My sister had several of them in a row, in cherry, in her apartment in Vancouver and for some reason seeing the impact of a wall lined with books in a practical bookcase, stayed with me. The wall felt decorated while still serving a purpose, and it showed off some of her favorite titles while revealing a bit about her.
She's certainly not the only one to take the Billy bookcase plunge!
According to an article by Tim Harford from the BBC World Service, 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy the Billy bookcase was created by an Ikea designer who sketched it on a napkin, so that he wouldn't forget it.
You get the picture; Billy is a big deal!
But maybe you're asking, what is it about this simple bookcase that has given it such timeless, global popularity?
Maybe because this inexpensive, easily assembled piece of furniture fits into any design scheme, it can become so many different things with just a little imagination, and it takes very little know how to repurpose-- even less money.
It's a DIY hacker's delight!
See for yourself...
A pool house gets a Billy bookcase bar that any swimmer can belly up to for a quick reprieve and some cold lemonade, as well as lots of space for paper goods and swimming supplies down below.
Here's what a family room looked like before REFRESH stepped in to help reimagine the space with a Billy bookcase wall feature...
Billy helps make the most of a plain corner and the impact is amazing! The couple had a baby on the way at the time, so we designed the new nook to house a Billy that would provide extra storage for the eventual toddler's books and toys. We wanted to make sure little hands could explore and reach all the goodies inside the lower cabinet.
Here's a living room that was lucky enough to have a fireplace!
But the homeowner wasn't sure how to style either side of it, so Billy to the rescue once again. Useable storage for games and a display shelf on top to get this family back in the family room game!
There was a lot we tried to do to make this living room feel renewed. Making a blah wall into a functional, yet stylish accent feature not only created an enticing backdrop, it helped hide the toys in a closed cabinet for this family with two young boys. With the toys out of sight, the Billy could display favorite books and tchotchkes on the top.
Adding some gold hardware instead of using the stock Ikea pulls, painting the back of the Billy's wall black, and reconstructing the bookcases into upper display and lower office storage, was the perfect answer for this contemporary office space. Isn't it so good!
Kell Modern's Lam Nguyen knows his way around the construction of beautiful furniture, but he can also take something as basic as a Billy and make it an upscale, repurposed piece.
I just knew he would be the perfect person to ask for tips to help you with your Billy.
In his words:
"First and foremost, the word HACK isn't totally accurate to the outcome. We're actually improving the overall construction and possibly altering the bookcases dimensions.
Bookcases and cabinets are simple boxes (casework) and you can use IKEA as a foundation to build upon.
Mixing IKEA melamine and painted surfaces can be tricky. It's best to get a piece of IKEA melamine and have the paint store do a match. You won't be able to see the difference with a good color matched satin cabinet grade paint.
If you wish to paint IKEA melamine, just use a good multi-surface primer before painting.
To finish it off use solid wood as decorative trim as long as the trims are made from solid wood. That's what's most important for daily wear and tear. For adjustable shelves, add a front trim piece to greatly help it from sagging over time.
Some minor gaps can be filled with caulk for that seamless look."
Now that you have Lam's expertise AND you have seen what can be done, you might be ready to try it for yourself!
Share your "Billy bookcase reimagined" trials, tips, and tricks in the comments below, or ask any questions you may have before you start.
I can't wait to hear how it goes!
See you in the comments friends... ;)