I’m in the middle of giving my home office a makeover, and one of my biggest priorities for the room has been to add some built-in storage. It’s important to note that our home office sits at the front of our house and is basically the first room you see after entering the foyer. Thus everything in it is very visible… including the messy bookshelves that we had going on in there…


Our office also needs to be a very functional room for us. We store a lot of things in there and use the room for working and printing regularly, so we needed a way to store all of our stuff in a tidy and presentable way.

Enter the built-in bookcase! A built-in wall of shelving just seemed like the best way to contain everything in a neat and orderly fashion, plus built-ins can be a great aesthetic feature in a room.

We have a long alcove along one wall that was just screaming for built-in storage to be placed there. It measured 135” long by about 18” deep. Perfect!

I knew from the beginning that this was going to be a DIY project for me and my hubby because it’s quite expensive to have a contractor or carpenter install custom made built-ins. Honestly, they’re just a bunch of painted wood attached to the wall, so I figured we could build them ourselves.

There was only one problem with that… I really wanted drawers along the bottom of my built-ins. I knew that drawers were the best way to neatly store all of the small functional items we needed to keep in the room. So they really were a necessity, but they would also take a lot of time to build from scratch.

I finally figured that the best solution was Ikea! I could purchase some Ikea bookshelves that had drawers and alter them to become a custom built-in (I’ve noticed other people have done similar things so I’m definitely not the first to think of this). Not only would it save us the challenge of building drawers, but it would also save us lots of construction time and allow me to be able to do some of the construction myself, thus minimizing the amount of time I would need my husband’s help (if you didn’t read my ‘About’ page, my husband is not a big fan of DIY projects).

the design

I considered purchasing Ikea’s BRIMNES collection, one of their cheaper lines of shelving with drawers. But I didn’t want to skimp on quality here so I went with their HEMNES collection, the only line of bookshelves they sell that is all solid wood, even though they were more expensive.

builtin-hemnescollIkea HEMNES collection

I mocked up lots of different arrangements on my computer trying to find the HEMNES pieces that would fit best in my alcove while giving me the aesthetic look I wanted. I finally settled on three narrow bookcases and two cabinets arranged symmetrically along the wall.


The two cabinets came with glass doors, but I decided not to use them. I had considered it, but it just didn’t give the look I wanted for my office. The glass doors made them look like a piece of dining room furniture.

I also tried to infuse a little design into the arrangement. I decided to place the three middle shelves closer together and planned to use narrower trim at their joints in order to make these shelves appear more like one large cabinet.


I liked this arrangement, but realized pretty quickly that I really wanted the built-in to extend all the way to the ceiling. I knew it would be a lot more work, but in the end it would look better. So I planned to cut off the tops of some HEMNES bookcases and use them to create a top row of shelving allowing everything to extend all the way to the top of my 9 foot ceiling.


But this arrangement felt a little too busy with all of the shelving. My solution was to remove the shelves from the top three middle pieces. Not only did that keep it from looking so busy, but it also created interesting niches at the top, and helped to make the overall three middle cabinets look more like it’s own unique piece with the two end bookcases appearing like separate pieces that flanked the larger middle section.


the install

I started by painting the room a new color and realized that there was no point in painting the back wall of the alcove because it would all be covered by the built-in anyway. So I decided to save some time and money and just leave the back wall the existing color.

builtin-alcove copy2

Then we removed the quarter round and some of the base trim from the floor in the alcove.

I spent a day assembling the three narrow bookcases and two cabinets (minus the glass doors) by myself, and set them in place.


Then it was time to make the upper row of shelves. I had purchased one narrow HEMNES bookshelf and one wider HEMNES bookshelf (which was the same width as the two cabinets I had used) with the intention of cutting them into the shorter pieces I needed for the top row.

There was about 30” from the top of my existing cabinets/bookcases to the ceiling of the room. I decided to make my top row of shelves 28.75” tall so that there would be a little breathing room at the top.

