Home decor designer transforms an IKEA Billy bookcase into a show-stopping display cabinet

A new way to store your favourite pieces without breaking the bank

IKEA Billy bookcase after DIY transformation
(Image credit: Yvonne Ellen)

Home decor designer, Yvonne Ellen, shows how you can transform IKEA's classic Billy bookcase into a creative and stylish upcycled work of art with the help of this clever, little IKEA hack.

The Billy bookcase is easily a longtime loved piece for many in their homes, mainly for the practicality and versatility it holds, from being a great shelving idea to kickstarting book storage ideas, it's a classic.

However, when the time comes that it's charm no longer hits the same and is need of a makeover, refreshing your trusty old Billy has never been easier – and that's where this golden DIY trick comes into play.

IKEA Billy bookcase after DIY transformation

(Image credit: Yvonne Ellen)

How to transform an IKEA Billy bookcase into a stunning display cabinet

We've seen before how you can easily transform your IKEA Billy bookcase into a luxury cabinet, and since then, we've seen even more inspiring transformations and IKEA kitchen hacks surface to make the flatpack classics look bespoke.

Home decor designer, Yvonne Ellen, reveals her top tips for breathing new life into what may be a drab-looking bookcase, without breaking the bank.

'IKEA is usually my go-to for hidden gems and the Billy bookcase was the perfect essential to get creative and make into a personalised showcase that suits my taste and style. I love how they’re affordable and super easy to make and the best part is you can add on extra units and completely customise it to how you want it to look.'

IKEA Billy bookcase after DIY transformation with various mugs and dinnerware displayed inside

(Image credit: Yvonne Ellen)

1. Switch up the colour by painting

If you have any old pots of paints tucked away waiting to be used, there's no better time to bring them out than now. This is a budget decorating idea, after all, so use what you have before buying new.

'To give this neglected bookcase new life, start by cleaning off any dust or dirt, then take some pastel paint and get creative – you can layer different colours for subtle or bold contrast depending on your design goals,' says Yvonne Ellen.

She used Farrow & Ball Faded Terracotta for the exterior and LICK Green 09 for the interior of the cupboards.

IKEA Billy bookcase painted inside during DIY transformation

(Image credit: Yvonne Ellen)

2. Add in rails, hooks, and storage boxes for better organisation

If there's one thing we've picked up and always remember from storage and organisation advice we've been given, is to always utilise vertical space. Yvonne encourages us to think about creating a hanging space to make grabbing items easier.

'I installed these fab gold rails and hooks that you can get from IKEA which has made it the perfect grab-go teacup holder. Then add another layering of shelving such as the IKEA PALYCKE and IKEA CISSAN, just any ones that can hold anything light that you don’t want to take up space on the main shelves,' she advises.

'You can never have too much storage and the more organised, the better!'

IKEA Billy bookcase during DIY transformation decorated with hanging storage and baskets

(Image credit: Yvonne Ellen)

3. Install lighting for extra visibility

Lighting is an essential that so many people often forget for display cabinets and kitchen cabinet ideas alike, and it's extremely easy to pull off as well.

Yvonne used a battery-powered motion-sensor light that she bought from Amazon, like this 3-pack for £9.99.

4. Personalise with detailing for a unique finishing touch

Yvonne says this is the best part of the process, as adding some fine detailing is what makes for a more personalised and exclusive look.

'I used gold leaf and added it to the bevelled edge of the doors which fits in with my style. Finally, finish off by adding some fancy handles of your choice for an extra kitsch look,' she adds.

'I think it makes them look much more expensive and gives you another way to show off your style and creativity. Here I chose these green and gold vintage-looking handles from Anthropologie and I love how art-deco they look!'

IKEA Billy bookcase after DIY transformation with various mugs and dinnerware displayed inside

(Image credit: Yvonne Ellen)

And voila, the transformation is complete. With just a trusty drill you can turn your old bookcase into a beautiful showcase. Now, you can fill your stunning 'new' display cabinet with all your favourite things.

Who said you had to buy new to update your staple home decor pieces?

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is a Junior Writer at Ideal Home. She's always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham where her love for journalism blossomed following her internship at ArchDaily. Now focused on home tech, Jullia works on writing features and explainers to help people make the most of their home appliance investments. When she isn't writing, she loves exploring the city, coffee shop hopping, and losing hours to a cosy game.