Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Nitty Gritty on the Bookcase Project

So how did we get from this...

to this?

This post gives the details of how we did it.  Click here to see all the before and after pics.

As soon as we decided on the Billy Bookcases from Ikea I made a sketch of the room.

Then we measured the room and added those measurements to the sketch.  Then using the bookcase dimensions which I got from the Ikea website I started to draft where and how many bookcases I could fit on either wall.  I started at the corner because it was the trickiest.  You have to measure accounting for the angle.  When you put the bookcase on an angle in the corner you lose space behind the bookcase so you can't just do a straight measurement from wall to corner.  It took me a few tries before I figured out the best configuration maximizing the wall space.

The next step was to place my order online.  We chose to order online to take advantage of having the boxes delivered.  They charged us $100 to deliver 23 boxes of bookcases.  If we had done it ourselves it would have been at least 2 trips with 2 cars and 3 kids and so after adding up gas and time and treats to keep the monsters at bay the delivery fee seemed not so bad:).  

The Billy system uses 2 basic bookcases.  A skinny one that is just under 16" wide and the standard shelf unit that is 31.5 inches.  They are both 79.5" tall.  We used the combination of these two sizes to cover both walls.  

We also decided that we wanted a true library look so we also purchased the Billy bookcase extension unit for each bookcase.  These add another 14" to the top of the base bookcase.  Since our ceilings are 96" this would get us within 2" of the ceiling.  Eventually, we plan on adding crown molding to cover the gap.

Once all the boxes arrived it took my husband about a weekend to put everything together.  The instructions are fairly straightforward and all the hardware comes in the package.

Ikea sells a kit for making the bookcases go around the corner at the proper angle.  It was $5.  In the end we didn't end up using it because we couldn't get the base of the bookcases to fit into it just right.  I think it may have been because we put the bookcases on top of carpeting, and it just wasn't level enough for the piece.  The smaller piece in the kit is used to pull the top of the bookcases in the corner together so that there is no gap.  We also did not use this because we were using the extension shelves.

The extender bookcase would not have sit flush if we had screwed in the metal piece into the base bookcase and once the extender was up the space between the ceiling and the shelf was not big enough to get the drill into.  So for now we have a small gap between the two corner shelves.  I have been brainstorming on how to fix this and as soon as I figure out a solution I will let you know.

The picture below shows you how the height extension units (as Ikea calls them) fit onto the base bookshelf.

The blue arrow is the plastic screw thing that attaches to a peg that you put into the top and bottom of the two shelves.  The green arrow is just pointing out where the two book cases meet.  As you can see it is barely noticeable.

One of the other things we did was to cut holes for the electrical outlets.  If you are adding bookcases on all your walls you don't want to block your outlets.  We just measured and cut a hole in the backer board that comes with the bookcases.  The backer board is fairly flimsy and easy to cut through. 

The other thing we added to our bookshelves was one set of the Billy doors.  Since this room is not exclusively a library I knew I had a few unsightly items that I would want to hide with some doors.  The door kit was really easy to install as the screws go right into the peg holes for the shelves.  

I should also mention that we did install the included wall brackets.  The wall bracket is just a metal piece in the shape of an L that attaches the bookcase to a stud in the wall.  Obviously, with kids around you want to make sure that these are not going to tip over on top of anyone.

In the future we would love to add some molding to the tops and sides of the bookcases to give it a more custom look but for now we are just really happy to have our books out of the moving boxes.

All in all this was a pretty easy project and cost us just under $900 including delivery.  I recommend that you take a peek at the Ikea website to see all the combinations and accessories that come with this Billy Bookcase system.  They have different doors, different colors, a ladder, bookends, etc.  that can give you a pretty custom look without the custom cost.

~Gold Shoe Girl~

I should mention that I was not paid by Ikea to do this post.  All content and opinions are my own.


  1. Excellent. Terrific site which I found by accident looking for realistic plastic candles to put in a sunny conservatory. Wax ones just bend and melt.

  2. Take the extensions off, attach the silver strap to join the extensions and then put the joined extensions on top of the units. Good luck :)


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