Ikea Billy Bookcase Library Hack

    Hey Friends!  You know that super top secret project I have been hinting around?  Well I finally finished it!  I bring to you today the full tutorial on my newly constructed DIY custom built-in library with remote control sconce lighting!   Whew…that’s a long title! I can’t even tell you how long I have wanted a library wall.  Since day one of living in this house, I have thought my living room wall needed some architectural interest.  At first I was thinking of adding board and batten 3/4 the way up the gigantic space, but after much deliberation, I decided to bite the bullet and build me some shelves!   I am so thrilled with how this built in library unit turned out! So come along with me as I break down exactly how I constructed this custom built in library!

    Can you believe this is a billy bookcase Ikea hack?  Yep, that’s right! Having a piece built like this would have cost me roughly $3000 and that’s if I got a smoking deal.  Still wanting the built-ins of my dreams, but not the steep price tag, I went to research other options.  I came across a few library walls I liked on Pinterest and quickly realized I could create my vision starting with 3 billy bookcases and a whole lotta elbow grease!  The whole unit (including everything) came in just under $400 and took me 5 days of nap times (roughly calculated at 10 hours of amateur mommy building time).

    3 billy bookcases and 3 extension pieces made up the foundation of this built in library masterpiece! Found HERE and HERE!


    Cut List:

    *all these measurements are specific to my exact design.  This unit can be modified as you see fit.  Also, please take your own measurements before making any cuts as yours may vary slightly even if building this exact unit!

    1 plywood underlayment board ripped lengthwise into:

    2- 8″ wide planks

    3- 10″wide planks

    Crown molding- 107.5″ cut at a 45 degree angle on both ends (plus) 2 additional pieces measuring 11.5″ with one side at a 45 degree angle ( you can see how to cut crown corners HERE).

    baseboard – 107.5″ for front piece cut at a outside 45 degree angle on ends (plus) 2 additional pieces measuring 11.5″ with one side at an outside 45 degree angle & one side at an inside 45 degree angle

    trim of choice cut to above measurements

    3- 1×2 boards cut to your measurements to construct frame for lighting panel. (See below)


    Miter saw

    nail gun

    1 1/4″ brad nails and 2″ brad nails


    foam roller

    paint brush



    Let’s start with the hardest part…the Ikea assembly instructions!  These book shelves weigh about 100 lbs a piece.  Trust me I know cause I loaded and pushed those beasts all the way through the warehouse with 2 kids and a baby in tow!  I wish I had a video of that! So ya Ikea… 2 people are better then one when assembling lol!

    Once you master building the billy bookcases the rest is cake!  I built all 3 units plus the extension pieces in 1 hour.  Really not that bad!  I played with the spacing of the bookcases for a bit and finally settled on 6 1/2″ spaces in between each bookcase.  This would allow of an 8″ piece of plywood to cover the gap.  I’ll get to that later!


    Once I had my spacing worked out, I moved the bookcases aside and used the measurements to cut out my baseboard.   I just bought this oscillator, and I got to say it came in real handy.  I cut my existing baseboard out,  knowing I would be using it for the front of the bookcases.  This would help me achieve that high quality, built-in feel.  * If you intend to use your existing baseboard, make sure to cut out from wall at a 45 degree angle.


    With the baseboard cut, I moved the bookcases back in place and here’s where the fun begins.  I took a ride over to Lowe’s and had the friendly man (whom I know quite well now) rip a sheet of plywood underlayment into 5 pieces (specified in the cut list).  I gathered the rest of my materials and returned home to build build build!

    I used 1×2 boards to stabilize the thin plywood pieces along the inside almost like a frame.  I nailed the boards in around the top perimeter and up each corner.

    Using my nail gun, I secured a 10″ wide plank to the top of the bookcases, overlapping the front by an inch.  It ran almost the whole length, minus about 10″.  I cut the remaining section and nailed it up to finish the front. I then secured the side pieces which measured about 11.5″.

    Now that I had the top panel constructed, I secured the 8″ wide vertical panel to cover the space between the bookshelves.  I overlapped the panel to the bookcase sides and nailed it in using my handy dandy nail gun.  I waited on nailing up the second vertical panel till I ran the electrical for the sconce lights. That’s where I’m hiding all the wires!

    I measured and marked my drill holes for lights.

    I painted the top whisper white to match the existing molding in my home.  I found that a foam roller worked best! I let the paint dry overnight and installed the sconce lights the next day. (Sorry this photo was taken after I installed the lights, but you get the idea!)

    The sconce lights came hardwired, so I converted them into plug- in lights using inexpensive extension cords.  (I’m no electrician, but I’ll share the simple tutorial on that next week).   The cords all run to a power strip that is hidden behind the right panel. I snagged a power strip that came with a remote and BOOM! – remote lighting!

    The black and brass sconce lights were a great online find. They were only $25 each. You can find 10 other lights similar to these ranging from $25-$50 HERE.

    Now that I had all the critical elements in place, I fancied this beast up with crown molding and trim!  This is where the real transformation happened!  I used thin flat trim along the outer 2 edges to give it a smooth finish.  I used the same thin trim to cover the seam between the billy bookcase and the extension unit.

    I attached the crown to the top of the 1×2 frame using my nail gun. I attached a thin piece of molding at the the bottom of the light panel to hide the seams and to add more visual interest.  If you’ve never cut crown before like me, make sure you watch the video I linked at the top!  It was super helpful!

    I finished the bottom with my original baseboard. Luckily I had some remnant pieces from the basement that I used for the sides!

    Now that everything was attached, I anchored this built in beast to the wall using the hardware that came with the billy bookcases.  I anchored one bracket per shelf to a stud, and the other 2 brackets for extra safety.  That’s 9 brackets total for the unit, 3 of which were anchored into studs.  I have 3 little hooligans running around my house and I want to make sure they stay alive and crazy!

    Finally I grabbed my caulk gun and went to town on the whole shelving unit. I caulked the cracks in the crown and baseboard, and all the trim work.  I am always amazed by the healing powers of caulk!  Somehow it magically fixes all my mistakes and makes me look like a pro!

    I even calked the sides of the plywood underlayment panels!  Huge difference!

    A couple coats of Kwal Whisper white enamel paint and Viola!  My build-in billy bookcase library unit was complete!  Remote lighting and all!  I quickly styled my new library wall with items I already had.  I have a feeling these shelves will be changing a lot!

    I gotta say this is one of my favorite projects!  I learned so much building this beauty!  What do yo think?  Are you brave enough to try it?

    The kids have really enjoyed reading their books and playing games in here, and baby Lou loves unloading all her toys out of each bin!  The library wall adds so much charm and character to our home. I can’t wait to add more personal touches.  I’d say that was some well spent nap time and money!

    I always appreciate you stopping in!  If you liked this tutorial and found it helpful please help me by pinning the image below.  Pin it so ya don’t forget it! I love sharing my work and helping others create the home of their dreams.




    Trackback from your site.

    Leave a Reply