IKEA Expedit Hack: How I Made It Work

A few days ago I pulled a Houdini in the renovation of the office closet.

Pottery Barn Office with Bedford Furniture and Buffalo Check Curtains

Here’s a view of the “Before” and “After” below. You can view this closet renovation project here: IKEA Expedit for Closet Storage.

Ikea Expedit Closet Storage Organization

The Houdini part was getting an IKEA Expedit shelving unit, which measures 58 5/8 inches wide, into in a closet that is only about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wider than the Expedit itself. The closet only measures around 59 1/4 inches wide with the baseboard removed.

I didn’t buy the Expedit on my first trip down to IKEA, but after I realized the side panel of the Expedit fits inside the unit itself once it was assembled giving me a teeny bit of wiggle room with which to work, I was emboldened to give it a try. I considered the worse thing that could happen: I’d have to take it all apart and haul it back downstairs to either the garage or basement where it would become storage shelving for one of those areas. Not really what I wanted, but I could live with that if it came down to it.

Ikea Expedit with Pjas Baskets In Closet


As I drove back to IKEA a week later to purchase the Expedit, I was still thinking about how this was not going to be a piece of cake. I would have to build the Expedit standing in the exact spot where it would ultimately live in the closet because the closet isn’t wide enough or deep enough to allow the Expedit to rotate into place if it’s built the outside the closet first.

IKEA in Atlanta GA a


I had downloaded all the building instructions online, so I knew what lay ahead. As you can see in the diagram below, the left end/side panel is the last piece to go on (except for the top) and obviously some space or room is needed to hammer on that last panel. “Space” was something I didn’t have.  I channeled Scarlett (Gone With the Wind) and thought,  “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.

Ikea Expedit Instructions

Once back home, the very first thing I did was remove the quarter round and baseboard molding on both sides of the closet. I used the wood cutting tool on my Dremel for this and it worked very well.  I so wanted to take a pic of that process, but I just couldn’t hold the camera, press the button and cut with the Dremel all at the same time.

Building an Expedit Inside a Closet

Cutting the quarter round was easy. The baseboard molding was a bit more of a challenge due to the angle I was having to cut and how close I could get to the molding with the Dremel blade.  There’s a special tool you can buy for cutting through baseboard but I didn’t have one, so I just did the best I could with my Dremel. I ended up gouging the wall a bit behind the baseboard, but overall it went pretty well.  I removed the molding on both sides of the closet where the Expedit would ultimately stand.

Using an IKEA Expedit Inside a Closet

I lifted out the big closet shelf that sat on the supports you see below.  I then removed the supports because they were about 1/8 of inch too low on the wall and would have bumped the top of the Expedit. Yup, these tiny little fractions of an inch were killing me.  It was all about increments, this Expedit quest.  In the end I was glad I removed them because I decided to leave that shelf out of the closet entirely.

You can see I have some touch-up painting ahead of me.  I hadn’t realized the shelf was merely sitting on the supports when I painted the closet a few months ago, or I would have removed it to paint. I should have stopped at this point and completed the painting but I was too impatient to get Mr. Expedit in place. Painting will come later…I’ll just cover everything up real well.

Building an Expedit Inside a Closet

Now, this next  part is a little tricky to explain.   I brought the ottoman and the big box my Brother sewing machine came in, into the closet. And, guess what?  I built the entire Expedit up in the air, on top of the ottoman and the box.  Let me explain.

The building process started with placing the bottom outside piece of the Expedit on top of the ottoman and box. Then I placed/stood the right “side wall” of the Expedit on top of the bottom piece. There are these really loooong screws that go up through the bottom corner part of the Expedit into the side wall of the Expedit. That’s why I had to build it up in the air, so I could lay down on my back under the Expedit and screw those in. Normally the Expedit is built laying on its side, then it’s turned upright when completed. I didn’t have that luxury in this situation.

BTW, I do not recommend you build your Expedit this way.  This post is just to show how I built mine.  I recommend you build your Expedit following all the directions that came with your Expedit!  

Building an Expedit Inside a Closet

Here’s a view of the other end. There’s not much room for the other side piece that will need to go in there, plus it will have pegs sticking out, too. The plot thickens.

Building an Expedit Inside a Closet


I continued to add rows of shelving to the Expedit. You can see the little pegs sticking up waiting for the next row of cubbie sidewalls.

Building an Expedit Inside a Closet

Another view of the building progress…

Building an Expedit Inside a Closet


Here’s a better view showing why I built the Expedit up in the air. I needed to be able to tighten these two screws once the last side wall (the left side) of the Expedit was added.

