DIY Built Ins from IKEA Bookcases + ORC Week 2

If there is an Olympic event for building IKEA furniture, I think we just took home the gold medal.  Because we just went all Billy bookcase crazy up in here.

Our playroom /media room makeover is officially underway for Week 2 of the One Room Challenge!  (If you missed Week 1, you can check it out here.) This is definitely one of the biggest projects we’ve ever done- besides our faux fireplace, wood beam doorway, concrete countertops, kitchen cabinet painting

Okay, you know what? I lied. This is our regular ol’ Saturday shenanigans.  Our neighbors think we’re crazy.

DIY Built Ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases + One Room Challenge Week 2 | blesserhouse.com - A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking built in bookshelves using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.

UPDATE: See the full playroom makeover reveal here!

The number one priority in our playroom has been built-in vertical storage to help with all of the art supplies, little toy parts, books, and all the rest of Olivia’s clutter that tends to get scattered all over the house.

Robert and I thought about building from scratch, but it was going to take way more time and money and know-how than we felt we could give this monster of a project.

The IKEA Billy bookcase built-in method has been done plenty of times all over blogland; we definitely didn’t invent this one. This is just our version since there are endless ways you could configure them.

DIY Built Ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases + One Room Challenge Week 2 | blesserhouse.com - A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking built in bookshelves using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.

Our playroom is exactly 214″ wide, which is the measurement I used to figure out exactly how many bookcases we would need to buy to end up with around 4 or 5 inches on each side, so if you want to do them yourself, you’ll need to crunch the numbers to decide for the size of your space.

Supplies We Used:  (Affiliate links are provided below for convenience. For more info, see my full disclosure here.)

After we went on our bookcase building bonanza (say that 5 times fast) using the IKEA instructions, we moved the bookcases around until we found the center of our wall and ended up with 4 inches of space on each side.  Once we were happy with their placement, we used the anchors the came with them to set them on the wall.

DIY Built Ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases + One Room Challenge Week 2 | blesserhouse.com - A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking built in bookshelves using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.

Then, we got to making them an actual built in wall of shelves.

The Steps:

  1. We built a box using 2×4 boards and wood screws on the right side of the bookcases since we only had a half wall to secure it to.  And we mounted the 2×4 box on the wall.

DIY Built Ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases + One Room Challenge Week 2 | blesserhouse.com - A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking built in bookshelves using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.

2. Using the circular saw, we cut a pre-primed 1×6 using the exact measurement of the width between the bookcase and the wall and used finishing nails to secure it to the 2×4 box.  We nailed the bookcase to the box too.

DIY Built Ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases + One Room Challenge Week 2 | blesserhouse.com - A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking built in bookshelves using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.

3.  When cutting the 1×6, we used a jigsaw to notch out a space for our existing baseboard.  We didn’t make it perfect since we knew caulk could fix the gap later.

DIY Built Ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases + One Room Challenge Week 2 | blesserhouse.com - A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking built in bookshelves using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.

4. Then, we measured and cut another piece of 1×6 to sit on top of the 2×4 box to make it flush with the half wall and secured it with more finishing nails.

DIY Built Ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases + One Room Challenge Week 2 | blesserhouse.com - A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking built in bookshelves using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.

5.  We did the same on the left side of the bookcases, only instead of building a box to make a shelf like we did on the half wall, we nailed a 2x4x8 board directly to the wall and nailed up our 1×6 board on top of the 2×4 to make it flush with the bookcase. Then, we ran nails through the side of the bookcase to secure it to the 1×6.

DIY Built Ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases + One Room Challenge Week 2 | blesserhouse.com - A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking built in bookshelves using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.

6. Once the sides were done, we used wood screws at the base of the bookcases to attach them even more securely to the 1×6 boards.

DIY Built Ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases + One Room Challenge Week 2 | blesserhouse.com - A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking built in bookshelves using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.

