ORC Week 2: Ikea Billy Bookcase hack

Ikea bookcase hack

This week I will be sharing how to turn a plain wall into a custom built-in library wall using IKEA Billy bookcase hack. The best part of this DIY project is how unbelievably affordable it is. Having contractors create built-ins for us would have cost us thousands of dollars. By using Ikea Billy Bookcase hack, this project only costs us a couple of hundred dollars. Last week I showed you our plans for our home library renovation. If you missed it, check it out here.


4 Billy Bookcases from IKEA

20 – 2×4s

4.25″ Crown molding

5.25″ Baseboards

Corner trim

Birch plywood board 4×8 (cut to size)


Mitre Saw

Nail Gun

Table Saw

Palm Sander


First, let’s take a look at where it all started. I never had furniture on the wall where this painting hangs because nothing ever looked right. The wall is extremely wide making any piece of furniture look too small and awkward. For over a year I envisioned ceiling-to-wall bookcases so I was extremely excited my Uros asked me if I wanted to go to Home Depot to pick up 2×4 to make my home library dreams a reality.

Empty wall


This wall is 160 in wide and 96 in height. I determined I needed four IKEA bookcases which equaled 125 inches in width (31.5×4=126). This left me 34 inches to create five columns between each bookcase (160in-125in). Because I wanted to install three sconces in the middle three columns, we made those columns widths 8 in leaving the very left and the very right columns 5 inches wide and the math turned out perfect for that.

ikea billy bookcase


Because the bookshelves were 79.5 inches in height and our walls are 96in, we built a base using 2×4’s to raise the bookshelves 5.25″ inches of the ground and covered it with a baseboard that was of equal height. That left us with 11.25 inches from the top to utilize for shadow boxes and crown molding.

We used 2x4s to build a base on the floor and the ceiling.

Once we created the base we added the columns that would hold each of the four IKEA bookcases in place.

We added one bookcase to ensure the spacing between the two 2×4 columns fit snug. As you can tell in the picture, the 2x4s we got are not perfectly straight but that is not an issue as they will be screwed into the bookcases to ensure they stay in place.

Next step was assembling the remainder of the bookcases which was extremely easy given Ikeas thorough instructions and having assembled one already.

After putting all of the bookcases together, we inserted them into the frame we created.

Ikea bookacase hack

Next, we had to decide on the spacing between the bookshelves since we determined that we would screw them in permanently. I frequently post polls on my Instagram during projects to get a pulse on what others are thinking.

I ended up choosing option A for more variety in the size of objects I can add to the bookshelf. Others were split on this poll but that only tells me there is no wrong option. If you are interested in all the details that went into creating these built-ins, I saved all the instructional videos on my Instagram stories under ‘Library I’ and ‘Library II’ .

Ikea bookacase hack

Uros wired the electrical boxes for the three sconces that we will be installing between the three center columns. To cover the gaps between the columns and surrounding areas, we used a table saw to cut birch plywood and nailed to our frame.


After we created the frame for the bookcases, it was time to add the fillers and decorative pieces to give it that traditional library room look. To do that we added birch plywood which we got someone to cut for us at Home Depot. If you ever need a big plywood piece cut, home depot has the tool to do it. They will cut it for you because they know you need to able to fit it into your car but if you come prepared they will cut in the measurements that you need. We used birch plywood because it is really smooth which means it is going to be a lot easier to paint because it will not have grain showing through meaning we won’t need to sand.

We used a table saw to further cut the birch wood pieces to size as Home Depot will not cut those detailed pieces for you.

Ikea billy bookcase hack

After we added the birch plywood to our frame we starting adding decorative trim.

We first installed 5.25in base boards, then the corner trim on each side of the columns and then topped it off with 4.24 in crown molding. baseboards. Since we had about 10 in of space between the crown molding and the top shelf, we added shadow boxes.

The shadow because were really a great call as it provides such much visual interest to the bookcases and makes them look even more custom.


Now that we have completed the built-ins, next week we are going to discuss paint colors. In particular, we will be discussing fail-safe ways to incorporate deep saturated blues. If you missed the design plans for this project check out all the details HERE. We will be installing a variety of trim work, beautiful wallpaper and have a ton of pattern play ready to explore.

Thank you all for following along.

Now, don’t forget to check out others transformation here.

5 thoughts on “ORC Week 2: Ikea Billy Bookcase hack

  1. Hi,
    What a beautiful transformation!
    My wife and I are decided to give it a try.
    I have a one question though…, when you put birch wood panel on 3 of those center colum -it almost looked as if you put double panel(it seems slightly raised up then others)
    Thank you in advance

  2. For the columns, did you have a piece of plywood behind them to make them stick out 3/4” or is that just a visual illusion?
    From the pictures, I can’t tell if they are actually mini columns or the decorative trim makes them appear to not be flush with the other trim.

Leave a Reply