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hidden litter box 8

Before we get into this hidden litter box business, can we talk about how “helpful” toddlers are? Mabrey is a BIG “helper.” If you had / have / know a toddler, you know what I mean. In their lil’ minds they are busy doing something important (like washing dishes, dusting, cooking, mopping, vacuuming, feeding the family pet, etc.) but in reality they are making an even bigger mess.

After Mabrey washes dishes, the dishes are still dirty and everything in sight is soaked. When Mabrey dusts, one square foot area is dripping wet and she’s still spraying it because (to her) it’s just not wet enough. When Mabrey cooks, she uses all of the things: pots, pans, spoons, spatulas, toothbrush (?!), measuring cups, Hot Wheels (?), bowls, whisk, baster, timer. All of the things. When Mabrey vacuums, everything is fair game: her braid, Legos, Cheetah’s tail, shoelaces, jewelry, rocks, Hot Wheels, crayons. Don’t want to pick it up? Sweep it up! When Mabrey feeds Cheetah, there’s no telling how much food she’ll put out or where the food will be. Two days’ worth of food in the water bowl? Two pellets in the food bowl strategically placed in the dollhouse? A perfect scoopful in the litter box? Yeesh.

Of course, after I clean up her helping messes and relay the day’s events to Steve in the evening, it’s comical. Sweet even. So she keeps “helping” and I keep reminding myself that she’ll want nothing to do with helping in a few short years.

But when it came to the litter box, something had to be done. Every time I turned around Mabrey was trying to clean it or throwing random stuff in it. Originally, I placed the litter box on the floor next to the dryer but that spot was a little too accessible for a two-year-old. I googled a bunch of hidden litter box ideas but it seemed like everything I found required a new, separate piece of furniture: a solid bench, an end table, a freestanding wood box, etc. I really wanted to keep the litter box in the mudroom and I wasn’t willing to give up precious real estate for another furniture item no matter how small.

So I started looking around at what we already had. That’s when the a-ha! moment struck.

PAX wardrobe + cat door = hidden litter box. Boom. Done.

We purchased a cat door for big cats (the vet guesses Cheetah is at least part Maine Coon which means we could end up with a pretty large cat when she’s full grown) that would accommodate the thin side panel of the PAX. If you’re curious, it’s this one. It doesn’t have the best reviews but it looks like they mostly pertain to indoor-outdoor use on an exterior door. Since we were going to be installing the door inside, we weren’t too concerned with the actual door function. We simply needed the large opening and the ability to install it into a thin panel.

hidden litter box before 2

hidden litter box 2

We removed the PAX doors and all contents (cat paraphernalia, sewing machine, sewing basket) from the bottom shelf. Using the included template, we cut a hole in the side of the PAX where Cheetah would be able to access it when the wood bench was in place (see first image of this post).

hidden litter box 3

Installing the door wasn’t difficult but it did require an extra pair of hands to hold everything in place while another person screwed everything together. Because we installed the door on a thin panel (as opposed to an actual door) we did have to trim the screws to get a perfect fit. Again, not difficult but an added step.

hidden litter box 4

I made the executive decision to install the door with the red locks facing the interior of the wardrobe. I didn’t want them visible from the exterior. (The 4-way locks allow access only in / only out / both in & out / both locked.) We could have done away with the flap door all together and just used the opening, but we decided to keep the door in case we ever need to put Cheetah up for some reason. That way, she still has access to the litter box.

We taped the door to hold it in the up position. We want Cheetah to get acquainted with the new location of her litter box before we introduce the door. I lined the bottom of the wardrobe with two Flor squares leftover from the boys’ room. I had to trim one for a perfect fit. I plan on hosing them off outside when necessary, probably each month when I empty and clean the litter box. A rubber mat, a scoop and the litter box sit on top of the rug squares.

PAX_wardrobe_with_cat_door_litter_box

To accommodate the litter box, I raised the lowest shelf and reorganized all of the shelves. I moved my sewing machine and sewing basket to a different closet but, eventually, they will end up in the studio along with most of the other items in this wardrobe. The dark brown woven basket on the shelf above the litter box holds cat food, overstock litter, cat nail clippers and Cheetah’s brush. So I guess this is the cat closet now? Never thought I’d be typing that.

