Monday, January 12, 2015

IKEA PAX Wardrobe System Impressions

Decided to take a closer look at the PAX wardrobe system because it had been around for a while and appeared to be one of those very customizable Ikea systems. So you don't feel led on, no, I was not an owner of any PAX items when this was written. My experience with the line of furniture was limited to looking at completed wardrobes in the showroom of Ikea stores. What I did was spend about an hour going through the U.S. Ikea website's section for PAX and trying to understand how it worked.

Note: I didn't check every single product page out and definitely didn't review the ones I did in detail. This is just a summary of the ones I did check and my general impressions of what I found. And, once again, I had not had any firsthand experience with any PAX products when I wrote this piece.
No pictures of PAX, so enjoy this picture of Skittles
What I understood about the PAX system after some research was that it was a modular wardrobe system. It appeared to be very customizable, both inside and out, with room for expansion inside and out (i.e. buy more matching wardrobes). I thought of it as something that one would use to deck out a walk-in closet or line an entire room -- an organizer more than just a place to store clothes. In other words, a more advanced or elaborate wardrobe. Does that totally sound elitist?

Just on the "Combinations with doors" page (U.S. website), I counted at least a few dozen options -- stopped counting at 30. Prices ranged from just under US$ 200 to around US$ 1600. A month long sale was occurring when I made this visit, but I looked at the listed regular prices. I saw narrow wardrobes, wide wardrobes, wardrobes with multiple vertical sections, doors with mirrors, swinging doors, sliding doors, dark colors, light colors, glass, and real wood. On the page for "Combinations without doors", there were fewer than ten options. I noticed narrow and wide PAX combinations with drawers, shelves, and hangers.

The system really started to show itself off when I explored the individual components. Sections for sliding and hinge doors, frames for sliding doors, frames for hinge doors, interior organizers, and knobs and handles were noticed. Over a dozen options for sliding and hinged doors, each, were seen in various materials and colors. How many frames each door was compatible with was another matter that I did not explore. Some doors, both sliding and hinged, seemed to be available in more than one size. I noticed prices ranging from about US$ 30 to US$ 200 for hinged doors, and about US$ 130 to US$ 450 for sliding doors.

What I observed about the bare basic frames was that there appeared to be more options for sliding frames than hinge frames, and some sliding frames were bigger. Prices ranged from about US$ 50 to US$ 200 for both types of frames. Only the corner section frame for hinge doors looked like it included any clothes rails or shelves. Most frames seemed to be available in white, black-brown, and white-stained oak effect. The common material used for the ones I looked at were particleboard and fiberboard.

Some of the common dimensions in the frames I saw were about 35 cm and 58 cm for depth, and about 201 cm and 236 cm for height. Widths appeared to be in increments of approximately 25 cm between 50 cm and 200 cm (not every increment was available). Note that I didn't check every single option available, and not all combinations of dimensions were likely available.

The "Interior organizers for PAX" section had at least a few dozen choices listed. They ranged from dividers to shelves to trays to hangers. Prices ranged from about US$5 to US$ 100. About a dozen options for handles were available in the "Knobs & handles" section, some big, some small.

It's a sink with hot and cold water

I had no experience with assembling PAX wardrobes when I wrote this. Never owned any and never helped anyone with building them. Didn't even bother looking through a manual.

However, my impression was that the assembly of PAX wardrobes would be on the more difficult side. Why? The height. I did not notice any wardrobe combinations with heights under 2.0 m. Previous experience with BILLY bookcases suggested that handling such large, heavy pieces or panels would be difficult -- I needed help for putting those BILLY bookcases together from start to finish.

The thing that concerned me the most was finding compatible combinations of parts if I were to choose to go the custom-route. It looked like the simplest route would be to buy a pre-defined combination out of the dozens of combinations available, then add additional interior organizers if necessary. However, the PAX system was something I envisioned to be used to fill out an entire room or closet space (i.e. a very personal choice that something predefined may not satisfy satisfactorily).

I guess that's where getting an Ikea Coworker or a lot of research would come in handy. That raises another issue: big, heavy pieces would be hard to return if something didn't work, and so many big parts would likely require a delivery service. Going big has its risks?

Exploring the PAX system in more detail suggested that it was something that was filled with options and could be expanded or changed over time. And the fact that it appeared to make good use of vertical storage space was a big plus. Prices also seemed reasonable. I found more than a few options under US$ 400 that looked good to me and would have provided enough storage space. A very nice and impressive showing.

Would I or wouldn't I?
A solid "no." Not because I thought the PAX system was bad, but because of a lifestyle choice I made at the time. I had been moving towards a more mobile, less cluttered life with fewer toys, fewer clothes, and fewer everything. Buying an elaborate wardrobe system that would essentially become part of the house or room was against that -- I didn't see a built-up, 2 m tall wardrobe going anywhere. Furniture would have to be "disposable" to satisfy this "philosophy" and PAX seemed anything but. If I were to want to lay down roots with an expectation of long-term residence in one location, the PAX system seemed perfect though.

IKEA STOLMEN System Impressions

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