept researching and looking into different options, and I was thrilled to come upon the IKEA PAX system. PAX is technically a wardrobe system, but as I looked through the different sizes and options available, I knew it would be the perfect storage solution for my office corner. I pulled up the PAX planner on IKEA’s website and began playing around with different configurations.
There are a ton of possibilities with the planner, but it is broken down in a way that made it simple to build my ideal storage combination. First I had to choose between two height options for my storage unit. My office has 8′ ceilings, so the taller 94″ high cabinets were perfect and really helped me maximize my storage space.
I then needed to choose between the two options for the depth of the cabinets. One of my biggest concerns for this storage unit was that it would look like this big behemoth that we plopped down in the space; I wanted to make sure it flowed naturally with the rest of the room, so I was already leaning toward the narrower of the two depths.
When Donnie and I got out painter’s tape and taped out some different options in the space, we realized that in order to use the deeper cabinet option, we would need to relocate the can light in the ceiling, which we didn’t really want to do, so that solidified our decision to go with the narrower 14″ depth cabinets.
Once we had decided on our height and depth, we played around with a bunch of configurations within the PAX planner. Our unit included a corner, so we started there and built out. We ultimately ended up with (from left to right): a 20″ wide cabinet, a 40″ wide cabinet, the corner unit, and another 20″ wide cabinet.
After I had chosen the cabinet frames, I thought about what I needed to store and configured the interior organizers to match up with my storage needs. I ended up with two sets of four drawers– one wide set and one narrower set– a clothes rail for some hanging items, and a bunch of shelves.
Finally, I selected my door style– I went with the GRIMO doors.
The PAX planner was easy to use, letting me know when there were conflicts between placements of pieces so I could make changes. When I had finalized my plan, it automatically generated a product list for me that I could take to the store so they could pull the exact pieces I needed. The list also included pricing so I knew how much everything was going to cost. (Our combination ended up being about $1000.)
Donnie took our product list to the store, they pulled all of our items, and he loaded up the car and headed home. I was amazed that with as big as I knew our unit would be, they managed to fit all of the pieces in our small-ish SUV!
The assembly process took some time because of the number of pieces we had, but it was straightforward and easy to follow. Donnie built out the frames and anchored them to the wall… at this point I got SO excited about all of the storage that I knew was coming!!!
After we had installed the interior organizers, we attached the doors to the frames. Then to give the unit a more built-in look, Donnie added crown molding to the top, using the same process he used to trim out the cabinets in our IKEA kitchen in our last house. (You can find the crown molding tutorial here.)
I’m not going to lie, when I first walked in the room after Donnie had finished installing everything, my jaw about dropped to the floor. I was in LOVE! (And I couldn’t wait to get organizing!!)
My fears about the unit not fitting in melted away– it was the perfect way to add a ton of storage while not overwhelming the room. The shot below is taken from the doors as you enter the room, and you can see where the unit is compared with the nook.
About half of the room is finished and ready to go! I can hardly believe it!
Because this post is already massively long, I’m going to do a separate post where I talk about the nitty gritty details of how I organized the interiors of the cabinets, but I did want to give a quick peek inside each one so you can see how they are laid out.
A few weeks ago I created a little wrapping station to get ready for Christmas, and all of those items were able to be relocated into the PAX unit– you can see the wrapping paper in the first cabinet. I also used the shelves to hold some of my decor items that aren’t currently in use in other spaces in our house.
(One thing to note: Since the PAX system is a wardrobe system, the shelves are designed to hold clothes and other lightweight items and therefore have a capacity of 26 pounds. Even with my decor items, though, I was able to fit a good amount onto each shelf and stay far under the weight limit.)
My Silhouette cutting machine and supplies fit neatly into the second cabinet, and I used the clothes rail in this cabinet to hang my wreaths and larger gift bags.
There are four long drawers that are able to hold a ton– just what I needed! Because of the door hinges, the drawers can’t attach at the very bottom of the unit, so I was able to slide a few crates I already owned underneath the drawers for extra storage.
Here’s a little peek into one of the drawers. I used some white SKUBB boxes in various sizes to organize my smaller gift wrapping supplies!
When I was planning our PAX configuration, the corner was the most challenging part for me to visualize, so the photo below shows how it is set up. The piece on the right slides behind the piece on the left slightly, but it is shallow enough that everything is still easily accessible.
My FJALLA storage boxes were the perfect size to fit on the top shelves in this cabinet!
I opted to keep a bunch of my faux greenery in the left part of the cabinet, and some of my photography equipment and extra picture frames on the right.
Finally, the last cabinet holds more of my decorative items, my laminator, and the smaller drawers hold some office and craft supplies. Again, I was able to tuck two small storage boxes underneath the drawers to really maximize the storage space.
I am like a giddy little school girl every time I walk in my office these days because the cluttered mess is gone, and I am loving how organized everything is inside the PAX unit! The before and after is pretty unbelievable:
It’s hard to believe that’s the same corner! SO much better! I can find exactly what I need whenever I need it, and I have plenty of space to store things in an organized way. Having the PAX system in place has already saved me so much time and hassle! (Oh and it looks pretty too! 🙂 )
Update: The office is done! You can see all of the projects and the final reveal in these posts:
Creating an Organized Office with the IKEA PAX System (You’re here!)
[Psssttt… Don’t miss our top 100 tips for organizing every single room in your house!]
Have you ever used the PAX system to organize your home? I’d love to hear where and how you’ve used it in the comments below!
I am a Brand Ambassadör for IKEA U.S. This is a sponsored post.