Ikea Billy Bookcase Built-In Hack
The finishing touches have just been added to our custom shelving unit and it’s been styled to within an inch of it’s life. Fancying seeing how you can pimp up a cheapo set of bookshelves, into a thing of style and substance? Then prepare yourself for the Billy Bookcase Built-In Bonanza!
If you haven’t already read about my plans for the living room, then you can catch up (here).
My initial plan was to create a sleek ‘high gloss’ wall hung storage/display unit, which would provide a contrast with the traditional woodwork within the rest of the room. By keeping the unit off the floor, we wouldn’t lose any visible floor space, creating the illusion of space.
I sketched up a few plans as a rough guideline to follow, then measured and ordered up the main bits that I would need in order to get started.
Building Billy Bookcase
As this beast was going to be wall-hung, it needed to be secure. Fixing into the wall studs would be essential in order to provide sufficient support for the weight of books/ornaments/crap, it would be carrying. For added strength and security, I decided to go a step further and screw in a further two support beams into the wall. I ain’t no risk-taker!
You can see (behind the mess) in this photo, the big hole in the wall with the added support beam in place. Onto this beam, I then hung four kitchen bridging carcasses, to form the base of my unit.
I added a sheet of wood on top of the four units, to provide a top on to which I could ‘clad’ my top surface. Each Billy bookcase would rest on top of this, as well as being screwed into the support beam, further up the wall. Levels were constantly checked throughout so that it didn’t end up wonky.
When all four bookcases were in and secured to the wall, they were then screwed to each other.
Instead of using the bookcases as they should be, I removed the top and flipped them round so that the plinth became the top. This was so that it still retained the strength, from the support provided by the plinth. It also meant that it had an area to attach a cornice to.
And so, the poor Billy bookcase hack, lay dormant for quite a while. He got his gloss doors and a temporary cornice (the pins were never hammered right in!) and a quick liven-up with some painted grey back panels.
He looked good, just a bit unfinished.
Fast Forward; Billy Bookcase 2017
Times had changed. High gloss Billy Bookcase was no longer desirable and a new look was imminent. Having lived with the white behemoth for a wee while, I decided that as much as I wanted a feature, I didn’t want the shelving itself to stand out. I also wanted something a bit more traditional and in keeping with the more formal style of the room.
Various mouldings and trims were added to cover up joints, and to bulk out panels, giving the impression of a substantial piece of fitted furniture, rather than a cobbled together DIY.
The original gloss doors were sanded down and a flat trim added to create a simple panel. Beading was then attached with glue to keep with the more traditional style of the bay window panels. The assembled doors were then each given two coats of Etch Primer Spray (available here). I’ve found this gives the best adhesion for difficult surfaces such as laminates or metals. Two coats of a dark grey paint-on primer was used on the bookcases themselves, due to the amount of surface to be covered. Then, a further two topcoats of eggshell, in the same colour as the walls, gave the unit it’s final finish.
So far it has all held up well.
The finished Billy Bookcase Hack.
Smart new handles and some display lighting, completes the finished makeover. I have to say, painting EVERYTHING out in the grey really makes a difference in both the size and atmosphere of the room. The shelving really drew your eye before, but for completely the wrong reasons. Now, they blend in well with the rest of the room, allowing our objects and artwork to stand out.
Hurrah for IKEA and DIY cheapness!
For the rest of the living room reveal, make sure you add your details to the ‘Follow Me’ box at the side of the page. More to come later in the week. See ya soon!