My husband was a big help with doing the construction for this. We started by basically cutting the top 28.75” off both the wide and narrow bookshelves. But I knew it’d be easier to cut the pieces down to 28.75” inches first and then assemble the top part of the shelves.

Once they were assembled, we realized we needed a base to set the top of each bookcase on. So we cut a scrap piece of MDF we had sitting in the garage to size for each shelf and used a nail gun to attach them.


We had two of the five top shelves done. I knew we could take what was left of the narrow and the wide bookshelves to make two more top shelves. We cut the legs off the bottom of both of them, and then turned them upside down and cut 28.75” off the top. We used scrap wood again to make a base for each shelf, and also for the tops of the shelves this time (since we had already used the two tops that came with the shelves). We now we had four of the five top shelves finished!


For the final narrow top shelf we used what was left of both the narrow and wide bookshelves we had. All of the side pieces were shorter than the 28.75” we needed, so we used braces, glue and wood filler to connect them to make the full 28.75” long sides. We used scrap for both the top and the base pieces again, and found some extra 1” x 2” wood boards in the garage to make the crossbars along the top.

builtin-lasttoppiecethe top center shelf was a collection of various pieces

We definitely put the hack in Ikea Hack!!!

But we now had all of the top shelves and bottom shelves made!


Then it was time to really make this into a built-in. We attached the top shelves to the bottom bookcases/cabinets with screws. Then we anchored everything to the wall with L-brackets.

Next came the fun part of trimming everything out!

We used a plain 1” x 6” board along the bottom of the shelves to cover up the feet. We then installed baseboard trim in front of that in order to match the existing baseboards in the room, and put the stained quarter round in front of the baseboard.


We attached crown molding to the top of the shelves along the ceiling.


We covered up the gaps between each bookshelf/cabinet with fluted casing trim.


Then we added 1/4” x 4” wood pieces horizontally to cover up the joints between the top row and bottom row of shelves. I wanted these pieces of wood to be shallower than the vertical casing in order to create some relief and a system of hierarchy among all of the trim.


And now with all of the trim in place it was really looking like a built-in…


We were almost done! I just had to add the shelves, and, of course, there were no holes to place the shelves where I wanted them most of the time so I had to drill new holes.

I also inserted the drawers and replaced the drawer pulls with these oil rubbed bronze bars instead of the black knobs that came with the cabinet.


Then it was just a matter of caulking and coating everything with a white high-gloss enamel paint. And finally, finally it was done!



While this project was a lot of work for us novices, it was worth it!! I successfully achieved the look I was going for… now I just have to fill it up with stuff!

WANT TO SEE MORE? You can see how I styled my finished built-in bookcases here. And my complete office makeover here.


  1. Avatar Jay

    I know this was posted a while ago, but this is the best overview of a built in bookcase hack I’ve seen!! All the pictures really show your thought process! Thank you!

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      I’m so happy it was helpful!

  2. Avatar Gary Beach

    I was inspired by your project. Have a look at my interpretation.

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      That was a big project…Looks great! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Avatar Martha

    It’s beautiful! I’m about to move and want a built-in bookcase at the new house. I’ll have to give this some thought!

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      Thanks! Good luck with your move!

  4. Avatar Andrea

    I’m about to embark on this same project. Also using Hemnes series and purchasing an extra to create boxes to extend the height. You guys used scrap pieces for the tops and bottoms on a few, but would it have been possible to use the unused shelves for the top and bottom or are they too small?

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      The shelves were too small. You could probably buy a sheet of plywood and just cut it to what you need for the scrap pieces. Good luck with your project!

      • Avatar Andrea

        Great! You don’t happen to remember the measurements for the tops and bottoms do you? The size of the cases are 35 3/8X14 5/8, so I’m guessing that’s what I’d need. I have reinforcements coming to help and I think I’ll just get the plywood cut to size before they arrive. That way all we have to do is put the boxes together. I haven’t purchased the cabinets yet so I cant measure. thank you!!!

        • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

          Sorry I don’t remember the exact size of the tops and bottoms, I just remember they are bigger than the shelves. You can take the top and bottom pieces that come with the cabinet and trace them on to the plywood and then cut that out. That’s what we did.

