10 Ways to Hack an IKEA Billy Bookcase to Look Like a Built-In

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IKEA's Billy bookcase is one of the brand's most well-loved products. It's a mainstay of the collection, and one of IKEA's most adaptable lines, coming in multiple finishes and sizes and having plenty of options for doors. On its own, the Billy is one of the most universal pieces of decor, making it prime for hacking. And one of the most impressive ways we've seen people hack the Billy is to actually make a series of them look like built-in bookcases. Let's take a look at the different ways you can make a Billy look like a legit built-in:

1. Add task lighting.

The most important step in hacking Billy bookcases to look built-in is to make them seem like they're one cohesive unit. Here, you can click through Instagrammer @marnieparkerdesigns to see how Billy bookcases of different widths were evenly spaced to create this effect. But to make the end product look truly library-like, task lamps were added to the top of each shelf, and the bookcase got a rolling ladder to finish it off.

2. Don't forget the moulding.

Even though this configuration doesn't have a wall-to-wall fitting, it still appears to be an architectural element thanks to the crown moulding added to the top.

3. Use the corner unit.

The Billy series actually comes in a corner unit, and when you add paneling to make it appear completely cohesive, you achieve a look that definitely feels custom.

4. Hit the ceiling this way.

The best way to make your Billy look like a built-in is to have the unit appear to extend from floor to ceiling. If you've got a gap between the top of the bookcase and your ceiling, you can attach paneling to achieve a flush look.

5. Or hit the ceiling this way.

Depending on your space, it might make more sense to build your Billy on a base (a desk or counter-like space or a row of drawers) to get the shelves to reach to your ceiling.

6. Got a fireplace? Use it to your advantage.

As this setup proves, part of making a Billy bookcase feel built-in is having a prime space in your home. If you have a fireplace, you've got a feature with built-in depth that will allow you to match the depth of your fireplace to the bookcase.

7. Float it.

One of the most impressive Billy hacks we've seen comes from @designsixtynine, who had the brilliant idea to raise the Billy off the floor.

8. Use color contrast and cohesion.

Look at how clever this Billy hack is: The fronts and moulding are painted in the same hue as the moulding around the rest of the room, making the unit seamlessly fit in. A totally optional but equally smart move would be to paint the interiors of your shelves a darker color to add depth.

9. Center your design.

One way to make your Billy configuration come off as professionally designed is to create some type of center anchor, whether that be a smaller shelf, a fireplace, or a TV setup.

10. Get crazy custom!

Adding curved panels of plywood and topping them with mouldings or flourishes will definitely fool anyone into thinking your unit is way more fancy than it actually is.


Leonora Epstein is Hunker's Senior Director of Content. She has previously served as Executive Editor at HelloGiggles and as BuzzFeed's Deputy Editorial Director. She is the co-author of "X vs. Y: A Culture War, a Love Story" (Abrams, 2014). Feel free to reach out at leonora@hunker.com.

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