Beginner IKEA Wardrobe Makeover Hack From The Least DIY Person on Planet Earth

I recently saw something on Amazon and as I scrolled through the pictures it read, “So easy, even a woman can do it.” Of course, it was horribly offensive, but (yes, this is awful) there was definitely a part of me that was very comforted that perhaps it WAS easy enough for me. (This might be the beginning and end of an unpromising future in blogging.) Anyway, the purpose of that sordid tale is to tell you that I am literally useless at creating anything, but despite my limited skills, I was able to make a pretty cool wardrobe. So, if that comforts you, read on. (I get no credit for the affiliate links, so coupon code away.)

A victim of too many clothes and nothing to wear, the modern Rime of the Ancient Mariner, I constantly struggled with trying everything on and still not finding what I was looking for. The other victim? My innocent floor, struggling to make eye contact through the garments, wanting to be seen. Was there any hope for either of us?  

After we started The Stylish Closet, fondly known as TSC to us, I was able to streamline, manage, wear and look pretty good in my clothes. And, maybe most importantly, make some very needed space in our small San Francisco home.  

Prior to this project, I had been living with two closets in our bedroom, 2 dressers (each with 6 drawers) and two closets in the guest room – all filled to the brink with clothes. If I had to put a count to it, I would estimate that I had over 2,000 pieces of clothing. 

I was able to use TSC to get rid of the dressers and bring everything into the bedroom by giving away over 1,000 pieces (A topic for another time, but these were enormous bags of clothes. And with each bag that left my house, I felt SO MUCH lighter!!!) and by getting a wardrobe. However when shopping for the wardrobe (the cloud of irony heavy here) none of them were the right “fit.” They were all too bulky or too expensive or not my style.

Enter the Ikea Wardrobe Project. Two Brimnes wardrobes, each at $149, pure white – tons of possibilities. There are a lot of really fun makeovers and my personal favorite is this absolutely delicious blue version by Megan Zietz at TFDiaries. Blue wasn’t going to work with my decor, though, and I wanted something super unique. So, we had to try a few different versions and finally (finally) nailed it. Or just saved it from complete destruction, depending on your view. If you try this, I hope to save you some trial and error time. And maybe some money. Sanity. Embarrassment. (That last one might just be me, but you will likely feel bad for me soon.) 

First, I wallpapered the inside. It’s fun and pretty and gives me a little spunky surprise every time that I open a door. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy with this peel and stick paper, but I am sure any will do.  

VINYL PANELS

As I tend to do, I made a really bad call with the paneling. It wasn’t quite as bad of a decision as say, getting lip injections or bangs if you have thick hair and a small forehead all right before a big event (again, a topic for another time – although, I highly (highly) advise against it) but it was still pretty bad. See, I was looking for a disco 70’s vibe and I loved how these popped. The problem was that the walls were 15 inches wide and the panels were 20 inches. So, they had to be cut. No sweat, right?

Trial 1: Rotary scissors. Fail. Not even close. Did not cut through. Made me a little sad.
Trial 2: Rental of a rotary saw. Fail. This is probably a user error issue, but the panels actually started cracking in front of my very eyes. Disheartening, but renting something – anything – from the hardware store? Kind of cool.
Trial 3: Paper trimmer guillotine. BOOM. Perfect.

So, I cut along super excited and bought some gorilla glue. And after I did my hair, (Sorry! Too soon? Too mean?) I applied the panels to the doors. Then, I spray primed them and then spray painted the panels gold. I was feeling like they were funky. And cool. Like, check, check, check, check. Cut panels, glued panels, painted panels, looks cool. NOT CHECK. NOT COOL. FUNKY IN THE BAD WAY. Because here is what I did not do when thinking about 3D panels – consider that they are 3D! So, the doors couldn’t open all of the way without hitting each other. What??? Such a bust. I had to start again and took off the panels and the doors were wrecked and cracked underneath. Well, where to now friends?

FOAM PANELS

Okay, so if the biggest issue is how far they come out, then let’s try for a flat panel with a 3D effect, right? I found these quilted ones. There is a large error looming here, but I was still in a metallic state of mind. And, I thought that these copper ones would be really cool. 

The guillotine came in handy and I was able to cut the panels to be in the center of each door.

But, remember that the doors were jacked up, so I had to paint them. Back to the spray primer, but this time silver paint on the white, cracked, somewhat gold doors where the original panels were pulled from. Why didn’t I stick with gold? Well, the original gold spray paint was really gold. So, to the art store we go and get some silver spray paint. And stuck the cut copper panels onto the silver doors.

And???? 

Well???

No bueno. Zero buenos were to be had.

Silver walls + copper wall panels = ugly bank vault.

I even tried adding door handles to kind of bring it together. And it was like trying to make “fetch” happen. There was no way to be happy with the bank vault. The 70’s disco panels died the same death as the leisure suit. And I was not going to be good with putting my now carefully selected clothes into either.

A White Quilted Dream

(Note: This may be triggering for those who read words like white and quilted during a pandemic. Please understand that making your way through this post is far more painful than a paper shortage.)

Okay, if you have gotten this far – Hi, Mom. Love you. 🙂 I painted the whole thing white. I want to be clear. There was a WHITE option available when I bought the copper. But, I figured that it could look more like a Chanel knockoff than a poorly placed copper bowl that rusted outside. 

  1. Silver doors were painted white (please recall that the original IKEA doors came in white)
  2. Copper Panels were painted white (twas available in white)
  3. I went back and forth with black and acrylic handles, but ultimately settled on these lovely beauties.
  4. And, I added these pulls to give it a designer-ish vibe. 

And what could have been done in a few days took me a few weeks, but I learned a lot, hope to save others from really stupid mistakes, spent very little $ and have a pretty fantastic closet. Maybe even a Stylish Closet, if you will. xoxo – TT

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