'I saved £9000' - this genius IKEA bespoke shelving hack has the Ideal Home team drooling

Dreaming of bespoke built-in shelves? You'll want to take inspiration from this viral green IKEA shelving hack

Green built in bookshelf with curved edges.
(Image credit: Paul Knox)

A large blank wall can be uninspiring at worst, and a huge design opportunity at best, which is just how the owners of this DIY built-in bookshelf chose to see it. Taking cues from bespoke joinery, this floor-to-ceiling unit has a premium touch that has hugely upgraded a dining room. 

Built-in shelving is the perfect way to add extra storage to a room, however, the price for a bespoke piece can be off-putting. However, with a few IKEA hacks up his sleeve, this DIY-er created some custom built-in storage for a fraction of the price. Using only a handful of tools, this hack is not only a money saver but has made the dining room look more expensive, too. 

Built-in bookshelf makeover

Paul Knox shared his leafy green bookshelf makeover on Twitter, garnering over 600k views with users wondering just how he took the simple IKEA units from drab to design-led. 

In an exclusive interview with Saxton Blades, Paul shared his vision for the bookshelf DIY, and exactly what prompted him to undertake the project.  

'We really didn’t want something that was a standard freestanding bookshelf, and after looking across social media and Pinterest we started to see what we could achieve with flatpack furniture hacks', he says.

Let's take a look at how Paul and his partner's initial plan started to come to life.


Ikea white bookshelves laid bare in a dining room.

(Image credit: Paul Knox)

Paul started the project with nothing but a grey wall and five Billy bookcases from IKEA - four of which were the standard size and the fifth being the narrow version, to form the middle of the unit.  

He also notes, 'We bought the matching doors for the standard-size bookcase, hardboard for cutting the arches, and then some MDF sheets for the edges of the bookcase to give the impression they were flush to the wall.'

Feeling innovative, Paul and his partner also 'used beading that would usually be used for flooring to top off the bookcase, and then bits of textured moulding to cover the joins of the bookcase.'

With the bones of the bookshelf in place, they then attached it to the wall with heavy-duty hardware, as opposed to the standard fixings supplied with the original units. 

Acquiring all of the equipment for a DIY makeover like Paul's can be daunting, but if it's any consolation, this was the couple's first time using power tools and building anything other than flatpack furniture. 


Green IKEA bookshelf DIY in dining room mid-build.

(Image credit: Paul Knox)

Two months later, and the effect of the painted bookshelves and added moulding gave the dining room an instant lift. Paul's choice of Valspar's 'Salty Peat' as the stand-out shade is right on trend, and meant it could easily be styled up with books and the best indoor plant ideas to match.  

Paul commented, 'The room feels grander! It’s right in our dining space and we thought our table was huge at first, but next to the bookcase, it looks tiny now. It also helps to balance and frame the room as its own zone. We have a long space where we have our living room, dining room (where the bookcase is) and then doors leading to the kitchen. We’d love to explore how to add lighting to the bookcase but that’s a task for another time.'

Getting your dining room decor right can entirely alter how you use your home. Paul has created the perfect backdrop for entertaining (cue guests nosying through his book collection) but also huge amounts of storage that can house anything from cables to crockery. 

Green built in bookshelf with curved edges.

(Image credit: Paul Knox)

The real winning point of this bookshelf makeover is that it has potentially saved Paul around £9000. Before embarking on the project, he received quotes that ranged from £3500 to £10,000, largely due to the sheer size of the wall and required custom measurements. 

By opting for an IKEA Billy bookcase alternative, Paul estimates that it saved him thousands, and even broke down the exact costs so you can see for yourself. 

• £623 for the bookcases
• £111 for the green paint
• £150 for the added timber
• £45 for the top coat paint
• £35 for paint sprayer
• £100 for the circular mitre saw
• £27 for the jigsaw
• £20 for the sander
• £49 for nail gun
• £10 for No More Nails
• £21 + £65 screws, sanding pads and safety goggles

Do you have a plain wall crying out for a clever design project like this one this weekend?

Holly Cockburn
Content Editor

After starting out her journey at Future as a Features Editor on Top Ten Reviews, Holly is now a Content Editor at Ideal Home, writing about the best interior ideas and news. At Top Ten Reviews, she focussed on TikTok viral cleaning hacks as well as how to take care of investment purchases such as lawn mowers, washing machines and vacuum cleaners. Prior to this, Holly was apart of the editorial team at Howdens which sparked her interest in interior design, and more specifically, kitchens (Shaker is her favourite!).