8 IKEA Billy Bookcase Hacks—And Only One Is Designated as a Library

Mudroom shoe storage? Check.
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IKEA’s Billy bookcase series is about as iconic as they come. Right up there with the Tarva, Pax, and Lack products, these customizable (and stackable) shelving units allow them to seamlessly fit in any room. We’ve seen them used as mudroom shoe storage, a display space for kitchen plates, and, naturally, as an at-home library. Every model in the line also features adjustable shelves so you can fit anything from beach reads to extra-large vases. Among the aforementioned opportunities is the ability for them to transform into a built-in unit—a little finagling involving trim goes without saying.

Ahead, we look to the design creatives who took on the challenge of putting their personal touch on the IKEA staple. Read on for the eight best IKEA Billy bookcase hacks we’ve seen lately.

The Billy Bookcase Bar

Paint is easily the most popular tool people use to hack the Billy, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. When Rebecca Plumb set out to add a whole wall of storage to her dining room, she used the Swedish retailer’s popular bookshelves (they are the upper portion of the system) along with its Sektion cabinets (below) and swathed them in Sherwin-Williams’s Extreme Bond Primer. Then she proceeded with covering them in Oakmoss by Sherwin-Williams—an electric handheld sprayer proved to be her best friend. 

The Billy Bookcase Library

white library shelves
Courtesy of Elise Joseph

Elise Joseph was quoted a cool $3,000 when she began asking local Nashville contractors how much it would cost to build bookshelves in her home. So instead of spending a small fortune, she bought five Billy bookcases for a grand total of $295. For a truly built-in look, she and her husband added trim board in between the units and along the ceiling, filling in any gaps with caulk. 

The Billy Bookcase Shoe Cubby

blue cabient with shoes
Photography by Saritha Ashok

Saritha Ashok turned the fan-favorite find into family-friendly shoe storage by adding skirting boards to the edges of the bottom three shelves so nothing slides out, gluing arch-shaped MDF boards to the see-through panels, painting the doors blue, and wrapping the interior with faux wood peel-and-stick wallpaper. 

The Billy Bookcase Kids’ Closet

red cabinet lined with fabric
Courtesy of Maria Gilzean

Essex, England–based I.T. project manager Maria Gilzean crafted these wardrobes for her daughter’s playroom by picking up two units that come with the glass-paneled Oxberg doors. Next, she painted the doors with a wood primer and water-based acrylic paint before attaching them to the unit. To hide all the toys, books, and costumes, she purchased a little over 4 yards of fabric and turned it into panels, which she attached to the interior with clear drawing pins she picked up on Amazon. 

The Billy Bookcase Mudroom

entryway closet
Photography by City Farmhouse by Jennifer O’Brien

Jennifer O’Brien still felt like there was something missing from her three Billy bookcases after she had painted them a light beige hue. So she added architectural details in the form of arch silhouettes (also a paint job) to the top portion and pole wrap to the bottom half. 

The Billy Bookcase That’s for Styling Small Treasures

wood cabinet with rounded sides
Photography by Drew Scott for Lone Fox Home

Drew Scott of Lone Fox Home turned his bookcase into a nearly unrecognizable piece. Much like O’Brien, he used pole wrap as his primary disguise. But in this case, Scott wrapped the sides of the bookcase in the slatted wood material. Psst: To get that proper tubular look, he first screwed four half-moon plywood shapes on each end. 

The Billy Bookcase Kitchen Cabinets

Stephanie Lidin of Henrik June Home lives in a builder-basic home that was built in the 1980s, so it has awkward nooks and crannies to spare, one of which was this recessed nook in her dining area that was essentially dead space. The DIYer made use of it by filling it with custom drawers (that she constructed from scratch) and two tall Billy bookcases that now hold her dishes. 

The Billy Bookcase Armoire

cane wardrobe doors
Photography by Melanie Cooke

Design blogger Melanie Cooke updated her Billy with Oxberg doors and then bought 5-inch-tall tapered wood legs to give it a more wardrobe-worthy look. The cane webbing that she applied to the four rectangular panels with Gorilla Glue and the brass handles are both from eBay. Finally, she painted it with Farrow & Ball’s Peignoir color, bringing the whole project to around $270. 

Lydia Geisel Avatar

Lydia Geisel

Home Editor

Lydia Geisel has been on the editorial team at Domino since 2017. Today, she writes and edits home and renovation stories, including house tours, before and afters, and DIYs, and leads our design news coverage. She lives in New York City.