This IKEA Hack Turns Havsta Units Into a Stylish Built-In Bookshelf Wall in a TV-Free Living Room

This relaxed living space was designed with 'non-digital entertainment' in mind, and the bespoke built-in bookshelf is all thanks to a thrifty IKEA hack

A living room with built-in bookshelves
(Image credit: Bea Copeland)

Living rooms are rarely designed around one particular wall, but that's exactly what the DIYer behind this IKEA hack decided to do. After discovering an old window cavity that she reinstated during her home renovation, Bea Copeland decided to make her freshly lit living room wall the star of her space, and a built-in IKEA hack was the obvious answer.

Keen to design a TV-free living room purpose-built for relaxing and enjoying the company of friends and family, Bea wanted a bespoke wall-to-wall bookshelf to frame her new window. With the help of IKEA's HAVSTA units, a lick of rich, creamy paint, and some dedicated DIY, she created custom storage that looks seriously stylish. Also in the market for a library-style bookshelf? Here, Bea takes us through the steps involved in her clever IKEA hack, and we're pleased to say it's easier than it looks.

A living room with built-in bookshelves and a red patterned rug

(Image credit: Bea Copeland)

Bea Copeland (@bea.copeland) has been documenting her home renovation journey on Instagram after buying a property that had laid derelict for nearly ten years. 'This living room was one of the last projects and when we opened up the wall to replace the electrics we saw the rough opening for a window that used to be there, so it made sense to put it back in,' she explains. 'All of sudden that wall became a sort of feature wall. It just made sense to make it into a sort of library.' She decided to make her new space a tech-free zone, but you could also adapt her built-in idea as a way to hide a TV.

With a vision for wall-to-wall shelving encasing her pretty new window, Bea considered a completely custom built-in. However, without the budget or the time to commit to a full DIY project, she settled for the next best thing - an IKEA built-in hack. To bring her idea to life, she used four HAVSTA shelving units and a HAVSTA sideboard, the latter of which forms the shelf below her window.

A living room with parquet flooring and built-in bookshelves

(Image credit: Bea Copeland)

'For the most part, it was a straightforward build, but I did skip the baseboard on that center sideboard unit so that it would fit under my window,' Bea explains. The rest was just a case of building the flatpacks, joining them together, and anchoring them to the wall.

Then it was time for the fun part - decorating. Rather than choose a statement color to make the shelves pop, Bea opted to match her shelving idea to the rest of her millwork - but first, she had to contend with the IKEA furniture's dreaded veneer. 'I had to roughly sand it, prime it, and paint it which was quite an ordeal because I didn't do it right the first time,' Bea explains. 'I thought I could go in straight with paint but it peeled off.' We always recommend Zinsser's B-I-N shellac primer, available from Amazon, to create a smooth surface for your paint to adhere to.

Once she'd prepped her surface, she went in with Benjamin Moore's shade Maritime White. 'That color is also what I used throughout the whole house as trim, so I used it on the bookcase for that real built-in look,' she says. 'It just elevates it a little more and makes it feel more custom.' Continuing that trim color throughout makes it seamlessly blend into the wall and with the window trim for shelving that looks like it's always been part of the original foundations.

A close up of a bookshelf with a nook for vinyl storage

(Image credit: Bea Copeland)

'It provides an opportunity for decorations and collections - it's where I store my books and vinyl,' Bea explains. 'The fact that the vinyls fit in there feels like a real win. This is a living room but there's no TV; this room is all about non-digital entertainment, so the vinyl storage was all part of the plan.'

Now, her wall is the focal feature of the room, but also her whole house. 'It's one of the first things you see and I'm interested to see how I can customize it going forward. I've considered wallpapering the back of the shelves or adding doors to it.' As far as living room DIY projects go, it's safe to say this one is a success.

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Color & Trends Editor

Lilith Hudson is the Color & Trends Editor at Livingetc. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.