13 Stunning DIY Billy Bookcase Built-In Hack Ideas

Design, February 1, 2024

As someone passionate about interior design, I’ve always been an advocate of creating spaces that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional and personalized. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is through built-in bookcases. However, custom built-ins can be expensive to hire out and too complex for a beginner DIYer. That’s when the DIY Billy bookcase built in hack comes in- this is a versatile, affordable, and stylish option for creating a built-in look!

Join me in this blog post as I help you explore, plan, and inspire your next Billy bookcase IKEA hack with both style and confidence!

What are Billy Bookcase Built-Ins?

painting ikea billy bookcase

Billy bookcases, a staple in IKEA’s catalog, are known for their simplicity and adaptability. When these freestanding units are modified and installed to appear as built-ins, they not only offer a custom look but also maximize storage and display space. This approach combines the affordability of ready-made furniture with the bespoke charm of custom carpentry. 

arched billy bookcase built in with decor and books on shelves.

I made these built ins for the back wall of my home office. It was my very first time trying a bigger build, and I wasn’t even comfortable using a drill yet! With that being said don’t be intimidated to try this as one of your first DIYs. When ready, be sure to check out my step-by-step instructions on how to DIY your own arched IKEA Billy bookcase built-ins!

How DIY Billy Bookcase Built-Ins Differ from Traditional Built-Ins

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Traditional built-ins are often expensive, requiring custom carpentry. Billy bookcase built-ins are a budget-friendly alternative.
  • Customization: While traditional built-ins offer more material and design options, Billy built-ins provide ample room for creative customization with a bit of DIY and some extra trim work.
  • Time and Complexity: Building traditional built-ins is time-consuming and complex, whereas Billy built-ins are simpler and quicker to install.
how to paint ikea billy bookcase

The Process of Building Your DIY Billy Bookcase Built-In

Planning and Design

The first step is measuring your space. When measuring, be sure you consider the ceiling height, wall width, and any architectural nuances like baseboards or molding. Your main goal before starting is to sketch out your design on paper, deciding on the number of Billy units you’ll need and how they will be arranged. This will help you determine the exact size.

Assembling the Bookcases

When assembling the bookcases, be sure you stick closely to IKEA’s guidelines when putting together the Billy bookcases. Getting this part right is crucial for achieving that flawless, seamless appearance in the end.


This brief installation guide takes you through each stage, ensuring your DIY project is both beautiful and professionally executed. For a full in-depth tutorial, check out this blog post!

  • Framing Your Built-Ins: To create a built-in effect, use 2x4s to frame around the bookcases. This will also ensure that the bookcases are stable and safe.
  • Filling Gaps: Use wood filler for the nail holes as well as the adjustment holes that come with every IKEA billy bookcase. Use caulk for any small gap or seam. This will make your built-in billy bookcase hack look much more professional!
  • Adding Molding: Use crown molding at the top, baseboards at the bottom, and even decorative trim on the front of the bookcases. This is where your project elevates from a basic bookshelf to a custom built-in. 
Installing the arched facing with 1/4" plywood for diy billy bookcase hack


Ok! For the part of building built ins that brings me joy, customization. This stage allows you to showcase your unique style into the built-in bookshelves! Consider painting your Ikea bookcases in a color that complements your space. Whether it’s white paint or a bold, moody color… YOU get to pick and customize all of it; trim pieces, the back of the bookcase, and any added details that bring you joy.

You’ll be surprised what a coat of paint can do to transform your DIY built-ins. Trust me, I painted mine twice 😉 Follow my steps for how to paint Ikea furniture to get a beautiful, smooth finish! You can also enhance their appearance by adding elegant glass doors, installing ambient lighting, or fitting stylish back panels for an extra touch of sophistication. These customizations will make your Billy bookcases not only functional but also a reflection of your personal aesthetic.


Once your built ins are complete, it is time to add the finishing touches. Arrange a mix of books, decorative objects, artwork, and cherished personal items to give your built-in bookcases a personal touch. This approach allows you to create a display that is all you, reflecting your tastes and memories and transforming the bookcases into a showcase of your unique style and interests.

DIY Billy Bookcase Built-In Hacks I Love!

When seeking inspiration for your DIY Billy bookcase project, there are plenty of creative ideas to explore. I am sharing with you my favorites. These versatile bookcases can be transformed in numerous ways to suit your space, style, and needs. Here are some inspirational ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

Go Bold With Color

Billy Bookcase Hack- Robynrebecca

I’m a huge advocate for taking bold design risks, especially in terms of color. My burgundy modern vintage bedroom is a perfect example of that!

Robyn.rebecca made her DIY built-ins pop with this stunning red color. It’s the perfect contrast to the more delicate, neutral wallpaper in her home library. Don’t even get me started with the rolling library ladder… i’m convinced our next DIY Billy bookcase built-in project needs this addition!

