House Tour: DIY Bookcases

posted in Extras

House Tour: DIY Bookcases

I’m not convinced this qualifies as an Ikea hack so much as an Ikea tweak. Either way, I wanted a large something to fill up some space in my new  and sparse dining room. I’d decided to be utilitarian about it and use something useful: a bookcase! Or rather, bookcases. Since I keep getting questions about how I got them all to look like customized built-ins, I thought I’d do a photo walk through right here on my blog.

Step 1: Measure your space and decide how many Ikea bookcases will fill it up. I went with two larger Billy bookcases, sandwiching a smaller one in the middle. I chose white because the baseboards and trim around my house are white, so the match a bit more seamlessly. I also opted for the height extensions because, after setting up the standard bookcases, my 9ft ceilings dwarfed the entire unit.

Step 2: Gather your tools and begin modifications to individual pieces before assembling the bookcases. I used a ruler to mark off the gutters for my baseboards, a box cutter to score the area and make it easier to cut, and a coping saw to make the modification.

Why am I even using a coping saw? Well, our apartment has this beautiful trim all around the house, and the baseboards are around 9″ high. In order to get the bookcases to sit flush against the wall, I had to raise the baseboard gutter on the bookcase frames.

Conveniently, these cinder-blocks sitting out on our deck from the previous tenants worked great to stabilize the boards as I went at them with my coping saw. Unfortunately they were scratching up the surface laminate. So this $9 throw from ikea acted as my impromptu scratch guard.

Step 3: Assemble the frame (but don’t put the backing on yet!)

I’m all about white. In fact, white and walnut are my base colors for the apartment. But, I wasn’t thrilled about having 6′ by 8′ or so of plain white bookcases. I mean, one of the things I love about this apartment is that beautiful paint accents! So now that the bookcases sit nice and flat against the wall, it’s time to jazz up the backing. I used about 1 quart of paint, which I mixed a custom color of based on a lamp I love!

Step 4: Paint and install the backing. I painted the unfinished side of the backing because Ikea uses a slick laminate on the front of their backing which latex paint just won’t stick to. I’ve also see people use wallpaper rather than paint, or sub out the provided backing for foam core (which is a little more stable). I decided to try out this method first and change the backing as needed, and I haven’t seen any stability issues with them so far.


And here is the fruit of all that labor


You can see that the creases in the backing are still visible, but they are hardly noticeable once the shelves are decorated. Here’s to Ikea bringing us easily customizable, affordable furniture :D

Edit 1/12/2014: The bookcases are still holding up strong and I haven’t had any stability problems with using the Ikea provided backing!

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