          • Avatar Taneya

            You two did a great job! My question is about the mock-up you did prior to installing. How did you do it? Did you use a specific interior design app? Or something that IKEA provides? Thanks!

          • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

            Thanks! Oh that was just a quick mock up using Photoshop.

  5. Avatar Jason Brooks

    Our house has a wall in our front room (technically a dining room but we don’t use it as that) that has almost the exact same dimensions as yours, except our ceilings are 10′ instead of 9′. We are currently trying to replicate this exact build. We bought the Hemnes furniture about a year ago and have finally found the time to try and knock it out! We didn’t have an alcove like yours, so we have had to build a new wall (on the right, when facing it) that extended the existing wall out by about 20″. I’ll post a link to our pictures when it’s done. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      Great! I’d love to see the photos!

        • Avatar Aleecia N Smith

          This looks amazing! My house will have a similar open foyer/dining room which I will use as a home office. Yours came out great.

        • Avatar Angela Ogden


      • Avatar Jason Brooks

        Just to add a little background on our build…we obviously replicated your built-in, but our dimensions were a little different. We were a few inches shorter width-wise, and we have 9′ ceilings, not 8′. The width issue was overcome, but just barely. We had to take off about a 1/2 inch of the vertical trim on the table saw to make it work. We also had to build a header to cover up the gap at the ceiling, which consisted of a 1×10, a 1×2 turned on it’s side, and a 1×4 – all nailed together. Then the crown at the ceiling, which we also installed throughout the rest of the room. We also decided we wanted some form of lighting, but didn’t want to run any electrical, so we bought some little round “hockey puck” LED’s that run on batteries and have a remote that controls them all. We routed 10 one-half inch recesses for each one to further hide their profile and screwed them in place and we are pleased with how they turned out. One thing I would have done differently is ditched the backing that came with the furniture for a thicker product that didn’t have a seam. Hiding that seam was a LOT of work and the backing is flimsy, plus when the light hits it right, it shows. We used Behr Swiss Coffee (semi-gloss). The built-in took us about 45 days from start to finish, including the build-out of the wall on the right. That was working every Saturday/Sunday plus 2-4 hours each weekday. It took another 40 days to complete the rest of the room (painting, wainscoting, flooring and crown). It was extremely difficult (we too are amateurs), and there were plenty of days where we were just plain sick of working on it, but we persevered and couldn’t be happier with the result! Thanks again for the inspiration!

        • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

          Wow! It looks amazing!! And I like how you added spot lights without having to do any wiring. Great job!

  6. Regarding Photoshop…..sorry, but how did you get Ikea products into Photoshop?

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      I just copied and pasted images into photoshop.

  7. This is a marvelous hack, I cannot imagine this built in cabinet is from Ikea.

  8. Avatar Paul

    Kristen, Beautiful! I bought 4 Hemnes bookcases with the thought of doing the same. I assembled them yesterday with all the trim, and today, decided to see how to paint them. To my dismay, everyone has said that I have to sand everything first. I just want to get that primer you have and paint, but don’t want it chipping off or worse. Spending $800 or so on the materials and cases Is cheap for what I created. but if I go to paint this and it becomes a mess I will die! Ok, my wife will kill me…that’s the more accurate statement.

  9. Avatar Kristen

    These look amazing! One question I have is once all the trim is caulked and the unused shelf holes were filled in…did you paint the entire shelf system including each shelf? Or did you only paint the parts with caulk or putty? I’m having a hard time envisioning this step. Thank you!

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      Hi Kristen, I painted everything including the shelves and every surface. If you only paint the parts with caulk or putty they may not be the exact same shade of white as the Ikea finished surfaces and it will look weird. Painting all of it gives it a cohesive finished look. It did take a lot of time to paint everything but it was worth it.

  10. Avatar Wendy

    Stephanie, so thankful for all this legwork you did! This turned out stunning!

  11. Avatar mike trotter

    F***ing nailed it. Great job. I was wanting to do something with the hemnes but it is too short for the wall. Never thought of cutting it in half. Thanks for the inspiration.