Display Case for Collections

DIY Billy bookcase built in with middle filler trim

If you’re a collector, use Billy bookshelves to display your treasures like Melanie Lissack Interiors did. She used a couple of IKEA Billy Bookcases to solve her storage dilemma.  Whether it’s vintage books, vinyl records, or unique knick-knacks, the adjustable shelves accommodate items of various sizes.

Home Office Organization

DIY Billy bookcase built in office painted in green with arch molding

With just 4 Billy Bookcases from IKEA, A Carrie’d Affair Designs transformed a room into an organized home office setup! The first thing I love is how she added doors to the bottom sections of her built-in billy bookcases for hidden storage and left other shelves open for books and decorative items. Such a smart and stylish transformation! You can use this as inspiration for your own built ins and choose a paint color that works for your style. 

Seasonal Decorations Display Shelf

Who knew that using Billy Bookcases in the dining room would be the ideal solution to bringing seasonal decorations and creativity to your home? These dining room shelves that First House On Finn built offer the perfect stage for your creativity. Whether it’s festive holiday ornaments or other decor items for different seasons. 

Create a Library Wall

DIY Billy bookcase built in in navy with decor and books

Turn a blank wall into a home library by lining up multiple Billy bookcases. Look how Peony and Honey added a rolling library ladder for a classic, sophisticated touch. Not to mention easy access to higher shelves! I’m a huge fan of her bold, modern Victorian aesthetic so if thats your vibe, definitely check her out on Instagram!

Kitchen Cabinets

DIY Billy bookcase built in kitchen displaying kitchen platters

Turn a Billy bookcase into the perfect kitchen cabinet with cabinet doors! It’s the perfect place to display those charming platters and serving dishes you adore. Personally, I think it’s so smart to do a DIY Billy Bookcase Kitchen Cabinet as you can never have too much storage in the kitchen. Also, the bottom shelf with doors adds the option for closed storage for your not-as-pretty dishes! Check out how Henrikjunehome styled her Kitchen cabinet for more inspiration.

Window Seat Bookcase

DIY Billy bookcase built in with window seat in middle

Maximize the unused space around a window by placing Billy bookcases on either side and adding a cozy, cushioned bench in between the custom built-ins. This setup creates an ideal reading nook, offering convenient storage right within arm’s reach. Perkinson Parkway brilliantly utilized this window seat bookcase concept in their office, and the transformation is so impressive. Don’t forget to take a peek at their before and after photos for some serious inspiration! Additionally, this idea is fantastic for a kid’s playroom. The bench offers additional storage, while the shelves help maintain organization… keeping the play area tidy and stylish!

A Unique and Sophisticated Billy Built-In Hack

I love the twist The Edge Wood Home put on her arched Billy bookcase makeover! It’s got a mix of open and closed storage, allowing the IKEA Oxberg doors to hide away any clutter. And the cute little brass hardware? They’re the perfect sparkle against the chic black paint. If you’re searching for a new look and a bookcase that’s both stylish as practical, this one’s a gem!

Lighted Arched Billy Bookcase

DIY Billy bookcase built in painted in tan with adjustable shelves

This bookcase built by Kensington Abode is perfect if you like neutral colors! The shelving units have soft arched openings, adding a nice architectural element to the design. Each shelf is thoughtfully styled with various items, including books, plants, decorative vases, and unique trinkets that add character and charm to the space. Plus, check out the gold accent lights that are mounted above the top shelves, casting a warm glow that will highlight the objects on display!

Refined Reading Nook

This nook is more than just a place to store books; it’s a personal haven crafted with care and attention to detail. The Blesser House did an awesome job of creating a bright, welcoming space that boasts a customized Billy bookcase setup, merging functionality with personal style. The bookcase wall serves as the room’s centerpiece, with its clean lines and classic design. Every book, plant, and decorative piece pops against the crisp white backdrop!

A Custom Billy Bookcase Oasis

Making It With Abby created her own IKEA Billy bookcase library wall using a soothing teal paint. It’s not just a bookcase; it’s a statement piece that stretches wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling, creating a stunning backdrop for all the trinkets and treasures on display. You would never guess this DIY bookcase uses IKEA furniture! It just creates the perfect space for kicking back with a good book or catching up with a friend. It could also be utilized in a living room and create the same oasis. 

Modern DIY Billy Bookcase Built In

DIY Billy bookcase built in  with black paint inside and white on exterior

This Billy built in bookcase by My Grandparents Chair has a timeless charm that strikes a bold contrast with its crisp white exterior framing the deep black interior shelves. The arches crowning each section add a touch of traditional elegance reminiscent of stately architectural features. This wall of built-in bookcases has a classic look with a modern twist that’ll never go out of style!

Creating a DIY Billy bookcase built-in is a rewarding project and a great opportunity to add elegance and functionality to any room. It’s a testament to how creativity and a little DIY can transform a standard piece of IKEA furniture into something extraordinary. Remember, the key to a successful project is in the details – accurate measurements, precise installation, and personal touches make the final result something to fall in love with.

Happy designing and building!


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