Built Ins Part 2: Assembling, Painting, and Visualizing

If you missed part 1 (the planning) check it out here.

In that post, I talked about how I’m planning on adding DIY built in shelves on either side the french doors in our home.  I’m going for the custom built-in look with Ikea Billy Bookshelves as a starting point.  This post will be all about how to paint Ikea billy bookcases, assembling them, and what color I painted the back of the bookcases.

SO. Before I get to the details, let’s start out with what we bought at Ikea: 3 Ikea Billy bookcases (one of them is the skinny one), and 2 Billy bookcase extender shelves.

Billy Bookcase Built Ins

Now…for how we got there.

I thought it would be fun to paint the back of the billy bookcases.  That way, the white of the shelves would pop more, and it gives it a more custom built in look.  It is a great way to update an Ikea bookshelf.

I decided on Mocha Accent by Behr for the back of the built-ins and Wheat Bread by Behr for the wall color.  I really like how white custom built in bookcases look with darker backs.

Billy Bookcase Built Ins 8

We had an assembly and painting party in order get the bookshelves ready to be installed.  I painted the back of the shelves before we assembled them so I didn’t have to tape and paint them when it was assembled.

For more tips on how to paint built in bookshelves, check out this post!

Q: How do I paint the back of the Ikea Billy Bookcase?

A:It’s easiest to paint it before you assemble them.  Be sure to use primer.  After that, it took two thin coats of paint applied with a foam brush to get a smooth finish.

This was the state of the office for way too long because LORD KNOWS Micah has an anti-DIY sixth sense that is triggered anytime he goes down for a nap and I try to get anything done. And then he wakes up and smiles when he sees me and my heart melts and I tell him he can take a 6.5 minute nap any time he wants because those smiles are so worth it.

Billy Bookcase Built Ins

Somewhere in the midst of it all, I got the room painted.  I didn’t bother to paint behind the shelves because hey…might as well not waste paint, time, and effort!  Yeah just say it…I was being lazy. Whatevs.

Billy Bookcase Built Ins

I didn’t like how the shelf adjusting holes would be showing.  Once I add trim, the shelves won’t be adjustable anymore so we don’t need the holes.  So I filled them with caulk, used a straight edge to wipe away the excess…and yeehaw…no more ugly holes.

For tips on how to paint cabinets, like whether to use a brush or roller, check out this post!

Billy Bookcase Built Ins

Since the top Ikea Billy bookshelf needed to be evenly spaced, we had to cut off the bottom.  So I just traced a line that marked the excess, cut it off using a miter saw, and reassembled it.

Billy Bookcase Built Ins

So here’s the current state of the office (with our junk everywhere…just keeping it real) #sorrynotsorry

By the way, can I get an amen for how randomly perfect the bookshelf dimensions are!?

Billy Bookcase Built Ins 9

The left bookshelf’s back was drying so that’s why it isn’t installed yet.

Next up: making these DIY Wall built ins truly custom looking.  We will start with installing the overhang, building bases, learn how to attach a built in bookcase to the wall, and add moulding!!

To view the rest of this project, check out     Part 1  |   Part 3   |    Part 4

For another Ikea hack project, check out this Ikea Rast Hack here.

Check out the web story for how to make custom built-ins using Ikea Billy bookcases here!


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  2. Love what you did. I do have a question, I just can’t seem to understand what you mean. “Since the top bookshelf needed to be evenly spaced, we had to cut off the bottom. So I just traced a line that marked the excess, cut it off using this table saw, and reassembled it.” Do you mean on the Billy extensions?


    1. Christine, I just found this and noticed your comment. The bookshelves come with a base on the bottom and it looks like that’s what she cut off. I’m wondering how much she had to cut off.

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