Billy-to-Built-ins Ikea Hack


I’ve owned my house for 4 years now and since day one I have been trying to figure out what to do with this weird area on the far side of my living room. The main room is to the right of the stairs but to the left there is this 11 foot wide, 7 foot deep space that is just awkward and unused.

Last year I got my first look at the Billy-to-built-in Ikea hack on Centsational Girl. As soon as I saw it I knew it was the answer I had been looking for. I did a lot of research on the best way to do it. There are so many great Ikea hack ideas out there. Once I had a plan made I recruited my dad to help me. It pays to have a handy dad! :)

First we had to remove the baseboards along the back and side walls. The base of the bookshelves is not flush with the frame so we added 1”x 2” boards to the base of each self so I would have an easier time attaching the baseboards at the end of the project. I’m a terrible shot with a nail gun so I need a big target!


We used shims to align and level the shelves just like you would do with kitchen cabinets. When we had each bookshelf level we screwed it to the bookshelf next to it and moved on to the next shelf. We used a countersink drill bit to recess the screw to help hide it. Once all of the bookshelves were together and everything was firmly attached to the walls it was time to add the trim.


This is the part that really makes everything look like a built-in bookcase. From the top of the bottom shelf to the floor was higher than my baseboards so we used a 4” wide piece of MDF as a toe kick. I used my nail gun to attach it across the entire length of the bookshelves, wall-to-wall. Next, I added my baseboard, attaching it to the MDF. The baseboards on the side walls also had to be trimmed to fit the new length and re installed.

We nailed a 2”x 4” board to the top of the bookshelves, wall-to-wall, to create a place to attach the crown moulding. Then we installed the crown moulding across the top. Just like the bottom of the Billy bookshelves the top is not flush with the frame so, to hide the gap I used a strip of 1” lattice trim across the front of the shelving. To cover the seam between bookshelves we used 1 1/2” lattice trim.


The most difficult part was covering the gaps at the end of bookcase. Since nothing in my house is square we ended up with a 2 ½” gap at one end and a 3” gap at the other. We found a 4’x 8’ sheet of thin wood (maybe 1/8” thick?) at Home Depot. We had them cut a 2 ½” strip and a 3”inch strip for use. It worked perfectly!


All of that took us 2 long Saturdays, probably about 15 hours total, 3 of those hours were supply runs to Home Depot, but we were so happy with the results!

Monday night after work I caulked all of the seams and used wood filler to fill the nail holes. A quick sanding and it was time to paint. I had read somewhere that Valspar’s Chef White was a good match for Billy bookshelves and that just so happens to be what all of the trim in my house is painted so I decided to give it a shot. Since I already had semi-gloss that is what I used. It worked great and after two coats I was done. I swear I spent an hour just looking at it!


I’m so happy I decided to do this project. The results are amazing and that side of my living room finally feels complete. Plus I have more storage now. I’ve started filling the shelves already but it is still a work in progress. Maybe some baskets for the bottom shelves? I see many more cute knick knacks in my future!!







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    • Kat says

      I was amazed at how easy it was once I finally got started! If you do it link back I would love to see how they turn out.

  1. says

    These are awesome! Look at all that storage potential! I will be featuring this at What We Accomplished Wednesday this evening. Have a great week!
    Blessings, Deborah

  2. says

    This looks amazing! You would never know you didn’t build the whole thing from scratch. I love all the storage it added as well. Thanks for linking up to The Creative Exchange!

    • Kat says

      Thank you! I read so many blog posts about it before I started and I tried to fill in the things I had questions about. Good luck you will love them!

  3. matt says

    Hi Kat – looks AMAZING!
    Quick question – when you said you painted it – did you paint the bookcases too (did the paint stick well and did you do a lot of sanding off of the sheen on original bookcases?). I’ve been wanting to do this but wondering about the white of the bookcases matching other trim.

    • Kat says

      Thanks Matt, no I didnt paint the bookshelves I only painted the trim. I had read about someone else’s ikea hack and they recommended valspar’s chef white as a good match. That happened to be what I used for all of the trim in my house so I tried it and it it looks good. I have seen other people say they took a single shelf to the paint store and had it color matched.

  4. Matt says

    Looks great! We’ve got the bookshelves build & are just about to do something similar around a desk.

    Two questions for you – how did you attach the bookshelves to the wall? Are there brackets screwed into studs somewhere? Or did you go thru the side of the bookcases on either end into the walls?

    And then a similar question for the 2 1/2 & 3 inch pieces of 1/8 inch wood you ran down the sides of the bookcases – are they just nailed to the face of the bookshelf (flush with the lattice trim used elsewhere on the bookcase) & then caulked to the wall?


    • Kat says

      Since the bookshelves didn’t reach all the way to the side walls we attached 2x4s to the wall where there were studs and went through the side of the outer bookshelves into the 2x4s (since the sides weren’t perfectly spaced we did have to add some thinner pieces of wood to the 2x4s to fill from the wall to the outside of the shelves). To attach the filler pieces on the ends I screwed a few small blocks of wood into the wall (top, middle, bottom) flush with the edge of the bookshelves and nailed my filler pieces into those. Hope that makes sense let me know if you have any other questions and send a pic when you are done I want to see it!! :)

  5. Nat says

    Hi! I am about to embark on pretty much this same project and was wondering about the filler you used at either end – our room is 170mm too wide so there will be about an 80mm gap at either end.
    When you used the sheets of wood at each end for the filler, how did you secure it on either side – to the wall and to the book case? Was it flush with the edge of the book case or overlapping on top of the edge? This is a hard question to articulate without diagrams, hahaha. Basically did you stick it to the front of the bookcase and then run it to the wall or wedge it in the gap between the two and secure it some other way…?
    Hope this makes sense and you can help me out. :-)

    • Kat says

      I stuck it to the front edge of the bookcase and I added a piece of 2×4 (screwed into the outside of the bookcase) to give a bigger area to attach the wood to.