Updated: Nov 23
You won't believe these are the same wardrobes & the great news is this budget DIY is one you can easily copy for £200.
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The problem: Old wardrobes with dodgy glass doors
A while ago, in the middle of the night, one of the folding glass doors on these old wardrobes (that came with the house) shattered (WTF!!). We decided to remove the four other doors to prevent a repeat occurrence and I planned to do an IKEA PAX hack at some point in the future.
Upon further investigation, I realised that our fitted wardrobes weren't a standard size and none of the IKEA PAX doors would fit without some alterations or adding some extra doors above. The other issue was that although cheaper than bespoke doors, the PAX solution would still cost a few hundred quid as we have five doors to replace. Life was busy and we just coped without doors, it didn't look great, but as we were the only ones affected it was low on the priority list.
Recently, we swapped all the bedrooms around and I decided it was time for a proper glow-up...wardrobes included! I knew I wanted to save as much money as possible, but didn't want to compromise on style and was hoping for a high-end look so I decided to make the doors myself.
I thought I'd document the process here as the new wardrobes have completely transformed the space and weren't massively difficult to do. There was a fair amount of work involved, but this was mainly because there were five to make, it would have been considerably easier if there were only a couple. Having not made doors on this scale before, there was a bit of learning on the job so I'll make notes of the mistakes I made and the things I'd do differently next time to help your projects go more smoothly!
You will need
Panel pins are handy if you have them
Paint - I colour-matched to F&B Pigeon
Hinges - I used surface mount for ease
Door close fittings - these were brilliant
Paint roller and tray
Nails (for the skirting board)
Grab adhesive - this is a staple in my toolkit
MDF or plyboard
The carcass of the fitted wardrobes was already in place so I took the width and height measurements from this. Height - I knew I wanted to have a skirting board trim along the base of the wardrobes so I deducted the height of the skirting plus a couple of mm for clearance from the height measurement. In order to take this measurement, I pulled back the old carpet in front of the wardrobes and removed the gripper rods which were directly in front, once these had gone I could measure from the actual floorboards on which the skirting would sit. Width - I knew I was going to add a shaker-style detailing around the edges of the doors so I deducted a couple of mm from the width of the doors to ensure they weren't too tight because I knew I'd be able to lay the shaker panel slightly over the edge of the door to line up perfectly with the next. (I'm sure that step would not be approved by a professional but I was worried that the frames might be slightly out because they are so old and didn't want the doors jamming).
Cutting Guide - I drew a cutting guide for each door (the doors for the LHS wardrobe came up slightly narrower than those on the RHS so it was important not to get them mixed up) and marked it out for each sheet of plyboard. Because there were five doors I knew I'd need a third sheet and would have huge offcuts leftover so I included the cuts needed to make a small bookcase out of this sheet to save wasting money. You can read that tutorial here... Note: When putting a cutting guide together, allow for the saw width on each cut as thicker blades will reduce the available width of the sheet. In B&Q their saw is about 3 or 4mm thick so if you plan to get say three vertical cuts in a sheet for example then you need to reduce the overall width of the sheet by around 12mm. Not such a big deal on the sheets for the doors, but it does have an impact when you come to cut the shaker panels as these are thin so you have lots of vertical cuts on a sheet.
Sourcing the wood for the DIY wardrobe doors
Once I'd measured up I trotted off to B&Q only to find that they didn't stock the size sheets of MDF that I'd planned to use (12mm thick 1.22m x 2.44m). Very annoying. So I decided to use hardwood plyboard instead as that was all they had readily available that was within budget and could be taken that day whilst making use of their free cutting service. I bought one sheet and got two doors cut, squashed them in my car and brought them home to test. I was pleasantly surprised at the strength of the plyboard, definitely more resilient than my usual mdf, although it was rougher and had loads of splinters so needed to be handled with gloves (I found this out the hard way).
I used thinner sheets of ply for the shaker-style panels which were 5mm thick. Each shake panel was 100mm wide and fitted the height and width of the doors.
Fitting the skirting to the base of the wardrobes
I decided to replace the skirting for the whole room at the same time so bought these large length pieces from Wickes as they were good value and came ready primed. I wanted the skirting to be continuous around the base of the wardrobe so carried it along the side of the LHS wardrobe with an internal and external corner. I refitted the carpet gripper rods in front of the new skirting as I plan to fit new carpet soon then rolled back the underlay too.
Preparing the plywood doors
Once the skirting was in place I re-measured to double check the heights of the individual wardrobe doors. I made a slight adjustment to a couple of the doors using my new jigsaw (so much quicker than sawing by hand like I usually do) and then was ready to prep the plywood for painting. The ply was in pretty good condition except for one of the sheets which was the bottom on the pile (the very last sheet B&Q had, so it was a case of take it or leave it) which was a bit bent. I stored this door at the bottom of the pile of five to help flatten it and as we were in the midst of a heatwave, I damped it down and left it laying out on the deck in the hot sun which helped straighten it out before storing it back at the bottom of the pile again.
