Tuesday, 5 February 2013

DIY Ikea Hack: how to transform Ikea Billy bookcases using wood trim / molding!

I love the idea of Ikea Hacks, so when it was time to buy bookcases for my study I was happy to buy from the Billy range with the intention of pimping it out into something I actually wanted.

I’ve seen a ton of online tutorials and blog posts on Ikea Billy Built-in hacks but I wanted freestanding bookcases that I could take with me when I move out, so I designed plans for my own Ikea hack and I’m thrilled with the result.

Freestanding Billy Bookcase Hack Before

My Decor Education_ikea billy boookcase before hack

Freestanding Billy Bookcase Hack During

My Decor Education_ikea billy boookcase hack during

First i applied a thick coat of a primer to ensure better adhesion of the colour coat.

My Decor Education_painted ikea billy boookcase hack

My Decor Education_ikea billy boookcase hack during painting

Installing the trim. Basic tools - Wood glue, hammer, thin nails thick enough to go through the trim and well into the Billy bookcase, and the trim.

My Decor Education_wood trim for ikea billy boookcase hack

My Decor Education_ikea billy boookcase hack during with wood trim

I filled in all gaps at the joints with wood filler. I slathered it on and while it looked messy initially,  this was easily sanded off once dry.

My Decor Education_ikea billy bookcase hack during

After drying and a coat of paint...

My Decor Education_ikea billy bookcase hack finished trim

Freestanding Billy Bookcase Hack After

My Decor Education_ikea billy bookcase hack with wood trim finished

Colours used:
  • Frame and sides – Paperback by Taubmans
  • Back board – Eagle Crest by Taubmans
Since this was a freestanding bookcase and not a built-in, it was a fairly simple project. I didn’t need to worry about filling in large gaps with mdf or raising the bookcase with a foundation. Just a simple paint job, and glue & nail the trim.

I took my time with each step and I completed the project over two weekends while doing other things, but it was a pretty easy job considering how different it looks now. For another project using wood trim to change the look of something see my post on the Kitchen Chalkboard project.

I’m incredibly pleased with the result and have convinced my parents to tackle an Ikea Billy built-in hack for their house, but more news on that later. For now here are links to some of my favourite Ikea Billy Built-in Hacks:


  1. Thanks for the tutorial, it looks easy enough that I could pull it off! I bought the skinny Billy bookcase and put the TV between then. Where did you get the middle console piece? It is lovely. Thanks, Bekah

    1. Thanks Bekah! The middle console is lovely isn't it!! It was a golden find on eBay. It's a solid wood piece with gorgeous smoky mirrored backing on the doors. I snapped it up for a mere $50. It was worth the pain of carrying it up 3 flights of narrow stairs to get it into my apartment.

      Best of luck with your own Ikea hack!

  2. Hello
    Great design of wood bookcase, Freestanding Billy Bookcase are awesome...thanks for this post

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it! I'm hoping to tackle a larger version for my parents house soon, so will share that once it's ready.

  3. These are all super cute wood bookcases in Boston! I have been wanting to build my own like this! Can you tell me where to find more like this? Thanks again for sharing!

  4. Did you have to glue the two bookcases together, or are they just attached by the trim?

    1. I considered a few different options, but settled on nailing the two bookshelves together at the top and bottom (the sections that would be concealed by the front wood trim panels I would later add).

      The front wood trim that sits on top of where the two bookcases meet, is glued and nailed down. I positioned the nails, two at each interval. So there are two nails that sit side by side one another. This means the wood trim to secured to each bookcase for extra strength.

      In hindsight, I should have also glued the sides of both bookcases together for extra security, but I'm not worried that they're going to seperate. For safety, I've secured the bookcases to the back wall using the fixtures that came with the Ikea Billy Bookcases. This is something I would recommend for all bookcases, particularly for tall ones such as mine. This is to prevent them from tipping forward.

  5. I have 5 billy bookcases I want to transform as of now. They are dark brown and want them white. They are the slim bookcases. Wish me luck!

    1. Best of luck!!! Feel free to contact me if you need any specific tips.

    2. Hi Pamela! Have you noticed your Billy bookcase shelves sagging under the weight of the books?

    3. Nope, not yet. So far they've managed to stay strong under the weight of my books, magazines, and nick-nacks.

      I plan to fill out the shelves with even more books over time, so I'll keep an eye on them.

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  7. I could only imagine the look on people’s faces when you tell them that those shelves are from IKEA! Haha! Great job on the trimmings! This is one DIY project that is surely a great way to enhance the look of your home!


    1. Thanks for your kind words! and yes, people are always shocked when I tell them they're plain old IKEA bookcases - it's always fun to reveal the shelves humble beginnings!