DIY Library Wall - Billy Built-in Bookcases

3 Materials
20 Hours

I have been researching this project and planning it for a while now. As we moved the guest room we were left with an empty room that was supposed to be our home office. Our books have been in boxes since we moved in 3 years ago so I decided to just go for it and do it. And I DID IT! 100% by myself. And I am so proud. :)
I started by calculating the number of IKEA Billy bookcases needed for this project. It came out to 3 of the 15" wide and 2 of the 31.5" wide shelvings and I bought the 1 foot height extensions as well. One day after work ( I get off at 6 pm) I drove down to IKEA and bought them all in two transactions using $25 OFF of $150, so saved $50 dollars :)
The next night I carried them upstairs and assembled the first two cabinets. It says two persons needed, but I did it myself, it is really not that big of a deal. The instructions are clear and the assembling process is pretty straight forward.
The third night I put all the rest together.
The 4th day I was off. I secured them to the wall. I started in the center of the wall with the middle piece and used the "L" brackets that came with the units. I had to do on the side as there was no room to work with above the bookcases.
Then I realized I can not put the neighboring bookcase flush to the wall as the bracket screw was in the way. So I took it off and used 1/4 inch plywood pieces to space them off the wall. Did that at the bottom and at the top. Also I was using a level to make sure everything lines up.
Considering the spacing, the moldings I picked etc. I needed a 3/4 inch gap between the cabinets, so I just used leftover 1x4 pine and screwed the sides together on the bottom and on the top. Then that one got an "L" bracket as well.
I did all 5 pieces in the morning, They are super sturdy, not going anywhere for sure. Then I ran to Home Depot to get the baseboard, casing and crown molding, also color matched a quart of paint to the shelf's color.
Then I took my miter box upstairs and did every cutting by hand. I used a dremmel tool to cut out the wall's baseboard to make room for the bookshelf baseboard. Then added the middle casing, and finished up with the crown.
I added the shelves.
I also added some shoe moldings over the gaps that were between the baseboard and the first shelves.
This took up my afternoon. The next day I was off again, this is day 5, I filled every nail holes and caulked every bit of gaps to create a professiona,l built-in look. I then painted the moldings around the whole library wall.
Then in the afternoon, with a little bit of help I started to un-box the poor books that had been sitting untouched for 3 years and started to fill up the shelves. I didn't realize that we have so few books :-0 So now I get to buy all kind of decorations to fill the whole wall. :) Exciting :)
I was so lucky to find a twin sleeper sofa that fits perfectly in the space! On Craigslist, unopened box for $200! YAY! An extra bed just in case :)
Here is the right now, I still have to cover the pre-drilled shelf holes and add some decoration, but this is how it looks right now :) I am so prod of it! All by my-37yearoldwoman-self!
Sorry for the color of the picture, it was taken at night and can't really adjust the colors. Anyways, that is IT! :)
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Have a question about this project?

3 of 54 questions
  • Barb
    on Aug 23, 2019

    Curious as to what book your dog chose to read? Very smart dog you have there!

  • Ann
    on Aug 23, 2019

    Why would you cover the predrilled shelf holes? That would take away your option to change things up in the future.

    • Jan Marie
      on Aug 27, 2019

      Most pieces like these bookcases have little plastic plugs that you put in the holes that you are not using. They can be removed if you want to move the shelves at a later date. She did a lovely job.

  • Becky
    on Aug 29, 2019

    What did this have to do with turning one shelf on its side?

    • Gail
      on Jan 12, 2020

      Great job and great explanation. Wish I was 37 again!! Woulda coulda shoulda., at 37.......

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