...because home doesn't happen overnight.
06.22.12 / Wardrobe Function

Notice that doesn’t say wardrobe malfunction. That’s a totally different topic. What I’m talking about are the PAX wardrobes in our mudroom.

On Tuesday, I was feeling confident crazy enough to attempt a trip to IKEA with all three kids in tow. By myself. My local IKEA store is about a 25-minute drive away. That might not sound like a long trek but with a two-month-old crying it out in the backseat {Mabrey has yet to make friends with her car seat} it sure feels like forever. The good news is that once we were at IKEA, Mabrey was perfectly happy. I’m okay with that. The girl can detest her pumpkin seat as long as she’s an IKEA fan.

The even better news was that I discovered kids eat FREE on Tuesdays at my local IKEA. AND IT WAS TUESDAY! How did I not know this?! And speaking of other things I didn’t know…I’ve always assumed Småland, the childcare center at IKEA, cost money. Well, it doesn’t moms and dads. You can drop off your potty-trained 37″-54″ children to play for up to an hour free of charge. As if I needed another reason to love IKEA. And here I’ve been dragging my bored kids around IKEA for the past three years. I guess it took a third kid for me to finally drop the I-can-do-it-all-by-myself ball. What?! You’re going to give my kids free food then watch them for an hour so I can shop for house stuff? Yessssss!!!!!! {composing myself…} Yes. Please give me one of those short pencils to sign on the dotted line.

So, that’s just what I did. We ate lunch then I checked Layne and Everett into Småland. They were very excited to see a ball pit and a movie playing on a big TV. As for me, I felt like I was a contestant on one of those timed shopping spree game shows from the 90’s. Although I was spending money, not winning it. And I had a baby strapped to my chest. Thank goodness for my Moby. I was running around like Alan from The Hangover with baby Carlos in the front carrier. Good times. Within five minutes of fast-paced walking {think mall walkers}, Mabrey was sound alseep with her head falling forward and appendages dangling.

The night before, I had mapped out my IKEA shopping list which included PAX interior storage accessories, a shoe cabinet, book ledges, a crib {!} and wall shelves. I was focused and didn’t stop to browse. Didn’t even hardly look at anything that wasn’t on my list. {Okay, I might have run my hand across a gloss white BESTA storage cabinet.} A kind marketplace employee came to my rescue when she saw me trying to push the stroller and one of those squirrel-y flat carts all while trying to hold Mabrey’s head up on her flaccid neck. Seriously, the girl was lights out. In the one hour of free kiddie playtime, I managed to get everything on my list, pay for it all, load it {with some assistance} and pick Layne and Everett up at Småland with 2 minutes to spare. I was an endorphin mess. I’m pretty sure the boys were close to telling the Småland employees that I wasn’t their mom. No, sir. We have no idea who that crazy, smiling, out-of-breath lady is.

I was quite pleased with myself. Since my Tuesday IKEA trip {oh, yes, I am now an IKEA warrior on Tuesdays}, I’ve been trying to find the time to actually put together the stuff I bought. I started with the PAX wardrobe organization. And by ‘I’ I mean Handy Hubby. I had every intention of doing it myself but being at home alone with two loud boys and no interior doors makes for no baby naps – no free time for me to install a few shelves and clothes racks. We are still living with no doors on any of the bedrooms or bathrooms and I’m not sure how much longer I can do it. Mabrey needs a closed off room away from the boys to nap. And I need her to nap to get anything accomplished.

So, one evening after dinner, HH added the few organizational items I had bought to go inside the wardrobes. Take a look at wardrobe #1 {the wardrobe on the left}…

The links to the shelves and rails are here, here and here. I already owned the few wooden hangers. I wanted to use this wardrobe for storing cold weather outerwear, guests’ coats, the ironing board, kids’ shoes, reusable shopping bags, the kids’ pool bag and several floor cleaning aids. Here’s the wardrobe all filled up…

IKEA sells a bunch of bins and baskets to fit inside the PAX systems but I already had a bunch of bins and baskets of my own and didn’t want to spend the extra money just for things behind doors to match.

The white bin on the top shelf holds winter hats and gloves.

The woven basket on the top shelf holds ear muffs and scarves. I think I may have found one clothing category that my purging skills have no effect on – scarves. I have nine. Some are purely for keeping warm during winter months and others are purely for accessorizing but, really, do I need nine scarves? Nine? We’ve all got our kryptonite. Luckily, scarves are small and don’t take up a lot of space.

