Friday, March 29, 2013

DIY Billy Bookcase Makeover


In our home office, we had two tall, dark and handsome Billy bookcases, complete with glass doors.   Trouble was, they were storing books we never read.

So, while trying to keep expenses to a minimum by rethinking and re-purposing what we already had elsewhere in the house, we were simultaneously thinning out our outdated collection of books.  Suddenly, the idea of using these bookcases in the dining room for dishes, cookbooks and party platters became a reality.

Brown-black 'Billy' bookcases from Ikea
The tricky part is, on our open-concept main floor, the dark bookcases were too dark and sucked up all the light, so we decided to lighten them up.   The idea was to paint them white with a turquoise backing. 

And we wanted to figure out how to make them look like built-ins.  No big deal, right?

Easier said than done...  It took us two summers to complete this project!

Here's how we did it:

First, we took everything apart.  It was a lot of parts... 4 doors, 8 shelves, 2 back panels, 2 upper extensions, 2 frames, and all the nuts and bolts that go with them.  And each surface needed to be sanded, primed and painted front and back, inside and out.  Phew!

Next, the doors needed to be newspapered and taped up to protect the glass.

Then, we primed all the pieces, trying to prop them up so pieces could air-dry as we kept moving.

Then, we repainted everything in a glossy white finish, all the while using our trusty airgun to paint.  (Using an airgun is so much fun but it's kind of a pain to set up (and then clean up) each time, so you really need to bank on good weather and a good solid block of time.)

Let's save for later the discussion on how many times pieces of these bookcases got left out in the rain by mistake over a two-summer span :) 

By the time we got to the back panels, we were exhausted and just wanted to skip to the end.  Not so cleverly, we thought we could just slap on a turquoise-colored paint/primer combo and be done with it.

But the smooth finish on the cardboard-y panels wasn't having any of it.  At first, little pieces peeled away...


And then the whole darn layer of paint just pulled right off!


It was actually kinda cool!  Although a complete waste of time and paint :)

So after pulling and scraping off every square inch of paint, we scuffed the smooth finish with a buffing pad so the paint could actually grab on to something.  And then painted all over again.

Here are all the pieces once they were finally finished, waiting to be reassembled.


There were a lot!
Finally -- months after we began, and after painting the walls -- we got to put the bookcases back together.  Yay!

A work in progress!
Click this link to learn more about our DIY Banquette Storage Bench!

To make them look built-in, we added some height so we could attach molding.

The molding makes all the difference!

We love to hear what you think.  Please don't be shy to leave your comments below!

Till next time, 



  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Amazing makeover!!!

    1. Thank you! Thanks for the thumbs up!

  3. Oh my goodness!!! They look lovely! I am obsessed with your dining area (and a view of the snow! So pretty!) Love that bench too. I am working through reading your top ten posts of 2013.... can't believe I hadn't seen this one before. Love it. I have decided to try to do the same and repurpose our furniture rather than buying new (where possible) to save money so this is inspiring.

    1. Thanks Maya! So glad you're taking the time to read through all Top 10 Posts of 2013! You're the greatest. :)

  4. Oh my goodness! I love this! It looks so amazing! Excellent job

    1. Much appreciated! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  5. This looks amazing such an incredible makeover!

    I blog here:

  6. Replies
    1. Thank you so much. Really appreciate it :)


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