  12. Avatar Jordann

    Can you link the exact cabinets/bookcases you used?

  13. You have done such an amazing job with this. I am going to be moving into a new construction in a few months and the only downside to the house I’ve chosen is the small amount storage space in the kitchen. However, there is a lot of wall space in the attached breakfast area that I’ve planned to add shelving to to increase the storage. I initially planned to use the Billy series to save some money – but I think for the longevity of the build, the Hemnes series would definitely be worth the extra money. I also hadn’t planned to build all the way to the ceiling like you’ve done here, but I think you’ve changed my mind. Thank you for sharing your plans, they are definitely going to be a great reference for when I attempt this build.

  14. Avatar Mm Tt

    I read your tutorial six months ago; and, it’s how I learned of the Hemnes line. We just made the 10 hour round trip drive to IKEA to purchase the drawer-bookcase combination piece. Honestly, your tutorial was the inspiration for embarking on this project. I am hoping to place it in our bedroom, using the lower drawers for clothing and the shelving for decoration and books. Thank you for your detailed tutorial!

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      First of all, thanks for sharing this with me! It warms my heart to know I inspired you! I think this would be so great in a bedroom since storage is important. And wow 10 hours to get to Ikea… I guess I better not complain about my 4 hour round trip drive, lol. Good luck with your install! 🙂

  15. Avatar Marcella Davis

    Amazing! I’ve been looking for the perfect bookcase for my office. This is my wedding dress! I love it! Thanks for sharing the step by step instructions, it is doable.

  16. Avatar Katherine

    This looks amazing! Someone suggested that my husband and I do this in our family room and I am inspired to try it. Did you use 2 of the HEMNES cabinets with drawers and 3 of the narrow bookcases?

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      Yes, that’s what we used. Good luck with your project!

  17. Avatar Courtney Banta

    Amazing! How did you handle leveling the different pieces/cases? I have an old house and I’m sure I’ll have to tackle this… It looks like your cases were a tiny bit off in the pic from the cases initially set in (pre- paint and trim).

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      The feet on the Hemnes bookcases come with a piece on the bottom that allows you to level each one individually. It made it very easy!

  18. You are an inspiration! To IKEA I go. Will need some serious MoTown music playing while I work.
    I think I would pre-paint all the components before assembly so I only had to paint touch ups and such afterward (carpal tunnel and awkward angles are not good for my hands.)

  19. Avatar Lin

    How much space did you leave on the sides from wall to unit? 1-2″ each side?

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      I’m not sure exactly at this point, but it was maybe about 2-4″ on each side. I installed a 2×4 that ran floor to ceiling against each side wall so I had something to attach the vertical trim pieces to.

  20. OMG! This looks amazing. I`m planning to do something like this with my closet. I have it all planned out in my head. But this is really helpful!

  21. Avatar Vicki

    What a great looking project! Curious though, would you have been able to use the doors on your cabinets with the verticle trim that covers up the spaces between the cabinets? Wondering if the doors would be able to fully open or be restricted by the trim?

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      I never tried it but looking at it, yes you should be able to use the doors with the cabinet. When the doors are fully open they might hit the trim but you could adjust the size of your trim to be a little smaller so that wasn’t a problem.

  22. Avatar Jess

    Your design is absolutely incredible! I’m looking to do something very similar, but i have a dark blue accent wall that i’d like to show behind the bookcases. Do you think the hemnes bookcases and cabinets would be okay if we left the backing off completely? Or should I attempt to paint the backing the color of the accent wall?

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      Well you could definitely paint the backing blue. I’m not sure if you could leave the backing off completely but I would think you could. The only reason to have to keep it is if the bookcase feels unstable without it, but I wouldn’t think the backing offers a lot of support. I would recommend building the bookcase and seeing how sturdy it feels without the backing attached. It should be okay, but if not then just add the backing and paint it blue. Good luck!