7.  And we used wood screws at the base of all of the bookcases to secure them to each other.

DIY Built Ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases + One Room Challenge Week 2 | blesserhouse.com - A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking built in bookshelves using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.

8. To connect the bookcases to the ceiling and fill in the gaps at the top, we made headers using a 1×2 piece and screwing it into the top of a 1×4 piece the same length of the bookcases’ depth.  Then secured it to the outside top of the bookcase with finishing nails.

DIY Built Ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases + One Room Challenge Week 2 | blesserhouse.com - A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking built in bookshelves using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.

DIY Built Ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases + One Room Challenge Week 2 | blesserhouse.com - A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking built in bookshelves using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.

9. We did the same on the front of the header to mimic the Craftsman style molding we have around our windows.  If you wanted to do this step with a more traditional crown molding, you definitely could, but you would need a miter saw to cut the angles.

DIY Built Ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases + One Room Challenge Week 2 | blesserhouse.com - A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking built in bookshelves using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.

10.  After the top was finished, we went ahead and attached our Oxberg doors.

DIY Built Ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases + One Room Challenge Week 2 | blesserhouse.com - A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking built in bookshelves using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.

11.  And we attached our baseboard to the base of the bookcases.  We ended up having to shave off a quarter of an inch using our circular saw so that the doors could close, but if you didn’t use doors, you wouldn’t have to worry about that part.

DIY Built Ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases + One Room Challenge Week 2 | blesserhouse.com - A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking built in bookshelves using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.

12.  We ended up with some pretty big gaps at the bottom to accommodate for the doors, so we used wood shims between the base of the bookcase and the baseboard.

DIY Built Ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases + One Room Challenge Week 2 | blesserhouse.com - A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking built in bookshelves using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.

13.  And we caulked like crazy.  Caulk is a carpenter’s best friend, ya know.  You can’t even tell there used to be a gap there.

DIY Built Ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases + One Room Challenge Week 2 | blesserhouse.com - A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking built in bookshelves using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.

14.  After the caulk was dry, I painted all of the caulk lines, filler spots, and boards with the semigloss paint I had color matched to the IKEA white.  It blended perfectly!

So now we have this wall full of fabulous storage possibilities.  Ooooh ahhhh.

DIY Built Ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases + One Room Challenge Week 2 | blesserhouse.com - A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking built in bookshelves using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.

These shelves are rock solid.

We still have a couple of spots we missed caulking and the stairway/ half wall side still needs to be painted, but other than that, we’re on to the next phase in this playroom.

DIY Built Ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases + One Room Challenge Week 2 | blesserhouse.com - A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking built in bookshelves using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.

Next on the list is putting up our reclaimed wood wall that will add some pretty texture in here, since it’s still currently a sea of white.  I heart contrast!

Those plain wood crates will be getting a staining job too, but I put them up there just to get an idea of how they’d look.

DIY Built Ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases + One Room Challenge Week 2 | blesserhouse.com - A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking built in bookshelves using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.

You might be able to see a sneaky peek of the desks we’ve been working on too, but I’ll share more about those later.

DIY Built Ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases + One Room Challenge Week 2 | blesserhouse.com - A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking built in bookshelves using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.

Our window is just one more coat of paint away from being totally framed and pretty, and our builder grade light fixture has already been taken down so that we can install our ceiling fan.  (I shared all of the fans I’ve been considering in yesterday’s post.)

DIY Built Ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases + One Room Challenge Week 2 | blesserhouse.com - A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking built in bookshelves using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.

I’m SO excited to see how far we’ve come already, but I know it’ll be the finishing touches and little details that will slow me up later.

