I’ve always loved built-ins and they popped up several times in my Dream Home pin board when analyzing my decorating style, so I knew they were always something I wanted to incorporate into our home. When we first moved in we made a quick TV stand from an IKEA Kallax shelf, but I was never 100% happy with it. Our living room is small, and it just didn’t have a good focal point.
Good-bye old TV stand . . .
Hellooooo pretty built-ins!
I LOVE the way they turned out! We were able to finish them in a weekend for about $300.
IKEA Billy Bookcase Built-In Hack
Here’s the story…
There are all kinds of styles and ideas out there for built-ins. Originally, I was thinking we would just build them from scratch, making the shelves and cabinets ourselves. After more research and asking Jordon if he thought he could do it (he’s not a professional builder and has limited time and tools), I decided to look into DIY versions that we could piece together to make things a little easier. I found several tutorials but none of them consisted of everything I wanted. I wanted our built-ins to have cabinets for the TV to sit on and for storage, plus open shelving on the sides, and a top shelf above the TV.
In the tutorials I found online many people used the IKEA Billy bookcases. There are a few different sizes of the Billy bookcase to choose from. Because our wall isn’t huge and the built-ins couldn’t extend from end to end (it would cut off part of the doorway) I thought 2 single Billy bookcases would fit nicely, I just needed to figure out how to create the cabinets. The Billy collection did have the option to buy doors to attach to the bookcases, however, the doors were $40 a piece which would get spendy fast. That same day I was browsing IKEA’s site, I went to Home Depot for something else and ran into some pre-fabricated cabinets on sale. They were exactly what I was looking for and much more affordable than buying IKEA doors to create our own cabinets.
I drew up the design and Jordon liked the idea so we ordered the IKEA shelves and went back to Home Depot to pick up the cabinets. Just an FYI, the cabinets are 12 inches deep and the IKEA shelves are 11 inches deep but the difference didn’t bother me.
2 IKEA Billy Bookcases, $50 each
2 Home Depot pre-fabricated cabinets, $68 each on sale
3 inch moulding for base
3 – 1x12x60″ boards
For installation, we loosely followed this tutorial by Centsational Girl, but had to make our own adjustments and used trial and error along the way.
First, we measured where the built-in would stand centered on the wall and marked the area off so we could cut out carpet and remove the baseboards along the wall. To remove the carpet we just it out with a utility knife.
Because we decided not to use the original baseboard along the front of our built-ins because we didn’t have enough and I wanted it white, we didn’t have to be super cautious about not damaging the trim. We used a 6 inch pry bar to loosen the baseboard, starting near a nail hole. Be careful not to pry the bar into the wall because it will damage the drywall (to prevent damage, slide a putty knife behind the trim as you wedge the pry bar).
We raised the cabinets about 3 inches using 2×4 boards to create an illusion of a built-in. Had we not raised it, we wouldn’t have been able to run baseboards across the entire bottom because the cabinets sat lower than the bookcases.
We attached the frame into the wall studs and then screwed the cabinets into the frame.
Then we assembled the IKEA bookcases and lined them up against the installed cabinets. We used a small L bracket to secure the bookcases to the wall so they won’t tip. The bracket is small enough visually you can’t see it unless you’re standing back far in the room, but it can be painted white to disguise it.
We used a 1x12x60″ board and glued it on top of the cabinets for a nice platform for the TV, holding it with clamps until dry.
To create the floating shelf above the TV, we took 2 more 1x12x60″ boards and made pocket holes using a kreg jig. Then we used pocket screws to screw them into the IKEA bookcases, lining then up so the shelves are straight across. Without pocket holes, we would have had to mount the shelf using brackets which wold have been visible.
A little reminder to plug your TV in the wall and bring the cords around the back BEFORE you attach the 2 bookcases to the wall. We were all finished with the built-ins and went to plug in the TV when we realized we forgot to account for the cords. We ended up having to drill into the wall and shelf creating a crevice to run the cords.
For the baseboard, we used the only 3 inch trim we could find in Home Depot and screwed them in using small screws. To cover the gap where the shelves meet the cabinets, we used an edging that concealed it perfectly, using caulk to fill any seams. Everything got a fresh coat of white paint by Behr (what we used on all the walls in our home). We didn’t actually paint the IKEA shelves and found the whites to match almost identically.
Overall this project cost us around $300 in materials and we did it in one weekend. I’m soooo happy with the results! I can’t believe how good it looks and we were able to do it on a pretty small budget. The built-ins create a nice focal point that our living room really needed.
Related: IKEA Sofa Review – Gronlid Series