Custom hall closets using Ikea kitchen cabinets

I had this idea for awhile but hadn’t been able to find any blogs showing how it can be done. What if I could use standard Ikea Sektion kitchen cabinets to “fake” custom-built hallway and coat closets?

Lucky for me, my husband is the adventurist type. He is also a little cocky when it comes to DIY projects. That’s gotten us into some trouble in the past (well at least one of us will admit to that), but sometimes it REALLY helps to have the mindset that you’re capable of building pretty much anything.

Here’s some examples of what I wanted the end result to be, but without the cost of custom carpentry. As one of the electricians we had come to bid on our whole house rewire (check out this post if you want to learn more: Rewiring Your House), “this ain’t no million dollar home.”

So custom built-in hall closets were not in the budget. But I have needs, great big storage needs! And aesthetics matter to folks like you and me!

Here are some images of what we were working with when we bought the place.

Pic #1 is the closet door right by the front door. You’re probably asking yourself…isn’t that a garage door? No, my friends, it’s not. That white door is a coat closet door. Yuck.

Pic #2 shows the veneered combined wall/closet thingy. Pic #3 is the same veneered combo after we started tearing stuff apart.

before shot of front door hall closet before we did ikea kitchen cabinets in a closet
before shot veneered hall closet before we did ikea kitchen cabinets in a closet
before shot veneered hall closet before we did ikea kitchen cabinets in a closet

I know what you’re thinking…

So much golden oak.

So much brown grout.

But remember, we’re talking about the closets here. so don’t get distracted. And if you’ve read much on this blog, you know all of that oak and tile was demolished within 2 weeks of escrow closing.

So back to our front entry coat closet and hall/wood-veneer-wall-closet. These two “situations” were the target of my obsession with creating custom closets without hiring a fancy carpenter with their fancy prices.

But Pinterest, for one of the first times ever, was letting me down. Google didn’t help either. I couldn’t find any sort of tutorials or examples of using kitchen cabinets to mimic built-in hall closets.

I did find quite a few posts on using PAX wardrobes to create closets in bedrooms that didn’t have a closet and lots of posts about DIYing new doors to an existing closet. But nothing specifically on using Ikea kitchen cabinets to mimic built-ins.

If we were gonna try this out, we would be on our own for this project. No examples and no youtube instructional videos.

Once again, I’d have to lean on my husband’s self-believe that he can do ANYTHING and just take the risk.

Now for those who know nothing about Ikea kitchen cabinets, they basically come in 2 depths (as of 2020): 15″ and 24″. After some discussion with my husband about the measurements of our 2 hall closets, it appeared we had somehow lucked out.

Or maybe Ikea is so smart they know standard builder-grade sizes for typical hall closets and planned accordingly? Anyway, for whatever reason, the tall cabinets that Ikea offers also come in 2 standard heights: 90″ and 80″. Here are a few examples of what Ikea tall kitchen cabinets I’m talking about.

ikea kitchen cabinets in a closet
ikea kitchen cabinets in a closet
ikea kitchen cabinets in a closet

Low and behold, our hall closet was pretty close to 15″ deep and 80″ tall. And that single closet by the front door was 80″ high and, 30″ wide and a little over 30″ deep. So we would lose some space in the back but these Ikea high cabinets could work!!

So now we just needed to use the Ikea Kitchen Planner Tool to choose the configurations we wanted and get the parts list and place an order at Ikea.

Super easy, right?


Now those who have never used the Ikea Kitchen Planner software, nor ever tried to figure out how to place an order for kitchen cabinets at Ikea have no idea how much I’m oversimplifying this process.

Here’s the reality:

#1 – The Ikea Kitchen Planner tool seriously sucks. It’s wonky, confusing, incredibly frustrating and a pain in the butt to even find online. It sucks so BAD it is one of the major reasons that when it came to our planning our Ikea kitchen (a much bigger project than these 2 hall closets), we paid a company called Inspired Kitchen Designs to deal with it.

If you want to check out that monster of a project, you can start with this post: “Ikea Kitchen with Black Cabinets.” If you want to read our review of using the IKD design service and why we did it, go here: “Should I design my Ikea Kitchen Myself?”

#2 – Going to Ikea can be fun but it’s mostly stressful, usually leads to bickering between spouses and takes forever if you can’t go on a weekday. When we ordered our entire kitchen and the cabinets for the closets, we went at 5:00 in the evening to our local Ikea in Tempe, Arizona and it was deserted. No line at all in the Kitchen Design area.

Now back to our project.

The hall closet by the front door was the easiest to decide on because of the dimensions. I just needed to choose whatever configuration I wanted in a 24″ x 30″ x 80″ high cabinet. We had also decided that because our house was so small, and both closets were in view of the kitchen we would go with the same style of cabinet doors: Kungsbacka.

The Kungsbacka anthracite cabinet fronts are a rich, matte charcoal-black flat cabinet front. This shade of black is very close to the Benjamin Moore color “Black Beauty.” It pairs very nicely with warm brass and stone.

Easy enough!

The hall closet was a little more challenging.

These cabinets would all be 15″ deep and 80″ tall but I could play around with the options for the layout combinations. The 15″ deep 80″ tall cabinets come in multiple widths: 15″, 18″, 24″ & 30″. I’m not sure if you can get a 36″ high cabinet in the 15″ depth, so if that is what you’re thinking about, you’ll have to check on the Ikea website.

The hall closet was approximately 48″ wide so I could do 2-4 cabinets. I spent more time than I’d like to admit playing around in the planner trying out different combinations of cabinets widths, doors, and drawers.

I ended up going with 2 x 24″ wide cabinets with one upper door and 2 lower drawers. I felt this most closely mimicked the built-in closet look I was after. Since you get to choose which direction the door opens, I would place the door handles in a way in which it looked like the upper cabinet was one larger cabinet (both handles to the center)

Here’s what this looks like on the Ikea Planner. You can also see the prices of each part (this was December 2019).

ikea kitchen cabinets in a closet
Single closet by front door (used 1 of these)
ikea kitchen cabinets in a closet
Hall Closet (used 2 of these units)

Once we had this list from the planner, we took it into Ikea and placed our order in the Kitchen Design department. They have staff there who will order the parts of the list that is generated from the Kitchen planner.

We then arranged for delivery of the items to our house, scheduled for a couple weeks later.

So now you know the plan. Next step: wait for the delivery to arrive and then get to work installing!!

Read Part 2: Custom Hall Closets with Ikea Cabinets: The DIY Install!

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