      • Avatar Diane

        I have had built-in bookcases without the backings before and painted the wall behind an accent color and they looked great. But that was with sturdy bookcases with deep cabinets at the base. With the Hemnes, I think it would work, but as Stephanie suggests, you may need more support. As long as the bookcases are first bolted to the wall with L brackets or the like, you should be fine. That way you do not have the look of the somewhat flimsy backing board. As Stephanie says, try both ways to see what works best. Good luck!

  23. Avatar quoc nguyen

    hi, I want to do the same with my Hemmes. But I want to ask you how do you deal with the top side which is protruding out about 1/4 inch. Did you have to cut the it off before you apply the horizontal piece connecting the bottom bookcase and the cut-in-half top book case?

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      Yes, I just trimmed off the edge of that piece.

      • Avatar Joni Powell

        Did you trim it before putting it together, or after.

        • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

          Hi Joni… We trimmed it after putting it together.

  24. Avatar sue

    absoluteky incredible with what you did. youre an inspiration for what im hoping to achieve. liked that you drafted it computer first. which software did you use?

  25. Avatar Camila

    Thanks for a great post! Inspired by your idea we went out and bought 3 hemnes bookshelves and two extension hemnes shelves for our wall. We have one problem. We dot know how to hide the lip that sticks out of the top of the bookshelves. I guess that is why people use Billy’s. The lip sticks out and then the extension sits ontop but it doesn’t have a lip on the bottom so there is different widths. We are having a hard time figuring out how to make it look like one built in piece as hiding that lip is looking a bit hard. Any suggestions?
    I also had a question as to how yours are holding up? Hemnes bookshelves get terrible reviews about the shelves not holding up and collapsing. Has this happened to yours?

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      Hi Camila! So glad my post inspired you! I think I know what you’re referring to with the lip on the top. What I did was trim off the lip so it was flush with the rest of the bookshelf. The best way to do that is to mark with a pencil where you want to cut it. Then, remove the top piece only from the bookshelf. (After unscrewing the lock pieces you can gently hit it with a mallet to help remove it if needed.) Then, we used a circular saw to quickly cut off the lip… a table saw would work too. Finally, we just reinstalled the top piece and it worked great. Hope that helps!
      Oh, and my Hemnes bookshelves have held up fabulously, no problems at all!

  26. Avatar Chris

    Beautiful job! My wife has been asking me for built in bookcases for years so I am now attempting the same hack right using your guide. The only difference is that I will have a 35″ bookcase in the middle instead of the skinnier one. I attempted to ditch the provided back panels for some nice primed plywood panels I found at Lowes but I am unhappy with the fit and the amount of caulking it will take to fill gaps. I’m curious as to how the back pieces on yours are holding up. Are they bowing in the middle? Did you reinforce the backing somehow? Also, the backing didn’t become warped when you painted it? If yours are holding up well I will probably eat the money I spent on the plywood and use the provided pieces after all. As for finishing touches, to the best I can tell you used wood filler on all the unused shelf support holes but you did not caulk the shelves in place, correct? And did you paint the tiny chrome shelf supports or did you buy white ones? Thanks for the fantastic guide and help.

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      Hi Chris,

      I did use the backings that came with the bookcases and they are holding up great. They never warped or bowed and I did not reinforce them at all. I did use wood filler to cover up the line from the bend in the middle of each backing, and I also caulked around the edges. But there were no major gaps anywhere, just a quick bead of caulk was all it took.

      I caulked pretty much everything on the entire built-in including the shelves and the trim. The only place I did not caulk was on the left and right sides of each shelf because there was such a large gap there that it would have taken a lot more than caulk to fill it, and I felt like aesthetically it looked fine leaving it uncaulked with the small gap.

      I did use wood filler to cover up the unused shelf support holes, and when I painted everything I just painted over the chrome shelf supports so they would blend in and they are still looking great, no peeling to chipping. Hope that helps! Glad my tutorial can be of help to you and good luck with your project!

  27. GAH! I’m SO impressed, this does not look like a novice project! I want to do something like this in my master bedroom. We’ve got a weird rather large nook that is just begging to be filled with built in closets. I’ll probably take your advice and go with the hemnes line, but a different configuration with more drawers as this will take the place of our dresser. Can you tell me which program you used to do your rendering? Thanks!