Building an Expedit Inside a Closet

I forgot to take a pic with all the shelves in place…only one more row was added. Now it was time to add the left side wall. Here’s where I had to get creative.  Just as I had anticipated, the side wall of the Expedit with its pegs sticking out, was too “fat” to fit  in the narrow space available. The pegs stuck out about 1/4 inch too far.  See how they are smacking into the front of the shelf.

Building an Expedit Inside a Closet

The Expedit is designed where four pegs extend from the sidewall for each shelf, and those go into the end of each shelf. Out of those 4 pegs that stick into each shelf, two are short and two are long. Actually, the pegs are all the same size…just two of the four holes in the sidewall of the Expedit are deeper in depth. So, out of the 4 pegs sticking out for each shelf, two were too long by about a quarter of an inch.

Enter Mr. Dremel, stage right…actually stage left in this scene. Dremel saved the day once again.  I cut about 1/8-1/4 inch off the pegs that were too long…the ones that were preventing me from sliding the left side panel down along beside the Expedit. I wasn’t worried this would compromise the integrity or strength of the Expedit shelving because:  1.  I wasn’t cutting off that much  2. There were 4 pegs for each shelf on each end and only two were being cut a tiny bit   3.  Each shelf was already supported well by all the individual panels that make up all the side walls of the little cubbies of the Expedit. And 4. A very long screw goes through the top and bottom of the Expedit into the side wall of the unit, holding the sidewall tightly in place.

In this pic below, I had just cut through the tip of one of the pegs.  You can see the tip hanging there beneath the peg.

Building an Expedit Inside a Closet 1


A closer view…Building an Expedit Inside a Closet 2

Here are all the little tips. It’s kind of weird how the Dremel turns the wood brown as it cuts through. I guess it creates a lot of friction as it cuts through the wood.

Building an Expedit Inside a Closet 1

I wish I had taken a picture of the side wall piece stuck down the side of the Expedit before it was shoved into place. I guess the heat of the moment took over and I forgot to take a photo. So here’s how it went down: Once the pegs were snipped off a tad, I was just barely able to get the side wall of the Expedit into place. Then the real fun began. I had planned to slide something skinny in behind the side wall of the Expedit and pry or wedge it against the shelving, pushing the pegs down into the holes of the shelving.

Well, so much for that idea. It wasn’t budging. I tugged and tugged on the side wall. Nothing.  I got out a small mirror and held it over the side to see if a peg wasn’t lined up properly with a hole in the shelf. One appeared to be off and I adjusted it, but I still couldn’t pull or wedge that side wall (with pegs) against and into the shelving holes.

Then, not sure why I did it, but I rocked/banged the whole assembled Expedit in the direction of the sidewall and praise be, the pegs went a wee bit down into the holes on the shelving. What??? No way! So I did it again, and again. It only took me rocking that Expedite against the sidewall about 3-4 times and the whole thing was together, tight as could be. I was stunned–happy but stunned. As my father-in-law used to say, “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then.”

Next I got down on my back and slid up under the Expedit and screwed in the really long screws that hold the side wall to the bottom piece of the Expedit. I did the same with the screws on the top of the Expedit. I had to stand on a step ladder to reach those since the Expedit was still up in the air on the ottoman and box.

Building an Expedit Inside a Closet


The next part was perhaps the hardest of all.  I had to get that massively heavy Expedit off of the box and ottoman and down onto the floor. I had NO IDEA it was going to be that heavy once assembled, which was really dumb of me since I hadn’t been able to budge either of the two boxes that held the un-assembled Expedit. I had brought each piece of the Expedit upstairs by opening the boxes in my SUV, taking each section out and up the stairs one at a time. Now you know why I was so sore the next day–well that and what came next.

Here’s how I got it off the ottoman and the box. I first placed a wide sturdy footstool underneath the center of the Expedit and pulled out the box. Inch by inch I removed the ottoman until the Expedit collapsed down onto the foot stool, which was several inches shorter than the ottoman.

Next, I placed three books under one side of the Expedit and three books under the other side.  I slowly pulled out the step stool. I had thought to place pads on all four feet of the step stool (before placing it under the Expedit) so it wouldn’t scratch the floor when I pulled it out. It was not easy getting it out!

Once the foot stool was out, I pulled out one book at the time, gradually lowering the Expedit a few inches at the time. I used books that were not expensive just in case it ruined them. Fortunately, it did not. OH. MY. GOSH…was that thing heavy. It was soooo hard pulling those books out. Finally, I got them all out and the Expedit landed in the spot between the places where I had removed the molding. Hallelujah!

