I am so excited to be able to share with you more information on my built-in bookcase project that my sweet father-in-law, AKA Mister, built for me last month.  I am not really a DIY blogger, so if you are looking for a step-by-step on how these were built this probably isn’t the post for you; however, if you are looking for some inspiration for how to make a beautiful statement piece for less then you are totally in luck.  I am going to share all of my thought and design process with you guys as well as a breakdown of what everything cost at the end.  Would you believe me if I said this entire piece cost me around $600 in materials to build?  You will have to read on to find out!


First a little history of this project.  If you recall, there used to be a very large white antique buffet along the wall where the bookshelf now stands.  I bought the piece when we were first moving to the South from Minnesota thinking that I wanted something ornate and antique to go along with my new southern digs.  Here is the problem, while the piece was absolutely beautiful, it never was truly my style.  I should have just stuck to what I know and love and been true to my design aesthetic rather than trying to be something I wasn’t.  Lesson learned.  I always found myself being really drawn to images of clean-lined, large scale bookshelves on Pinterest and in magazines.  So long story short, after months of thinking about it I finally pulled the trigger, sold the buffet and got to work on designing and planning my bookshelf.


In an effort to keep costs down and the work that my sweet Mister had to do to a minimum, I decided to try my hand at my first IKEA hack.  The hubs said I could build my dream bookshelf as long as it didn’t cost more than what I sold the piece of furniture for, so I was on a mission to do this as easily and economically as I possibly could. I had seen lots of posts on people who had used the Billy bookcases from IKEA to serve as the base of their built-in project and I always thought that was a good idea.  So I headed to the IKEA website and ordered 4 of these Billy Bookcases in white and had them shipped to my home.  Did you know you could do that?  We don’t have an IKEA in Nashville, but I was able to order them from the website and then they arranged home delivery for me.  Easy-peasy.  I drew a sketch of what I was looking for on a piece of paper and discussed my vision and how I wanted the final project to look with Mister during one of his visits to stay with us.  He then headed home to his workshop and drew out the plans that would bring my bookcase to life.


We had a door on one end of the bookshelf wall and a window on the end of the wall, so we could not build them truly wall-to-wall, so we created a look that looks like a large custom built-in along that wall.  I knew that I wanted the bookshelf to be as high as the door trim, so we knew that we were going to have to build a base to create the height that we needed.  Once the box was built, we were able to sit the assembled Billy bookcases directly on top of the base.  Before I go any further, we need to discuss Billy bookcase assembly.  I am quite certain that Mister wanted to kill me when we started reading through the assembly instructions for the Billy….at least it made for some good Insta-stories.  If you have any level of familiarity with IKEA flat pack furniture, then you know that assembly can sometimes be quite the pain.  Luckily Mister is the best and he soildered on with a smile on his face.

Once we had the bookshelf on the base and space the way they needed to be, we (I am using the royal we here) added a header board and crown molding to the top of the shelves to finish the look.  Mister also included a piece of lumber that filled the space in between each of the bookcases.  You know I could not live with all of the little adjustable holes that come pre-drilled so he filled each hole with a product called Plastic Wood, sanded it down and then painted the entire bookshelf white.  Have I mentioned he is a SAINT?  As you know, most IKEA pieces are laminate so they require a really good primer to ensure that the paint sticks to the surface of the laminate well. He used Zinsser Oil Based Primer and Sealer and then we painted the entire thing Velvet White. Velvet White is actually a Porter Paint color, but I just took my swatch to Sherwin Williams and they were able to color match it for me.  He used an oil paint from Sherwin Williams because the finish is smoother and harder.  Oil paint is what is typically used for trim work and we wanted it match the finish of the trim work and to have the durability that oil paint provides.  Also to note, he hand brushed, rather than used a roller, both the primer and the paint.