I bought these nifty hooks that slip onto the shelf. You can screw them in permanently but they fit very snug so I didn’t screw mine in. I hung all of our reusable shopping bags from one.

I did have to bend the hook part up a little to keep the bag handles from slipping off. I think these hooks are meant to hold clothes hangers but I’ll just bend mine to hang other stuff from them.

Below the clothes rails {one for adults and a lower one for the kids} are two more baskets.

The woven one on the left holds a broom, steam mop and Bona mop {I bought one after you all highly recommended it for our hardwood floors!} and all the removable cleaning pads that go along with them.

The laundry basket holds the boys’ shoes. I’ve had some difficulty getting the boys to take their shoes off when they enter through the garage or back door. It probably has something to do with me telling them to make sure they have their shoes on in the Underdog for the past nine months to avoid a nail in the foot. Now, all of a sudden I expect them to take their shoes off. The basket is working though. As soon as I set it up, I showed them where it was and what it was for. Ever since, they’ve gone straight to the wardrobe to remove their shoes and put them on. Success!

Again, IKEA sells something specifically for shoes in the PAX but I was trying to save money. Plus, the laundry basket will help keep any wet shoes from dripping onto the inside of the wardrobe. If you’re wondering where mine and HH’s shoes are, we keep them in the garage just outside the mudroom. I’ve also got plans to add a shoe cabinet just inside the front door for guests and us should we ever start using the front door more often. {FYI – We now keep a key inside the front door lock for fire safety reasons. Thanks for all your comments on that!}

The ironing board is behind the hanging coats. {You can see a bit of the yellow cover peeking out.} That should give you a good idea as to how often I use it. Practically never! I use it more for sewing projects than ironing clothing. I’m pretty sure I haven’t ironed a single piece of clothing in the past year.

Speaking of sewing projects…

The second wardrobe {the one on the right} holds my sewing machine and sewing basket. Other than a few old towels and the future dining room light {sneak peek!}, it’s pretty empty. Fine by me. That means we have room to grow. {Good thing because there are still unopened boxes in the garage.} And I have a plethora of bins and baskets to use on the shelves when the time comes. Btw, the shelves are adjustable but moving them around does require unscrewing then re-screwing. They’re very sturdy.

Things are slowly finding places to live around here and that makes me feel good. I’m sure I’ll be rearranging stuff for a while as we get into a better routine and I figure out what is working for us and what needs improved upon.

I’m off to tackle the last of the moving boxes. HH and the boys are going camping this weekend, so it’s girls’ weekend at the Underdog. And you better believe that more organizing and some cleaning are on the schedule, along with some cuddling and patty caking. Happy weekend and happy birthday to my beautiful, smart, strong sister, Rihana, today!

Click here to see who won this week’s artsy giveaway! And even if you didn’t win, you can score 25% off any Tenth Floor Decor purchase now through Sunday, June 24th by using the discount code HOUSETWEAKING.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking



I’m impressed that you get ANYTHING done with three little ones – let alone move into a shell of a house and make it look beautiful so quickly!
I can’t wait to see the rest of your “tweaks”!
Enjoy your beautiful, functional home!


That type of storage is so useful because it can change with your needs. Glad that baby M. likes IKEA!


Loved this post! I am so excited for you and your PAX wardrobes. IKEA really is like heaven. Tuesdays just got a whole lot brighter for you, I’m sure!

Side note – I also have the Kohler Archer tub in my newly reno bathroom. How do you keep yours clean? I’ve found that Magic Eraser is good for the big scrub, but can’t find anything to keep it looking fresh in-between.


oh how i love ikea on a tuesday. an hour of alone time and free food, you can’t do much better :) your pax is looking great and don’t feel bad about 9 scarves i must have at least 30…i think its time to purge! thanks for the inspiration.

You are the queen of Ikea – hope you bought yourself an ice cream cone to celebrate! The closets are great. Doesn’t it feel good to get things behind closed doors?


I am so impressed with how organized you are. I have decided the more room you have the more junk you keep. On another note, my daughter cried in the carseat for her first year. She would stop crying at redlights and stop signs and then start back up as soon as I accelerated:) I learned to tune it out, but it drove my mom nuts!


