DIY: IKEA Billy Built-In Bookcase

Happy New Year everyone!!! I’m going to be writing about something a little different than the usual cars this time…


To start the New Year off, I decided to tackle a long-awaited project for Diana. A little back story on this project – years ago (I don’t even remember how long), Diana and I agreed that when we got our own house, we would have a room dedicated to her and a library that she has always wanted. She’s an avid reader and now a teacher so she has more reason to have a place for all her books and stuff. Fast forward a few years and when we were finally ready to buy our own house, one of the “must-haves” on our list was to have that room for Diana. Well we found the perfect room in the house and I had already envisioned what it was going to look like.

Last week I decided that I was going to get it done and was determined to finish it this week because I had 4 days off with New Years. On Wednesday after work, Diana and I made the trip to Ikea and got our first haul. I’ll go over all the pieces and prices at the end… I know most usual readers of my blog are either going to not care about this post altogether or give a stranger some inspiration to do it themselves. So if you don’t care, wait until my next post; if you do care, then read on and I’ll be as descriptive as I can – be prepared as there are a lot of pictures.

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The day before, I got all the measurements of the room, the shelves, and exactly how much spacing was going to be in-between each shelf, the wall, the ceiling. Everything. You can see my rough sketch and calculations of what pieces and how much of it I needed.

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Here’s a shot of the room. It’s been like this since the day we’ve moved in… It’s mainly been a room for our clutter. My car parts, other peoples’ car parts, Diana’s school stuff… blah blah blah.

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Here’s a head on shot of the room. Two sliding doors, nice and square – it was exactly what we envisioned for the future library.

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Here was our haul from Ikea. Thankfully Diana’s dad is also a handy man and had a bunch of tools and supplies that we used to help us get the job done.

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It was 7PM on New Year’s Eve and since we’re old geezers that don’t party, we got cracking on this project instead to countdown to midnight. Turned on Songza, blasted it throughout the house and got to work. I unpacked each of the bookcases one by one and started assembling. In retrospect, we should have moved all that stuff on the right out of the room but we actually did all the work with it all there. LOL

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This was the color that Diana had chosen for the backboards of the shelves. Sassy Violet for her sassy attitude. Fitting.

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Diana set up her workstation outside and got ready to work.

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It was a nice shade, indeed.

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Using a mini roller, she started painting all the backs.

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One piece done and ready to dry. Don’t mind our dishes…

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Meanwhile, I finished one shelf.

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Diana picked up the camera and got some candid shots as well. It’s not everyday you see me on the other side of the camera lol

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I’m just positioning them to see what arrangement looked best. (To Diana’s discretion of course).

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You can see by this point – a few hours into the night, the whole kitchen was being occupied by painted boards.

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We also had to resort to McDonald’s for a late night snack because it was quick and easy – something we wish this project was – but it helped fuel the fire to keep going!

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Diana still working away at it!

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Since I finished all the shelves, I decided to get started to finally move forward. I removed the baseboard on the back to have the bookshelves sit as close as possible to the wall and to re-use it on the front of the book cases to really create the “built in” look. To remove them, just take a knife and slice the caulking on the top, gently hammer a small crowbar in and gently pry away. They are only held in by a few nails so it’s not terribly difficult and they’re pretty flexible. Just don’t let it bend too far or it’ll crack.

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We started fitting the backings onto the shelves as they were drying…

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And this was the final combination that Diana had decided on. My plan was originally to get four of the standard Billy bookshelves but we were a few inches too short so we got the half Billy instead and that fit perfectly on the left there.

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Once we decided on the shelf placement, I took some spackling and filled all of the holes in the cases that we weren’t going to use.

This is optional but I wanted to do it to keep it looking clean and again – “built in”. This makes the shelves seamless and your eyes aren’t looking at a bunch of black holes all over the place. It’s tedious but it’s worth it.

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The spackling is similar to drywall mudding – when you apply it, it’s kind of a creamy color but once it’s dried, it dries to a brilliant white.

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We ended up missing midnight by about 6 minutes (LOL) but once 12AM hit, we had our New Year’s kiss, high-fived, and decided to call it a night. 5 hours non-stop so far!

The next day, Diana had to meet up with her highschool buddy and I was up early to go make a trip to Home Depot for the last big haul. Most of it was for trim and moulding to clean everything up.

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To start, I used the “L” brackets that was supplied with the bookcases and secured every case to the wall using the stud finder and a drill.

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The next thing I had to do was build a frame for the top of the shelf. The reason is because the bookcase itself is about 6.6 ft, and adding the extension adds only another 1.2 ft. Our ceiling is 9ft so that means there was another 1.2 ft extra space left from the top of the shelf to the ceiling. To keep with the built in look, I wanted to extend the top of the shelves all the way to the ceiling. There wasn’t enough space for another shelf, so I decided to just make it a nice extension up top instead.