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hidden litter box 7

I like that the cat door is easily accessible for Cheetah but completely inconspicuous. Mabrey’s interest in the litter box has waned. For now. The other great thing about this setup is that the litter is better contained. I’m not finding as many stray bits as I was when the litter box was on the floor next to the dryer. I also have my rolling cart back next to the dryer which is another plus.

hidden litter box 6

Luckily, Cheetah has adjusted to the change swimmingly. She took to it right away and hasn’t missed a beat. I actually think she prefers this setup over the previous one. It’s her contained space away from toddler “help.”

hidden litter box 1

After we installed the door and put everything back together, I got to thinking that if someone really wanted to they could totally go wild with a DIY cat house design that takes up the entire PAX. THE ULTIMATE IKEA CAT HOUSE HACK! You know, cutting holes in shelves, adding scratching / climbing posts to allow access to vertical space, etc. It was just a thought. I’m not THAT crazy ;)

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

69 Comments

12.March.2015

We did this with our linen closet in a hallway and it was SUCH a good choice! Having the litter box out in the open was making me crazy!

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What a clever solution!

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12.March.2015

So sweet! We did something similar in our house except we put a small opening in our bathroom wall that connects to our foyer/entry closet. We didn’t end up with the actual door, but instead trimmed it out so it is his own miniature doorway that can easily be patched if we ever sell our home. I don’t know if it is breed specific, but our part Maine Coon is awesome with his litter box and has never once strayed from his designated potty despite moves, an apartment with prior offenders, dog additions, and baby and then toddler additions. Our toddler spends her days “following” our Maine Coon, much to his chagrin.

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replied on March 12th, 2015

I love that idea! We actually considered something similar…cutting a hole in the wall of the main bathroom that shares a wall with a small linen closet. BUT, we had already tiled the bathroom wall and didn’t want to mess with cutting tile. And I really wanted to keep the litter box in the mudroom. Big love for Maine Coons over here too! They’re like dog-cats.

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replied on March 13th, 2015

I don’t blame you for not cutting a hole in your beautiful bathroom! Our bathrooms need major overhaul so the hole was not that big of a deal. When we renovate the master bathroom, we may have to do what you have done. Thanks for all of your inspiration.

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12.March.2015

This is great! Still completely accessible for both you and Cheetah, but inconspicuous and out of toddler reach.

Speaking of toddler “help”, my sister posted a picture of one of those moments this morning on Instagram — her two-year-old had pulled all the dirty dishes out of the dishwasher onto the kitchen floor…but had sorted them roughly (but accurately) by type.

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replied on March 12th, 2015

Ah, such the helper!!

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12.March.2015

That’s brilliant! I’ve been trying to come up with a solution to the litter box dilemma for years now. I love how effortless yours looks!

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12.March.2015

Very clever and a perfect solution. I am sure she likes the privacy. You only empty and clean it once a month? I do it once a week. Very lucky cat to have found you.

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replied on March 12th, 2015

I scoop 1-2 times per day. The litter I use (some crushed walnut stuff that the people at the pet store talked me into buying) lasts for up to 30 days. Every month I empty the old litter, wash the box out, sprinkle in some baking soda and add fresh litter. So far, we haven’t had an issue with odor which was one of my main concerns about having a cat in the house.

I’m sure cleaning out your litter box once a week means you have no odors and a happy kitty too!

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replied on March 12th, 2015

Wow that’s great I would much rather once a month. Can you tell me the name of the litter?

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replied on March 12th, 2015

It’s Blue Buffalo clumping, walnut-based litter. I think they have some scented options but I use the unscented.

replied on March 13th, 2015

Thank you Dana!

12.March.2015

Brilliant !!!! Love this solution, practical but hidden, bravo!
Kate

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replied on March 12th, 2015

Thanks Kate!

