BILLY gets a style overhaul on a budget

My wall of built-in bookshelves aka my favourite IKEA hack gets revamped using pastel paints, upcycled ornaments and postal tubes... yes you did read that right!

BILLY Bookcase Hack

Since I set up this blog, over half the traffic has arrived looking for one particular project... my built-in BILLY bookcases. They're been featured in national newspapers, interiors magazines and on lots of websites including the IKEA Hackers official website (possibly the one I'm most proud of as it's the the Holy Grail for IKEA Hackers like me). However, while many were still excited to see them, I was getting bored (I just can't help it! I'm never as happy as when I have a paint brush in my hand!) so a style overhaul was in order for this wall of shelves and I decided that this time the styling was going to be even more tube-tastic than the last IKEA hack I did which incorporated strong postal tubes into the sides of the cabinet and the backs of the shelves.


The changes to these built-in shelves were only cosmetic this time round and really straight forward to do. It involved changing up the colour palette, I went from white (a colour match for Farrow & Ball's 'All White') units with dark green ornaments (all painted in a colour match for farrow and Ball's 'Bancha') to a peachy, pastel palette comprising a colour match for Farrow and Ball's 'Setting plaster' inside the shelves with a pale minty / grey green on the outside of the built-ins. This shade was a PR simple kindly gifted to me by the Decorating Centre Online and its called 'Deep Breath' from their Wellness collection 2022.


How I restyled the shelves on a budget

I know I'm always going on about this, but I think it's really important...you don't need to spend loads of money to create stylish, unique interiors that most importantly, you love spending time in. In fact, I've just written a whole post dedicated to my 10 money saving home decor hacks which you can read here. We all love flicking through interiors mags and scrolling through instagram and it's easy to feel a bit pressured to spend lots of money keeping up with the latest trends, but I would say... don't! I mean, if you love something then of course you should buy it, but not because someone else says it's 'the thing' to have this month. With a bit of thought and planning you can easily create a beautiful space without spending much money at all and the best bit is the process is really fun as you can thrift, upcycle and repurpose.

The first thing I did with this shelf restyle, was to ‘shop my home’ which basically means rounding up accessories you already own. I'm a big fan of moving ornaments from room to room as it keeps things feeling fresh without adding to the clutter.


I then went on to paint the green ornaments I had previously displayed in these shelves. I used a combination of the colour match paints that I used on the shelves themselves along with a pale green grey called 'Retreat', also from the Decorating Centre Online's Wellness collection and I used up an old Farrow and Ball tester pot of 'Dix Blue' to add another hue.

Homesense bargains

Once I knew what I could reuse I went bargain hunting in one of my favourite shops, Homesense. I knew I wanted curved, tubular or round shaped items to tie in with the round mirror, coffee table and of course the tubes! And to help balance the hard edges of the (very rectangular) shelves.

I wasn’t worried about the colour of the accessories as I knew I was going to be doing a lot of paining to bring the whole look together so I was able to choose reduced and bargainous (not sure that's a word!) items, see below for a selection of the treasures I found. These five items only cost £32 in total, not bad eh, although a couple of them were met with much disdain when I shared them on my instagram stories! As I always tell people, you have to trust the process! Can you spot them after they've been painted, in the final pic in the gallery below?


Postal tubes to create textured cabinet door fronts.

The other obvious change was to add the tubular detailing on the doors which I did using strong postal tubes. See below pictures of how I adapted the end caps to fit inside the end of the tubes to create a flat end.

For this project I kept the postal tubes whole for maximum effect, whereas previously I had cut them in half lengthways. I really wanted them to stand out in their full tubular glory!


I painted the tubes with hardwearing matt emulsion as I've found this to be the best method (after much experimentation with priming and PVA alternatives). I glued the tubes to the doors with grab adhesive as if I decide to remove them in the future the glue residue can be easily removed with a hammer and scraper combo (I was prompted to test this too, after a right old palaver of removing the same glue from walls with much less success!).


I still need to add door handles but am struggling to pick some as have found too many I like and have decision paralysis so will edit this post once I've found some and feel free to suggest any in the mean time.

Upcycled Vase to DIY Lamp

I made the below fun lamp from a vase I'd bought last year from Dunelm and a ceramic shade I found in a charity shop. I added a remote control battery operated puck light and it became a small stylish lamp without any cables messing up the look of my built ins!

I probably had a bit too much fun with this DIY project, but that's the great thing about decorating in your own home you can make it as mad as you like and luckily Mr D approves!




I updated the rest of the room in parallel with the built-ins, but will do a separate post on the rest of the decor decisions as I'm conscious I've been waffling for a while now! I'll pop a link here once I've written it, in the meantime subscribe to my mailing list if you don't want to miss it.


Thanks so much for reading. I'd love to keep you up to date with future DIY, decorating, interior styling and upcycling projects, if you would like to receive my (not more than weekly & no spamming I promise) emails then please subscribe by scrolling down to the box at the bottom of the page.


Don't forget to check out some of my other DIY blog posts which are linked below

DIY Hacks how to repair plasterboard walls

DIY Hacks - Painting

IKEA Hack - Billy is my hero

5 tips for a successful IKEA hack

IKEA Hack - you HAVSTA try this one!

IKEA hack - BRUSALI cabinets to bespoke looking alcove built ins for under £150

Renter and budget friendly flooring - Floor Pops for the win!

5 perfect pink tiles you'll love

Bargain DIY stair runner - step by step tutorial

Upcycled pantry shelves of joy

Budget bedroom makeover to beat the lockdown blues


...and why not pop over and give me a follow on Instagram too.

Feel free to share this with anyone who enjoys a good IKEA hack, or just wants to transform their home without spending a fortune.


Thanks again.

Claire