I finally finished them! This project was one of the easiest but most tedious projects I have done in a long time. These DIY built-ins were made from Ikea’s Billy Bookcases and I am very proud of the way they turned out. I spent a lot of time planning this project to make them look more custom and now I can’t even tell they were from Ikea. (post contains affiliate links, see disclosure)
I’m so happy I finally decided to take the plunge on this project! I had been planning it for almost a year and now it feels like they always belonged in our home. I kept the decor simple and will tweak it more as the weeks go on, but for now, I used items I had around the house. With built-ins on both sides of the room, I wanted to keep each shelf simple so it doesn’t appear too cluttered.
These built-ins can be configured any way you want according to the size you need for your space or room. The possibilities are endless with the shelves available at 15-inch and 31-inch widths. These supplies and instructions are according to my space, but they can easily be adjusted to fit the requirements needed for yours.
I used the Billy Bookcases because their depth of 11 inches was perfect for the awkward alcove we have in our living room. They don’t stick out into the room and are aligned perfectly with the wall. I originally planned for lighting above but decided I wanted a simpler look, so I added double extension units to take the shelving all the way to the ceiling.
DIY BUILT INS
- (2) 31″ Billy Bookcase
- (2) 15″ Billy Bookcase
- (4) 31″ height extension units
- (4) 15″ height extension units
- (6) doors
- (6) door handles
- (2) 2x2x8
- 2-inch wood screws
- (8) 1x2x8
- (3) 1x1x8
- miter saw
- nail gun
- 1-inch brad nails
- wood filler
- sanding block
- paint, I used Valspar Ulta White in semi-gloss
First, build each billy bookcase according to Ikea’s instructions. This part was pretty easy and only took me about fifteen minutes for each one. Then, I cut the 2×2’s down to size and attached them with wood screws to the bottom of each bookcase. This made each bookcase taller and allowed me to use our existing baseboards to wrap around for a more built-in look. Instead of building an entire base for each self, I attached each piece to the front and back. They were still stable enough to stand on their own, but per Ikea instructions, each bookcase and extension unit was also attached to studs in the wall. I also screwed each bookcase together, using the pre-drilled holes on the sides.
After attaching the baseboards, I started on the trim. Using the 1×2’s cut to size, I attached them with my brad nailer. Most tutorials and other Billy bookcase hacks I have seen, only trim out the sides and where each bookcase meets. I decided to also trim out each shelf for a more custom look. I added trim where the bookcase met the wall and each edge. This left a gap at the edge of the doors, so there I added the 1×1 cut to size. Also, where each extension unit was added, I placed another 1×2 trim to cover up the line.
It was at this point, I decided to add another extension unit, so I repeated the steps and continued to trim it out. I also added simple trim to the top, by attaching a 1×2 to the ceiling and then a 1×1 underneath for a craftsman look. I’m so glad I decided to take them all the way up, they look more custom and finished.
Next, was the tedious task of caulking and filling in each nail hole. I also filled in each hole for the adjustable shelving and caulked each shelf on all sides. In the picture above, you can see how much better each shelf looks caulked vs not caulked. This makes the shelving permanent, but I am okay with that. Then, I started to paint. I used a very strong primer and my favorite white paint. The original bookcases looked yellow in our home, so I used my go-to white – Ultra White by Valspar. In the photo above, the new paint is on the right and it’s so much brighter! I will share more about how to paint them next week (this tutorial is already long enough)!
Once, the painting was done and cured for about a week, I added the door hardware. I had originally planned on using a simple black knob, but after adding the extra height extension, I felt the doors needed some visual weight. I love the larger black pulls and glad I changed my mind.
I’m sure you’ll be seeing these DIY built-ins a lot here on the blog and social media in the next few weeks! I am finishing up the DIY fireplace now and will share the full tour of our living room makeover soon!