Here’s where we are on the playroom to do list now:

  • DONE: Install built in bookcases
  • Paint and install desks (almost done)
  • Frame and paint window (almost done)
  • Paint walls (almost done)
  • Install reclaimed wood wall
  • Install ceiling fan
  • Make oversized storybook art
  • Hang curtains
  • Stain wood crates
  • Find a great colorful rug
  • Slipcover sofa
  • Find and makeover a coffee table
  • Decorate shelves
  • Implement and organize a toy storage system

Are you starting to see it take shape?  Have you ever installed built in bookshelves before?  Or done a fabulous IKEA hack?  Or won a medal in IKEA building?  I’d definitely watch that race.

If you want to save this post for later, you can pin it here:

DIY Built Ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases + One Room Challenge Week 2 | blesserhouse.com - A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking built in bookshelves using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.

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91 Comments

I love this so much! Looks like they were always there. you guys did a fantastic job(and definitely deserve a medal for that!). Can’t wait to see how the rest turns out!

Hi, Lauren-
It looks great! I have a couple of questions that have come up as we plan for our shelves. Did you sit the bookcases on the carpet or did you trim it back? Also, did you fill and paint all of the extra holes that make the shelves adjustable or just leave them? I couldn’t tell from the picture. How would you allow for electrical cords and all of the cables that go along with an entertainment system?
Thanks very much for your input. I love all of the work you have done to make your house a home. I also love that you and your hubby do it together!
Cheers,
Kris

Thanks, Kris! We set ours on the carpet. We didn’t fill the holes since we wanted to keep them adjustable but you definitely could if you wanted. For the electrical cords, we actually will be drilling a hole in the top of our middle bookcase and running it down to the outlet. We left the backing off of the shorter bookcases to still have access to the outlet and cable box and just caulked the seams and painted the back wall with the matching white paint.

Have you heard of http://www.myoverlays.com? They make beautiful unpainted “overlays” to put on doors, drawers, whatever. They really jazz up the plain lines of IKEA furniture. I painted a Malm nightstand bright pink, and painted the overlays a bright orange for my daughter’s boho room makeover.

They also make overlays for other furniture as well. I wasn’t sure if the doors on your Billy bookcases werre IKEA.

The room is coming along beautifully. I really enjoy watching all the progress you and your husband have done. Its going to be a great playroom for the whole family. Can’t wait for the reveal!

Beautiful Billy Bookcases! I love reading your blog and your practical ideas. Such a pleasure! Can’t wait to see your finished room.

Lauren I’ve wanted to do this so bad in my living room but my hubs has banned me from any more big projects since we are selling the house. Love love love

Wow! This project turned out fabulous! I’m sure that storage potential is very exciting. I’d be absolutely giddy over that much storage potential. Great job!

I’m carefully watching every move 😀 I have a room just the same in my home and I think your built-ins wall will be perfect for us too! I’m hoping that you’re about to add reclaimed wood in the big space in the middle of your shelves.!! It’s a look I saw on pinterest that I fell in love with. Has your little lady bug already sorted her treasures into the cupboards?!
Have an awesome day 🙂

Yep! We just installed the reclaimed wood yesterday and it looks AWESOME! I can’t wait to share the update about it soon. 🙂 No treasures in the cupboards yet but she’s discovered those are her new favorite hiding places. Thanks, Min!

Wow! Lauren, I am so inspired by this project! I would love to try this in our basement. My children have outgrown their “playroom” and this might be perfect for updating their room into more of a “hang-out” place for them. Thank you so much for sharing your creativity!

Thanks, Lynne! We’re hoping this playroom is more a hangout for the whole family and grows with our little one too. 🙂

Those look great. I’ve been thinking about doing this for several years in our upstairs bonus room. What color paint did you use? I’d love to match rather than have to paint everything. Thanks!

Sorry, I should have read more carefully before I asked my question. I just went back and read how you matched the paint. Great idea. : )

Ooohh! That looks awesome and possibly a good solution for one of the walls in my studio. Thanks so much for sharing and can’t wait to see your next update!

Those turned out great, I love the Billy Bookcases, they can be used for so many great built in projects and yours is no exception!

