Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Confessions of an IKEA Hacker - Why Hack the PAX?

[this is my most popular PAX entry, and there is more - hit the PAX label at the bottom to see all PAX that I do...]

Everyone wants to have nice, good looking closets. Everyone. Even if your wardrobe is not extensive and you don't require a nice walk-in closet with some extra storage for your finer things - then you certainly own some nice pieces that could benefit from being properly stored. 

Properly stored clothing holds up much better. 

But the ugly truth is that there is a lot not-so-functional closets out there. That's right. That 'builder standard', that lonely, wrap around shelf with a rod, that is often accessed with a traditional door. In my opinion - I am a designer - I consider the above mentioned scenario to be 'the worst case' [you know that feeling when you have to squeeze yourself into that far, dark corner of the closet, your eyes straining in poor lighting, just to reach for something...]


A standardized box, that comes with a beautiful line up of doors in styles to appeal to any taste, complemented by a very practical array of interior fittings and hardware. 

Curious fact - IKEA now has enough clout to run its own line of hardware - like hinges and slides. That is NOT a small feat. See, there is only few hardware manufacturers in the world - the best of them in my opinion being the Austrian Blum - the costs and the tooling required to start a hardware operation are huge. So far, I have only encountered one [!!] Chinese start up that began distributing hinges, and they got a long road ahead of them to match the quality, versatility and ease of use that Blum offers. That's why I think, when it comes to their kitchens, IKEA does not mess around and simply orders the best.

But back to closets. It is specifically the hardware that makes the PAX so successful - everything from rods, adjustable rods, pant racks, tie racks, sliding baskets, sliding drawers, built-in drawers, shoe drawers, shoe racks, boxes, shelves! In any combination you want! I just purchased four interior drawers at IKEA the other day. Do you know how much I paid? I paid $160 dollars! And that included the slides! IKEA makes functionality affordable - I simply cannot beat their model. And since I could not beat them, I decided to join them. I started hacking IKEA - professionally. 

Now the PAX system does have its limitations, it does have its weaknesses. My opinion could be biased [just a bit] because I come from commercial millwork. And once you start building to that standard it is very difficult to 'go back'. Commercial millwork is strong and rigid. There are specific methods and ways of building. There is emphasis on quality hardware. Commercial millwork has to last. But here is the best part! IKEA PAX system nicely lends itself to that standard. When I hack a PAX box, I discard the assembly hardware - it is too delicate. Unless the box is going to be fully built it - I do away with the original backs as well and replace them with nothing less than a 1/2" thick panels. That little PAX 'kick' that also hides the leveling feet is cut off and discarded, and I fabricate a proper plywood base - that base is then screwed to the studs or the bottom plate and the box is installed on top. 

You are probably thinking - 'yea, but why so much work?' I will tell you why. My favourite part of the PAX system is the selection of doors - sliding and hinged; numerous styles and finishes. Those PAX doors are also very heavy and put quite the strain the the box. If the box is not rigid and level - if there is play, wobble, twist or unevenness - those doors will never hang properly. Sliding doors will not glide smoothly or stay closed properly. A hallmark of good cabinetmaking is having a row of doors with nice and evenly spaced gaps - for hinged doors it will be next to impossible to achieve that look if the box is not installed properly. AND I AM A PERFECTIONIST! I don't think anyone wants doors that sag and rub against each other. 

So yea,

I like the PAX wardrobes. I make them look good. Real good. 

Hey! Why don't you check out my super-lux line of hacked PAX doors that I started - it's called 'King K + Queen T'. The quality and craftsmanship is amazing! Just hit the 'PAX' label at the bottom of this entry and see my PAX galore!