Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Built-in" Bookshelves

When I first started envisioning our formal living room, I knew I wanted to transform the room and make it more like a library or reading room.  Bookshelves are critical for achieving this look.  But, bookshelves can be difficult,  you have to find the right ones that are the perfect dimensions, match your style and hopefully they're not outrageously expensive. We briefly considered having a carpenter build us built-in shelves but decided it wasn't right for this room and we just didn't want to spend that much.  I seriously considered these shelves from Ballard and many other systems like it.  However, I didn't like the cream color of the Ballard shelves and the dimensions still weren't right for our space.  Around this time, I saw an amazing tutorial from Centsational Girl about an amazing "Ikea hack" where she took Billy shelves and turned them into a custom wall feature that turned out beautifully.  Check that out here and here.  After never really finding the perfect bookcases for the room, I revisited this idea and finally just decided, heck, let's give it a try! So, here you go, this is our own version of a Billy bookcase conversion to a built-in shelving system.

The main wall in our library is about 105" wide from the wall to the window.  When allowing for curtains to be placed on the window, I had about 96" to cover with bookshelves. I ordered three 11" deep Billy bookcases (31" wide) and three height extension units. I really wanted tall bookshelves that were nearly floor to ceiling, so this made them 8 ft tall and they look great with our 9" ceilings.

Because we live about 3 hours away from Ikea, we decided to have the bookshelves shipped to us, which added a lot of money to the price, but was nice for my sanity's sake.  We started this project on Saturday morning and were done with paint touch ups on Sunday afternoon. Here's what we did:

Bookshelves in their packaging from Ikea

The boxes arrived from Ikea on Saturday morning. We unpacked everything and started to assemble the shelves according to the pictorial Ikea directions. This was the first thing I've ever really bought from Ikea and it went well although I was a little weary of the process. We put the frames of the shelves together first.

Putting the shelves together

Then, I painted the back panels of the bookshelves with Sherwin Williams Shagreen paint. I had been wanting to incorporate green into this room in a big way and decided that this would be better place for the green than the walls. Shagreen matches the green in the leaves of the fabric really well and I think this really makes the bookshelves look custom.

Bookcases and height extension units are assembled
With the bookshelves assembled, we moved them around until we had them exactly where we wanted them. Then, we used the wall brackets to anchor them to the wall for safety. You definitely don't want a wall of bookshelves falling over on you ;)

Bookcases placed next to each other and secured to the wall

We positioned them side-by-side and secured the height extension units. In the picture below, you can see what the shelves look like, with little changes made.  These are the basic Billy shelves from Ikea, with the height extension units on each, that make them 8" tall.

Billy bookcases without custom trim

To make the shelves look more custom-made and like one solid wall of bookshelves, we added trim.  First, we added baseboard to the bottom of the shelves.  The standard Billy bookcase feet are not that attractive, so I found that adding baseboard really made a big step in the right direction. We used a fast-setting epoxy to attach all of the trim to the bookcases. This was really easy and allowed us to avoid hammering into the bookshelves or damaging the molding. The trim was painted Dove White by Valspar to match the color of the  Ikea white bookshelves.

Standard bottom of a Billy bookcase
Bookcases with baseboard trim added 
 Then, we added crown molding to the top of the bookcases. This also really helps make the three bookcases become one large wall of bookcases. I love the way the crown instantly gives these shelves a new look.
Adding crown molding to the bookshelves
In progress picture of attaching trim
 After installing both the crown and baseboard molding, we placed pieces of flat wood trim where the bookcases meet.  We used pine 'lattice' boards for this, 1" wide pieces for the two outside edges and 2 1/4" wide pieces for the middle two columns.  We allowed the trim to overlap the shelves slightly and I think this is a really nice effect.

Adding the trim pieces between the bookshelves
 After all of the trim was up, we just had to caulk and touch up in a couple of places.  It was a long Saturday of work, but we are so thrilled with our result!

Finished built-in bookcases in our new library
Custom 'built-in' bookshelves from Billy bookcases
Here are some more pictures of the shelves. I'm really loving them and I know the green is bold, but it's fun and completely reversible in the future!
 
 

Now, I just have to fill them and get to styling my shelves! :) 

35 comments:

  1. Gorgeous! Great job! I love the soft color palette too! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. These look fantastic, and I love that you painted the back green! I believe we live in the same area, and I've often thought about making the trip to the Charlotte Ikea so we can do this built-in look in our home office.

    ReplyDelete
  3. These look great! I would never think they are Billy Bookcases!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love the green!! I can't believe how quickly this room is coming together.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh my goodness, they turned out SO nice! I love them! The base board trim and moulding make them look custom! I think the green looks great too, and you're right you can always change the color later if you want a change. The room is coming together SO nicely! Looking forward to seeing your bookcases all styled.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Those look great! If you haven't done so already, you ought to post them on the Ikea hack site.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Love them!! The library is so lovely! Can't wait to see more pictures after you "style" the bookshelves.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Love your work guys!!!