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      Thanks for stopping by! I just used Photoshop to make some quick mock ups. Good luck with your project!

  28. This is beautiful! I am wanting to do something like this in our home, but I am a complete novice. What part of this did you use caulking on? Thank you!

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      I caulked everything… I filled in any crack or seam I could find, and it helped to give it a clean look. Good luck with your project!

  29. Avatar Dutchie

    I think this is one of my favorite pins now. I’ve been wanting to do this look for some time now and just have not been motivated to build from scratch. This is a much more efficient way to do it. You did an excellent job explaining the process making it very helpful to all. Nice to know you were a novice to encourage others. Thanks so much for posting, Dutchie

  30. Avatar tari

    Beautiful! I have been to overwhelmed to build a bookcase on one of my walls and I didn’t consider drawers. Your tutorial helped a lot. Love it! .

  31. Avatar Sal

    Wonderful job! This is probably the best Billy hack i’ve seen. If you don’t mind what program did you use to create the initial idea? I’m looking for something similar so that I can map out my plans before I start.

  32. Avatar Maarten

    It looks amazing! Where did you get the vertical fluted trim as shown in this image: builtin-CUcasing.jpg ? I can’t find it in our local store.

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      I found mine at the local Lowe’s Home Improvement. I actually bought 2 different sizes, one is narrower than the other. I would think Home Depot would have it too. It’s officially called ‘window and door casing’. Hope that helps!

  33. Brilliant job. Shared this on my own company’s facebook page.

  34. Avatar Amanda

    These look great! Question regarding switching out the drawer hardware… are the Ikea knob holes predrilled, if so did you have to fill those or did you use the existing holes? In the store the knobs look much farther apart than 5″. Thanks! 🙂

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      Thanks! The Ikea knob holes are predrilled. I filled them in with wood filler and then drilled new holes for the new hardware.

  35. Avatar Stephanie Millican

    Way cool!

  36. So impressed! Thank you for the inspo!!!

  37. Avatar Carole Jay

    Very pretty– I have an alcove similar to yours, and you’ve given me some great ideas. One question: did you install an electrical outlet in the bottom shelves of your built-in? I have an outlet (maybe two, I can’t recall) in the back wall, as I can see you have, and I’d want to maintain the use of those…

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      No, I didn’t need the outlet so I didn’t worry about it. But I’m sure you could still keep the outlet usable by cutting a hole in the back of the bookshelf, then mounting the outlet plate on top. I’m no electrical expert though so definitely talk to someone who knows electrical about how to do it… Good luck with your project!

  38. Avatar maria

    Hello! Thank you for such detailed tutorial. Could you tell a bit more about painting process. All other tutorials I read use oil-based primer first, but it seems like you did not and applied just paint. So I was wondering if the paint doing ok with the time or is it chipping off? I dislike the idea of oil-based primer due to chemical off-gassing, so if I can skip it without compromising the paint quality that would be great.

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      Hi Maria! I did prime the built-in before painting it, but I used a water-based primer. I try to avoid oil-based paint or primers as much as possible due to the chemicals and clean up. So far it’s held up really well with water-based primer and paint… no chipping or peeling or anything.

      • Avatar maria arefieva

        Thank you for getting back to me 🙂 Could you share the brand of primer you used? I was also wondering if you were able to figure out how to use drawers for hanging files. I saw that question asked earlier, but at the time you haven’t tried it yet.

        • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

          I usually use Zinsser primer. I haven’t tried using the bottom drawers for hanging files. I might eventually try it but it’s not something I need right now. 🙂

      • Avatar Joni Powell

        Did you sand it first?

        • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

          Hi Joni,
          Yes, I sanded it first.