Here’s how the Expedit looks at the bottom…you can see why I had to remove the quarter round and baseboard to have space for it to fit once I lowered it down off the ottoman and box.  I kind of gouged the wall behind the baseboard on this side.  That can be repaired and will be hidden when baseboard is put back if/when I sell this house one day.

Building an Expedit Inside a Closet

Here’s the other side.  I did a better job over here.  You know, if I added a bit of molding up the sides, the Expedit would have a built-in look, wouldn’t it?  When I move one day, I may just have to take a saw to this thing to get it out of here so the next home owner will have a place to hang their clothes. Once again, I invoke the Scarlett clause. πŸ˜‰

Building an Expedit Inside a Closet

I love the height of the Expedit because I can now reach everything I keep on top where I could never do that with the shelf that used to be here in the closet. I know this photo makes them look about the same height, but the original shelf was actually a good bit higher.

Ikea Expedit Closet Storage Organization

So, that’s it! So happy to have it done.

I met a blog friend for lunch today and the restaurant where we met was only about 5 minutes from IKEA. So, after lunch I stopped by and purchased four more PJAS baskets. I’ll share a pic showing how they look in the Expedit for Met Monday. I do definitely like the look with 2 rows of baskets.

Pssst:  If you’re new to BNOTP and haven’t seen the “Before and After” of the office, you’ll find that HERE.

You’ll find the post showing the Expedit with 8 PJAS baskets (instead of four) here:  PJAS Baskets for the Closet Expedit

You’ll find a post sharing pictures of what I’m storing inside the baskets here:  IKEA Expedit, Sneaking a Peek Inside

Ikea Expedit with Pjas Baskets In Closet

Once again, please build your Expedit according to the directions that came with your Expedit!  This post is not a tutorial for building an Expedit!

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  1. Tonya @ My Cozy Little Farmhouse says

    Very creative. It there is a will, there is a way. Glad it worked out!

  2. Laurel's Quill says

    I have done that to one of my closets and am just about ready to visit IKEA again and do the other. You have given me courage:)

  3. Glenda/MidSouth says

    Oh my! Made me tired just reading this. πŸ˜€ Several years ago I could see me trying something like this. Today? No way! Enjoy your weekend! You deserve a rest. πŸ˜€

  4. Lynne (lynnesgiftsfromtheheart) says

    You go girl.. we are women hear us roar!! Dremel tools and all.. I’m really wanting to order a few of these for my “war” room, once I get through the open house and tax season it’s on my list of things to do….hugs ~lynne ~

  5. Nelly Kelly says

    I absolutely LOVE your office, it is fabulous! Thanks so much for sharing your mystery technique… I could not for the life of me figure out how you got that thing in there! I’m glad you escaped with all your fingers and toes, not to mention a beautiful storage area.

  6. bammajan10 says

    Susan, you need a handyman. Or a girlfriend you can ply with wine and chocolate and she’ll help you do the heavy lifting. πŸ™‚ Seriously, when I’ve needed manual labor help I have called the local high school and asked them to recommend someone. Bless those boys, they’ve saved me. Good for you to take on this challenge. The closet looks so organized.

  7. Crap Houdini! Can’t wait to check out the office next week although I have a feeling you’ll be more interesting in meeting a little somebody than showing me the office.

  8. Nancy Bee's Knees says

    Amazing! This is about as close to a custom fit as you can possibly get. Job well done … give yourself a pat on the back (if it’s not too painful to reach that far) and a darn good bonus! πŸ™‚ Cheers, Nancy

  9. One of the best posts I’ve ever read – just imagine all the synapses you’ve activated through your problem solving that have now added YEARS of quality to your brain life. Awesome. BTW I am GREEN with envy at your study/space – it is just gorgeous!!!

  10. Katie @ Wildwood Creek says

    You have inspired me with your creative thinking! You go girl!

  11. Jane@Cottage at the Crossroads says

    I was just thinking that it was your preciseness that got that unit into the closet! Amazing!

