Sunday, January 7, 2018

Billy + Besta Ikea built-in bookcase hack

With a lot of space available in the lounge, we wanted to create some storage and have somewhere to put all our books. A quote from a contractor to build a custom bookcase came in above £1,000 and so we decided to do it ourselves using the ubiquitous Billy bookcase from Ikea.

Task number one was to build a frame to raise up the lower cupboards and allow for a skirting board to create the built-in look. Since this has to carry the weight of a set of cupboards, plus bookshelves and all of the books I reckoned better to over-engineer than skimp on wood!

Building it was relatively straightforward, getting it to be level in an old house took a bit longer to work through ;) After fixing it to the floor, the next step was to assemble the Ikea Besta cupboards before attaching them on top of the frame.

Now Billy bookcases are not known for their longevity which you will know if you ever try to move house with one! One trick is to use wood glue when assembling them for the first time to provide extra stability. In this instance to be sturdy enough (and safe!) they need to be fastened to the wall so I attached 3x large horizontal pieces of lumber to the wall and then bracketed the book cases to them. You may notice in the picture below that the Billy is positioned upside down. This is so that the step can be covered with coving at the top.

Note the additional wood on the side which the adjoining bookcase will screw into. Rinse and repeat...

...and things are really shaping up here nicely. The basic structure is in place and now it's all of the finishing touches to make it look like a single piece of furniture. There's a wooden board to place on top of the Besta's to match the height of the bottom shelf of the Billy's. The gaps between bookcases need covering up and a skirting board needs installing. Finally the architrave at the top and a vintage ladder provide the finishing touches.

This was probably our biggest Ikea hack to date and played out over the course of quite a few weekends!