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DIY IKEA Closets in Our Master Using Billy Bookcases

A step-by-step tutorial and budget breakdown for using IKEA Billy bookcases to customize his & her closets in a master bedroom.

Things don’t always work out the way you plan… whether that’s in DIY projects or life in general, honestly. 😉

Remember the last time we talked about our master bedroom his & her closets and our grand IKEA closet Pax system plans?

Yeah, that didn’t happen.

Because the math just didn’t add up, and the more we tried to make the Pax system fit into our tight closets, we realized we would be wasting more space than if we just attempted a different route.

We’re no strangers to hacking Billy bookcases (Exhibit A and Exhibit B over here), and we discovered that the width of the bookcase frames would fit perfectly without a single inch of wasted space, whereas the Pax system was going to create more problems than they were worth.

If Plan A doesn’t work out, there are always 25 more letters in the alphabet, right?

So here’s the skinny…

Supplies for Robert’s Closet –

(Some affiliate links are provided below. Full disclosure here.)

Total cost: $324 (not including the power tools we already owned)

This was the before situation in Robert’s closet…

IKEA Closets Using Billy Bookcases | A step-by-step tutorial and budget breakdown for using IKEA Billy bookcases to customize his & her closets in a master bedroom.

The Steps for Robert’s Closet:

  1. After we removed all of the old wire shelving, patched holes with spackle, and painted the walls, we just built the two Billy bookcases following IKEA’s instructions and placed them side by side in the closet.
  2. The bookcases were SO snug that we were just millimeters shy of the two not fitting in the closet together. No wasted space! Yay! It was a close one.

IKEA Closets Using Billy Bookcases | A step-by-step tutorial and budget breakdown for using IKEA Billy bookcases to customize his & her closets in a master bedroom.

3. Then we added the Billy extenders on top of the bookcases to use all of the space up to the ceiling and anchored the bookcases to the wall.

4. To close the small 1 inch gap between the top of the bookcases and the ceiling, we trimmed it all out with the 1×4 MDF strip.

IKEA Closets Using Billy Bookcases | A step-by-step tutorial and budget breakdown for using IKEA Billy bookcases to customize his & her closets in a master bedroom.

5. Then, we caulked all of the cracks, and painted over the caulk with the IKEA white paint color once the caulk was dry to make it all look like one seamless built-in closet.

IKEA Closets Using Billy Bookcases | A step-by-step tutorial and budget breakdown for using IKEA Billy bookcases to customize his & her closets in a master bedroom.

6. The rest was just screwing in accessories like the closet rods, Skuggis wall hooks, tie organizer racks, and wooden Bumerang hangers.

Supplies for Lauren’s Closet –

Total cost: $464.50

Here’s my closet’s before…

IKEA Closets Using Billy Bookcases | A step-by-step tutorial and budget breakdown for using IKEA Billy bookcases to customize his & her closets in a master bedroom.

(Don’t ask why on earth I had a bouquet of flowers up on my top shelf. Haha! No idea.)

The Steps for Lauren’s Closet:

  1. After doing all of the prep work of wire shelf removal, spackling, and painting in my closet too, we built the Pax frame and moved it into the back recession of my closet.

(Mine is an L shape but it’s extremely tight and would barely be considered a walk-in, so the Pax frame made the most sense in my closet’s back niche.)

IKEA Closets Using Billy Bookcases | A step-by-step tutorial and budget breakdown for using IKEA Billy bookcases to customize his & her closets in a master bedroom.

2. We built the 2 Billy bookcases and placed them side-by-side with a 12″ large gap in between them.

3. Then, we added the Billy extenders on top of the bookcases to use all of the space to the ceiling and anchored the bookcases and Pax frame to the walls.

IKEA Closets Using Billy Bookcases | A step-by-step tutorial and budget breakdown for using IKEA Billy bookcases to customize his & her closets in a master bedroom.

