Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Built In Bookshelves Before & After: Ikea Hack Part 2

This past week I was busy wrapping up a few of our messiest projects to clear a little space for my parents, who came to visit for the weekend. For so long we lived so far away that short, spontaneous visits weren't exactly common, so how fun that a weekend trip is possible now!  As I mentioned in the first post here, Jady and I took a road trip to Ikea in Cincinnati to pick up some Billy bookshelves in the hopes of creating a wall of "built ins," using trim to create a custom look on a budget.

Here is the before photo of the seating area at one end of our kitchen.

After assembling all of our bookcases and the height extenders, we headed to Home Depot to pick up the wood for our trim.  We used 1" thick pine boards for most of the trim work with widths from 4" and 6" to cover the spaces between the bookcases, nailing them into the Ikea frames with our pneumatic finish nailer.  You can always do it without a nail gun, of course (the old fashioned way), but I loved how quickly this part of it flew by!

To support the Billy shelf extensions above the TV and the doorway, we installed a shelf into the wall studs using wooden corbels underneath.  At first I was wishing that we hadn't had to add extra support in order to keep it all looking streamlined, but I actually like the corbels and the extra interest they add to the overall effect.  In these next couple of photos you can see that on top of the 1" pine boards covering the spaces between the bookcases, we also nailed in some 1 1/2" wide decorative molding to break up the simple, smooth surfaces and to make it all a bit less informal.

This whole process was a constant exercise in problem solving, and one of the trickiest issues arose from the different height we knew we'd get from the wall-mounted extension units.  Those extra three inches threatened to make the whole thing look awful, so we had to decide how to deal with it.  Rather than sawing off the bottom three inches of each shelf, risking jagged edges and imperfect joints, we had wood cut down to just the right size to cover enough of all of the shelves at the top to level them visually.  Then, to create the impression that the wall mounted sections stopped at the same height, we installed extra shelves where the real top would have been.

Before attaching any shelves that would be covering light switches or outlets, we measured carefully and used our multi tool to cut out the corresponding sections of the bookcase backing.  Also, we drilled a large hole in the sides of two shelves in order to thread an extension cord through to the outlet and hide the cords.  Not exactly professional, but it totally works!

I love the end result and how much extra storage we gained in space that would otherwise never have been used.  Thanks to our new built ins, we unpacked countless boxes of books this week at last!




  1. You all have incredible patience and talent! WOW!!!! Way to go!

  2. Liza, it looks beautiful! I love projects like these... "champagne taste on a beer budget"- best description! Keep posting- it has gotten me thinking! : )

  3. Wow! I pinned the same inspiration picture a while ago but never knew it was actually possible to do as an Ikea hack! I'll be sharing your post on my blog www.homewithbaxter.com later this week if you want to check it out. :)

  4. Amazing job! I love the chair too. I'm assuming it was a redo by you? What's the fabric if you don't mind my asking? I have a chair that I need to redo and I can't make a decision on fabric. Thanks!

    Sharon @ Desert Willow Lane


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