Who DOESN'T love a great set of built-ins? Some people have homes that are just dripping with amazing character because they have built-in bookcases, china cabinets, desks, or random other cool nooks and crannies. I mean, just look at how cool these pictures are:
Well, if you aren't one of those lucky folks, and you have major built-in envy as you stare around at your cookie-cutter home, I have the perfect solution for you. FAKE THEM! Hello?! It's like a boob-job for your home. (Totally NOT promoting boob jobs!)
When I first bought my house, we didn't have any cool built-ins, BUT, we did have two big open spaces on either side of our fireplace. At first, we had a glass and steel bookshelf on one side, and a small media stand with a big old TV on it on the other side. And it remained that way for a few years. Sigh.
So a few years ago, I came across this awesome IKEA hack (okay, the term "hack" is debatable because, am I really changing the function? no, but whatever) on the blog, Centsational Girl, to turn IKEA's Billy bookshelves into faux built-in bookshelves.
Sadly, I don't have a great "before" pictures because I started this long before I knew I would write about it.
Well, here was my chance, so I pulled out a measuring tape, and lo and behold, on each side of the fireplace, we could EXACTLY fit in 2 of the 31.5 inch" wide and 1 of the 15.75" wide shelves! YES! It was a sign from Heaven that this project was meant to be!!!!!!
So, here's the deal. At the time that I started this project in either late 2012 or early 2013, IKEA was still making the 31.5" wide Billy bookshelf in the 15" deep option (this has now been discontinued), but the 15.75" shelf was only available as 11" deep. Now, 15" is a good depth for a bookshelf that is actually going to hold books and not just trinkets or tiny books, so we got the (4) 31.5"-wide shelves in 15" deep, and (2) 15.75"-wide shelves in 11" deep. This means that if you were to look at them from the ceiling (the spiders-only view), you would see a gap between the back wall and the back of the skinny shelves. And, if you look at them from the front, they are all lined up in front, but the skinny shelves just don't go as far back as the wider ones. No biggie.
Before we go any further in how I did this, I would really like to take this moment to gloat and say that I WAS RIGHT. My hubby is always telling me something is never going to work, or something is just not practical, or whatever. I told him I measured the spots on the sides of the fireplace, and they EXACTLY equalled the total width of these shelves. He said it would never work if they were exactly equal because our walls are plaster and from the 1950s, so no wall is exactly straight, and nothing is a 90-degree angle in our house, and blah blah blah. But, I told him what I ALWAYS tell him: "It will work out. TRUST ME! Things ALWAYS work out." And, with a lot of pushing of those shelves into those spaces, they fit GREAT!
Ahhhhh....yup...that was fun.....being right.....
Anyway....now that we've all appreciated that I am ALWAYS right, let's move on. So, this is what we did :
1. We had to cut out the baseboard from the side wall and the back wall in order to fit the shelves.
2. We assembled all of the shelves.
3. We bolted the shelves together to make them into 2 sets of continuous bookshelves.
4. I prayed that this would fit in because there was no way that I was going to let my husband be right about this not fitting.
5. We shoved those shelves in til they fit VERY snuggly.....Like, those things are going to remain with this house forever.....whether we like it or not.
And this is what they looked like at that point:
So, why did I start putting books on these unfinished bookshelves at this point? Well, this project was going to span several years. I knew at this point once the shelves were up and functional, it would be a little while before we trimmed these things out. We were POOPED at this point. And, you know, we went back to our normal (chaotically busy) lives.
Okay, so once I was motivated again, this is what we did next:
6. We got wood trim from the hardware store, cut the pieces to size, 79.5" long, 1.75" wide, and nailed them over the seam where each bookshelf connected to the next. This way it would look seamless.
7. We got wood trim, cut the pieces to size, 79.5" long, 1 1/4" wide, and nailed them to the part of the bookshelve that lies against the wall. We did this to cover up where the wall and shelves are perfectly flush against each other (due to plaster walls), and so it would be consistent with the trim we put up in step 6 above.
8. We got wood trim to go across the top and bottoms of the bolted shelves, and nailed those on.
9. We got crown molding, cut it to size, and nailed it to the wood trim we just stuck across the top.
10. We got baseboard molding, cut it to size, and nailed it to the wood trim we just stuck across the bottom.
And....then it sat like this for a long time......cuz, you know. Life.
11. Then, one day I had a minute, so I bought some paintable caulk to cover up the finishing nails we used to put all that trim on, and to fill in any little gaps here and there.
12. I painted all of the trim in "Dove White" by Valspar because according to Centsational Girl, it is a great match to the color of the IKEA white Billy bookshelves. (The very last of the trim was finally painted earlier this year. Like, the crown molding sat there unpainted with blue painter's tape for like, 2 years. Ridiculous.)
And here is the finished product!
If you want non-vague instructions, just click here to read how Centsational Girl did this. She has provided VERY detailed instructions that I tried to follow to do our "built-ins".
My lessons learned:
1. I'm always right.
2. I'm a DIYer. Yay! This was my first big DIY project.
3. MOST IMPORTANT: Measure several times before you cut the trim.....or anything else. Learned this one the hard way.....so, if you ever come over and look at my shelves, blur up your eyes a little and don't look too closely. :)
4. When you're following someone else's instructions on a DIY, skip the part where they tell you how long it took them. According to Centsational Girl, it took them 7 hours. Did you hear that?! 7 H O U R S! It only took us 3 years................
Hope you enjoyed that!