A step-by-step tutorial for how to make professional looking DIY built-ins using IKEA Billy bookcases for vertical storage.
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.
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.
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.)
- 4 32″x80″ Billy bookcases
- 4 Billy bookcase height extenders
- 2 32″x42″ Billy bookcases
- 1 16″x42″ Billy bookcase
- 8 Oxberg doors
- 2 2x4x8 stud boards
- 2 1x6x8 pine boards
- 3 1x2x8 pine boards
- 2 1x4x8 pine boards
- 2 3.25″x12′ interior baseboards
- Circular saw
- Power drill
- 1.5″ finishing nails
- 1.5″ wood screws
- White trim caulk
- Tape measure and pencil
- Wood shims
- Square tool
- Semigloss paint (I took a small shelf from a bookcase to Sherwin Williams to get the IKEA white color matched.)
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.
Then, we got to making them an actual built in wall of shelves.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
7. And we used wood screws at the base of all of the bookcases to secure them to each other.
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.
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.
10. After the top was finished, we went ahead and attached our Oxberg doors.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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: