Ikea Billy bookcase hacks – 12 stylish ideas to elevate this versatile piece

Take your IKEA Billy bookcase from basic to brilliant with these high-style hacks

Ikea billy bookcase hacks turned into blue library wall
(Image credit: @s.e.w.athome)

Large pieces of statement furniture don't need to break the bank. And, these inspiring IKEA Billy bookcase hacks are the perfect case in point. With a little creative know-how, you can transform a basic Billy bookcase into a beautiful showstopping piece that truly elevates your interiors.

From upscale display units to practical yet pretty mudrooms, we've rounded up a host of top IKEA hacks that will throw new light on the humble Billy bookcase.

Best IKEA Billy bookcase hacks for a cheap and chic transformation

Planning a DIY project but need a little inspiration? These designer-worthy IKEA Billy bookcase hacks are all the incentive you'll need to get started...

1. Fashion a stylish display cabinet

Ikea Billy bookcase hack display cabinet by @crack_the_shutters

(Image credit: @crack_the_shutters)

If proof were needed that the Billy bookcase is a versatile piece that you can elevate to a super-chic piece of furniture, then this it. Jen Rothbury, of @crack_the_shutters (opens in new tab), created a beautiful display cabinet with her IKEA Billy bookcase hack for a fabulous hallway idea.

She explains: 'I decided to use a Billy bookcase with Oxberg glass doors as it was the perfect size to fit in a gap we had on our landing and would make a perfect linen cupboard/display cabinet.

'Firstly, I gave it all a sand down to take off the shine from the laminate finish. We used 6mm thick MDF and cut out arches for both top sections of the glass and then used decorative reeded pine moldings cut to length along the bottom half of the glass doors. 

'We used No More Nails adhesive to stick the MDF and moldings, caulked the gaps, primed and painted in Craig and Rose Dried Plaster, and added new handles from Plank Hardware.'

2. Create an incredible library wall

Ikea billy bookcases turned into a blue library wall

(Image credit: @s.e.w.athome)

If you're blessed with ample space, creating a library wall is a decadent living room idea.

'When we first saw the scale of this room we knew it deserved a library wall,' says Sarah from @s.e.w.athome (opens in new tab).'But being over five and a half meters wide, we also knew we couldn't afford fitted cabinetry, so we took seven Billy bookcases with height extenders and Oxberg doors, and we set to work. 

'We decided we didn't want to use the back panels so that you could see the wall color behind, and as a result, we flipped them upside down so that the backs of the height extenders were hidden at the bottom of the bookcases. This also gave us something to fix coving to at the top. 

'We built a plinth to raise the bookcases up high enough to add skirting to the bottom, and we then added molding between the vertical joins. In preparation for painting them, we primed them with Zinsser BIN primer and then used a furniture paint for the color. 

'To finish them, we chose antique brass pull handles, and I finished them off with some colorful tassels. It was a fair bit of work but we saved a fortune and we're so happy with the end result.'

3. Transform Ikea Billy bookcases into a sleek and stylish mudroom

Ikea billy bookcases turned into a white mudroom

(Image credit: @henrikjunehome)

Steph @henrikjunehome (opens in new tab) turned being left with a garage-load of IKEA Billy bookcases into a fortuitous event.

She says: 'When we moved into our home, the previous owners left a garage full of Billy bookcases for storage. This area became the primary way we entered our home, so, shoes, jackets, gloves, helmets, leashes - you name it - were stored on open shelves here. 

'As you can imagine, a family of four with a large pup can accumulate a lot of stuff, which leads to an eyesore of a view with open storage. So, to keep it all at bay, I bumped out the Ikea Billy bookcases and secured them to studs. Added height extenders, Oxberg doors, and bins to contain the chaos. 

'Following this, I added a bench, floating shelves, and budget shiplap to finish the look. The shiplap cost $30 in total to make. I am a beginner builder, and learned how to do this from the YouTube and Instagram. So, all in all, I would say this is a do-able DIY. Now, we have a catchall spot that holds all the shoes, all the necessities, and all the chaos... All behind closed doors.'

4. Make built-in shelves with two IKEA Billy bookcases

Ikea billy bookcases transformed into built-in shelving in blue living room

(Image credit: Melanie Lissack Interiors)

With metallic wallpaper and lighting - and some creative styling - the Billy bookcase can be taken from basic and bland to a thing of beauty, as can be seen with this innovative living room storage idea.

Melanie Lissack, of @melanielissackinteriors (opens in new tab), explains how she created the look: 'The wall width that I had to work with was 175cm and as the Billy bookcase is 80cm wide, I knew I had space for two of the bookcases. I purchased two of the cheapest versions of the Billy available for £35 (in white, the wood-effect ones are more expensive) as I was going to prime and paint the bookcase in the same color as the walls to make it look like it was built for the room, rather than the fact it was really two cheap flat-packs!

