Victorian Glam Doesn't Require Vintage Purchases With This IKEA DIY

Crafty Goths, we've got a DIY for you. In a recent video, YouTuber @DIYDanie shared a re-hack of her IKEA Billy bookcase. Previously, she had transformed these stand-alone units into a row of shelving with the look of a built-in bookcase. With some creative rejiggering and a bit of woodworking know-how, she added an ogee-shaped cornice to each, but they were still missing something. Using a combination of WoodUBend accents, floriated corbels, and fluted trim, she transformed the flat facade into an ornate Victorian one. 

This hack takes a bit of time and skill, but for anyone with a love for dark academia in your home decor, it's a project you can personalize to your taste. With tips from @DIYDanie, you'll have your own neo-Gothic bookcase that looks like an authentic piece from the 19th century. Follow along, and we'll show you how.

How to DIY a Victorian Gothic IKEA bookcase

The basic BILLY bookshelf from IKEA is a versatile, square case — tall, narrow, and available in a variety of natural wood tones (don't worry about the color — you'll be painting it anyway). Pick up two to four separate units to fill an entire 6- to 8-foot wall. Once you assemble your shelves, follow this step-by-step guide from A Carrie'd Affair to customize the cornice into an authentically Victorian shape — an arched opening mimics a grand building in the classical revival style, or if you're a confident woodworker, you might opt for a take on a swan's neck pediment for a look straight out of Kensington Palace.

Next, it's time to find the trims you want to add to enliven your facade. Take a look at WoodUBend products to find trims to place along the cornice. @DIYDanie also adds strips of wood between each unit, to which she attaches similar trims to mimic a foliated Victorian frame or fluted column. The Victorian age was all about ornate carved wood, gilding, and excessive decoration, so don't be afraid to go bold. Once you've attached your decorations with wood glue (or the adhesive which comes with the product), it's time to paint!

Painting your Victorian bookshelf

Before you paint your shelf, the surface must be prepared. Sand the case and any wood ornaments with a fine piece of sandpaper or sanding sponge. Then, apply a primer specifically intended for wood interior surfaces. Try this primer from ECOS paints. Once your primer has dried, you are ready to paint. Try period-authentic Victorian colors like navy blue or rust red. Or, for a modern Gothic touch, go for all black with fine gold gilt accents. Wise Owl Heavy Metals is a great, durable gilding paint available in bronze or gold dust shades.

You can paint large, flat surfaces with a roller or wide brush, but make sure to get all the tiny crevices in the ornamental parts of your bookshelf with a fine-tip brush. Once your shelf is all painted, you may consider adding a top-coat to protect any gilding. An oil-based polyurethane will yellow over time, so we recommend going with a water-based formulation. Once your shelf has dried, it's time to decorate it with colorful bound books, or spooky touches like a crystal ball or brass lantern.