I sanded the edges of all the doors and decorative panels to make sure they were smooth and straight. I then applied three coats of primer with a roller to every piece. I laid all the doors and panels out flat while they were being primed to ensure they did bow. As the weather was good, the coats dried quickly which helped speed up the process.
Fitting the surface-mount hinges
I wanted to make sure this DIY was easy to replicate and I know that using a jig to cut the blind holes for concealed door hinges really puts a lot of people off so I challenged myself to find an easy-to-use alternative. If you want to know how to drill the holes for concealed hinges don't worry I have a tutorial coming soon.
I found these super easy to use and good value surface mounted hinges on Amazon and would recommend them if you don't want to fit concealed hinges, although the downside is that they are not as easily adjustable once they are attached so it's more important to get them in exactly the right place to start with. I fitted four hinges to each door which sounds like a lot, but the doors were over 2m long.
Before fitting any hinges, I held a door up in place and using a spirit level to ensure it was straight and marked where the hinge should be positioned (a second pair of hands if helpful here so you ideally need a helper). I tested that the door could move the full 90 degrees and tested different depths for where the carcass side of the hinge would be fitted. Once I was happy I'd found the optimum position, I measured the distance from the outer edge of the wardrobe carcass and marked that exact point for the remaining three hinge locations. It's important to ensure that each hinge is fitted at exactly the same depth at both ends otherwise the door will be wonky.
Adding the shaker-style decorative door panels
Professional carpenters would fit the shaker panels on the doors first, before fitting them to the wardrobe, but I was worried about the doors not looking perfect as they were cut from sheets of ply using the B&Q saw and as this was my first attempt on this scale I decided to cheat a bit by fitting the doors first so I could cover any minor imperfections on the long sides of the doors by slightly overlapping the shaker panels if required. As it turned out, I didn't need to do this as the doors were pretty good (phew!).
I used grab adhesive (suitable for wood) and panel pins to attached the panels and also held them in place at the top and bottom with clamps to be extra sure they wouldn't move at all. I attached the long sides first and used the spirit level to ensure that they were on straight. Once the long sides had dried, I measured each individual small gap at the top and bottom of the doors and cut a horizontal panel to fit, attaching it in the same way. Once these had dried, it was time to fill the gaps between the door and the panel all the way round the inside and outside of the doors, then allow to dry. For the inside edges, I used a damp cloth to wipe off any excess filled and I sanded the outer edges once dry to give a smooth finish.
Paint the DIY wardrobe doors
Once the shaker panels had been filled and wiped or sanded, it was time to start painting. I used a colour-match paint to save money and it was matched to one of my faves, Farrow and Ball's 'Pigeon'. First, I cut in around the edges of the shaker panels with a paint brush and then gave the rest of the doors a coat with a roller.
I gave the doors two coats and then touched up some areas with a third.
Adding the handles
Once the doors had completely dried, I measured and marked where I wanted the tall handles to go. I used a spirit level to ensure that they would all be perfectly straight. I drilled holes where I'd marked and pushed the screws through from behind the door and using a screwdriver into the back of the handle fitting.
Note: The KEPLER closet bars that I fitted to the doors were part of a paid collaboration over on Instagram.
I wanted to create the feel of a boutique hotel in this room, luxurious with a bit of a personality and style so I painted a canvas with abstract art and hung it on the side of the left wardrobe. The finishing touch was a brass picture light that I'd bought ages ago from Amazon.
Here are the 'after' pics. I'm really happy with the results of this project. It took a few days from start to finish and was a fair amount of effort, but totally worth it now I have fancy doors and quite a saving compared to buying bespoke.
What I spent...
The 12mm thick plywood sheets were £37 each and you could get two doors out of each so in theory I should've used three sheets but B&Q ran out so I used one sheet of 9mm thick for a pair of the doors which was slightly cheaper at £32. I made a book case out of the offcuts from the single door sheet so am only attributing £17 of the cost to the wardrobes. I used 1 x 5mm sheet for the panels (£26).
Plywood total- £37 + £32 + £17 + £26 = £112
Grab adhesive - 2 x 2 tubes at £2.50 = £5.00
Paint - £35
Primer - £20
Handles - PR products
Hinges - 2 packs of 12 at £10.99 each = £21.98
Door closing catches - 1 pack at £6.09
Tube of filler - £2.00
Skirting board - 1 piece at £17.73.
Regular B&Q customers get sent money off vouchers for future purchases, I used the following across multiple transactions 3 x £3.00 off vouchers and 1 x £10 off voucher - total discount £19.
Total £219.80 - £19 = £200.80
Wardrobe Door Handle Suggestions
The above total doesn't include a cost for handles as they were included as part of my payment for the content I created for the brand. I wanted to suggest some options that you could use on your project and as people's budgets vary so much I thought I'd suggest a selection of products across a wide range of price points including the exact model on mine. Click the links below to see the product details in each case.
Super low budget - £7.59 each 320mm length
Mid-range - £21.48 each 700mm hole centres
Investment - £89.95 each 760mm length. (These are the model that I have on mine.)
I hope this was helpful.
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