'As the ceiling in this room is really high and I wanted to make the most of the wall space, I also purchased two of the 'Billy Height Extension Kits' to get in another level of shelving. The total cost at the Ikea checkout for what I required for this hack was £100.

'I knew the bookcase was definitely going to have two things - some wall lights down the center of the bookcases and the back of the units wallpapered in a cracked-gold wallpaper design by Harlequin via Style Library. I set about building both of the Billy Bookcases (without height extensions at this point) up until the point where the shelving needed to be added in. So basically it was just the outer structure, middle strengthening shelf, and the backing board.

Ikea billy bookcase turned shelving unit in living room

(Image credit: @melanielissackinteriors)

'Once they sat against the wall nicely I needed to make sure they were in the perfect position to be secured into the wall with raw plugs and screws. I was going to be adding in these gorgeous plug-in wall lights by Spark & Bell so I added in a piece of timber the width of the lights between the two bookcases going up to the position of where I wanted the bottom light to be placed. 

'This timber would help secure the bookcases together, while also providing a base for the decorative molding I was going to be adding on top. So, I now had my two basic Billy bookcase structures with the central timber, which I then secured to the wall for safety and as per the Billy Bookcase instructions. I then wallpapered the backing board of the shelving unit in Eglomise by Harlequin to give the bookcase a different look.

'I built the two height extensions units then papered them while they were on the floor for ease, then secured them on top of the Billy bookcases.

'At this point, I needed to make sure that the lights I was adding in the center of the bookcase were threaded in before adding more timber in the center going up to the top of the bookcase. The lights were made bespoke and I asked for a really long cable with the switch way down near the plug. Before screwing the bookcases to the wall I had threaded through an electrical extension bar so that the lights could be plugged in around the back of the bookcase.

'The main structure of the bookcases were now built, wallpapered, and had a central timber bar down the middle with the lights threaded through. I added in the rest of the shelving and then it was time to 'pimp up' the bookcase to look detailed and bespoke. I did this by using a number of decorative moldings and beading, all of which I purchased from Wickes DIY stores for about £2-£7 each.'

5. Construct a chic kitchen cabinet

Ikea billy bookcase turned into a black kitchen cabinet

(Image credit: @ouracaciahome)

Because bookcases can make for great kitchen storage ideas too!

'When searching for the perfect display cabinet for our dining nook, we wanted something that felt high-end and embodied a timeless, traditional design,' says Katie of @ouracaciagrovehome (opens in new tab). 'After hours of searching and considering different cabinets from interior design companies, we came to the conclusion that the best way to make what we wanted was to build it. And that’s where the IKEA Billy bookcase came in. 

'We added legs, primed and painted the entire bookcase, attached beadboard to the back and added custom features, panes, and hardware to give it a more high-style look. We love the way it turned out and couldn’t have found anything better for this space. 

'By transforming this Billy we saved ourselves hundreds of dollars. It’s amazing how pieces of furniture can make a house feel more like a cozy home, and that’s just what this Billy bookcase did for us.'

6. Add contemporary wall units around your fireplace

ikea billy bookcase turned into contemporary black wall units

(Image credit: @house_to_home.interiors)

For a modern, sleek storage idea, take a basic IKEA Billy bookcase and elevate it with new handles and modern black paint.

Carolin Friese, Interior Stylist at @house_to_home.interiors (opens in new tab), says: 'We wanted to add some contrast to the large open space and decided to go with this bolder, but still calming, Ikea Billy bookcase, cement fireplace and cozy furniture combination.

'We changed the handles and the contractor added the header and molding so it looks custom. We used another smaller unit for the extra material, and painted it matte black for an on-trend finish.'

7. Craft beautiful built-in alcove shelving 

ikea billy bookcase turned alcove shelving in the living room

(Image credit: @prettyprospectcottage)

Fitted alcove shelving can be very expensive but, with an IKEA Billy bookcase hack, it's affordable as well as stylish.

'I've always wanted built-in alcove shelves, my previous attempt was quite right and didn't give the finish I wanted,' says Liz @prettyprospectcottage (opens in new tab). 'So I knew I needed to think outside the box to make it work on a tight budget.  I managed to find two slim billy bookcases on Facebook marketplace, they were a bit damaged but I thought I  could make them work. 

'I made a raised platform for them both to stand on, at skirting board height, out of CLS timber screwed securely into the back wall and a piece of MDF. I put the bookcases on top and fixed them to the wall with small blocks of CLS timber and metal brackets.

'To make them look fully built-in, I made a frame surround for the bookcases using molding that matched the paneling details elsewhere in the room.  I added a piece of skirting board along the front bottom edge and had a strip of timber cut to fit the gap in the middle.  

