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Happy Birthday Billy

A news article caught my eye earlier today, it seems it's the 30th Birthday of the IKEA Billy bookcase. I purchased my first three for about $70 each in the As-Is room at my local IKEA store in 1980. A few months prior, I had moved back home, after living and working in Florida for a few years. My parents offered me the use of the bedroom next to mine as a study/sitting room. An inexpensive couch, a flokati rug from a yard sale, various odds and ends and three very large black Billy bookcases later and I had a very comfy room to relax in.

With the exception of my move to England a few years later, the Billy bookcases were manhandled and wangled into and out of the various places I rented, then to the first home I owned, and then finally to my current home. Btw it is easier to move them built vs. taking them apart. The black towers, which my sister likened to the vast tower from 2001: A Space Odyssey,  had been transformed with a coat or three of cream paint, in 2004, and placed in my bedroom, however, I was never quite happy, they seemed to loom over me at night.

Last winter I finally figured out where they would be best placed. With a bottle of vodka and a few sisterly sighs, I was able to finagle my brother into helping me 'build-in" the Billy bookcases.

Here is the final result. I'm very pleased with the project so I thought I would share it. The only thing I would change would be to take the unit to the ceiling. Due to too many books, I have had to use the top of the unit for books. It would also serve to display pottery, pictures etc.

Using connector bolts and caps, the bookcases were connected together. Next the unit was levelled using wood shims.

My nearest Ikea is over two hours away, so I was very pleased to find these at my local hardware store. They were too long, but a hacksaw sorted that.

An electrical outlet was going to be covered by the bookcases at one end. A flat plug extension cord was installed, with the cord and outlet end run to the top of the bookcase. This future planning will come in handy next month, as this corner is the only place for my Christmas tree. It would also be useful if I wanted to have lights on top of the bookcase. Then the unit was connected to the wall with L-brackets and long screws into wall studs. It is essential that it be well secured for safety.

Due to the length of the unit, a join had to be made along the top and bottom. These Billy's were the very wide ones, no longer available, so it may not be a problem if narrower units are joined. I set all the shelves at the same height to provide symmetry and further the look of being a built-in unit.

ETA: Here is a pic I took in March 2012. After much work, including placing new windows and flooring, my great room is now liveable. The bookcases work well with this. See for yourself.



2009-11-10 11:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

That is one helpful brother! I just bought a lovely lowline (and long!) bookcase from IKEA. It was the only place that I could find them. Now I have a hall table and a bookcase in one!

The end result of yours is beautiful. I also like the way you alternate how you stack your books!


2009-11-11 12:35 am (UTC) (Link)

I've seen those low-rise ones- would be great behind a sofa as well. My brother is such a dear- I'm very lucky.
re book stacking, it's the only way to cope - I like books to be filed fiction-author- non-fiction- subject. As I get books in both hard cover and paperback, I need to be creative to keep them together.


2009-11-10 11:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Mmm, book pr0n! Very nice!


2009-11-11 12:40 am (UTC) (Link)

Not as good as your p0rn though. hugs


2009-11-11 12:10 am (UTC) (Link)

Veeeeery nice.

I've been hankering for some built-in (or faux built-in) bookcases lately myself.

Well done!


2009-11-11 12:39 am (UTC) (Link)

Maybe when your bugs are gone you can consider something similar.


2009-11-11 12:23 am (UTC) (Link)

Billy is really indestructible. The most reliable chap ever uh, well stood in the corner. ("walked the earth" doesn't quite fit!)

I love those shelves!


2009-11-11 12:38 am (UTC) (Link)

My family was quite amused when first exposed to Ikea- furniture with names!


2009-11-11 12:31 am (UTC) (Link)

I didn't know that Billy bookshelfs have such a long life. That's good to know. Mine are only about eight years old.


2009-11-11 12:38 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes, they are very sturdy, mine have had much abuse- me dragging them from room to room, moves etc. When you look at how much shelf brackets cost, these have been an excellent investment.


2009-11-11 12:40 am (UTC) (Link)

Ingenious, these Canadian and Swedish Muggles. ;)


2009-11-11 01:47 am (UTC) (Link)

who are you calling a muggle! lol


2009-11-11 02:06 am (UTC) (Link)

Um.. your handy, talented brother and those clever Ikea designers.


2009-11-11 02:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Brother is a wizard! So clever.


2009-11-11 12:57 am (UTC) (Link)

Oh, lovely bit of DIY. (I kept meaning to type DUI instead; 's what I get from having forensic shows as background noise, lol.)

That's one thing about shelving spaces: you always have to get creative with the stacking if you want to optimise your organisation and make a pass at some semblance of an order. Fortunately, as your picture shows, that can make for a pretty, colourful mosaic. :)

Edited at 2009-11-11 12:58 am (UTC)


2009-11-11 01:45 am (UTC) (Link)

I find the different colours/sizes add to the room. A tv designer once had all the books wrapped in white paper with the titles typed all in the same font. Very boring. It would also make it very hard to find a book.
I have all my trashy romances in my bedroom bookcase- and professional books in the study. The virgo in me will not allow for stacking by size/colour.


2009-11-11 07:29 am (UTC) (Link)

My Billy shelves have been following me around for 20-some years. Cheap shelves that can carry a load of dictionaries or (much heavier) cardboard-backed French comics (the heaviest boxes in a move, I swear) are a boon.


2009-11-11 07:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

I've dealt with Ikea type furniture before. it seldom assembles nicely- I lament the days when one could buy this stuff as a unit. I really need something like this in my house.

Edited at 2009-11-11 07:16 pm (UTC)

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