Billy Not-Really-Built-Ins

The built-in Billy. What every academic on a budget strives for.

For example, this from Centsational Girl is a major feat in Ikea engineering:


And perhaps better suited to a home IMPROVEMENT project than as a “we just moved in, let’s get the books off the floor” project.

We knew we needed BULK book storage in Graham’s office, as we have a couple of decorative bookcases elsewhere in the house, and Billys are great for bulk. Billies? Whatever.

Anyway, our office is black. Here it is empty.


The bookcases are to go on that wall on the left. But then you’ll notice that because two walls are windows and obviously the third wall is big enough for me to take that photo through, that our plan leaves z-e-r-o walls for things like degrees and guitars – and frankly, where else are we going to put those things?!

I’m assuming Centsational Girl doesn’t have a random uncovered fireplace against the wall she’s building those onto. And that her walls aren’t at an 80 degree angle in a billion year old house. So we thought “ok, let’s skip the crown moulding, and just do wall-to-wall Billies that kinda look somewhat less like Billies than just plain Billies do.”

So we bought:
Two wide, tall Billies (80x28x202cm)
One wide, short Billy (80x28x106cm)
One thin, tall Billy (40x28x202 cm)

So the idea was to go wide, thin, wide, short across the room front to back. Then we could hang degrees above the short one and call it a day.

So we were off for a THRILLING evening at Ikea where we tried to figure out if the ones we were buying were all the same DEPTH, and nobody seemed to know what we were talking about (because they only come in one depth), and somehow we got out alive. Here’s an actual picture I took in between tearing out my hair and looking at the measurements AGAIN.

Just give us the Billies, and nobody gets hurt.

Just give us the Billies, and nobody gets hurt.

So we got home and, weeks later, put them together, which was tewtelly not fun at all considering we were surrounded by boxes and also if there was a fire, our alternate route was really REALLY blocked. Actually Graham mostly put them together, so a round of applause for him. *clap clap clap clap*

Here’s where I come in. My *plan* was to make the Billies look kinda sorta like they belonged there. So I wanted to paint the back of them the same colour as the wall. Easy, peasy, right? Well sure, when you know what paint was used on the wall in the first place. So we grab about 30 swatches of black and hold them up in the black office to see which black is the blackest.

So, you want some black paint, do you?

So, you want some black paint, do you?

So once we settled on our shade of black (which ended up BEING THE PERFECT ONE), 0paintI took the backboards down to the basement and sanded the crap out of them. LIKE REALLY SAND THESE THINGS because I swear they’re made of olive oil, which paint doesn’t like. Also, I’m not sure we even used the right paint – something thinner might have been better? Anyway, more on that later. 1sanded Paint two coats and let them dry a LONG TIME. At least overnight. I sound like a spaz with my emphasis on this project.2coat14coat3Ok, so then you just slide the boards into the bookcase and nail them in place. But then we realized when we flipped the bookcase over that a ton of the paint at the edges had scraped off in the sliding process (read: olive oil) and so we had to tape them and do touchups, which sucked. Maybe you’ll want to even tape off a section near the edges and not paint there. It was tricky getting the backboards in with two layers of paint because it’s Ikea and everything is made to fit JUST SO. Anyway, I love how they look, here’s a picture of them semi-empty. And also look at the top left shelf. SOMETHING IS MOVING UP THERE YO, and there’s nothing but books in the room! WHAT IS THAT?!


Annnd now they’re covered in binders and loose papers, so just ignore that. And you also can only see the black on parts of the bookcase. Overall, I really like these, and I recommend this technique if you’re doing decorative shelves especially.


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