'I used wood filler to fill all of the shelf adjuster holes and any other gaps and gave the whole bookcase a sand all over.  I then painted them to match the walls and finished them with a coat of matte varnish.'

8. Showcase a stunning fluted vanity unit in your bedroom

Ikea hacks

(Image credit: @the_house_acc)

Get a celebrity-worthy dressing room with this high-style IKEA Billy bookcase hack on a low budget.

Robyn, of @the_house_acc (opens in new tab), created this stunning fluted unit for a totally covetable glow-up.

She used two Billy bookcases and two Ikea Oxberg glass doors to create the ultimate Ikea hack. Robyn used Frenchic Paint's Black Jack for the doors before adding reeded adhesive film by @glassfilmseurope to create the on-trend fluted glass effect.  

See exactly how she did the hack in her Stories highlights (opens in new tab).

9. Elevate the IKEA Billy bookcase with a modern rustic shelving makeover

Ikea hacks

(Image credit: @mrs_macs_home)

Ruth of @mrs_macs_home (opens in new tab) is a dab-hand when it comes to Ikea hacks, and we love this clever Billy bookcase update and how it gives the opportunity to add so much texture and interest into this neutral living room

'We first removed the skirting board so the units could go flush against the wall,' says Ruth. 'We had to raise the bookcases to accommodate the height of the skirting so attached adjustable kitchen plinth feet to each unit.

'Once all the units were in position and correct height , we glued and screwed the units together and anchored them to the wall. Then simply refitted the skirting board to finish.'

Just add books, glassware, oversized bottles, logs, rattan baskets, and objet d'art for a super-chic modern rustic finish.

10. Transform a Billy bookcase into a boho-luxe rattan kitchen dresser

BILLY bookcase hack

(Image credit: Kathryn Hawkes)

With a little imagination and a lot of rattan roll, you can take an IKEA Billy bookcase from boring to showstopping. Add Oxberg doors and replace the middle section with the rattan. Then paint the dresser in your color of choice, before filling it with all your beautiful ceramics.

11. Create arched shelving for high-end built-ins

Ikea billy bookcase hack turned into arched built-in shelving

(Image credit: @firsthouseonfinn)

'Firstly, we had to figure out how many Billy bookcases and how many height extensions we would need for our space,' says Rachael, of @firsthouseonfinn (opens in new tab). 'For our nine-foot ceilings, we needed two height extensions per bookcase, so a total of four Billy bookcases, and eight height extensions. It took a day just to put all of these together.

'For the front face and arches, my husband used 1/2 inch MDF because it was so cheap ($20/sheet). Looking back, he wishes he used a product that was easier to work with, like plywood, although it is double the price. The MDF tended to tear out instead of cut cleanly.  

'To make the arches, he laid out the spacing on a sheet of MDF and cut two circles out using a router and a circle jig. Once the two holes were cut, he cut the MDF down the center to get a total of four arches. He nailed the arches to the bookcases, reattached the crown molding at the top, and then applied filler and sanded to make everything smooth.

'I chose the color Cinnamon Sugar by Magnolia, and decided to try a full monochrome look for the first time. We painted the walls, trim, baseboards, - everything but the ceiling - in Cinnamon Sugar. This really made the Ikea bookcases look like they were true built-ins. We did some sanding on the bookcases before we painted, and a coat of B-I-N primer.

'Finally - and this is definitely my favorite part of any project - the styling. I purchased new chairs from Target, my dream rug, and lots of new decor to fill the new shelves.'

12. Produce a cool wall-mounted display unit

Ikea Billy bookcase hacks wall-mounted display unit

(Image credit: @designsixtynine)

Would you believe this design-driven wall display unit is a collection of IKEA Billy bookcases?

'I wanted to create a wall-mounted storage/display unit but without the costly price tag,' says Malcolm of @designsixtynine (opens in new tab). 'With IKEA Billy bookcases in mind, I measured the wall to see which configuration would work best to fill the space. 

'Two 800mm and two 400mm bookcases are mounted over four 600mm kitchen bridging units. These are secured into wooden batons, which are screwed into the studs of the wall. 

'The bookcases rest on these (upside down, with the top removed) and are in turn screwed to the wall. The joins are covered with wooden molding and the base plinths (which are now at the top) are covered with a crown molding. 

'The whole thing was given a coat of Zinsser primer and painted the same color as the wall to help blend it into the room.'

Ruth Doherty is a lifestyle journalist based in London. An experienced freelance digital writer and editor, she is known for covering everything from travel and interiors to fashion and beauty. She regularly contributes to Livingetc, Ideal Home and Homes & Gardens, as well as titles like Prima and Red. Outside of work, her biggest loves are endless cups of tea, almond croissants, shopping for clothes she doesn’t need, and booking holidays she does.