21+ IKEA Billy Bookcase Ideas & Hacks

ikea billy bookcase ideas

Get inspired with our IKEA Billy bookcase ideas, designs and hacks

Simplicity can sometimes lead to an iconic status, and that certainly is the case with the Billy bookcase from IKEA. It isn’t necessarily the product that you buy that leads to this status, it is sometimes what it can become. The price point and availability are the core attraction, the Billy bookcase is well built, sturdy and minimalist in design. However, the ability to carry out an ‘IKEA hack’ to this product is where the magic happens. In this post, I will reflect on the IKEA Billy bookcase ideas, designs and hacks.

There are many ways in which you can implement a ‘hack’ to the Billy bookcase…turning it into something very different. Think of it as a mannequin being dressed up. In fact, it is a very well-established practice where many people take pride in their little pet projects. It really is a thing.

At Houszed, we are big fans of furniture hacking…turning something very basic and available at low cost, into something rather special. With a wide variety of uses…toy storage, sewing room, it’s a great hack. The Billy bookcase is one of our favorite products to play with…and as you will see below, the results are absolutely stunning. As you will see, the IKEA Billy hack really is something special.

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21+ IKEA Billy Bookcase Ideas & Hacks
ikea billy bookcase design ideas
Ikea billy bookcase design ideas

These IKEA Billy bookcase hack ideas will leave you inspired…

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IKEA Bookcase Ideas
Ikea billy bookcase design ideas

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What is an IKEA Billy bookcase?

IKEA’s Billy bookcase is essentially a shelving unit that is often used as a book shelf. This Billy bookshelf usually forms the basis of something more elaborate, up cycling and adding value to deliver a bookcase makeover. It allows you to create a custom look without the hassle of starting your project from scratch. Normally used in a living room or family room, they make wonderfully impressive library walls or additional storage space, all at a fraction of the cost of it being custom made. A few DIY tricks and some time spent, you really can create something very impressive.

How can you hack an IKEA Billy bookcase?

There are many ways to hack an IKEA Billy bookcase. In fact, there is quite a significant IKEA hackers online community committed to up cycling basic IKEA products. What is a Billy bookcase hack? You can do it in the following ways;

Adding doors – You can make custom doors to give it a different look. For example, give it an industrial look by putting chipboard on a sliding rail. Alternatively, create a door frame, and use an interesting material as an infill. Glass doors can look stunning on these bookshelves.

Painting it – I have outlined the painting method below, but essentially, you can create a product that looks very premium, simply by using a premium paint.

Wallpaper – Simply putting a premium wallpaper onto the backboard can create a very premium look. Use this to match your existing wall paper or use it to create a contrast. The same principle can also apply with paint.

Shiplap – For that more traditional look, you can add shiplap as a backing. It will give a much more traditional look, especially if it is painted in a traditional color.

Trim – Adding trim or crown molding to the outside can drastically change how the product looks. Available at most hardware shops, it is cheap to buy but makes a real difference. Paint it in a premium color for a great finish.

Can you put doors on an IKEA Billy bookcase?

Yes, you can. You can either fabricate them yourselves for a custom finish…or you can simply buy them from IKEA. Either way they look great. Personally, I would look to create a custom door as it affords you the opportunity to design something very special. However, you can get a great glass door from their collection which looks absolutely stunning.

IKEA library ideas, can you use these?

Yes, IKEA’s Billy bookcase is perfect for creating a wall of shelves that replicate a library wall. As you will of seen in the images, they work very well. They look even more stunning if you add some doors a create the impression of different shapes. Essentially, you are replicating built in bookshelves.

How do you make IKEA Billy bookcases look expensive?

Many people buy the Billy bookcase as it provides a very solid and robust core frame to work around. This means you have a structurally sound basis to work on. To make them look expensive, you can add decorative trim around the sides. To really give your IKEA Billy bookcase a premium look, you should paint it to give it a premium finish.

In addition to painting it, you can add things to give it a premium feel. Consider adding premium handles to give them a unique look. You can also add legs to the bookcase . These are available relatively cheaply but they can dramatically change the look.

How do you paint an IKEA Billy bookcase?

Painting straight onto a laminated IKEA Billy bookcase is not possible because of the surface. If you want to paint it properly, you will need to be patient and do it properly. Firstly, you need to lightly sand the surface, in order for the surface to be rough enough to hold paint.

Prior to painting, you need to prime the surface using a quality primer. When this has dried, lightly sand and wipe clean. Your surface is now ready for the paint.

Your choice of paint is important. Latex paints will not look great, you are better using a chalk-based paint. This specialist furniture paint will cover better and is available in lots of premium colors. When complete, you may want to protect the paint by using a furniture wax.


I really hope that these IKEA Billy bookcase ideas have given you some great design ideas. One thing is for sure, if you opt for this bookcase, you are not short of options. There are plenty of tutorials online for a Billy bookcase hack that deal purely in ‘hacking’ this IKEA product. The important thing is to plan ahead, perhaps creating an ideas board to really focus your process. What’s more, the quality of IKEA furniture makes it an ideal for a Billy hack, and base to build your library wall, mudroom lockers, enclosed wall or IKEA bookcase.  

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Bookcase Ideas
Ikea billy bookcase design ideas

Since you are here…can I ask a favor?

It would be really nice if you could share this image and page on your social media.

It’s just a couple of clicks for you but it means everything to us here at Houszed.

Thank you so much!

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