Now, 4 things made a big difference in this BILLY hack

ikea built-in living room shelves hack

BILLY built-in living room shelves get a gorgeous makeover.

Claire hacked her BILLY bookcases earlier this year (you can see it here). And while we still love her it, Claire got bored with the style and decided to revamp the entire set using pastel paints and postal tubes.

Tubes? A very unlikely design component but Claire managed to pull it off and provide a fun twist to the otherwise plain old BILLY doors.

Painting the BILLY bookshelves

The whole wall of neutral IKEA BILLY bookcases is in fact a blank canvas. Claire’s latest update involved taking the BILLY bookcases to a whole new two-toned colour palette.

For her first post on how she hacked the BILLY bookcase (pix on left), especially the thickened open shelving profile, scroll down.

built in living room shelves with IKEA BILLY bookcases, in white green theme and peach mint green
BILLY hacked and hacked again

Now, she takes it from white to embrace lovely spring colour tones of peach and green. On the inside, the paint colour is a match for Farrow and Ball’s ‘Setting Plaster’. The exterior frames of the built-in got a few coats of pale minty/ grey green paint. See our furniture painting guide for more tips on painting the IKEA BILLY bookcase and other veneer furniture.

Installation of postal tubes for tubular door fronts

The second refresh on the BILLY hack is the use of postal tubes on the OXBERG doors. Claire had used a similar treatment on a HAVSTA cabinet hack, where she fixed postal tubes to the sides of the BRUSALI base cabinet and the back of shelves.

First, she trimmed the end caps to fit on the inside of the ends of the tubes for a flat end. For this project, she kept the postal tubes whole for maximum tubular effect. Each tube is painted with hard wearing matt emulsion.

postal tubes with modified flat ends stuck to the IKEA BILLY bookcase doors for a tubular effect

Then, she used grab adhesives to fix the tubes to the doors. An adhesive option which is removable, should she decide to update her BILLY bookcases yet again. Using 2″ tubes, it took 6 tubes to fill up one BILLY door. If you prefer a more fluted furniture style, opt for smaller 1.5″ tubes also available on Amazon.

So, tube doors — yay or nay for you?

Restyling the shelves

Lastly, she swapped out all of the previous dark green decorative pieces to a mix of pale green grey and pastel blue hues. A combination which stands out beautifully against the peach background.

built in living room shelves with IKEA BILLY bookcases in peach and mint green

To avoid splurging on more home decor items than necessary, Claire offers these tips:

1. Shop your home for interesting shapes and pieces that may work in the new space
2. Paint old pieces to fit the new colour theme
3. Go bargain hunting and thrifting to find unique pieces like a set of curved hollow vases to round up the hard rectangle edges of the bookshelves

And that’s Claire update on her very popular IKEA BILLY bookcase hack. I’m sure this new, fresh look on the BILLY will win you over too. Read on for her original BILLY bookcase hack.

Updated May 19, 2021.

BILLY goes luxe in this set of built-in living room bookshelves

Like so many of us, Claire dreamt of having a wall of built-in living room shelves. But bespoke carpentry was way out of budget.

So like many other DIYers she turned to IKEA to give her the luxe look for less.

IKEA item used:

BILLY bookcase (80cm wide) x 4 — £35 each
OXBERG door x 4 — £20 each

Other materials:

MDF sheet, strip wood, strong adhesive, skirting and filler (all from B&Q) to create the ‘built in’ style — approx. £60
MDF strips (left over from a previous panelling project) — approx. £20
Primer for MDF — £20
Colour match emulsion from my favourite Decorating Centre Online – £21.99

Total Cost £341.99

How to hack IKEA BILLY built-in living room shelves

This was how her space looked before the BILLY hack.

before space

She built the BILLY bookcases and stood the frames in position before fixing them to the wall. 

Then Claire made a strip wood frame for the gap between the top of the bookcases and the ceiling. She then attached MDF sheets to the front of the frame to cover the gap. 

IKEA BILLY bookcase hacked into built-in living room shelves

1. Thicker frames

Next was a genius step that gave her BILLY built-in display shelves a luxurious style.

She glued MDF strips over the joints between the bookcases and to the shelf fronts for a thicker appearance. Claire also filled the gaps along the sides of the wall. 

Then, she added a skirting board to the base of the unit to hide the individual bookcase bases.

2. Filled up holes

The next step is tedious and often overlooked but it made a huge difference. 

She filled all the pre-drilled shelf dowel holes to get rid of the ‘flat-pack’ look. All the gaps and joints in the mdf panels are also covered with Polyfilla.

Once dried, Claire sanded the MDF and filler to give a smooth finish and applied two coats with MDF primer. 

The final step was to paint the whole thing. When the paint dried, it was all ready for styling et voilà!

IKEA BILLY bookcase hacked into built-in living room shelves

See the full tutorial and her tips for styling on a tight budget on her blog.

~ by Claire Douglas