    The bookcases look amazing!

    Do you mind me asking where you got the curtain simulation app that you used a few posts back? Also, what program do you use for drawing floor plans?

    B

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment! That image of the curtains from a few posts back is actually from Ballard Designs. It was just a coincidence that they happened to have the same fabric available for curtains that I bought.

      I drew the floor plans in a program similar to Photoshop, Paint.net(http://paint.net/). It's actually really great for doing a lot of things and isn't as complex as Photoshop.

      Delete
  9. Those are beautiful. I really need to find a place for some!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Very nice! Coincidentally, I'm in the middle of doing the EXACT SAME THING this weekend. Unfortunately, I just spent 5 hours priming the thing with Zinsser 1-2-3 latex primer, which I was told would be perfect for the melamine and cardboard. Alas, it's completely not sticking to the cardboard, and weirdly, some of the melamine takes it great, and other melamine boards are allowing the primer to bead up. Grrr.

    Did you prime before painting? Did the paint just stick to the cardboard and/or melamine?

    If you could respond directly to BigHeadDennis at Gmail.com, I'd GREATLY APPRECIATE it, as I need to start painting in the morning...

    Thanks!

    --Dennis

    ReplyDelete
  11. these look lovely, I love the finish and soft green in the background. I am currently building in some Besta Units so I will make sure to use some of your advice! Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm super impressed with this project! I've bought lots of stuff from Ikea over the years but haven't really modified any of it. I love what you've done here!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Did you glue (epoxy) the trim pieces on the front as well as the baseboard and crown molding??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, we used a fast setting epoxy by Loctite. We held it by hand for a while and let it dry completely with tape keeping everything in place.

      Delete
  14. Bookshelves are one of the most common pieces of furniture that you can find in almost any home around the world for the simple reason that a lot people like to read.
    Custom furniture

    ReplyDelete
  15. Your bookcases turned out great! Do you know the style/name and width of molding you used for the top and bottom of the bookcases?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Your bookcases look fabulous! I just discovered your blog and love all of your home improvement projects. We just moved into our first home and can't wait to start making some updates!

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is so helpful! Thanks for posting!

    ReplyDelete
  18. So, are you able to put books on the shelves without them sagging?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't had any issue with the Billy bookcases sagging. I think they can hold a lot of weight. I'm sure they have specs on their website.

      Delete
  19. Built in bookshelves is shown on the post here. Read details from here

    Baby Cots

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hello! I love all the extra features you added to this project.

    I would like to ask if you don't mind how exactly did you hold the wood trimming?

    Did you use glue? Also did you add a thin piece on the far left and right edge of the Billy Bookcase?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We used a strong epoxy and caulked in any gaps.

      Delete
  21. What color did you use on the walls?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The gray color on the rest of the walls in the room is SW Sedate Gray. The back of the bookcases are painted SW Shagreen.

      Delete
  22. Is the bookshelf made out of wood or laminate? Looking into making also.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The bookshelves are from Ikea and are made from a laminate-like composite.

      Delete
  23. hi, would you mind answering dennis' questions about priming etc on here also? i'm in exactly that spot in the process now. same situation, 3 billys with the height extensions. i'm following your process except that the dimensions of the space exactly fit those 3 billys, both width and height, so i'm tucking them into the space once painted. and then do the same baseboard / crown / lattice but only across the front. i've seen several differing strong opinions on how to prepare the backs for painting, so i'd really appreciate knowing what you did.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did not do any extra preparation to the cardboard before painting. I found that 2 of the pieces took the paint really well. The other I had to do two coats. If the paint doesn't stick, I would think that a primer would be best. I don't have a great answer to how to best prepare the backs because I got lucky and didn't have to do anything but paint.

      Delete
  24. Great idea to paint the back parts green, transforms it from normal white bookcase to something special and more individual.

    bespoke bookcases

    ReplyDelete
  25. omgggggg!!!!!!!!!!! I love this look and it's something I can actually do in an apartment which is always tricky to find! Just need to find some space... I'll definitely be borrowing this idea :)

    Taylor @ www.trendycheapo.com

    ReplyDelete
  26. This is amazing! I'm currently trying to do this with Target bookcases. Did you glue/epoxy the crown directly to the face of the bookcase or did you add an additional piece of wood to attach to? Also can you share where you found the wider lattice trim, I've only found 1-1/4" in home depot. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I looooove the idea ... I have 96" to cover as well and it is so hard to find something that will do so for under $3600 ... this is a wayyyyy more affordable and stylish solution.
    Thank you so much for the idea ... you did a marvelous job with the trimming :)

    ReplyDelete

Blogging tips