I built the frame in kind of a weird way. I took two 2×4’s 10ft in length – one laid down and one on its side. The one on its side was the one I wanted to be on the front of the bookcase. I put them together with two other blocks wedges on each side. You can see it clearly in the picture above.

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Here’s a shot of what it looked like from below. I was lucky because the length of the room was exactly 10ft so I didn’t have to do anything extra…

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Next, I cut two extra blocks and screwed those in vertically and spaced apart. The reason for those two blocks and the one 2×4 faced on its side is so that it could act as support for the board I was about to put up. It essentially mimics the studs behind the drywall for support and a backing.

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This picture should explain why I did that – I used a nail gun to nail the board along the bottom as well as on those two vertical boards to keep it steady. I was lucky again and found a board that was the exact height but unfortunately could not find one that was 10ft long. So I had to add a piece on the end there. You can see the disconnect.

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In this picture you can see the rest of the trim has been added. I calculated enough to have 3.5″ spacing in between each of the shelves as well as the wall. I also installed the existing baseboard on the bottom and added a 3.5″ trim up top between the cases and the top board. It already looks 10x better!

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Here’s a better shot of the 3.5″ trim installed in-between the shelves. NAILED IT. Both literally and figuratively.

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Another shot of it all together. The spackling was pretty much dry at this point and was ready to sand.

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One of the most annoying things was the spacing in-between the trim and the casing. I don’t think there was any other way around it though. So what I did was I found 1/4″ shims to wedge in at the bottom.

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That same issue existed on the top too but I found 3/4″ shims to wedge in there as well. The top part was probably the most difficult to do because it needed to line up with the bottom of the trim. The amount of cuss words were increasing at this point.

Also – I nailed the top crown piece to the board as well as you can see in the pic. That was easy πŸ™‚

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The next step was to take white caulking and apply in all areas where there was a “connection”. This filled the gaps, made it look all pretty and basically brings everything all together. I also taped up all the edges as well to begin painting all the shelves. You can also see that I applied spackling to the top board to bring the two pieces together.

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Here’s a shot of everything all caulked together, the spackling sanded, and the first coat of paint on.

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At this point, I was pretty much done. It needed a few more touch ups but Diana was itching to start putting stuff on the shelves.

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Diana brought all her books home from her parents and went to town.

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I took a few shots cause it looked cool

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And VOILA! Approximately 23 hours later, our first DIY home project was completed. I am super stoked and happy with how it turned out. Diana has a lot of books but all these shelves makes it look insignificant lol… But there’s still plenty of things we need to get to put on the shelves to really make it look nice. But for now, she put up what she had.

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Just a few detail shots now to showcase it all.

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Some souvenirs from all over Mexico.

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A sign we bought for the library before we even moved into the house!

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A shot of the crown and trim.

And that’s pretty much it! Let me give you guys a break down of everything I got and used to do this…


– Three IKEA Billy Bookcases (Full Size)

– One IKEA Billy Bookcase Extension Unit (Full Size)

– One IKEA Billy Bookcase (Half Size)

– One IKEA Billy Bookcase Extension Unit (Half Size)

– Two 2″x4″x10′

– One 2″x4″x8′

– Two 13.5″x8′ white shelves (for the top board)

– 50′ of 3.5″ trim

– 10′ of crown moulding

– 10′ of 1/4″ shims

– 10′ of 3/4″ shims

– Spackling

– Two tubes of brilliant white caulking

– 1 quart of Valspar Sassy Violet interior paint

– 1 quart of Valspar Glossy White interior paint


– Hammer

– Drill

– Mini Crowbar

– Dremel

– Saw

– Nail gun

– Screwdriver

– Utility Knife

– Paint brush and roller

Total Cost: $530 ($400 for IKEA shelves. $130 for moulding/trim/shims)

Total Time: 23 hours

Difficulty: 2/5. Measure twice, cut once!


Hope that this helps someone! Feel free to leave comments or questions or even email me and I’ll answer you ASAP! Happy DIY-ing!


10 thoughts on “DIY: IKEA Billy Built-In Bookcase

  1. Love the shelves! I am a teacher too and can’t wait to do this in my study. My husband and I are total novices but I really want to give this project a try. Thanks for all the details! I was wondering about what exactly you painted. All trim was painted but you mention painting the shelves. Did you paint those too? Love your work!

    • Thank you! Trust me, I was a little nervous to tackle this too but as long as you have a solid plan and a vision, you can put it together with ease and patience! I tried to give as much detail as I could so that you could really just follow the blog step by step – if you tackle the project and have any questions, feel free to contact me.

      Originally we were only going to paint the backings. But because I added the trim, casing, caulking and top board, the whites didn’t match anymore. I ended up painting the insides of the shelves because I had sanded the caulking down, I painted the trims on the outside, and the white board. The only thing I did not paint was the shelves that the books sit on.

  2. Thank you so much for your quick reply and the added information. I can’t for the school year to end to begin. Thank you for the offer to contact you during building. I will probably take you up on it! Many thanks again!

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