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 ...and thanks for stopping by. I'm Claire Douglas,  DIY and home interiors writer specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for some of the leading titles, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course

  • Claire Douglas

Billy is my hero! IKEA BILLY bookcase hack

Updated: May 12

IKEA Hack – How I turned IKEA’s famous BILLY bargain bookcases into bespoke looking built-ins for under £350.

wall of built ins using IKEA Billy bookcases

How I created my IKEA BILLY Bookcase hack

  • I built the flatpack IKEA BILLY bookcases and stood in position before fixing them securely to the wall. (Be sure to use the appropriate fixings for your wall type)

  • Then I made a strip wood frame in the gap between the top of the bookcases and the ceiling and attached the mdf sheet to the front of it to fill the gap. (I have included more close up pics of the frame I made on a similar project recently in this article…IKEA HAVSTA hack)

  • I glued mdf strips over the joins between the IKEA BILLY bookcases and to the shelf fronts to give a thicker appearance and filled the gaps down the sides of the wall. (I use no more nails glue usually as it’s so quick to set)

  • I added a skirting board to the unit's base to hide the individual bookcase bases.

  • I filled in all the pre-drilled shelf holes to get rid of that ‘flat-pack’ look and filled all the gaps and joins in the mdf panels with polyfiller.

  • Once dried, I sanded the mdf and filler to give a smooth finish and applied two coats with mdf primer.

  • The final step in this IKEA BILLY Bookcase hack was to paint the whole thing ready for styling.

Styling on a tight budget

I’ve been picking up cheap or free vases and ornaments from Facebook marketplace for a while ready to fill the compartments without breaking the bank. I also painted some vases I already had to give them a new lease of life. I cut foliage and greenery from the garden to help fill the gaps and to give a more natural and rustic feel. I’ve picked up a few bits from some online shops recently too and paired with some antique books that have been passed down my husband’s family to create an interesting mix of old and new colour and texture. I created some concrete style canvas art for a few pounds by covering art canvases (bought cheaply from the high street) in polyfiller to give an interesting texture and then painted with left over emulsion.

Restyle alert

I then recently gave the shelves a restyle using a tester pot of green paint and trialled a monochromatic scheme (below) what do you think?

If you like this then be sure to pop over to my latest post IKEA hack gets a style overhaul where I show you how I completed the latest style overhaul (below)

How much did the IKEA Billy bookcase hack cost?

4 x 80cm wide BILLY bargain bookcases at £35 each

4 IKEA Oxberg doors at £20 each

Materials to ‘build in’ the shelves (MDF sheet, strip wood, strong adhesive, skirting and filler from B&Q) approx. £60

I reused some mdf strips that I had left over from a previous panelling project - approx. £20

MDF primer - £20

Colour match emulsion from my favourite Decorating Centre Online - £21.99

Total Cost £341.99 saving literally thousands compared to the cost of floor to ceiling bespoke joinery for a wall that size.

Safety note: Remember to use a stud finder before drilling into a wall to attach your Billy bookcases as they can identify the presence of wires or pipes.

If you like reading this article today, please subscribe for updates (no spamming I promise!) & why not give me a follow on Instagram where I share loads of IKEA hacks, Upcycles, DIYs and interior styling.

I’ve always dreamt of having a wall of built-in bookcases in my living room but didn’t have room in the budget for bespoke carpentry, so like many other home improvers before me I turned to IKEA for help!

If you are an IKEA hack fan, I've just added a new post with my 5 top tips for a successful IKEA hack... & if

you are always painting something dont miss my post where I share 5 DIY hacks for painting!  

Where next?

Click the underlined words to go straight to the relevant page!

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Online Courses - Self-paced, affordable online courses on DIY, Home styling, upcycling and styling with flowers and foliage

Foraging - Guides to help you save money by foraging for flowers and foliage to style your home

IKEA hacks - transform basic IKEA flatpacks into bespoke-looking furniture to elevate your interiors

DIY Kitchen makeover on a budget - money-saving DIY and styling ideas

Real home tours - take a tour of a beautiful home and get inspired by reading the owner's story.

Home organisation - tips and tricks for organising your home with minimum fuss & maximum impact.

DIY tips and tricks - Advice to save you time and money and reduce the chance of mistakes on your DIY projects.


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D. K.
D. K.
Jun 01

Fantastic! Sometimes, IKEA here in Sweden has these big sale days where they offer huge discounts or sell off their last remaining items. Whenever I see that they're having one of those sales, I get so excited and rush right over. I always end up coming home with new cushions, pillows, little bits of furniture, you name it. I just can't help myself when IKEA's stuff is marked down so low! Those sales are just too tempting for me to pass up :)


Jan 03, 2023

Love this! Where in the UK did you buy the MDF strips? I’m having trouble locating some the right size. Thanks in advance!


Iggy Romford
Iggy Romford
Feb 11, 2022

Love it! How did you make the thicker shelves? Is it just an mdf strip on the front or did you wrap the whole shelf in MDF? Thanks and

Unknown member
Feb 12, 2022
Replying to

Thanks! I just stuck MDF strips over the edges of the shelves to make them look thicker. It was super simple to do but quite effective hopefully.


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