IKEA bookshelves are great because they can act as blank canvases: simple and attractive on their own but also perfect for manipulating into whatever their owner may desire. The wooden arches that Jenny Komenda built onto these shelves give this wall of books an awesome new look — it’s such a simple visual shift, but it makes a huge difference, and these plain IKEA Billies are now a sophisticated and dramatic pause-point in Jenny’s stylish living room. Great job, Jenny! — Kate
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Read the full steps on how to create Jenny’s arched bookshelves after the jump!
Time: 3 hours
Cost: $85 ($50 for bookshelves and the rest for supplies)
1. Have four pieces of 1/4″ thick MDF cut in to 14″ x 32″ rectangles at a lumber yard or a home improvement store like Home Depot or Lowe’s. Also buy three 8′ lengths of 1/4″ thick x 2″ wide and two lengths of 1/4″ thick x 1″ wide flat trim moulding.
2. Sketch out your first arch on one piece of MDF. If you’re not comfortable measuring out and eyeballing this step, you can use a flexible curve ruler or maybe even the old pencil tied to a string trick to give you a more exact curve. To get arches that look like mine, the top of the curve is two inches from the top of the MDF. No matter how high your arch is, though, you’ll need the bottom edges to be 1″ wide.
3. Use a hand-held electric jig saw to cut out your first arch. I have this $30 model, and it works great. Go slow and cut carefully. My advice is if you start to move off your line while cutting, slowly readjust back to your line. The goal is as smooth a curve as possible.
4. Use this first arch as a template for the other three arches. Cut these out with your jig saw.
5. With the help of a friend, hold your first arch against the top shelf and drill four pilot holes. Then drill in 1″ screws. Try to really get the screws in flush with the MDF or even counter-sunk. Install the flat trim in the same way. The idea is that the 2″ wide flat trim covers where the bookshelves butt up to one another. The 1″ wide flat trim is for the two far ends of the bookshelf walls, and it’s not entirely necessary but provides continuity.
6. Fill all cracks and holes from the screws with putty. Once that’s dry, prime and paint all the wood.
Word of warning: For some reason, IKEA makes their Billy shelves almost paint repellant! It took three whole coats of primer and three coats of paint to get full, durable coverage! Had I known it would have been that much of a hassle, I would have probably left the backs white or gone with contact paper or wallpaper as an easier solution. — Jenny