  12. I’m SOOO happy to have found your blog. It is very fun to read along with! I am a military wife and it can be hard to really bloom where God plants us but i’ve been learning to be creative in each new place we find ourselves. I’m a big dinnerware person and it was fun to have a peek inside your friends dish room. WOW I was a little green with envy ha. Little by little i’ve been picking up thrift store/antique store finds. Again thanks for all you blog about, i love it! Laura

  13. Wow that is an amazing job!! Looks fantastic..wish we had an IKEA here! What a great piece for organization..I may need to take an IKEA road trip!! Would be a great addition to my office/studio! Thanks for the inspiration and the instructions! Miss Bloomers

  14. sweet violets says

    How brave you are!!! That was some project, I hope you rewarded yourself after that!!! I am amazed at what you did, and exhausted after reading your explanation, which, by the way, was excellant in wonderful detail!!! I’ve tackled some pretty amazing things myself but nothing like this….you rule!!! hugs…cleo

  15. SewCal Gal says


  16. notyet100 says

    Looks so organized πŸ™‚

  17. Andi's English Attic says

    You have taken ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ to new heights. I am so impressed. You deserve a piece of cake. xx

  18. Hartwood Roses says

    It’s stories like this that make me laugh out loud at the folks who turn up their noses at Ikea furniture. You could have spent $$$ on a custom closet organizer, or $ on an Ikea Expedit … Ikea wins, most every time. One wall in my sewing room is two 4×4 Expedits side by side, and it’s perfect storage … and I can vouch for the fact that these units are HEAVY!!

  19. Rettabug says

    You are one determined lady when you set your mind to getting what you want! Yay, YOU, Susan!! I’m impressed with your skills & ingenuity. Now, you know that once Chip gets married & starts coming home to visit you with babies in tow, this room will have to be converted into a nursery/playroom. LOL I think you’re half-way there already. Think of all the toys that you can store in those baskets. *wink* Hugs & Hopes that you’re feeling better. You must hurt all over after all that! Rett

  20. LianneCarpenter says

    Susan…you are one smart cookie! What a briliant idea to download the assembly instructions. You had a great plan of attack before even buying the thing!! It does make me giggle at some of your tricks…would have loved a pic of the unit being smacked against the wall for that last panel…or one looking up from the floor for those last screws!! πŸ™‚ After all the trips to Ikea you have made, and all the trips I have made to the same one, I can’t believe we haven’t met yet!! You just keep on inspiring.

  21. Tabitha Corsica says

    Wonderful job on that Project! You are much braver than I… I think the reason your pegs didn’t quite match up at first but some how did after a good whack on the structure was because the unit was a tad off square. Probably because of the “elevation” during construction. I’ve seen many a carpenter do the same thing to get a piece back to shape!

  22. Lynn@ The Vintage Nest says

    I was just amazed reading how you “walked” that shelving unit down to the floor. You missed your calling. Should have been an engineer! It looks fabulous! xo

  23. Kim @ Stuff could... says

    Wow you did a great job of organizing!

  24. Well done!! I love IKEA; my precious Mr. W and I have just finished putting up some IKEA things tonight! I love how it is all coming! Hopefully we will buy the doors for our Billy’s at the end of the month! You have inspired me. Thank you! Jilly

  25. Judy Bigg says

    What a job you have done Susan! You are a determined woman and I applaud you. I was so happy to see what you have accomplished. I think I need to invest in a Dremel, it is quite a tool.

  26. Great job. I guess persistence really does pay off. This room is just gorgeous. I have an off topic question. Why do you have two monitors for your computer? How do you use them?

  27. As always, your tutorials and photos showing every step in a very tightly spaced area were great. What a fine finish to your office/room.

  28. laurie @ bargain hunting says

    Susan, the entire room is wonderful, and you are brilliant to work this piece into the closet! laurie

  29. Mary Ellen says

    Wow they look like they were built in!! A little caulking around the baseboard area would be the key to making them look truly built in and finished. This is a fantastic closet!!

  30. It looks really good, Susan. I admire your persistence and it really paid off…Christine

  31. marty (A Stroll Thru Life) says

    You amaze me at how creative you are. Where there is a will there is definitely a way. Hugs, Marty

  32. Michele @ The Nest at Finch Rest says

    Susan, you really are remarkable and just a little bit looney tunes. I wouldn’t DREAM of tackling that – that’s what the hired hands are for, madam! Now it is awesome, but please go get yourself a massage! You are amazing.

  33. Susan, you are truly remarkable! That is a very creative solution. But you could have called me, and I would have run over to help. Really.

  34. Pat@Life At Lydia's House says

    I like to see a girl with some spunk and ingenuity! Good job on figuring out a way to make it work!

  35. Genius! Once, my husband figured out the best way for some furniture delivery men to get my huge desk through a doorway in our house. One of the men said to my husband, “Man, you must be an engineer!”. Susan, you must be an engineer!!! What a great job!