4. To make a skinny shoe shelf out of the 12″ gap between the two Billy bookcases, we used some of the Billy shelves to cut with the table saw and frame out like its own bookcase using 2″ L brackets.

IKEA Closets Using Billy Bookcases | A step-by-step tutorial and budget breakdown for using IKEA Billy bookcases to customize his & her closets in a master bedroom.

5. We cut more Billy shelves to create shoe shelves in the skinny bookcase we made from the 12″ gap, attaching the shelves to the two Billy bookcases with the nail gun.

6. To close the small 1 inch gap between the top of the bookcases and the ceiling, we trimmed it all out with the 1×4 MDF strip. And we did the same to the Pax frame on the top and sides to make it flush with the walls.

IKEA Closets Using Billy Bookcases | A step-by-step tutorial and budget breakdown for using IKEA Billy bookcases to customize his & her closets in a master bedroom.

7. Then, we caulked all of the cracks, and painted over the caulk with the IKEA white paint color once the caulk was dry to make it all look like one seamless built-in closet.

IKEA Closets Using Billy Bookcases | A step-by-step tutorial and budget breakdown for using IKEA Billy bookcases to customize his & her closets in a master bedroom.

8. The rest was just screwing in accessories like the closet rods, Komplement drawers/shelves, Skuggis wall hooks, and wooden Bumerang hangers.

IKEA Closets Using Billy Bookcases | A step-by-step tutorial and budget breakdown for using IKEA Billy bookcases to customize his & her closets in a master bedroom.

We’re still waiting on the two different types of baskets we ordered as that was our solution for not having any drawers so that we can store out-of-season clothes and accessories in them.

Truthfully, I don’t think we’re going to miss having drawers at all, and I do still have a couple of drawers in my closet with the one Pax frame we were able to use.

IKEA Closets Using Billy Bookcases | A step-by-step tutorial and budget breakdown for using IKEA Billy bookcases to customize his & her closets in a master bedroom.

I am SO excited to see how this has all come together and this Plan B with the Billy bookcases has worked out perfectly to help us maximize even more space than what we had originally planned and with what we had before using the wire shelves.

Now probably the hardest part comes next: actually sorting through my mountain of clothes. SOS! Send help!

IKEA Closets Using Billy Bookcases | A step-by-step tutorial and budget breakdown for using IKEA Billy bookcases to customize his & her closets in a master bedroom.

Here’s hoping we’ll be sharing the full reveal with everything all organized soon!

Got any Kon Mari-ing clothing tips in the meantime? 😉

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IKEA Closets Using Billy Bookcases | A step-by-step tutorial and budget breakdown for using IKEA Billy bookcases to customize his & her closets in a master bedroom.

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46 Comments

  1. Seems to me you could get even more space by getting rid of the closet door & having a tasteful cloth “door” you could slide back & forth.

  2. I dunno. I have to see the finished project. It still seems like you both have very little hanging rod space. Maybe it’s just me, but I need more hanging space. I hang all my pants on long clip hangers vs folding them in half. And I have lots of dresses, so I guess that’s why closets need to be personalized and custom if possible.
    I do realize those are very small closets though. I’m glad it works well for you. Although I’d certainly go with the small black velvet hangers vs. those big bulky wooden ones. We’ve done closets in homes before using them, and the homeowners are amazed at how much more space they end up with! Just a thought…. 🙂

    1. I too feel I needed to see the finished project…clothes and all. As far as your dresses and hanging pants go, you can remove or adjust shelves to fit your needs. I wished I had saw this hack before we tried to custom build shelves in my daughters closet. We did a fair job, but this would have been much easier and less cutting and trying to figure things out. What I did notice is that these book shelves are only 11″ deep. We made our daughters closet shelves 12″ deep. One more inch back the hanger is almost touching the back wall. I guess we could pull the bookcase forward an 1″ and forgo the back panel. The expensive shelving systems I’ve seen don’t have a panel in the back anyways. It could work if you don’t mind the 1″ gap in the back;.

