This TikToker turned the humble IKEA BILLY bookcase into the library of her dreams – here’s how

How to get a built-in library on a budget

A built-in bookcase using IKEA BILLY bookcases
(Image credit: Caroline McQuistin @carolinemcquistin)

There are many words one could use to describe the very popular IKEA BILLY bookcase - simple, versatile, savvy. But fancy is most probably not one of them. And yet, one TikToker managed to turn it into just that - a fancy and ingenious book storage idea beyond recognition of the original.

Craving a built-in library that would cover an entire wall of her beautiful Isle of Skye home, Caroline McQuistin (@carolinemcquistin on TikTok) was confronted with the remote nature of her home that’s inaccessible to most tradespeople. So instead, the TikToker decided to IKEA hack it using three IKEA BILLY bookcases, some extra wood and a tin of paint. And voila - the library of her (and our) dreams was born.

This TikTok IKEA hack uses the BILLY bookcase to create a built-in library

A built-in bookcase using IKEA BILLY bookcases

(Image credit: Caroline McQuistin @carolinemcquistin)

We love a good DIY idea at the Ideal Home office. And this certainly makes it to the top of our list. Caroline’s home is no stranger to us as we’ve swooned over her green country kitchen make-over under £1500. And now she’s back with another budget-friendly project, sharing the step-by-step process in a recent TikTok video.

‘I’d seen a few videos of people making IKEA BILLY Bookcases look like built-ins, so I decided to try it for myself,’ Caroline says. ‘I don’t really have the tools or skills to make a built-in bookcase from scratch, and getting joiners to come do work living on the Isle of Skye can be difficult (the likes of Sharps doesn’t cover this area), so using Billy Bookcases and B&Q’s cut to size service for the MDF front made a project like this doable for me. I’m delighted with the results and to finally have space for all our books!’

The library-making process


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In the video, which has amassed over 155k views thus far, Caroline starts by removing the skirting boards from the wall so that the bookcases sit flush against the wall. Next, she built a platform for the three BILLY bookcases to sit atop, attaching them to the floor with metal brackets.

She cut out holes at the back of the bookcases to still be able to access the plugs on the wall and attached the bookcases with some more metal brackets to the platform so that everything is nice and stable. Height extenders were then added on with more metal brackets to reach all the way up to the ceiling. 

What she used

A built-in bookcase using IKEA BILLY bookcases

(Image credit: Caroline McQuistin @carolinemcquistin)

Next, Caroline added the shelves and primed everything, which is how you paint IKEA furniture. The gaps between and around the bookcases were then covered with cut-to-measure MDF from B&Q, stuck on with wood glue. She then added B&Q trims to cover any joints, cut to a 45-degree angle with a mitre box. And finally, paint! We’re in love with the Farrow & Ball Sardine shade in the dead flat finish that Caroline picked out, making it one of the best IKEA customising companies

And the result is jaw-dropping!

News Writer

Sara Hesikova has been Ideal Home’s News Writer since July 2023, bringing the Ideal Home’s readership breaking news stories from the world of home decor and interiors, as well as trend-led pieces, shopping round-ups and more. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors, working with the likes of 91 Magazine and copywriting for luxury bed linen brand Yves Delorme among others. She feels that fashion and interiors are intrinsically connected – if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.