Building Projects · DIY · Uncategorized

Ikea hack built-in bookshelves

Ikea hacked built-ins finished product.
Ikea hacked built-ins finished product.

You may have noticed that there’s been an influx of blog posts lately. We’ve been so hard at work with reno projects that it hasn’t left much time for blogging, and now it’s catch up tie. Today, I’m so excited to share one of our favorite reno projects so far – our floor-to-ceiling built-in bookshelves that we hacked from the Ikea Billy Bookshelves (which you may remember from my closet hack project a few weeks ago). The Billy’s are easy to build, affordable, and very sturdy, and we’ve now used them in three different rooms.

Because our house is efficient (okay, okay, a wee bit small), we wanted to maximize our book storage space by putting in floor-to-ceiling shelves along an unused wall in our living room. We also wanted to add space for our TV somewhere in the middle. We have 8′ ceilings and were working with ~13 linear feet of wall, so we got a mix of Billy bookshelves:

Materials list:

  • 2: tall/wide Billy bookcases (white)
  • 1: tall/narrow Billy bookcase (white)
  • 2: short/wide Billy bookcases (white)
  • 4: wide Billy extensions (white)
  • 1: narrow Billy extension (white)
  • 2: 12′ sections of 1x4s (to trim the top and base)
  • 7: 8′ sections of 1x3s (to trim the joints where the shelves butt up against each other)
  • 4: 6″ metal shelf brackets (to secure the shelf above the TV)
  • 1: 62″  section of 1×12″ board, ripped on the long edge to an 11″ width (this will be the shelf above the TV)
  • 2: 37″ sections of 1×12″ melamine shelving, ripped on the long edges to an 11″ width (you can pick this up at Home Depot)
  • Hammer and finishing nails or a nail gun with nails (use 1.5″ nails)
  • 12: 3″ wood screws (for attaching the brackets to wall studs) or 75+ lb. anchor screws if mounting to sheet rock – this shelf will also be resting on the melamine shelving on either side for added strength and security)
  • 12: 1.25″ screws (for attaching the shelf to the brackets above the TV)
  • White spray paint (to prime all of the raw wood trim boards)
  • White gloss or semi gloss paint (to paint the wood trim boards after everything has been put together)

1. We started by priming all of the raw wood pieces so they could dry.

2. We together all of our Ikea parts – the shelves and the shelf extensions. We decided to wait to add the shelves until later, as they weigh down the bookshelves quite a bit.

Put together all of your bookshelves and place in order along the wall.

3. We the Billy bookshelves along the wall in the order we wanted them. To make it easier to add the crown trim later, we also attached some scrap 1″x boards to the ceiling (to mount the crown boards onto), so that their outward facing edge is flush with the top of the bookshelf.

Attach spacers of scrap wood to the ceiling to later attach the crown trim to.
Attach spacers of scrap wood to the ceiling to later attach the crown trim to.

4. We mounted the Ikea bookshelves to the wall as indicated by the instructions. (We made sure the shelves were perfectly A-okay level at this point.)

Attach the bookshelves to the wall as indicated by Ikea’s instructions.

5. We added the extensions to the tops of the tall Billy shelves as indicated by the instructions.

6. Then, we tacked all of the shelves together along the sides where they butt up against each other using the finishing nails. Clamps were useful for making sure the shelves are flush against each other.

7. Now, we’re going to attach the two 37″ sections of 1×11″ melamine using the same method. Clamp the melamine pieces to the tall bookshelves just above the short bookshelves (the base of the melamine piece will be flush with the top of the short bookshelf). Attach the 2 sections of melamine to either side of the TV opening. These boards will provide something to rest the top shelf on (in addition to the metal shelf brackets).

On the left and right sides of the TV opening (above the short shelves), you can see where the melamine has been attached to the tall shelves.

8. To mount the top shelf above the TV, first cut out 4 evenly spaced notches in the 62″-long 1×11″ board so that the edge metal brackets are flush with the edge of the wood. Then attach the metal bracket to this shelf using the 1.25″ screws.

9. Rest the shelf on the melamine boards. Attach the shelf to studs using 3″ wood screws or anchor to the Sheetrock using the 75 lb (or higher) anchors. (Depending on the size of the 6 holes in each metal bracket, you may also need to use washers if the heads of the screws are smaller than the bracket holes.) Test the strength of your shelf. It should be very secure since it is supported on either side by resting on the melamine and using the 4 metal shelf brackets. You will want to make sure that your shelf is very secure, study, and stable for safety, especially if you are planning on resting heavy items, like books, on this shelf.

photo 2
Rest the wooden shelf with the brackets pointing upwards on the melamine supports (e.g. on the left side where YC’s hand is) and attach to the studs using wood screws or anchor to the sheetrock using sufficient anchors.

10. Rest the two remaining wide shelf extenders on top of the wood shelf board and tack them together. Tack them also to the shelves on either side using finishing nails. If you haven’t already done so, add the rest of the shelves.

photo 3
Add all of the shelves, including the two shelf extenders above the center shelf.

11. Now you will begin to attach the trim board that will give the shelves that “built-in” look. The only tricky part here is the sides. Since our shelves butt up on one side against a wall, we only had to worry about the other (exposed) side. Start by framing out this side. Cut 2 sections of 1×4 for the top and bottom (short pieces) and two sections of 1×3 for the front and back (long pieces). Tack them in place using the finishing nails. Note that if your ceilings are higher than 8′, but you still want to have that built-in look, use crown trim boards that are wide enough to make up the difference, i.e, if your ceilings are 6″ high than ours, use a 1×10″ board rather than a 1×4″ board.

Trim attached to bookshelf side.

12. Start measuring and cutting the pieces for the face of the bookshelf. I recommend attaching the crown and base boards first (these will be the long 1×4″ sections). Then add the 1×3″ sections to cover the joints where the shelves are attached to each other (FYI, we did not put one on the short shelves as we thought it would look a little strange.)

13. If you want, you can caulk where all of the trim boards meet to give it a more cohesive look. You can also fill in the extra holes on the bookshelves.

14. Finally, paint all of the wooden trim boards using the white glossy or semi gloss paint. This will cover up all of the nail holes.

And there you have it – a busy weekend project, but manageable and definitely worth it! Feel free to share your recommendations and learning experiences with building built-ins below!

Happy building!

Ikea Billy Bookshelf Built In Hack copy


Ikea hack built in bookshelves

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