Inside: This is the easiest tutorial ever for IKEA Billy bookcase built ins. You’ll love the look and storage you get with these built ins, without all of the fuss!
I’ve always loved the look and feel of built ins, whether they be built in cabinets or built in bookshelves.
When we decided to finish our basement, I happened upon several DIY built in ideas and knew we needed to add some kind of extra shelving and storage.
I settled on an IKEA built in hack that seemed easy enough and I was completely ready to add extra trim and casing to make it look like the bookshelves were built into the wall.
But I’m so happy with what we decided to do instead!
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We Didn’t Disguise The Built Ins
My original plan was to drill some 2 x 4 pieces into the studs on either side of the wall and then drill the bookcases into the 2 x 4’s to make sure it was secure.
Then I imagined nailing leftover trim we had from finishing our basement to the front of the bookcases to hide the 2 x 4’s and give the built ins a more finished look.
After we got the Billy bookcases assembled and pushed up against the wall. I grabbed some 2 x 4’s and wedged them in between the bookshelf and the wall.
I also grabbed leftover trim to see how that would look and we discovered that we would have to pull off even more baseboard than we already had to get the trim so it was flush with the wall.
We also would have to cut into the baseboard on the opposite wall to get the trim to fit. It seemed like a lot of extra work, that I wasn’t excited about.
My husband also made the point that if we closed off the front of the shelves and one of our kids ever threw anything up and over the trim, it would be lost forever.
Good thinking, hubby.
Right then and there we nixed the idea of the trim and decided to leave space on either side of the bookshelf.
We gave up the seamless look for the sake of time and ease.
And since each bookcase comes with brackets to attach the bookcase to the wall, we felt like the built ins would be secure.
How To Make The Billy Bookcase Built Ins
Time Involved: 5 hours
Skill Level: Beginner
The materials you’ll need will vary based on how long and tall your wall is, but this is what we purchased:
- 2 – 79.5″ tall Billy Bookcases with Oxberg doors
- 2 – 41.75″ tall Billy Bookcases with Oxberg doors
- 1 – skinny Billy Bookcase with Oxberg door
- Utility knife
- Hole saw
- Saw (circular or miter)
- Nail gun
1. Measure the wall you want to place the built ins on and determine how many Billy bookshelves you’ll need.
Before we bought any bookcases, I measured the wall and our TV and made a little mock-up of what the built ins would look like.
And then I measured and measured again to make sure that everything was correct before we purchased the bookshelves.
You can use any combination of the Billy bookshelves to get a custom look!
2. Pull off the baseboard.
We don’t have a crowbar, so we used a utility knife to cut the caulk and then used a flat head screwdriver and a hammer to pry the baseboard from the wall.
**The Billy bookcases have a notch on the back to account for a baseboard but it wasn’t tall enough for our baseboards. If your baseboard fits under the notch you won’t need to pull it off!
3. Assemble the bookshelves without the doors.
We started with the biggest one first, and once we had done it once the rest were a piece of cake. It probably took use 1.5 – 2 hours to finish all 5.
**If you have electrical outlets on the wall, be sure to leave off the backs of the bookshelves that will go in front of the outlets. Otherwise you’ll have to cut a hole in the bookshelf backing with a jigsaw.
4. Use a hole saw to cut a hole in the top of the bookshelves to account for any wires.
We used a 2 inch saw.
5. Line the bookshelves up against the wall and take measurements.
Find the middle of the wall and line all of the shelves up so there’s an even amount of space on each side, then measure where you need to add the baseboard back in.
6. Cut the baseboard to fit in the extra space.
We used a miter saw and made cuts to fit on each side of the large bookcases and to add behind the three smaller bookcases that didn’t have the back on them.
7. Nail the baseboard to the wall.
Remove the large Billy bookcases one at a time and nail the baseboard back to the wall.
8. Nail the bookshelves to each other.
Put the bookshelves back into place and nail them together. This is easily done while one person holds the bookcases tight and even and the other person uses the nail gun.
We nailed each side of the bookcases for a total of 8 sides of nails.
9. Drop the large baseboard pieces behind the small bookcases.
Once the bookcases are all nailed together, drop the large pieces of baseboard behind the smaller bookcases to fill the gaps.
10. Secure the bookcases to the wall.
Using the brackets, anchors, and screws that come with the bookshelves, attach each one to the wall.
11. Attach the doors, shelves, and decorate!
The last part is to attach the doors, place the shelves where you want them, and decorate.
I got a lot of the decor for the built ins from Home Goods, but here are some similar options you can order online:
- Straw baskets
- Gold frames
- Candle sticks
- Faux plant
- Gold terrarium
- Wood bead garland
- Blue candle
- White and blue vase
- White spray
- White vase
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Out of all the DIY projects my husband and I have done, this was the easiest by far! I love how our DIY Billy bookcase built ins look and how they complete the space.
Have you done any IKEA built in hacks? Do you have any other questions about the process?
Let me know in the comments!