I LOVE the organized wardrobes. Enjoy your girls’ weekend, wish I could be there and thanks for the birthday wishes. Love you! :]

I am so jealous of your proximity to an Ikea. My closest one is a 5 hour drive so we normally just use a local delivery service that makes trips once a month to bring us our Ikea goodies. On a baby note, Sullivan loved his carseat but hated the carrier so I carried my enormous baby around forever. Now he’s 30lbs at 18 months and all he wants is mommy. At least my arms are getting super toned! Have a great weekend!


I love your blog and that you are so honest about keeping it real. You have a lovely, realistic home! :) I can’t imagine moving with 2 young boys and an infant and trying to find the time to get things unpacked and organized. Most home blogs just leave me feeling inadequate b/c everything is not only perfectly organized, but it all matches and looks beautiful. In my new life as a stay at home mom, functional & budget friendly storage are where it’s at! You do a wonderful job at both! :)


yay for happy surprises and successful shopping. boo for the car seat torture. i feel your pain … my daughter HATED her car seat from birth until we moved her into a high-back booster at three. yes, it was probably too soon, but she screamed her bloody head off the entire time she was in a car seat until we switched – and we take 12-hour trips to see family twice a year. you just have to ignore it, which sounds hard – and it is – but it won’t hurt her. and you have to go out. and soon enough, the boys can help distract her into – hopefully not brief – submission.


I like what you’ve done to the interior of the PAX wardrobe. Your mudroom is probably going to be one of the most “used” spaces and having it organized makes life a lot easier for sure! We cut out wood pieces for our pax wardrobe instead buying the $25 for 2 pack….we had some scrap wood left over and we saved a good amount. You can try that next time too :)


OMGosh! You had me crackin’ up reading about your IKEA trip!! Mostly because I’ve been there. The Hangover visual was awesome. lol Your wardrobes are lovely and I have the same pendent for over my dining table!! Gray as well, I was thinking of painting the inside of it. thoughts? Enjoy the weekend!


Way to go Dana!

I bet it feels good to be putting everything in it’s right place :)

Would you mind sharing the brand of your boys’ shoes? I think I’ve seen them around before but can’t remember the name… Thanks!

You are so funny. I felt excited for you just reading this post! You must have felt like an absolute rock star. And I’m so envious of those people who just trot out to Ikea any time they want (even with 3 kids in tow!) Ours is 3 hours away on a good day. The wardrobes look fantastic, by the way!

Okay I have a 4 week old and what is up with the floppy neck in the Moby? I attempted to pack up my maternity clothes while he was in it and I could only use one hand! I tried pulling the fabric over his head for support, which worked for a little but he eventually moved. But I guess one hand free is better than no hands free? :)


I have an IKEA Family card (Not sure why, I’m the only person in my “family.”) But you get discounts on different stuff every month, free coffee, and -most important for you- 30 extra minutes of Småland time! It was free to sign up and works like a grocery discount card. I highly recommend signing up for one if you think you’re going to go back to IKEA even one more time. The neat part is that you sign up online, print out a barcode, and scan it at their kiosk in the store and it spits out a card. You don’t have to take 20 minutes typing an email addy into a too-small keyboard.


Congrats on your super efficient IKEA trip — and I second Cher’s recommendation to sign up for the IKEA family card for the nice perks. And congrats also on every box you unpack– it’s been a couple of years since our family’s last big move, but I relate to what you are dealing with! One small tip re your door (in case you aren’t already doing this): remove the key when you aren’t home. My sister-in-law used to keep a key in her back door lock to keep from losing it, and when she wasn’t home someone simply broke the glass pane by the lock and reached in and unlocked the door for an easy break in…. Would not want that to happen to anyone else.


I have an IKEA family card! Didn’t know about the extra 30 minutes in Smaland though!


Their the Native brand in the, get this, Miller style. Cheaper than crocs and have a closed heel.


The pendant was actually aluminum-colored when we bought it but we spray painted it matte black. Haven’t touched the inside. That might be a tweak down the road.


I’ve learned that it is what it is. But it drives Layne bonkers so as soon as she gets started crying, I have two in tears!


YES!!! Now only if we had more doors! Ha!