If you have a moment please share this and a couple of your favorites at the DI & DI Link party. I think our followers would love to see this! (www.rustic-refined.com)

Yep, you definitely won the gold medal on that job!! I LOVE me some built ins! I know the space is going to be amazing and can’t wait to see the end result!

These looks so awesome. Your hubby did such a great job! I love looking at built-ins but I don’t have any and don’t have such talent to built them, either. We have two Billy Bookcases but that is it. I need to better organize our kids small stuff and my plan is to just buy a cheap little cubicle for the room:)) These built-ins are going to provide much storage for this playroom.

Lauren, this G.O.L.D to me! I arrived at Charlotte over the weekend to our new home. IKEA is like 10 minutes away. ::scream:: Your blog is a HUGE inspiration, since we’re going modern farmhouse with our decor. Very excited to start working on our built-ins, after we get “moved in”.
Warmest Blessings,
~Aly

Yay! Congratulations on the new place, Aly! I’m always visiting the Charlotte IKEA too, so who knows. You might see me there one of these days sweet talking my hubby into doing another project. Haha!

Can you see the places where you filled in all of the holes for the shelves? I’m worried that will show. Did you paint over them? I’m assuming you didn’t because you didn’t paint the actual shelves.

I actually didn’t fill the holes, which I’m glad I didn’t because I’ve already had to adjust them and move them around a couple of times. Now that I’ve put decor and toys on the shelves though, I don’t even notice the holes.

I think I just read the answer to my question in the comments. Did you take a shelf from the bookcase to Lowe’s and they color matched it? Also, how did you apply your paint? With a roller or a brush? Thanks!

Hi, Candace! Yes, I took one of the small shelves and went to Sherwin Williams and they were able to match it. I used a brush, but I bought self-leveling paint, so that helped eliminate any brush strokes.

Hi there how did you get around the outlet problem. I am in the process of doing this project but I am running into the issue where the outlets are hidden. Will I just need to call an electrician?

You can just cut a hole into the bookcase backing using a jigsaw, or you can do what we did and just remove the backing entirely and caulk the seams where the backing would have been placed since we anchored them to the walls and made them built-ins anyway.

Hi! I’m thinking of doing something similar in our living room. How are the shelves holding up? I worry about bowing from the weight of items put on them.

This is beautiful! How deep are these shelves? I can only find 11″ depth but yours look deeper.
Thank you.
Suzanne Nicolette

Looks fabulous! Just wondering why you didn’t cut away the baseboard so you wouldn’t need to notch the side?

This looks awesome.. May be taking on this project myself.. Quick question im trying to figure out the set up of the bookcases and was wondering where the bookcase extenders went..

Thanks! The extenders went on top of the tall Billy bookcases to make them about 4 inches shorter than our 8′ ceiling. And we trimmed out the gap to make them meet the ceiling for built-ins.

We are working on a similar project. Did you have to prime the bookcases first? I have been reading about how hard they are to paint!

We took one of the shelves to Sherwin Williams and had them color match the white, so we only had to paint the caulk lines and wood pieces we used to build them in. Saved a lot of time, money, and effort. 🙂

Looks great! We did something similar but I’ve had a hard time matching the ikea white paint! Do you have anymore information on your paint match (e.g. Brand, Formula, etc.?)?

Ack! No, I wish I had included that but that paint is since long gone. We just took one of the white IKEA shelves to Sherwin Williams and they were able to match it for us there.

Looks good. We are going to do this same project this weekend and needed your shims and caulking information for the baseboards. We had no idea what we were going to do for those huge gaps!

Did you do anything along the vertical edges where the bookshelves meet? Caulk? And the upper trim, on the left outside corner did just not make a corner and left it straight?

Yes, I caulked those seams as well and then painted. On the corner, we didn’t miter it and just had the side board butt up to the front board for the top trim, caulked, sanded, and painted. We couldn’t tell a difference at all. But you could certainly miter the corners, if you preferred.