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|
|Adding crown molding to the bookshelves|
|In progress picture of attaching trim|
|Adding the trim pieces between the bookshelves|
|Finished built-in bookcases in our new library|
|Custom 'built-in' bookshelves from Billy bookcases|
Now, I just have to fill them and get to styling my shelves! :)