Our Take on the Ikea Billy Built-in Bookcase; Slight Eco Twist :)

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Very excited to share a little project that has given our family plenty of fulfilment this past week or so. Around Monday I decided that the continual destruction of our playroom to the point of seeing no carpet had to stop. The children need better access to their toys and deserve a dedicated play spIkea Billy Built-In Bookcases in Australia (2)ace that they can enjoy! This was the message frequently my head when I came across an outstanding idea to turn ordinary Ikea Billy shelving into mock built-in units with thanks to Centsational Girl’s blog post and further inspiration here.

Tuesday night and my dear devoted husband took little Mstr 4 on the 3hr return rive to the big smoke to purchase some stock standard Ikea Billy bookcases. Now the better option would be buying second hand, locally or both but we just haven’t had any success finding anything locally that fit our needs for size. Our wall is 2.85 metres long! . Ikea themselves have a quota of eco cred or they are at least trying; actively working on steps to improve their sustainability (you can download their sustainability goal document here) and have some credible professional relationships to boot.

In any case we set about measuring and making a list of the additional supplies that we would need to add character and style to our bookcases. One of the great ideas things that gave heart and soul to our little project was our visit to the local restorer’s barn or demolition yard. This place is a treasure trove where I recently found 2 beautiful doors one of which got new life as my desktop; on this visit however the pièce de résistance was a gorgeous old piece of weathered rustic looking crown moulding. Be savvy though; it is indeed just like on the TV shows where you either may need to haggle or just watch that you are being charged the price that is written on the item and not more for being a rookie 😛 I saved around $80 on topamax to buy online new pricing and found something stunning to boot.

We enlisted the help of our trusty (qualified) mate to assist in bolting the shelving to the wall, removing our existing architraves and securing the shelving to each other. This was sweet time where Mr 4 got involved [after requesting his ‘building costume’ and work belt from his own Voila Wooden Toy Workbench].   Check out the pics where all of our family members play as the shelves take shape 🙂 Super cute!

 After some hard work, here we are with our reclaimed timber crown moulding attached, straps over the joins of the bookcases and the architraves beautifully relaid around the unit.

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You can see the beauty of the reclaimed crown moulding.

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In this shot, the importance of paying an hour or so to a qualified builder to ensure that you mitre joins and architraves are neat – that is if like ourselves you are suitably skilled to DIY.

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This is one picture of a PITA job: masking up the backs of the shelves for painting. You can skip this step, but it makes a huge difference as you will see in the final shots. If you use the cheaper quality beige masking tape you can’t really leave it overnight – or use quality and it makes things less stressful. I used beige and learnt a lesson. Be precise with this step, or indeed make your life MUCH easier and paint the backs prior to construction. I had read this suggestion elsewhere and ignored it not wanting to interrupt DH who was enthusiastically building. Another lesson in a great project! Once masked I highly recommend a smooth surface sealant like the sweet folk at Geelong Colourworld provided. This product ensures that the paint will actually stick to the glossy surface of the bookcase backing.

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Quite late at night by this stage and the first coat of colour goes on. Everyone else getting ready for bed, but I’m pumped to keep at it and get the 2 coats of colour on before painting the straps white. Wow what a difference the full colour makes! I recommend thinking a little over this colour because it has as big an effect as a feature wall. Liking this colour: it is Resene Kumutoto.

Just before closing DH also snuck down to Bunnings and had a lovely gentleman help him with woodwork filler and a great paint match on the crown moulding. That way I would keep the original shabby/rustic looking feature piece as the star and match the white on the straps to it. I went for a low sheen/flat finish to match the old moulding, too. DH took the following photo before heading to bed at around midnight. He then text it to my Mum, saying “Busy busy busy, nice when kids are sleeping, Pip can get down to work’ LOL.

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By around 1.30am – Finished! Worth all the effort too, me thinks. But what about that pile of toys? I spent some drying time making a rough pile of items, finding puzzle pieces and long lost bits of this and that. I also ate leftovers, and fed the baby in her sleep. Here’s a rough pile I had together at that point:

Voila! By morning time I had removed all the masking tape and filled the unit with toys ready for our Saturday family gathering. I can’t stop looking at it and so very happy with it.

Ikea Billy Built-In Bookcases in Australia (10)This evening we remember something else that we had wanted to add and popped up a bunting we had in storage. Super easy to make if you have a spare afternoon, and really adds something magical to the room. Hope that you have enjoyed my account of a little project and remember that style doens’t have to mean flashy and new – and that supporting local business, visiting second hand stores, op shops and restoration yards often yield the most wonderful additions to your home. Of course as the saying goes; what I love most about my home is the people I share it with.

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8 Responses to Our Take on the Ikea Billy Built-in Bookcase; Slight Eco Twist :)

  1. Avatar
    Centsational Girl August 13, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

    Wow, that looks amazing! I love how you incorporated the skinny and wide together, bravo, what a great looking bookcase you made! Glad I could be of some help!

    • Avatar
      Pippa Buxton (@littleeconest) April 21, 2014 at 5:29 am #

      Thanks so much Kate, your input means a lot xx It has ended up being super functional and we are very grateful for the motivation from you!

  2. Avatar
    Gina September 23, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    You guys did a fantastic job! It looks wonderful!!!

    • Avatar
      Pippa Buxton (@littleeconest) April 21, 2014 at 5:31 am #

      Thank you so much Gina! I really appreciate your kind words. We love and we are so happy that others like it too 🙂

  3. Avatar
    karlee January 26, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

    Love it….I too had seen the idea through the Centsationals blog too….I wanted to ask you a Q if that’s ok…..Roughly how much did it end up costing you?

    Bravo to your team ( DH ) and yourself on a job well done….

    • Avatar
      Pippa Buxton (@littleeconest) April 21, 2014 at 5:33 am #

      Sure thing Karlee; sorry to keep you on the figures – has been a mad year or so since the new blog format launched. It was around $750 Australian including the materials and the time for the carpenter to do the stuff that needed a tradesmans eye.

  4. Avatar
    Bec August 1, 2016 at 8:38 pm #

    Hello, just thinking of painting my Ikea Billy bookcases and feeling a bit braver now I have seen your gorgeous project! I have a few questions – did you sand, what primer, paint and paintbrush did you use and how has the paint stood up to the test of time (and kids?!)
    Thanks VM

    • Pippa Buxton
      Pippa Buxton August 1, 2016 at 11:21 pm #

      Thanks Bec so much for your comments. We roughly sanded the upcycled items and used a primer and eco paintbrush just from our local specialist paint store <3 It has definitely stood the test of time for ourselves and the kids xx Painting the actually billy shelves themselves might be less successful, we only painted the backboard and our upcycled components and they are wood so very different to the texture of the shelves. Cheers, Pip.

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