  3. What paint(brand, sheen, oil/latex) and color do you use to match Ikea cabinets? Everything looks amazing!!!

    1. We used Sherwin Williams Pro Classic in satin in Sherwin William’s standard white base. I’m not 100% sure their base matches all of IKEA’s white furniture, so to be safe, you could take just a shelf into SW to them color match it. Thank you!!

  4. Hi Lauren
    I love all your clever organizational, decorating and inspirational ideas. I will hopefully be tackling closets soon and I love the idea of using the IKEA Billy bookcases. The pax system is very nice but pricey. Question where will you hang full length clothing (e.g. dresses). ?

    1. Thanks, Cindy! It’s so hard to photograph and to see but my closet is an L shape, and in the very back corner, we managed to fit one skinny Pax unit that’s long enough for dresses. I might go back and edit this post to add a diagram sketch of my closet’s shape since I realize that’s hard to envision. It’s a tight squeeze in there.

    1. We used Sherwin Williams Pro Classic in satin in Sherwin William’s standard white base. I’m not 100% sure their base matches all of IKEA’s white furniture, so to be safe, you could take just a shelf or drawer into SW for them color match it.

  5. This is really inspirational. I live in a one-bedroom apartment as a retiree and have never been able to get my closets organized. I’ve used those plastic-covered wire shelves in the past and always hated them so the idea of using bookcases really appeals to me.

  6. I thought the same thing…like the hangers (clothes) aren’t going to fit correctly on the rods because the space isn’t deep enough.

  7. Thank you for these great ideas! I always love seeing your creative solutions. Question please? Was your lighting already in your closets? Or did you add that at some point? Thanks Lauren!

    1. Thank you, Eileen! The lights were already in the closets, thankfully. But because of our white IKEA shelves instead of the wire and painting the walls with a bright white instead of the yellowy/cream they were before, it looks SO much brighter now.

  8. Love the new shelving! I’ve been thinking hard about redoing my shelving basically cause i have no organized spot for my shoes and boots, and i don’t even own that many! Did also chaulk the unused shelf holes? They all look beautiful!
    Oh, and thanks for the Q&A the other evening! That was fun and I appreciate your personalized input!

  9. First time to comment here, but I read a lot of your posts and really appreciate them. Do you find caulking/painting to be quicker than using the ikea plugs? (not really sure what they’re called) I got sidetracked and only got a couple hundred in out of several thousand and I really need to go back and finish.

    1. We got the plugs but discovered they only fit the Pax system and not the Billy bookcases. Maybe somehow we missed a smaller size for the Billy ones? I tried using them in our Pax and they were a total pain. Caulking is faster, in my opinion. I lost patience. Haha!

  10. Love love love your creativity! I’m all things Ikea. Just a quick question, I. Your photo it looks like your upper hangers are slanted and the lower ones are level. Just wondering if this is a photo illusion. Would love to see a pic once everything is back in.

  11. Very clever! Great use of space. Now do tell what are those wooden thingies on the left side of one closet? Some cool hooks you made?

    1. Those are the Skuggis hooks from IKEA. I’m wondering if the plan is to use those for hats and bags? They look super close to the front facing wall in the photo, but that could just be the angle of the camera. So hard to take pictures of small places!! Love this whole system Lauren!! My closest IKEA is three hours away. But this is making me rethink how I might be able to better utilize my closet space. Thanks!! Also, did you do a tutorial on your closet doors? I love the mercury glass, antiques mirror finish❤️

  12. Could you show us your closets shape – like looking down from above? It’s hard to imagine where you put the PAX section…

    1. I’ll go back and add a diagram. I realize it makes zero sense but it’s impossible to photograph that tiny back corner. Haha! Sorry about that. If you’re on Instagram though, I shared a video of it on my Stories (in my highlights) and it’ll make more sense there.

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