  39. Avatar susan

    Hi! This is a beautiful hack and we are working on a similar one. I’m curious about how you handled the backing board that the bookcases came with. I’m worried about them bending over time, and wondering how you made the line where it folds disappear? Wood putty? Spackle? Just paint? I’m also wondering how you kept your sanity while trying to do this project, but that is a different question all together! 🙂

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      Hi Susan! The backing boards are holding up just fine so far. I don’t expect any problems with them because there’s no real pressure on them that would cause them to bend. Visually, I was not a fan of the line down the middle so I filled it with wood putty and sanded it before I did the painting.

      Overall, this was a big project for novices like us. My biggest frustration was how long it took since our schedules are so busy with other things we could only work on it a little at a time. I am an impatient person! 🙂 But now that it’s done I know it was all worth it!

  40. Avatar bb8

    This is a great idea. Can you please clarify specifically how you used the L brackets to secure the bookcases to the wall? Where were the brackets placed so that you could still screw them in while the bookcase was in place?

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      I attached the L brackets to the sides of the bookcases and then to the back wall. I started by only putting the middle bookcase in place so I had easy access to the wall to attach the brackets. Then I put in the two bookcases next to the middle one and attached those to the wall. Once I put the final two bookcases in place on the ends, there wasn’t much room to add an L bracket so I left it off. Everything is really sturdy though even without the brackets on the end bookcases. The trim helps to hold everything in place too. Hope that helps! 🙂

  41. Avatar Eve

    You are a genius. I’m so glad i found your post on ikeahack! I was looking for a bookcase hack and yours is amazing. Kudos!!! I’m so inspired.

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      Thanks for the kind words! I’m glad it has inspired you!

  42. Avatar Grace

    This looks amazing! you did a wonderful job! I really love how it looks now. Thanks for sharing! Also, if you don’t mind, could you tell me what software you used to design the look? Thanks!

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      Thanks so much! I used Photoshop.

  43. Avatar Justin

    These look absolutely fantastic and has inspired my partner and I try something similar, albeit with Besta units instead. What kind of tools would you recommend for a job like this? I have lots of hand tools, a jigsaw but nothing fancier than that. I just worry about cutting the wood straight.

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      If you’re willing to spend some money and want perfectly straight clean lines then I’d highly recommend getting a miter saw and table saw. We used a circular saw to cut everything, but it would’ve gone faster if we had been able to afford a miter saw and table saw. The table saw would’ve been good for cutting the Hemnes pieces down and the miter saw for the trim. We used a nail gun to install everything which is an absolute must for this project. Hope that helps and good luck!

  44. Avatar Heather

    Beautiful! Thanks for sharing your project. I’m inspired. What color is on the walls and what did you use for the built-in? Did you have to prep the Ikea portion at all before painting or were you successful just painting directly on the surface as purchased?

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      Thanks for stopping by, Heather! The wall color is Benjamin Moore’s Stonington Gray. For the built-in I primed only the few pieces that were unfinished. I did not prime the Ikea pieces just painted directly on the surface. I painted everything with two coats of Sherwin Williams high gloss enamel in white. So far the finish has held up very well.

      • How did you paint it? Did you spray it or just roll it on? It does look amazing.

        • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

          I used a roller to paint it… And a brush for some of the trim.

          • What is the best route in getting your paint to match the IKEA drawer fronts? Or did you paint them as well?

          • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

            I painted the drawer fronts too.

          • Avatar Joni Powell

            Did you just color match the IKEA paint color?

          • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

            No, I just painted everything with white paint so it would all be the same color.

  45. Avatar Stacie

    This looks amazing! I was just curious about the drawers and how deep they are. For example, could it hold hanging files or a small printer? We have been considering a builtin and would like to hide those types of things. I hadn’t considered a drawer. Thanks for info on this type of ikea furniture. I always seem to go back and forth if it’s worth it. Your project looks fantastic!

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      The bottom drawers are the deepest. I just measured it for you and it’s 9.5″ deep, but what’s weird is the sides and back of the drawer are lower than the front and are only 7.75″ tall. It’s possible to put files in the drawer as I think they’d just barely fit. But to put hanging files you’ll need to install rods and the back and side pieces of the drawer are too low. I know I considered putting hanging files in and still may try it at some point. It would require making the sides of the drawers taller and then installing metal rods. As far as a printer I hadn’t thought of that. You may be able to put one in it depending on the size of the printer. Hope that helps!