The only real splurge on this project was the lights, but I was willing to spend a little more on those. Remember, lighting is jewelry for your home and I have a real love affair for Robert Abbey lighting. I’d been eyeing them for quite sometime in hopes of one day soon having this bookcase built. As you recall, Steve said I could spend whatever money I made selling that large piece that once sat in that spot. So I took that money and bought the lights from this really great design studio in Nashville, Redo Home + Design. Oh, if you haven’t been in there, you really should. My gal pal and uber talented designer friend, Lori Paranjape gave me the push and helped me decide to pull the trigger on these bad boys. She really didn’t have to twist my arm AT ALL. She’s so good and knew these were just my style. Thanks, Lori! Did I mention she’s a hoot and you should she the projects she works on. I die. Definitely one to follow on Instagram. Trust me.

The lighting was actually fairly simple to install.  We have outlets in our baseboards so he just pulled the wire up and placed two junction boxes behind the bookshelf.  He then put outlet covers over those and the lights actually just plug right in to those. Easy peasy.


The total cost of materials for the bookshelf was $632.99. And you can’t put a price tag on sweet Mister’s time + attention to detail + amazing skills and love he has for his favorite daughter-in-law. Well, he only has one and never had a daughter, so maybe that has something to do with it. At any rate, here is the breakdown in cost of materials.

Ikea Billy Book Case- $79.99 each x 4= $319.96
Lumber Yard | Trim + Baseboard – $38.46
Home Depot- $241.08
Sherwin Williams Paint- $33.49



For me, this is the BEST part. Hunting and gathering items to fill these beauties with is the most fun. As you can see I’m not quite finished and I will certainly share when they are complete. But for now, here’s what I gathered from pieces I already had around the house. I am going to do a whole post on styling my shelves later, but here are some of my favorite sources for things to style shelves with. Try your local HomeGoods, Marshall’s, or visit my home collection with Painted Fox– so many things from there I’ll be pulling. Oh, and another favorite, West Elm.  I have sourced some of my favorites down below.

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March 17, 2017



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Absolutely gorgeous! Thank you for sharing.


I hope you kept your Insta story videos of mister making these from start to finish because they are GOLD! Not only are the hilarious but oh so sweet at the same time. What a wonderful father in law you have ❤️


looks amazing!!


They turned out soooo amazing!! I so loved the insta stories on the mister. What a gem!! You are so blessed to have such a sweet father in love!!! 💕


So excited I have talked my husband is creating these beautiful book shelves in our living room/ study. He loves a project so it hasn’t that hard!


Hi!! Love these! Would you mind sharing where you got your woven shades on your windows? I love the color! Thanks!


Could you share where you bought the woven shades with me as well? Txs!

Reply to  Vicki

Budget Blinds! All my selections are here – https://budgetblinds.com/design-inspiration/livingwithlandyn/


Winner, winner, chicken dinner! I think you just helped me fix a dilemma that I’ve had in our home, and we’ve lived here for ten years. I want to rip out the 60’s bookcases, they really aren’t even that good looking. Painting them helped me like them for a few years, but any attraction they had is gone, done! But hubs is all "what will go there?" too narrow for furniture, and we need some shelf space. I’m going to show him this; I think he could pull this off. Thanks again girl for sharing!


How tall is the cutout on the bottom?


Amazing and looks so custom. I love the clean look. Came across your blog doing a google search,




This is gorgeous. We are attempting a similar project. It looks like you didn’t use the backing board that came with the Billy’s? It appears you just have you wall as the backing. So is there a 1/2” space between the wall and each shelf? Does that bother you? Do you wish you had done something different to avoid that? Thanks!

[…] have to see this IKEA bookshelf hack that looks like beautiful custom bookshelves. It only cost $600 and it’s by far the best IKEA […]


I love the simplicity of this design. Thank you


I just lost my comment so sorry if it is a repeat.
Looks great so I am starting to make a set.
Would it not be easier and cheaper to have the panels (sides top bottom and shelves ) cut out from chipboard by some precision cutter and then just glue and screw them together? You could get the height exactly as you wanted it and not have to fill and sand 40000 holes with plastic wood.
You could also use a single sheet foer the back rather than the flimsy folded sheet Ikea provide.


Wonderful- thanks for sharing this hack

Mike Farrell

Are the back of the cabinets your wall or did you use the cabinet backing?

Reply to  Mike Farrell

Hi! We used the cabinet backing on the billy bookcase !

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