IKEA are making a big change to their bestselling BILLY bookcase

The brand are making adjustments due to the rising costs of materials...

IKEA BILLY bookcase in white, with a window next to it and a black armchair to the left
(Image credit: IKEA)

IKEA’s BILLY bookcase is arguably the Swedish brand’s most popular piece of furniture. Lightweight, affordable, and easy enough to switch up with all sorts of IKEA hacks to elevate its look, it’s no wonder we all love it so much, and flock to purchase it time and time again.

However, it has been revealed that the much-loved BILLY will soon be undergoing some changes to its design for the first time since the 1990s. But never fear - it doesn't appear that the BILLY, which comes in a white, wood and black finish, is going to change beyond recognition.

So what exactly are the changes - and will we still be able to DIY IKEA's go-to bookcase to our heart's content?

room with grey wall and books in book shelves

(Image credit: Ikea)

What changes are being made to IKEA’S BILLY bookcase?

Plenty of us have been hit by rising inflation and the current cost living crisis - and it seems even IKEA themselves are not immune to the current financial woes of the world.

According to The Wall Street Journal, designers at the Swedish furniture brand began redesigning the bookcase in 2020, in order to adjust to the rising cost of materials. They explain that the move was made in order to make the BILLY more affordable for them to make, and for customers to buy. 

The brand has decided to change the materials used to make the IKEA BILLY bookcase, in order to lower prices of production. Going forward, the brand is replacing the wood veneer used, with a cheaper paper foil, which is essentially like contact paper.

living area with blue wall and blue sof and book case

(Image credit: IKEA)

Traditionally, IKEA’s ‘wood’ furniture has been made with a wood veneer glued onto the main material, particleboard. Now, instead of the wood veneer, the paper foil will be wrapped around the particleboard structure. 

The parts will instead be printed with wood patterns, to make them look like genuine wood.

Luckily, it appears as though this change (hopefully) won’t affect any future BILLY bookcase hacks, as it's only the construction materials that are changing, rather than the design.

Arguably, the structure won't be as premium, but it should still be very possible to paint, build around, and add structures to your favourite IKEA bookcase. However, when it comes to painting the IKEA furniture, you may need to do a few more coats in order to cover the paper foil – and always be sure to use an appropriate primer.

Aside from that, we don’t imagine running into any other DIY issues with the newly-designed BILLY.

living room with white wall and sofa with billy bookcase

(Image credit: Photography - Dominic Blackmore,)

However, there are some concerns that the redesign of the BILLY, along with a few other IKEA classics (such as the newly-constructed PAX wardrobe), could reduce the longevity of the furniture, given the use of cheaper materials. 

But of course, we all know IKEA furniture – being on the cheaper end of the scale – isn’t necessarily known for enduring over decades anyway.

The new construction of IKEA's BILLY bookcase will be in European stores in early 2024. So it’s likely that only time will tell when it comes to seeing how well their new design stands up!


 Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist and editor, now working in a freelance capacity specialising in homes and interiors, wellness, travel and careers. She was previously Lifestyle Editor at woman&home, overseeing the homes, books and features sections of the website. Having worked in the industry for over eight years, she has contributed to a range of publications including Ideal Home, Livingetc, T3,Goodto, Woman, Woman’s Own, and Red magazine