Honestly, I haven’t done anything special. We do squeegee the sides after each use and we have a water softener so scum doesn’t build up as much. Other than that, I spray it down with my Ms. Meyer’s all purpose cleaner and rinse maybe every other week. So far, so good.



i had to go dig up an old post from our old blog…but i thought you’d appreciate it. we’ve done about the same with our storage and big units from ikea…and then you mentioned shoe storage from ikea and i thought you’d like to see what we’ve done. and now that we’ve been using them for 6 months – we’re planning on putting more in – this is one solid, awesome, shove-as-many-of-your-shoes in rack…we love it. love it, love it, love it…

in that we’re remodeling an old house with very similar financial limitations – it’s fun to see your choices and see that i’m not the only crazy person who has a collection of baskets of all sizes to store things in. why buy more? i already own a ton.

best of luck.


Nice wardrobes ! And nice tuesday deal too !! and about your scarves, if you wear them all, you need them all, right ? Take care !

I absolutely love your idea of using two wardrobes to create a “mud room” where their wasn’t one. My home doesn’t have a mud room and I’ve been thinking of adding some storage to my dining area for this purpose but I just didn’t know WHAT to get. These look great!

Can you give us a budget breakdown for the wardrobes + inside accessories?

I love your style! Great inspiration.

Now that is my definition of brave….glad it all worked out. This looks great. When the kids get older, they help you load the car ;D


Hi Dana, I love your mudroom and it’s great you have such a big room. Ours is little and there is not enough space to put a PAX, therefore I’m thinking of putting something for the winter coats int he garage when I make up the garage. We have several PAX wardrobes in the house though and I love them for all the drawers and boxes and what not.
I also live 25 minutes from Ikea and my daughter loves the sma°land, but the thing is I need more than an hour to walk through IKEA which means in the middle of my shopping I have to run all the way back, fetch my daughter and do the second half of my shopping trip with her in tow. But she’s six already and I have only ONE child. I have the family card by the way and have to check the extra 30 minutes, but maybe that rule doesn’t apply here in Germany??? At least I have never heard of it!


You could try white noise with Mabrey. We’ve done it with all three of our kids, it works great. We lined our tub with padding and blankets in the master bath and turn on the fan. Baby goes to sleep and stays asleep. You can even just set her in the bouncer or car seat in the bathroom with the fan. Once they start sitting and moving we just put a fan in the closet while they slept in the crib, I even had an old walkie talkie I tapped the button down and left it on the dresser for static. A radio on static would work too, but the walkie I could take with me.


We use white noise with all our babies. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes not ‘strong’ enough to drown out the boys!…maybe if we had a door on her room…


The wardrobes were $209 each. We spent $69 on accessories. That’s $487 total. Not too bad considering they give us a whole ‘nother room {mudroom} within the dining room.


Love the shoe storage!


Your IKEA experience made me laugh. Yay for Tuesdays!
My 3rd is a light sleeper too and I know how sacred nap time can be. I downloaded an app called “White Noise” and played it next to her crib. Helped a ton!


There’s an app for everything now, right?! Now, only if they made one that could babysit…


So nice to meet you at Chick-fil-a this evening (minus all of the screaming children). I just checked out your blog for the first time and I love it!


So great to meet you as well! Small world…hope to see you there again sometime soon.


I dislike the fact that Ikea always seem to throw in so called ‘add-ons’ to any major piece of furniture you purchase from them. Why should shelves cost an extra $25 after buying a wardrobe??


Started reading your blog recently and I love your style. Just FYI, at my Ikea (Dallas) and I assume all of them, if you join Ikea Family (for free), during the week you get one AND A HALF hours in Smaland for free. :-)
Ikea Family also gives you discountS on certain items (changes each month). We saved $60 buying storage for our kids’ playroom!


Where did you buy the two wardrobes?




That type of storage is so useful because it can change with your needs. Glad that baby M. likes IKEA!


How are the closets holding up with regular use? My husband is an IKEA critic, as many of the items we’ve gotten from there have worn quite quickly (drawers/center sagging in the white Hemnes dresser, other shelves sagging, etc). I’d love to use these closets in an office for him, but he’s concerned with how the shelves and doors hold up.


The cabinet frames and doors are holding up superbly! We even cut a hole in one for a kitty door and store the litter box inside. See that here…


A few of the shelves do sag a little in the middle but it hasn’t affected their function. You could always buy the frames and doors and add your own, real wood shelving.