Use This IKEA Trick To DIY A Library Shelf

IKEA furniture is well-known globally, and Statista reports that the retailer has expanded to more than 450 stores worldwide, accruing a brand value of $21 billion. According to IKEA, a BILLY bookcase is sold in one of these global retail sites roughly every five seconds. The unit costs $49 for a 40 cm model and $79 for the 80 cm variety, making them a staple in residential homes all around the world. The spacious shelving addition is cost-effective, sturdy, and easy to build. The IKEA Hackers note that the BILLY bookshelf provides perhaps the perfect base model to use as an alteration piece. 

You can build a home library that truly shines with a few of these units, additional shelves, materials, and elbow grease. It is entirely within the skillset of most homeowners, and turning a set of simple BILLY bookshelves into a home library is easier than you might think and will create the perfect, customized space for your home office or lounge space. IKEA Hackers lays out a fantastic walkthrough that's simple to follow and will yield a phenomenal built-in library unit that perfectly complements any home office or entertainment room. It can also work for any other gathering place in the home that can benefit from the stylistic and aesthetic addition of your book collection. 

Bookshelves are a staple in the IKEA range

A bookshelf is a versatile storage solution and a décor element that many homes display prominently, whether they hold books or other items. And although a constant in the modern household, most people aren't getting the most out of this shelving unit. But we can help you change that if you peruse the bookshelf options in the IKEA catalog. The retailer sells a massive volume of these units, so there are some great options available, and you can reformat them to the designs of your home. 

For inspiration, turn to the IKEA Hackers; they extensively use these bare bookshelves and extenders, and the result looks professionally installed. The IKEA foundation makes the build an affordable addition to any home. With some paint to finish off any bare sides, you can elevate the aesthetic of a simple yet highly functional bookshelf to a whole new level. Transforming your IKEA bookshelf into a new and fundamentally more beautiful custom piece will give you a unique satisfaction that is hard to find anywhere else.

Measure your space and start sketching the installation

Measuring the space you're seeking to alter is crucial when engaging in a DIY project with the help of some strategic IKEA purchases — or when building this type of installation from scratch. IKEA furniture comes with specific instructions on fabrication and standard measurements, so if you don't measure the space that will house your new creation, you won't be able to determine the number of pieces you'll need for the build.

You may also be lucky enough not to require many cuts if you, for instance, scale down some aspects for a snug fit into corners. However, you can't be sure unless you measure the space and compare your build site with the specifications found online, in-store, or in the instructions booklet that comes with the flat-packed furniture. Along with measurements, the IKEA Hackers suggest that you use the IKEA graph paper to collect precise dimensions and draw out the layout of your finished library shelving unit. Graph paper is a great asset and can help you keep the material lengths, and the spacing constraints squared away.

Visit IKEA and browse the online collection

As reported by the IKEA Hackers, it's best to make a few trips to your local IKEA outlet and browse the catalog of shelving options and additions online before making any purchases. As with any home improvement project, spend as much time as you need planning out the final designs of the element before committing to the purchasing phase. This gives you the leeway necessary to alter the structure and design of the furniture piece and change your mind on the color of the paneling that you'll be incorporating into the project.

The great thing about the IKEA showrooms is that nearly any product available for purchase is assembled somewhere in the store, allowing you to see how well it will complement your other furniture pieces. This gives you a great sense of the scale and utility of many shelving units and other furniture items that may be useful to your customization project.

Finalize your design and make the purchases

Buying pieces of furniture from IKEA is one of the most exciting moments when constructing your new shelving unit. Sourcing the materials makes the project come alive, and it places you one step closer to the finishing line.

The IKEA Hackers DIY build used three BILLY bookcases: one 80 cm wide unit, and two 40 cm wide units as the primary feature. In addition to these, they sourced a BESTA frame, five GNEDBY units (5 x 202 cm), eight OXBERG and three LAPPVIKEN doors, a MALM desk, and a set of BILLY extenders (four pieces of the 80 cm unit, seven pieces of the 40 cm unit, and three pieces of the 40 cm unit that were cut down to fit the gaps created in the assembly). IKEA Hackers reports that the total cost, including some tertiary parts, hinges, extra shelves, etc., came out to $866. The homeowners also included a ladder to round out the look and create an intimate home library setting with an extra flair of personalization and novelty.

Take care of a few upfront tasks first

The IKEA Hackers note their starting point with the timber frame to create a platform for the build. However, the true beginning of this project is a step or two before the installation of the framing elements or the fabrication of the bookshelves that will be transformed.

It's good to clean up the space in question before you begin building anything. A clean workspace won't throw any curveballs that can create injuries or issues later in the fabrication process. Debris on the ground, for instance, can lead to an uneven installation in the most extreme of circumstances, forcing you to remove the elements and start over. It would also be best to take a few initial pictures to compare the space to the finished product. These pictures are a great way to commemorate your progress in the home, but it is also crucial for notating electrical sockets and any other essential hookups that might be covered over by the build, via Kaufman Lumber.

Lay the frame and start building the unit

Once you've measured, purchased the required IKEA furniture, and measured again to ensure a perfect fit, you'll want to remove the skirting boards or baseboards that run along this portion of the room. This alteration will help fit the shelving directly up against the wall. You will also need to construct a frame that will sit underneath the IKEA additions, according to the IKEA Hackers. With the inclusion of the framing underneath the shelves, this change will create a built-in look that elevates the aesthetic of the library in tandem with other personalizations.

You'll also need to paint the frame, and this can be done either before laying it down and fastening it into place or afterward — timber from your local hardware store will accomplish this task perfectly. The IKEA Hackers report that they attached the main bookshelves directly to the wall behind the unit and the frame underneath to provide maximum stability.

Add in essential extras to complete the look

The DIY hack by the IKEA Hackers showed that the expert in charge of constructing the library shelves had some carpentry experience and tapped into this expertise to create a trim piece around the upper portion, as well as used a router to cut out a simple design along the length of the trim. You can opt to include similar flourishes in your build. A trim added in a different color can make the whole unit pop with an accent that runs along the entire installation span and is a welcome addition in many instances.

The IKEA Hackers build also included false drawers, a set of doors on the upper portion of the unit, and other extras (like the library ladder) to bring together the finished product. You can use all or none of these added features, opting for something more intricate or straightforward to suit your style and existing home amenities. You have the freedom to experiment and personalize your IKEA furniture to go far beyond the limits that you might expect when you walk into an IKEA store for the first time.

Fill in the finished library shelving

The final step in the IKEA Hackers' library bookshelf centers on adding personal touches to the newly built structure. Adding this installation around a TV or as a unique addition to your home office can make for a personal backdrop to everyday life. Placing your books, decorative belongings, and pictures on the shelves is a fulfilling final task in constructing this fantastic storage and decorative unit.

The addition of a sizeable library-style bookshelf might prompt you to fill out your existing catalog of books with new and exciting titles yet to be read! The IKEA Hackers state that the most challenging part of the project was the initial design phase. Fitting the designed units into a space in your home that exhibits its own dimensions and spatial needs can be a challenge. Still, once the fabrication is completed, the end product is a gorgeous addition to any home that can support a vast library, many dozens of picture frames, trophies and awards, or even a home wine collection.