Ikea-Hack: Built-in Library Wall

I was tempted not to write this post until I had my bookshelves all complete, perfectly staged, and photographed by a professional. BUT Ikea is having such a great sale right now that I couldn't put it off one more day (because who knows when the sale will end!)

IKEA BESTA 15% OFF (with Ikea Family card)!!!!!! 
When I saw this deal, I wished I had waited a couple months to do these built ins! That would have saved me a bundle!

These built-ins are a total dream come true! And I did A LOT of research to figure out what I wanted, and how to get it for cheap! My pinterest board HERE shows so many different tutorials & ideas (many for ikea-hacks since that's what we can afford right now) that I brainstormed before starting this project.

I had a lot of other plans before this one, but none of them felt quite right. Until I saw this post from A Kailo Chic Life. When I saw this one I KNEW I had found "the one." 

Photo Source: A Kailo Chic Life

I must have read her post at least a hundred times. To say I was obsessed with her built-ins is an understatement. (And can you believe hers aren't even on a flat wall?! AMAZING!)

I measured the room for the bajillion-th time. Did some math... and had my husband check my work. 

And guess what. There was no way we were going to be able to fit this in our room! Our space was about 3 inches too small!!! (I was devastated!) I tried to come up with an alternate plan, but let's face it... once I found "the one" I couldn't go back. I was determined to make this work for my space!

I came to the conclusion that we would need to cut off a little over 3 inches from the middle pieces in order for it to fit in our space. 

SO I researched if Ikea shelves can be cut (there are few tutorials... most people don't try it) but I figured enough people had done it, that it was worth a shot... plus I had a backup for that middle section if it didn't work out. Then I went to Ikea, bought the pieces and hired a neighbor hobby-carpenter to do the hard-stuff, since I've never used power tools before.

We had him cut a trial board first (that was an extra middle board that we weren't going to be putting in our space). When he cut it open he found a chunk of plywood followed by honeycomb-shaped cardboard! We figured the cardboard would be there (that's what I'd seen online), but we started getting worried that he would have to build a new support of plywood at his new cut so that we'd actually have a sturdy shelf (I didn't account for that in my research).

We knew we wanted these shelves, so we said go for it. What he found was that not all Ikea Besta pieces are these same! Only our test board was built that way! The others had plywood supports on all four sides of the shelf! So it turned out to be easier than we thought it would be (thank goodness!).

To make things even (with the middle section we were cutting) we had him cut about an inch and a half off both sides of the top and bottom of each "shelf unit." We then drilled holes for the screws (like there were originally, but pushed over an inch and a half) and built the "shelf units" following the Ikea directions. 

This whole built-in is made up of 10 different Besta frames. There is a more detailed list with links below, or you can look at this drawing.

The big middle section (where the TV is) is actually made up of 2 Besta frames- using the sides from one with the top and bottom from another. Thanks A Kailo Chic Life for this idea! This seems kind of unstable at first. But once you put a back in it, and hook it into the wall/ other shelves it's plenty stable. 

You will have to get some MDF or hardboard and build a back for this big middle section. A Kailo Chic Life talks about this on her built-in tutorial... and her backing is better than mine (so read hers when you're ready for that part!)

Materials List:

For your convenience: Here's the link to the overall Besta Shopping Page... each item listed also has a link directly to the item. Oh and all these are 15% off right now with an Ikea Family card! 

base built out of 2x4s*

four 47 1/4 x 15 x 15 3/4 Besta Frames- $50 each
four 23 5/8 x 75 5/8 x 15 3/4 Besta Frames- $75 each
one 23 5/8 x 50 3/8 x 15 3/4 Besta Frame- $70
one 47 1/4 x 25 1/4 x 15 3/4 Besta Frame (or the besta TV stand)- $60/$79

4 packs of Besta Hinges- $10 each
at least 6 Besta Shelves- $5 each
4 Hanviken Doors- $25 each
2 Lappviken Doors- $10 each. **

*We built a base in order to bring the cabinets up over our baseboards. That way we don't have to remove our baseboards!
** We're using Lappviken doors for the middle section so that we don't have to try to cut the more detailed Hanviken Doors. If you don't need to cut any of the units, I recommend doing Hanviken all the way across. 

The paint we have found that matches the closest is BEHR Falling Snow.

Extra Tips:
1. Shop the As-Is section! Did you know Ikea has a section for discounted items?!? I didn't until I started working on this project! It's usually at the end of the warehouse (by the registers) So I just go in through the exit door, past the registers and into the As-Is section! Most items are damaged in some way, but for a project like this where everything is going to be hooked together (and we're going to be calking and painting anyways) it wasn't a big deal! Some of my biggest savings on this project were finding a $50 frame for $17 and finding two $25 cabinet doors for $5 and $10 a piece! 

Some stores even do an extra discount on certain days of the week (ours is Wednesday you get an extra 25% off in the As-is section if the item is above a certain amount)

2. Get an Ikea Family card & sign up for the mailing list. Did you see the sale I mentioned at the beginning?! Ikea Family members get 15% off ALL Besta right now! (It's time to go get the rest of the shelves I need!) 

3. BRING your Ikea Family card to the store. They cannot look up your card by phone number... you actually have to bring your card with you to the store. If you forget it, sign up for another one at the kiosk before you check out. It's free! 

4. Don't settle! Having these in my playroom now, I'm SO glad I didn't settle for all the plans I had that weren't "quite right"! I LOVE how these shelves have turned out, and they're not even finished yet! SO if this idea isn't right for you don't settle until you find the one that is... built-ins are supposed to make you happy, and if you settle they won't!

What I wish we'd done differently:

1. Set up our TV cords beforehand. We ended up having to DIY an extension cord because we could't thread it from the tv down to the outlet. Thankfully we put our powerstrip in place before we hooked our shelves into the wall... but I wish we had put our TV cord in place then as well. 

2. Thought about all the different things we'd have to cut. I thought our handy-man friend would just have to make 6 cuts, but I didn't think about the backing for all the middle "shelf units" (which had to be cut down to fit in our new-sized units and then sanded down on the ends in order to slide into the sides. I also didn't think about the doors or the shelves for inside the bottom "media cabinet" which are still at our neighbor's being cut.

Like I said before, I'm SO happy to have these built-ins in our Library/Playroom! It gives that room so much more purpose!

Where would you put these built-ins?



  1. Ah I love this! So jealous.

    - Hannah M (we introduced ourselves briefly at the Waverly Alt Summit dinner. :) )


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