before and after

before and after: billy bookcase

by Grace Bonney

d*s reader emily got crafty with her billy bookcase from ikea and i thought it would be a great project to share. emily used gift wrap from whimsy press to line the back of the shelves so that the exposed shelf backing would have character and color. lining furniture with gift wrap and wallpaper has to be one of my favorite diy ideas (i did my drawers with snow & graham wrap this summer)- it’s easy, inexpensive and the perfect way to spend a saturday afternoon. well, that and watching an america’s next top model marathon. [thanks, emily!]

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  • Grace.. I just love this! I lined my studio wall with Billy bookcases and wish I’d seen this before I placed all my things on them! I might have to take weekend to do this after the holidays..

    on a side note my husbands name is Bill and we always joke about the Billy cases when we visit an ikea..

  • fabulous idea! i’ve got some billys that could use some sprucing up. now i’ve got something to do on christmas break – thanks!

  • I wanted to attempt something similar to the outside of my tall bookcases. I was in desperate need of 2 6 foot cases, but I could only get 2 mis-matched pieces…. plus neither of them really goes with my decore!

    I’m painting the interior black, and covering the outside with nice scrapbooking paper. Thanks for the push to really get this project finished!

  • nina

    i’m not sure what emily used but i’ve used modge podge glue before and it works wonderfully- but that’s obviously for something permanent.

    if you’d like it to be easily changed out i suggest cutting clear contact paper slightly larger than the piece of gift wrap and using that to adhere to the bookcase. that way you can peel and remove when you’re ready for something new.


  • thanks, grace, for answering the adhesive question. i was wondering the same thing. i bought a roll of really cute paper that was on clearance, figuring i could do SOMETHING with it one day; this is perfect!

  • I actually attempted a similar project except I used fabric on the glass windows of a cupboard (so no one sees how messy the cupboard is!). I used a glue gun. But you have to work one area at a time because the glue dries so quickly!

  • Yeah on the bookcases! They look great :-) I was wondering how you get it to stick too. I think I might have to steal your idea.

  • yes, modge podge works the best and comes in gloss and flat. Now, if you want to add some trim, use some grosgrain ribbon with double sided tape. I LOVE double sided tape!

  • I’ve been wanting to do this project for my bookcase for the longest time (inspired by the lining of your drawers, Grace)… Except I have a black one and would love to have an oversized black and white damask as the back…
    Good to know we all love our IKEA with little personal touches

  • I suggest using one of those adhesive rollers (brand: Pritt). Pritt makes one that is removable adhesive. Basically, it turns any paper into a post-it. Great for anything you want to non-permanent. I’ve seen them at Staples and maybe Office Max.

  • Great idea ! I am about to cover a boring white Ikea chest of drawers with hand made paper from Nepal (you know that sort of mulberry paper but much thicker). I am only hoping it will not absorb a ton of Modge Podge and become that way much more expensive than a designer piece of furniture ! LOL ! Thanks for all your great ideas.

  • How nice… Love the wallpaper. I replaced my dresser with 2 of the shorter (36 inch?) billys and haven’t regretted it… They are upside down – I screwed wheels (also IKEA) on the tops of each and now I can pull them easily out from under my loft bed. (The ‘baseboard’ at the bottom made a nice tray at the top) I’ve been thinking about updating the basic wood look and this just gave me even more inspiration. Thanks!

  • One morning I couldn’t bear the sight of my odd floor-tiles-on-a-grid coffee table, so I covered each tile with 12″ x 12″ card stock scrapbooking paper. I thought they would be too thick to decoupage, but I tried acrylic matte medium, (any craft or art supply store), really glopped it on, and it softened the paper enough so that the texture of the tiles come through just slightly. Acrylic matte medium is a miracle glue-even the crazy stuff I made in art school two decades ago are still holding firm!

  • do i have to pry off the whole back of my bookcase to do this? i know it’s just attached with those sad little nails, but it still seems like it might not be that easy.

  • Need an extra closet? You can remove some shelves and replace them with a clothes rod – available at Ikea. The side brackets on the rod are the exact size as the shelf holes. Mount the rods onto the back holes, and pull the bookcase forward a bit to allow room for the back of the hangers. You can hang some cloth down the back to “enclose” your clothes, and even put a small rail on the front with some rings, to cover up the front. It works great!

    • donna

      try using one of those bone rulers- you can press hard against the surface to get the air bubbles out. if that doesn’t work, prime your surface first to help reduce any pockets or dimples that might form and cause air to get trapped.


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