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12.March.2015

My 2 almost 3 year old baby girl is quite the helper too… “I big and strong” is her go to line, in convincing anyone that’ll listen to let her do [fill in the blank]. Some days I just follow behind with a shop vac. kiddingnotkidding. ha.
PS — I am not a cat person, but after seeing yours, it just might be the must have 2015 home accessory. ;)

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Amber
replied on March 13th, 2015

2015 home accessory – LOL!!
So right, though – I’ve never wanted a cat more! It’s so fun to read about their growing bond. :)

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12.March.2015

So cute – and clever! We don’t have a cat (allergies = me), but we have a 5 year old yellow lab. I wish I could come up with a way to make her food and water dishes less of a ‘focal point’ in our kitchen!

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replied on March 12th, 2015

You can do it! Think outside the box, er, water bowl…

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12.March.2015

As a life-long cat owner, I’ve seen many, many versions of the hidden litterbox, this is definitely one of the best! I LOVE how inconspicuous the opening is hidden under the bench–perfect! We have a couple of hidden litterboxes in each of our offices, made out of cheap nightstands. I like them, but have lamented that they don’t reduce the tracking of litter across the room because there is only room for the catbox inside. Your hack has me thinking of ways we might make changes!

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12.March.2015

We did exactly this with the door to our ‘cold’ storage in our mudroom. We also tiled right into the room which makes clean-up very easy for two cats.

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12.March.2015

A friend of my mom’s had the ultimate cat resort escape in the (attached) garage, aided by a discrete cat-door in the laundry room. The structure in the garage was framed by wood and covered with chicken wire. It contained the litterbox, scratching area, and raised bed. Very plush!

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12.March.2015

This is genius!!! Wish I had a place to do something similar.

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oh my gosh! so smart! we have 3 cats that i love so much (including a sweet kitten we found last month during a winter storm) and the litter boxes in our apartment are driving me batty! we’re moving into a house this spring and i’ve been plotting ways to contain the litter box. genius! i’ve seen other setups but love how you repurposed something else.

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12.March.2015

I see a clear plastic vent cover under the bench. what’s it’s purpose?

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replied on March 12th, 2015

It just directs air (heating / cooling ) out into the room instead of up at the bench for better circulation. We also have one in the boys’ bedroom under their dresser. They work great and they’re adjustable with magnets that stick to the register covers so they stay in place!

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I’ve always wanted to do this but it’s been so long since I’ve been living in a home I own I’m loathed to buy a piece of furniture that I might not be able to fit into the next space!

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Alright, that was SHEER GENIUS.

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12.March.2015

This is fantastic. We are in an RV and made sure we had a room separate just for the cats. We have a baby gate up to protect them from our dog [who is just as curious as Mabrey, but more into… eating] ack. If we did that pax hack though, we would never ever see our cats. ever again.

but ive been meaning to do a cat door and you just reminded me to put it back on the list!

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12.March.2015

I did something very similar to this with a coat closet whose upper shelves held board games and such (no coats, don’t worry). It was a lot better than having the whole shebang out in plain view but I might offer one piece of advice: if you can install a rubber strip or some sort of additional lining (akin to the insulation lining of a car door for sealing out water/wind) along the shelf immediately above the litter in order to seal off the space when the doors are closed, consider it. I became SO OVER wiping litter dust (ew I knew) off of all the games and boxes I had stored above it that the whole closet just became The Litter Place because nothing ever stayed clean in the litter’s immediate area. Even a covered litter didn’t make much difference. Oh, the things we do for our furries. Best of luck!

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replied on March 12th, 2015

What a great suggestion! Thanks Suzy.

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12.March.2015

From someone who has made one of these (yay ikeahackers.net) and then had to trash it a few years later- figure out a solid, water proof base. Litter is going to get into every nook and cranny- including litter dust and particularly that spot where the bottom of the cabinet meets ikeas cardboard back. This doesn’t seem like such a problem until the leaking happens. It’s dark in there- very dark and sometimes cats feel cramped and might pee over the edge or out the front- thinking they are still in the box. Combine THAT with those littler pieces that get imbedded- a mess you can’t clean and the whole thing needs to be tossed.