      • Avatar Diane

        We have a similar Hemnes set-up. A printer definitely would not fit (drawers not deep enough to back wall) and also the drawer bottoms are thin particle board. While the sides of the Hemnes cabinets are pine, the drawers are very light weight. My parents use them while visiting to store clothes. T-shirts have to be folded in thirds, not in half, to fit. Best for light office supplies, etc.

        • Avatar Wendy

          Thanks for this info Diane…super helpful when selecting our Ikea furnishings for our hack!

  46. Wow! I am so impressed with how you made everything work–down to the last upper shelf, bracketed together! You would never know. Stunning job! We are considering DIY built-ins for a home library/office, so thanks for sharing!!

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      Thanks! I put a lot of planning into this project, I was determined to make it work! Good luck with your built-ins. Ours felt like a lot of work at the time, but it was so worth it in the end.

  47. That is beautiful!

  48. Avatar Lauren

    WOW these came out BEAUTIFUL! We are considering putting 3 Hemnes shelves in the play room for storage but was wondering how to make it look seamless like yours. I’ve seen it done with billy bookcases but not hemnes. Was wondering if you could give me your opinion- would the cabinets intergrity be compromised by cutting off the top lip (trim)of the cabinet so crown molding could be placed across? Was kind of doubting how “solid” wood they actually are. Thank u very much!

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      I can tell you these are solid wood everywhere except the back panel which is why we went for Hemnes over something like Billy. They will last forever.

      If you’re talking about trimming off the lip of the top piece then yes it can be done without a problem. Because that’s exactly what we did in order to let the crown molding fit flush on top. We trimmed off just enough of the top piece to make it flush with the front of the bookcase. We used a circular saw to cut it before attaching it to the top of the bookcase. If you have a very large piece of crown molding you might be able to get away with not trimming the top because the lip may not get in the way. Good luck with your playroom!

  49. bravo, beautiful work. i am going to use this as an inspiration for my own built-in. i have a sloping ceiling on one side, so i need to adapt this for my needs.

    it looks really professional. congrats

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      Thanks so much! Thanks for stopping by!

  50. This looks so great! Can I ask how much it cost? Wonder what the cost savings would be over having a custom built in made…

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      Thanks! I don’t have an exact number on the cost but it was basically the cost of the Hemnes furniture, plus the cost of the trim, plus the new drawer handles I chose (they were $3 each). All of the other materials like nails, screws, caulk and wood filler were things we already had sitting in the garage. We reused the quarter round molding that we removed from the wall behind the built-in… I actually have a lot of Hemnes wood shelves plus the cabinet doors leftover from this project that I plan to use in a different project.

  51. Stephanie, I LOVE what you did with the bookcase! Built-ins are SO expensive and you achieved the built-in look for a fraction of the cost! Amazing job! I am now inspired to tackle the built-ins in our family room!

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      Thanks! It was a lot of work, but it was so worth the time and effort! We don’t have much experience in projects like this so if we can do it anyone can.

      • Avatar Vicki

        What a great looking project! Curious though, would you have been able to use the doors on the cabinets with your verticle trim that covers the spaces between cabinets? Thanks, Vicki

        • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

          I never tried it but looking at it, yes you should be able to use the doors with the cabinet. The only issue that might arise is when the doors are fully open they might hit the trim but you could adjust the size of your trim to be a little smaller so that wasn’t a problem.

          • Avatar Diane

            We used Hemnes with House of Fara fluted trim (available at orange big box store). It was 3 or 3.25″ wide and allowed the doors to operate perfectly. The 4″ was too wide.

    • Thanks for doing all of the hard work of figuring everything out. I, too, had already determined I was going to use the HEMNES line with IKEA but could not figure out how to take it to the top of our 10′ ceiling. I had sketched and sketched and still fell short. Now, I am going to go ahead and do this! Your shelving looks fantastic. Great job!

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