Create a custom built-in bookcase from standard IKEA Billy bookcases with this easy step by step tutorial.
It’s been a few weeks since we completed these bookcases in our living room and I’m finally sitting down to put together the tutorial. Our living room is a very awkward shape/layout. It’s long and narrow and I’ve tried many different furniture arrangements. We had two major blank walls that needed attention. 1) The wall behind the sofa and 2) The wall with the TV on it.
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A built-in around the TV didn’t end up being an option for this room so I decided to stick them behind the sofa. Here’s a before shot of the wall we decided to put the bookcases on.
Here’s how we customized Billy Bookcases
(2) BILLY Bookcases
To begin, Matt built the bookcases according to the IKEA instructions. The bookshelves come with a curve to accommodate baseboards so the bookshelves can fit flush with the wall. Since our baseboards are more substantial than the carve-out provides we ended up removing a section of our baseboards. Removing the baseboards also allowed us to continue the trim around the bookshelves as well for a more custom look.
We used some scrap 2×4 and 1×2 to build up the bookcases to meet the height of our baseboards.
We set the bookshelves on top of the boards. Since the bookshelves ultimately get anchored to the wall, it wasn’t necessary to anchor them to the 2×4 base.
The next step was to secure the bookshelves to each other. Using 1 1/2 inch wood screws, we drilled screws at the base of the bookshelves (this will be hidden by the baseboards) and two more screws using the pre-drilled shelf holes as pilot holes.
With a stud finder, we found the wall studs and used the anchor brackets that IKEA provided to anchor the shelves to the wall.
The part that makes these bookshelves look custom is the trim work so we added crown molding to the top. In order to add the crown, you’ll need an extra piece of wood at the top to have something to attach the crown to. In order to do that, we added a couple of 1x2s to the top using a brad nailer. The brad nail holes can easily be covered with wood filler.
If you decide to do crown, you’ll need a miter saw to get the mitered angle cuts. Matt had a chance to perfect his crown molding skills when he built the fireplace surround so this was pretty easy but it definitely takes some practice so remember to measure twice and cut once.
The last and final step of the building was to add the baseboards. They matched up perfectly. Then, all that was left to do was caulk and paint. The color of the IKEA Billy bookcases matches our wall color (Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace) almost perfectly (see all of our home’s paint colors here). I only bothered to paint the baseboards and the outside of the shelves.
Here they are finished in our space! I’m amazed at how custom the Billy bookcases look in our home. This project was really budget friendly considering how custom they look. Having something like this built for you or even building bookcases from scratch would cost way more in wood than the price of these Billy bookcases. So, what do you think? Could you see yourself adding a project like this to your space?
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