Use IKEA's Iconic Billy Bookcases For A Fridge Budget DIY

If you've ever decorated and furnished your home on a budget, then chances are you're pretty familiar with the Billy bookcase from IKEA. These no-nonsense shelving units have been a staple for those who need storage space but don't want to shell out hundreds of dollars for something more ornate. Its simple veneer makes it easy to fit in with most home décor, which is why it has been a mainstay for the Swedish superstore since its release in 1979, according to IKEA

However, for the crafty DIY'er, these bookcases can also be refurbished to meet other storage needs, as demonstrated in a kitchen project taken on by lifestyle and DIY influencer Emma Hill. While renovating her countryside home in southeastern England, Hill utilized her DIY skills as well as the help of trained professionals to get the look she wanted. In the kitchen, this meant that she wanted her new refrigerator to be surrounded by a modern contemporary vibe while still sticking to a budget. 

This is where she decided to use the plain white Billy bookcases from IKEA to stand on each end of her refrigerator so that they could display her dishware. However, the sound of using simple nondescript bookshelves stuck on either side of a fridge might have you hemming and hawing. But with some creative thinking, Hill manages to transform these generic pieces of furniture and come up with a final result that will have you doing a double take.

What you need to turn your Billy bookcases into attractive kitchen storage

IKEA's Billy bookcases on their own are utilitarian, basic, and nothing really special. However, this unassuming piece of kitchen storage is just what you need if you are wanting to bookend your refrigerator, minus the books. In Emma Hill's renovation project, she used two tall white Billy bookcases to frame her fridge along with a smaller shelf on top kept up by some simple side panels, which she explained via her YouTube channel. 

The white shelves would be a glaring contrast to the modern darker gray elements that surround the rest of the kitchen, however — as she mentions in the caption of an Instagram post on the project — she had the entire bookcases wrapped in a vinyl cover which completely changed the look of the cases. Done in a gray faux wood finish, the vinyl wrap is placed over the shelf like an adhesive sticker. Then, using a heat gun, it adheres and wraps along the edges, resulting in a smooth and realistically textured finish.

You may also notice the addition of glass doors to the final product. Obviously, Billy bookshelves do not come with doors; however, Hill revealed that she dug further into the IKEA catalog and used a pair of Oxberg glass doors and affixed them to the bookcases. This adds continuity to the rest of the kitchen space, as well as a touch of class to the storage units and some added protection for the dishware.

Why this IKEA DIY hack can be perfect for your next project

The final results of these Billy bookcases being redone to act as storage beside a refrigerator are absolutely stunning. This idea can be especially useful if you live in a home with a smaller kitchen that doesn't have adequate storage. The cost to build your own kitchen cabinets or even purchase from a big box home improvement store can be pricey. 

So if you are doing some of your own DIY projects and have a close eye on your overall budget, then revamping pieces bought at IKEA — such as the Billy bookcase — can be a sure way to save money. The addition of glass doors is also the perfect way to instantly change the look of the storage unit. It takes the bookcase vibe right out of the equation and makes it seem more like a modern kitchen cabinet.

Although the vinyl wrapping is a great way to bring forth a new look to the basic white bookcase, you could always paint it yourself if you have a particular color in mind. This can further keep the budget low, however, because of the laminate material used for the bookcase, you have to ensure that you are preparing the surface properly. Light sanding will give the veneer texture so that a shellac-based primer paint can adhere without slick streaks. From there you can paint it any way you like to match the theme of your kitchen space.