The Smartest DIY Hacks You Can Do With An IKEA BILLY Bookcase
HomeHome > Blog > The Smartest DIY Hacks You Can Do With An IKEA BILLY Bookcase

The Smartest DIY Hacks You Can Do With An IKEA BILLY Bookcase

Jul 06, 2023

IKEA is a favorite shopping location for those who love a good DIY project. With a variety of products that people love to customize for their spaces, the BILLY bookcase is a longstanding favorite. BILLY bookcases are so popular that there are millions of them out in the world. What people love about these systems is that they're the ideal basic. These inexpensive shelving units, which come in a variety of sizes and colors, are durable enough to hold the books and collections of homeowners. This makes the BILLY bookcase an easy way to create a custom feature in a living room, office, or closet.

Many homeowners use this system to get the look of built-in bookshelves for less, since it costs an average of $3,000 for custom cabinetry. The basic finish of these shelves allows homeowners to design the unit to fit the unique interior design style of their home. Whether you want to complete a simple refresh or a total makeover, the BILLY bookcase can take it all. If you're looking for DIY inspiration for a BILLY bookcase project, here are some ideas to transform the system for your home.

One of the easiest ways to make your BILLY bookcase feel more custom is to fill in the holes that come pre-drilled in the unit. Once you have the shelves in your desired configuration, use a little spackle to plug up the unused holes. Once the spackle dries, you can sand down the excess and paint over it for a smooth coat. This little hack easily elevates the bookcases, making them look more similar to solid wood. Even if you don't upgrade the unit in any other way, filling in those holes is a must.

Using wallpaper on the back panel of BILLY bookcases adds a subtle pop of color and pattern that can liven up your space. Wallpaper creates a nice backdrop that can also make the items on your shelf stand out more than if they were placed against a plain white or black background. It's an instant and inexpensive way to add some visual interest to this decorative feature.

Transform your BILLY bookcase from an open bookshelf into a cabinet by installing doors. Consider using the OXBERG doors from IKEA, which have sleek black trim. Glass-front cabinets keep the room and the design features open and airy, making them ideal for smaller spaces that don't want to feel closed off. These doors are also great for items you want to display but still protect by not having them on open shelves.

Many people love painting their BILLY bookcases to give them a custom appearance. These pieces originally come in black, white, and birch finishes. While these colors will perfectly fit into nearly all home decor, a fresh coat of paint elevates these pieces so they seem less builder-grade. Because IKEA furniture typically has a hard-to-paint surface, sanding it down and using a primer before adding your color will ensure the paint sticks better and comes out smooth.

Another way to customize these shelving units is to swap the standard hardware on the doors for your own version. Use more decorative knobs and pulls on the cabinet doors rather than the ones that come with the bookcase. While it may seem like a small swap, smaller details can make a huge difference in the overall design. Unique pieces of hardware can elevate the unit and make it feel more like a custom built-in.

The BILLY bookcase is a versatile design item, which means it can easily combine with other cabinetry to create the exact custom unit your home needs. Stock cabinets are built to standard measurements, which makes them easy to purchase with little wait time. Because they're manufactured in standard styles, stock cabinets will also easily pair with BILLY bookcases to create custom built-in storage. Use the bookcases as open shelving, while the stock cabinets can be used for items you want to stash away.

If you're using multiple BILLY bookcases in a configuration, adding molding can help you achieve a built-in look. Use trim to cover the gap between two bookcases to give the appearance of one larger piece of furniture. You can also use molding trim where the bookcase meets the ceiling or walls to hide those gaps. Using trim also includes a decorative detail that can add a little charm to the overall design.

The iconic BILLY bookcase comes in a variety of sizes, varying in width and height. This allows a homeowner to mix and match sizes to create a custom configuration that works perfectly for their needs. The above picture utilizes tall and narrow bookcases along with wider versions and cabinets on the bottom. Varying shelf widths allows for more customized storage and creates a visually interesting design.

Adding wall sconces to your shelves can be a decorative feature as well as an example of accent lighting. You'll typically need to add trim above or between the bookcases to provide a wide enough place to mount the base of the fixture. An easy way to install sconces without having to deal with wiring is to use battery-powered puck lights. Installing sconces not only allows you to put a spotlight on this feature but also adds some charm to the room.

Glass doors on a BILLY bookcase cabinet add that sleek and modern look. However, if you don't want to be able to see right through the doors, swap flat glass for reeded glass. Reeded glass has vertical lines that add texture, which can also obscure the contents of the cabinet. You'll be able to maintain an airy feeling in the room while concealing storage and creating a custom design.

If you like the look of texture but want complete concealment for storage, opt for cabinet doors with some details on the face. You can create a reeded or fluted finish by using wooden dowels or thin pieces of wood molding. Create geometric designs or simple lines to add a textured feature to the cabinets. Combined with a fresh coat of paint, the BILLY bookcase will look like an elevated and custom furniture piece.

As stated, the BILLY bookcase comes in a variety of heights, and for some rooms, half-shelves may be the better option. For rooms with sloped ceilings, the shorter versions that measure just over 41 inches may be the best choice. The shorter bookshelves are also great for creating a console-like piece, where you can place items on the top surface as well as on the shelves. Add a counter on the top to create a seamless surface and connect the units.

Another way to create a customized bookcase is to add a frame on the front. Using plywood or another thin sheet of wood, you can make a frame that gives your shelves the look of an arched or pointed-arched front. Installing them is easy enough with a nail gun, and finish with paint to give the piece a smooth finish. The framing not only creates a unique look but also helps to hide the gaps between units to make the whole system appear built-in.

Adding doors to BILLY bookcases transforms them into cabinets, and IKEA has plenty of door options that you could install. However, you can customize the doors further by removing the wood panels and including cane sheets in their place. Using cane sheets instantly adds texture to the unit. The webbing conceals what's inside it, allowing you to store items away, while the natural material is a great way to bring some organic details into your space.

Combining multiple versions of the BILLY bookcase can create a customized entertainment center in your living room. Using the types with cabinets on the bottom gives you two options for storage. The shelves are great for displaying books and decor, while the cabinets can hold board games, video game consoles, and a DVD player. The center BILLY bookcases have no shelves above them, which makes the area the ideal place to hang a flat-screen television.

The BILLY bookcase is a favorite piece of furniture for book lovers and readers. Elevate a tall unit by adding a sliding library ladder. This feature is easy to install on the wall and will allow you to reach the top shelves. This could transform a reading nook or living room, making it feel like you have your very own stately library. It's a detail that instantly feels custom and luxurious.