Hacking the BILLY Bookcase: 26 of the best ever

billy bookcase hacks - the best IKEA hacks

The best IKEA BILLY bookcase hacks to celebrate the world’s most beloved bookcase.

This iconic piece of IKEA furniture has been around for an incredible 40+ years. Over the years it has undergone new colours, with new accessories, doors and add-ons. (IKEA published a book about BILLY for its 30th anniversary, detailing the journey of this remarkable bookcase.) However, structurally, it has remained the same hardworking bookcase, first envisioned by the late Gillis Lundgren.

In 1978, Gillis sketched out the design on the back of a napkin. And he named it BILLY,  after a colleague who expressed his desire for a ‘proper’ bookcase.

Both Gillis and Billy would be happy to know every year, about 4.5 million new BILLY bookcases join the 60-odd million already in homes and offices all around the world.

I think Mr Lundgren would also be very pleased to see how far we, people who tinker with IKEA, have evolved his iconic bookcase. Now not just for books, we’ve have IKEA BILLY bookcase hacks for the kitchen, toy storage, entryway and so much more.

And it’s so versatile, you can practically use the IKEA BILLY bookcase anywhere in your home.

BILLY Bookcase hacks: Built-ins

Arched BILLY bookcase hack

The inspiration was a Magnolia arched cabinet. Rachael and Garret set out to create the same style in their front room, hacking 4 BILLY bookcases for good measure. The transformation is breath-taking and seriously, they look every inch bespoke built-in cabinets.

Living room display storage shelves

IKEA BILLY Bookcase Hacks - Living room built-in shelves

Claire added a few twists to her BILLY bookcase hack, turning it from obvious “IKEA bookshelves” to luxurious living room built-ins. Thickened shelving and filled up dowel holes made all the difference.

Bespoke BILLY with decorative moulding and lights

bespoke billy bookcase hack
Photo: Melanie Lissack Interiors

Not your usual IKEA BILLY bookcase hack. This head turning number from Melanie used a combination of decorative mouldings and beading to create an original ridge moulding down the central timber bar and the sides of the otherwise plain white particleboard. To top it off, beautiful wallpaper on the back of the BILLYs and gold wall lights.

Affordable built-in BILLY bookcase hack

built-in BILLY bookcase hack

Jeff had a really long wall that needed something to separate the games area from the media area. What better way than to introduce more storage and some built-in bookshelves.

BILLY bookcase hacks for the kitchen

BILLY for a Kitchen island

diy kitchen island hack from IKEA BILLY bookcase

Courtney’s farmhouse-style kitchen island with open shelving. She made it out of 3 BILLY bookcases, a butcher block countertop and beadboard. See more of the DIY kitchen island.

Make it a Pantry

With the option of glass doors (see the OXBERG doors), the BILLY is a good candidate for a freestanding pantry. Jasmine used the tall skinny BILLY to fit into a small corner of the kitchen, next to her breakfast nook. Anchor the bookshelf to the wall for stability. And load the shelves with baskets and bins for an organized kitchen.

Trim it down into a wine rack

wall gap wine rack between cabinet and wall

Jesse made good use of the 6″ gap between the pantry cabinet and wall. She cut down a 15″ wide BILLY bookcase to fit the opening and turned it into a slim built-in wine rack. And it was cost saving too. She could make two shelves out of each 15″ shelf for a total of 11 shelves for her wine bottles and glasses.

DIY home bar BILLY bookcase hack

DIY home bar - IKEA BILLY Bookcase Hacks

A gorgeous bar from tall and short BILLY bookcases. The tall ones form the storage cabinets for the bottles. The bar counter are 2 shorter BILLY bookcases and a walnut kitchen counter also ordered from IKEA. Read more on this DIY home bar.

BILLY hacks to make an entrance

BILLY bookcase mudroom furniture hack

IKEA BILLY Bookcase Hacks - mudroom furniture

Jessica recently took an under-utilized closet, added some IKEA pieces (BESTÅ and BILLY) for storage and made them into beautiful mudroom furniture for her home.

Mudroom lockers and backpack organizer

Backpacks, coats and shoes can quickly pile up at the entryway if you don’t have the right storage in place. Take a leaf from Jessica and start assembling the IKEA BILLY bookcases. One narrow bookcase for one kid to store backpack, jackets, boots, and more! With this IKEA hack, back-to-school organization is a cinch.

