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Ingenious and Trendy IKEA Besta Hack I Tried, Loved, And Totally Recommend!

GET THE LOOK!! with this built in IKEA hack! 

Here is how I did it.

Are you looking to spruce up your space without breaking the bank? Look no further than the IKEA BILLY Bookcase hack! With a bit of creativity and some DIY magic, you can transform these affordable bookcases into stunning built-in shelving that adds both style and functionality to your home.

Here’s how we took two BILLY Bookcases with OXBERG doors  and one smaller BILLY Bookcase to create a customised built-in look.

What you will need

Supplies For The IKEA Billy Bookcase Built In

For this IKEA hack, I first collected all the essential supplies I would need. Below, I’m categorising them into IKEA units and general supplies, along with links to purchase yours online.

IKEA Billybook case Units To Order

Here’s a list of the IKEA Besta Units I ordered:

Other Supplies To Have At Hand

In addition, here are a handful of supplies you’ll need:

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Step #1: Build the base

  • Measure the Wall: Begin by measuring the length of the wall where the bookcases will be installed. Note down this measurement accurately
  • Determine the Cabinet Width: Measure the width of the assembled billy bookcases. This measurement will help determine how much space the base needs to cover.
  • Cut the Lumber: Using the measurements obtained, cut the 2×4 timber into pieces that match the length of the wall. Ensure precision in cutting to achieve a seamless fit. We used a circular saw here but a hand saw would be fine.
  • Assemble the Base: Arrange the cut 2×4 pieces parallel to each other, ensuring they match the length of the wall. If necessary, attach shorter lengths of 2×4 between the longer pieces to provide support.
  • Secure the Base: Use a nail gun or screws to fasten the pieces of timber together securely. If preferred, you can also apply wood glue between the joints for added strength.
  • Check for Level: Once assembled, use a level to ensure the base is perfectly horizontal. Adjust as needed by adding shims or making minor alterations to the base structure.
  • Place the Cabinets: Once the base is level and stable, carefully position the assembled cabinets on top of the base. Confirm that they sit evenly and securely on the foundation.

Step #2: Prep work for the frame

  • Addressing Side Gaps: When placing the cabinets (without doors) onto the base, you might notice a small gap between the side of the units and the wall. To fill this gap, attach cut-down timber pieces to the side of the cabinets using a nail gun. Ensure these pieces are securely fastened and align with the wall. We also had gaps inbetween each unit so we followed the same process to fill these. If you have larger gaps you can build a structure like the base and attach to the side of the units.
  • Dealing with the Gap to the Ceiling: If there’s a significant gap between the top of the cabinet and the ceiling, create a frame using timber pieces. Nail-gun these timber pieces to the ceiling and the sides of the cabinets. This frame will run along the ceiling and down the sides of the cabinets, creating a uniform border around the units.
  • Creating a Frame Around the Units: Nail-gun additional timber pieces to the ones attached to the cabinets. This framing will surround the cabinets on the sides and top, providing a base for the MDF panels. (See image for reference)

Step #3: Creating the Frame

  • Measure and Cut MDF Strips: Measure the areas where the cabinets join, both horizontally and vertically. Cut 6mm MDF strips to cover these joining areas precisely. Use a saw if adjustments are needed for an accurate fit.
  • Positioning the MDF Strips: Align the cut MDF strips to cover the front-facing edges where the cabinets join together. These strips will create a smooth transition and conceal any gaps between the cabinets.
  • Nail-Gunning the MDF Strips: Use a nail gun to secure the MDF strips to the frame you have built and attach to the timber infills in between each cabinet. Ensure the strips are firmly attached and sit flush with the cabinets for a seamless appearance.
  • Masking Tape Technique: Consider using masking tape over the areas where the nails will be driven into the MDF strips. This technique facilitates clean hole filling with wood filler later on and maintains a neat finish.
  • Filling Holes and Smoothing: After securing the MDF strips, remove any masking tape. Fill the nail holes or gaps between the strips and cabinets with wood filler. Once dried, use sandpaper to smooth out these filled areas for a cohesive finish. Apply decorators caulk to edges of the mdf and the wall to create a seamless finish.

By adding MDF strips along the front edges where the cabinets join, you create a unified and polished look that disguises any seams or gaps, contributing to the built-in appearance of your bookcase project. This extra step ensures a professional and seamless finish for your DIY built-in bookcase ensemble.

  • Add Skirting to the bottom of the cabinets to complete the built in look

Make sure to apply filer to all the joins on the front of the frame and sand down smooth. Then apply decorators caulk to the sides of the cabinet to complete the built in look.

Step #4: Painting the cabinet

  • Prepare the Surface: Determine the desired shelf placements. Fill any extra holes in the bookcase with wood filler for a smooth finish. Once the filler dries, sand down the excess filler to ensure a flush surface.
  • Prep for Painting: Lightly sand the bookcase, doors, and shelves with 120-grit sandpaper. This step helps the paint adhere better to the surfaces. Wipe away any dust or debris with a clean cloth or tack cloth.
  • Apply Primer: Use a foam roller and a paintbrush to apply a coat of primer evenly across the bookcase, doors, and shelves. Zinsser BIN primer works well as it provides good adhesion and helps to cover imperfections. Allow the primer to dry completely according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Choosing and Applying Paint:  Select your desired paint colour. In this case, Craig and Rose Deep Adam was chosen to complement the room’s overall colour scheme. However, I would only recommend using furniture paint when painting IKEA furniture, so we opted for B&Q furniture paint colour match option.  Using a foam roller and paintbrush, apply two coats of the chosen paint colour evenly to the primed surfaces, allowing each coat to dry completely between applications.
  • Applying Topcoat for Durability: For added durability and a tougher finish, apply a topcoat such as Frenchic Tuff Top Coat. This step ensures a hard-wearing and protective layer over the painted surfaces. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for applying the topcoat and allow it to dry thoroughly.
  • Final Touches: Inspect the painted surfaces for any unevenness or imperfections. Touch up if needed and ensure a smooth and flawless finish.

By meticulously preparing the surfaces, applying primer, multiple coats of paint, and a protective topcoat, you’ll achieve a beautifully coloured and durable finish for your IKEA bookcase hack. This method ensures that your painted unit not only looks stunning but also stands the test of time in your space.

Step #5: STYLE

With a few simple steps and a touch of creativity, the IKEA BILLY Bookcase hack transformed ordinary furniture into a custom, high-end-looking built-in unit. This budget-friendly project not only adds style but also maximizes storage and functionality in any space.

So, why settle for basic bookcases when you can create custom built-ins that elevate your home’s aesthetic? Give this IKEA hack a try and watch as your space is elevated with your personalised touch!

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