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replied on March 12th, 2015

I didn’t know about the already hacked version. This was just the solution I brainstormed for our house. I looked over on ikeahackers and it looks like someone turned a single, narrower wardrobe on its back and used the door as a lid to hide two litter boxes for multiple cats. Essentially, the “cardboard” back is acting like the floor. I could see it being a problem with that particular setup.

I vacuum up stray litter on a daily basis and Cheetah hasn’t missed her litter box ever but I’ll let you know how it holds up.

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replied on March 12th, 2015

One more comment to add to my earlier one below: For anyone with problems with cats missing their litterbox (or just for those who want help containing the mess), try a covered one like this: http://reviews.petco.com/3554/14467/clevercat-clevercat-top-entry-litterbox-reviews/reviews.htm

We’ve had our DIY dresser/litterbox (with the litterbox style I linked in it) for years and it’s still in great shape. We don’t keep anything else in the dresser, which works well for us.

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replied on March 13th, 2015

When my cat got old she often missed her “aim”. The covered litterbox worked great!

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12.March.2015

Love this! My husband did something similar — a DIY litterbox from an IKEA dresser. He put a cat door on one side, and somehow fashioned the dresser so that, even though it looks like it has three-drawers from the front, it’s really all just one drawer that we pull out to clean the litterbox. Hooray for hidden litterboxes!!!

So happy that you and your family are smitten with Cheetah. I’m sure she is just as smitten with you all. Cats are amazing!!! I’m always so surprised to hear people describe them as aloof. I really think that’s the rare exception rather than the rule. Our two cats are the cuddliest, most loving creatures imaginable.

Thanks for the fun updates about life with Cheetah. I love your blog!

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12.March.2015

I love it! Nice job.

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12.March.2015

How to deal with the litter box is always a challenge, and this is such a practical solution. I’ll bet Cheetah likes having her privacy in there, too!

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12.March.2015

You did a good job on this, but I have to agree with “J” above. You may want to install some kind of plastic beneath the carpet, and try to get it up the sides a bit. Also get some of those stick on baking soda things or some bowls of baking soda on the higher shelves. I wouldn’t keep anything fabric in there or anything that can’t be washed. Cat urine is strong and it will scent everything in that cabinet. :/

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13.March.2015

What a great idea…wish I had done that when I had cats! On another note, since you mentioned your Flor squares, how are they holding up? I’m contemplating buying some, but have concerns about them staying put and lasting. Any advice/comments would be so helpful. Thanks!

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replied on March 15th, 2015

I LOVE the Flor tiles in the boys’ room! They still look brand new. The adhesive stickers that hold adjacent tiles together work really well…no readjusting. The non-slip backing keeps the rug from sliding around on the wood floor even with tons of running, jumping and wrestling around in the room.

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13.March.2015

Such a fantastic solution! We have a very small apartment and our two big storage pieces are both in bedrooms (ours and baby’s) but I so wish we could do this because the litter. everywhere. Ugh.

Incidentally, our storage are also Ikea PAXs and I’m having such a problem with shelf sagging! And we’ve only had them for about a year. I see your shelves are sagging a tiny bit – does it bother you? Any thoughts about reversing it/reinforcing them? Maybe it’s not something you’ve considered, just thought I’d ask because I can’t seem to find anyone else online writing about this problem.

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replied on March 15th, 2015

Our shelves do sag and they aren’t loaded to full capacity. That’s probably our least favorite thing about the wardrobes. Steve has talked about reinforcing them but we haven’t tried it yet. When / if we do, I will share!

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13.March.2015

Where did you find those fluffy sheepskins?

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replied on March 15th, 2015

Ikea!

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13.March.2015

Love this! I did the same thing with the storage area under my stairs. Our cat door is much more noticeable than yours and I don’t love that, but it sure beats having to look at a litter box! I used a rubber mat for a really long time and still had issues with litter EVERYWHERE! For some reason, I started using an old, nubby bathmat and it has worked 100 times better than the rubber! I rarely find litter on my hardwood!