  36. Beach Bungalow says

    Yes! This is truly magical! S xo

  37. Linda (More Fun Less Laundry) says

    Hi Susan! Great job and very ingenious! Next time please make a video for us! Remember the video you made when you unpacked that large box in your hallway? It was very entertaining! Well, I have a full house today so off to make breakfast! Linda

  38. Bettsi McComb says

    Susan, BRAVA! You’ve really proven that where there is a will, there IS a way!

  39. Gloria (The Little Red House with the White Porch) says

    Dear Nancy, aka Scarlett, aka Susan: Well, I just read the email for this post, and I said, “Holy sh*t. That girl has my UTMOST ADMIRATION!!!” Susan, just READING your post in the email, I couldn’t get through it with the directions because I am SO BAD with doing stuff like this, I make a mess of things and can never understand it all. So to see that you not only DID it yourself, but did it INSIDE, and had to cut wood, and push wood into place, and fit in pins, etc…. well, you are an amazement to me and MY HAT IS OFF TO YOU!!!!!! Seriously, I just had to come to leave a comment that I think you are a wonder and I really admire you. Good for you, it all looks beautiful. What a sense of accomplishment you must have, you should be so proud, Congrats! Best, Gloria

  40. martinealison says

    Quel travail et un aboutissement rΓ©ussi… gros bisous

  41. Necessity is the mother of invention. Well done Susan. I have been known to use kids roller skates to move a heavy desk through my house by myself.

  42. Jan Melton says

    Hi Susan! I love your blog!!!

    I have an Expedit question. What did you use to get the large screws into the unit. that ‘tool’ they included was not that useful for me! Mine is together but you can wobble it a lot and i know I need to go back and redo those 8 screws! thanks for your help, jan

    • Hi Jan,
      I don’t remember much about that now, but I probably didn’t use the tool they included. I have a couple of Allen wrenches I’ve bought at Home Depot over the years. The Allen wrench I have came in a set and when you pull out the wrench you want, you can use the body of the set to sort of leverage/screw in the screw. The body of the set of wrenches gives you something to hold onto. If you don’t want to buy a set of wrenches at Home Depot, I’d take the tool they included and use a wrench on it to twist, to keep from hurting your hand. I honestly can’t remember now what tool they included but I’m guessing it one puny little Allen wrench which is very hard on the hands to turn. Take a look at the Allen wrench shown at this site: http://www.danscomp.com/products-RACE/811345/Park_Allen_Wrench_Set_(AWS-12).html When you pull out the wrench, the body of the set where all the wrench is stored becomes a handle you can hold onto to twist in the screw. That’s what you need…much easier to use then a single wrench which hurts the hand to use. You can get a lot more leverage with a set.

  43. (How did I miss this?)
    My dear with this engineering feat and your persistance, you may have just proven there was more than likely women on the job sites when the Pyramids were built! πŸ™‚ Great job, Susan. Hugs -Brenda-

  44. Love it! Never estimate the power of a woman who wants to fit something in her car or do something in her house! She will find a way. One of my friends wanted to make a change in her kitchen. Two contractors said it couldn’t be done. She did it anyway.

    Your closet addition reminded of the first time I saw cubby hole storage units. I was in kindergarten, and I’ve been in love with them ever since. You’ve inspired me to add one to my office.

    Hats off to you for your determination.

    • Exactly! We always find a way! πŸ™‚ That’s awesome about your friend, love stories like that! I love the IKEA Expedit, I’ve seen a lot of fashion YouTubers use them to store/display their handbag collection.

  45. Hi Susan, this post is a timely one for me even though it’s from a few years back. I’m starting on the walk-in closets in two bedrooms with shelving, etc. so this is a great inspiration.
    Don’t you love your Dremel? I bought mine when I refinished the front door a few years ago; it’s so versatile and fun!

    • It really came in handy for this project, so glad I had it! Marlene, take Before and After pictures, I would love to share your makeover if you don’t mind. Everyone loves a great closet makeover. πŸ™‚

  46. I did this same thing except I should have cut out the baseboard. That would have solved the problem! Great job! Can you tell me where your green magazine holders or binders (whatever they are) are from?

    • Thanks! I just looked on the bottom of one of the magazine holders and it says, “IKEA Kassett Magazine.” It also says, “File 2-p with the number 21074-1129 . I don’t know if they still make this exact same one but they do have magazine holders on their website. You can also find them on Amazon.

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