DIY Built in Shelving Unit

This post has taken me forever to write, mainly because I just didn’t know how to get started, but I wanted to show everyone one of our latest projects. We took a space in our rather boring living room and turned it into built in bookcases.

Here’s a before and after comparison, the difference is even better in person, our room looks bigger and I have more space for books… always a plus.


It was actually a lot easier than I anticipated. Since we purchased this house in 2009 I knew that little cove would be a great place for a built in but I’ve wavered back and forth for a few years on them. I saw this tutorial at Centsational Girl but didn’t have any spare bookcases laying around. Later I saw this tutorial also from Centsational Girl using Ikea bookshelves and it finally clicked, I could do that!

I’m not going to worry about giving you exact measurements for this project because everyone will have their own space to work in but let’s just say I spent a lot of time on the Ikea website working with my measurements and making it all fit.

The image below shows which bookcases we purchased from Ikea.
A. Billy Bookcase 31.5 x 79.5 in white = $59.99
B. Billy Wall Shelf in white = $40
C. Billy Bookcase 15 x 79.5 in white = $39.99
D. BestA shelf unit in white = $70
I’ll give you one warning the white color between the BestA and the Billy cases is not the same. There is a very minor shade difference but I’m just banking on no one looking that closely.

I painted the backs of the shelves before we put them together, but then changed my mind on the color and went with a darker purple. Painting the backs wasn’t horrible once they were in the shelves but I highly suggest you get the color you want the first time and paint them before. We also painted the section of the wall behind the tv and the top shelf to give it a cohesive feel. You can see the color difference between them when you look at the lettered picture (above) and the finished pieces. Or you can see a comparison on our instagram page when you follow us.

Because the two bookshelves had a 4 inch “trim” piece at the bottom and the tv stand shelf did not we had to raise this shelf 4 inches to compensate. we did it by attaching 2x4s to the front and back with L brackets.


After the shelves were all in place we secured them to the wall. The shelves include brackets for this but we purchased more to be extra safe and make them 3 year old boy proof.

Next we put up a 1×1 piece on each side of the wall and the top so we could attach the outer trim. Owen helped when not distracted by cartoons hence why the tv is already in place. He was not overly happy that our tv decreased by quite a few inches when we moved the bigger one to the basement and replaced it with the current version, but he’s gotten over it.
Owen Helps1

I loved the look of the second shelving project by Centsational Girl but wanted a more full built in look with having our shelves go all the way to the top of the ceiling. I could not find a top shelf to purchase that fit just right so we purchased one long pre-finished white board and cut it to size to form our shelves. These pieces were then attached with an L bracket at the top front and the back bottom so as not to be seen.


After that we attached the trim pieces on all four sides and I applied a coat of white paint to bring it all together. That’s it!Finished


We spent $210 on the shelves from Ikea and then another $110 on paint, L brackets, trim and the additional shelving boards. $320 for a custom great looking built in was money well spent in my opinion. Now I just have to style them, any suggestions??



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4 thoughts on “DIY Built in Shelving Unit

  1. Pingback: Working on it Wednesday 8/14/13 | At Play Blog

  2. Pingback: 80 DIY Shelves for Your Home | Rilane - We Aspire to Inspire

  3. Pingback: Working on it Wednesay 6.15.14 | At Play Blog

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