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13.March.2015

What do you mean by ” if we ever have to put cheetah up”??

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replied on March 15th, 2015

Just for little 10-15 minute stints when I’m trying to get something done and she’s undoing it. For instance, when I clean out the humidifier she likes to splash in it which negates the cleaning I’ve done. That’s all I meant. She is free to roam 98% of the time.

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replied on March 17th, 2015

Maybe you could just put her in the bathroom instead. Putting her in that small space against her will is not nice. If she gets angry with you she’ll get revenge and you don’t want her revenge to be peeing somewhere besides her litter box.

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replied on March 17th, 2015

Woah. Please don’t do that, even for 15 minutes. Just put her in the bathroom, or teach her to stay away from the humidifier. Seriously, locking her in that tiny space for any amount of time is not cool. Plus, you don’t want her to associate her little box with negative feelings like that.

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13.March.2015

This is such a great idea!!!! If you find that your rubber mat isn’t doing it’s job, then I suggest you get this one: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Aspen-Stay-Fresh-Cat-Litter-Mat-with-Scatter-Control-Cats/21677770 I got it at Walmart to catch litter as the cat stepped out of the littler box. LIFE CHANGER!! It catches 90% of the loose pieces!!

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13.March.2015

Love the closet box idea. I wondered about light for cheetah? Do you have one — how does she see, particularly at night? Our spoiled little one has an entire room in the basement just for her box. we hung led christmas lights from the rafters to help with light.
Cheetah is so perfect. I really love kitties! So glad you are loving yours!

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replied on March 15th, 2015

Did you notice the sconce on the side of the wardrobe? I usually turn that on at night for her.

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13.March.2015

Just wanted to say that I think I have Cheetah’s cousin living in my house! “Miss Jones” was found spinning around on a gravel road in the fall, and we took her in. She’s a true delight and looks just like your girl!

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13.March.2015

I love this hidden litter box!
Although many come to mind, my most recent toddler “help” moment was this morning. My son decided to “make” coffee. I found him on the counter with sugar everywhere. Luckily, he hadn’t made it to the coffee can yet! Oh, treasure the moments, right?!

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14.March.2015

I love the design of this idea, but alas, no litterbox is big enough for my full grown, 18 lbs. purebred Maine Coon! Ha ha! If Cheetah does have Maine Coon in her, and it looks like she does, be aware it could take her up to 5 years until she stops growing! :)

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18.March.2015

One of the best posts.

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[…] spy with my little eye a clever hidden litter box at House […]

22.March.2015

Hi, clever idea! I quickly perused the comments and found one mention of the sagging shelves. My concern is that the tiny brackets used to hold the shelf may not always be sufficient. For instance, when your kitty Cheetah grows larger, maybe she could bump it hard enough to knock it down. I would definitely “shore up” at least the lower shelf. All the best!

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30.March.2015

Great way to hide that box! Love it. Also…this Cat Tower project made me think of your place! :)

http://www.hometreeatlas.com/4233/the-evolution-of-a-homemade-cat-tower/

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replied on March 30th, 2015

That. is. awesome.

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[…] water. Exciting times around her. Reading: Beneath the Bonfire // Nikolas Butler Coveting: This DIY cat litter contraption. And it’s Ikea! I recently adopted two new cats, bringing the total to four. Brilliant. […]

14.May.2015

[…] finally, I’ve seen this idea all over Pinterest, but it wasn’t until I saw this post from House*Tweaking that I finally pulled the trigger on this […]

07.June.2015

Thus is such a great idea! Just wondering which PAX you used? There are so many different options!

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[…] (Image credit: House Tweaking) […]

10.July.2016
20.November.2016

Wow!

This is an ingenious way to hide a litter box, and is definitely the best one I’ve come across thus far! May I inquire as to which PAX Wardrobe you have? I looked through them on the website, but didn’t quite see one that matched the style you have in your photos. Thanks! :)

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replied on December 12th, 2016

It’s the Bergsbo white PAX wardrobe at 93 1/8″ tall.

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