BILLY hack for shoe storage

shoe storage with billy bookcase

One BILLY shelf fits 2 pairs of shoes perfectly. Magcarco put the shelves with the front lower, to display the shoes nicely in her hallway closet. And for the finishing touch, she added a little molding along the front so the shoes won’t slide out.

BILLY library

Library wall bookcase with sliding ladder

library wall

Trish and Philippe looked at modular bookcase options, or having a custom built-in bookcase library wall but the quotations came in very expensive. Philippe is very handy on the tools and had seen BILLY hacks and decided to give it a go. And we’re so glad they did. This BILLY-BESTÅ-GNEDBY library ladder combo is a stunner.

Daybed reading nook from IKEA BILLY

daybed reading nook

Jessica shares her instructions for a daybed reading nook made from 4 BILLY bookcases. It’s amazing how practical and beautiful this IKEA hack turned out.

Tall Wall Storage Bookshelves

tall cabinet

Roel needed to add some extra storage space in the living room. They came up with the idea to make a tall cabinet at the head of the table, with a more “wall like” appearance. You’ll need the BILLY height extension units to reach the ceiling.

Full wall to wall BILLY bookcase hack

wall to wall IKEA BILLY Bookcase Hack

When you need to fill an entire wall with shelves, BILLY’s your man or bookcase. See the full BILLY wall.

Wall mounted floating library bookshelf

IKEA BILLY floating bookshelves

The BILLY bookcases take on a new lightness when hung on the wall. Also, furniture off the floor makes cleaning so much easier. Be extra careful to secure the wall brackets/ hardware to wall studs. See the floating bookshelves. Here’s another version if you prefer a wood wrap-around.

BILLY bookcase hacks for toy storage

Bookcase Dollhouse

dollhouse bookcase

By adding a roof, chimney, wooden details, paint, fences, walls and even windows, the BILLY Bookcase becomes a chic beach house, or a fab urban row-house. Use as a bookcase, shelf, or dollhouse… you get to decide! See the full tutorial for the dollhouse bookcase.

Kids toy car park

toy car parking

Black paper, a white pen and some yellow and black chevron tape and voilà, a dedicated space for your kid to display the toy car collection.

BILLY bookcase as room dividers

Behind the sofa room divider hack

behind the sofa storage cabinet
Photo: Jochem Cooiman

The skinny BILLY turned on its side makes a lovely, low profile behind the sofa storage unit and space divider.

Studio apartment room divider hack

BILLY room divider for studio apartment

A small studio apartment with an open plan gets a little privacy. BILLY bookcases wall up a small section and separates the sleeping nook from the rest of the space. See the full 2-day makeover.

Unique BILLY bookcase hacks

Rustic cane BILLY bookshelf

billy with cane doors

One of the most beautiful ways to makeover the BILLY bookshelf is to add cane webbing. Kathryn was searching for an affordable cane cabinet without success, till she made her own BILLY doors with cane.

Craft room IKEA BILLY storage pod

sewing cabinet craft pod

Liz hacks a sewing cabinet / craft pod with 2 BILLY bookcases. Open to craft. Close to hide the clutter. Perfect. See the sewing machine cabinet and craft pod.

BILLY bookcase secret door hack

Billy bookcase secret door

Meg’s solution to turn an awkward space into a whiskey and tea library includes creating a secret door that leads to their home office/guest room. See the secret door BILLY bookcase hack.

IKEA BILLY hack hides a murphy bed

queen murphy bed ikea hack

MSILBERBERG lives in Manhattan where space is a premium. They were fortunate to have a playroom that also doubled up as a guest room. Their idea was to hide a queen Murphy bed behind their IKEA BILLY bookcases.

Cat shelves in one compact bookcase

cat shelves

Cave Lion fashions a fantastic set of cat shelves in a BILLY bookcase. It looks pretty easy to do too. And it looks a lot of fun! See the cat shelves.

Hide a workspace in your cabinet

BILLY bookcase with hidden work desk

Here’s a desk that hides away completely in a BILLY bookcase. A great idea when you don’t have space for a big workspace. The best thing is, close the doors and your “home office” disappears. See the secret bookshelf desk.

Hope you like these IKEA BILLY bookcase hacks. Which is your favourite? Tell us in your comments.