Hack your house’s charm with built-in Ikea bookcases

CoffeeCatDogKid | Hack your house's charm with built-in Ikea bookcases

Not everything is just how you want it when you buy a house—some of what you’re looking for you might find, but some you don’t. Kelsey and I absolutely wanted lots of storage for books in our house, and we both love how built-in bookcases look in those mid-century homes.

Our little rambler, built in 1955, is a mid-century home by definition, but it kind of lacks that architectural “character” you might have expected to see.

So we decided to add it. We’ve added new baseboards, some wall panelling, and several other touches throughout the house. But we had this one blank wall at the end of our rather long media/family room with a gnarly looking swamp cooler stuck in it. Actually, I’m pretty sure this is a window-unit swamp cooler that someone decided would be better if they just stuck it through the wall—and it was pretty awful-looking:

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We went back and forth on what to do here, but we absolutely wanted to get the swamp cooler out. We did that, and patched the hole up and went to work on what kind of shelving we wanted. We wanted built-ins—but they’re expensive. We almost settled on regular bookcases (i.e., not built-ins), until I stumbled across an IKEA hack for the standard IKEA Billy bookcases, and so we went to work:

1) We bought and assembled the bookcases. At $69 a piece, these were a steal:

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2) Trim wood from Lowes is not expensive. We bought five 1x8x6 pieces of whiteboard for between the cases, and two long 1x4s for the top and the bottom. We spent maybe like $60 on this wood. Then we nailed it to the bookcases (which we anchored to the wall, of course!):

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3) Next we added a little trim along the bottom to cover the gap between the cases and the carpet, and went to work painting. Of course, we couldn’t wait to get books on there and see how the finished product might look:

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4) And for a stylish finish, we went ahead and added some LED lights above each opening. These hook up to a WeMo Smart Outlet, and the cables run down between the cases. We can turn these lights on just by asking Alexa (Amazon Echo) to turn on the bookcase:

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All in all, we are absolutely THRILLED with the end result, and we finally have storage to start putting all our books out!

—Alec

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