I'm Kerra Michele, and this is my dog, Lunchbox. Welcome to our blog! We generally write about easy tips to make a rental space feel more like home, but we also talk about our life and travels. I hope you like our stories and adventures!

{How To} Customize an IKEA Bookcase

{How To} Customize an IKEA Bookcase


Ikea will always have a special place in my heart.  I'll never forget the first time I set foot in one;  I had just moved to Seattle to start college and I needed to fill my apartment for less than $1,000. The big blue and yellow sign on the side of the highway will forever set my heart aflutter. Now that I'm a "grownup" I try to use Ikea more sparingly in my spaces -- not because I don't appreciate the simplicity in design, but rather because I try to find new and interesting pieces that everyone hasn't seen a hundred times.  (If you feel the need to send me hate mail please use the submission form on the top right of this page.)  That said, sometimes Ikea is your only option. That's when I like to get a little creative with wrapping paper.

Do you remember those two nooks on either side of my fireplace?  (If you look closely you might find a fur-baby in this photo...)

If I owned this apartment then I would probably have custom built-in shelving and lower cabinets put in these nooks.  But since I only rent and I'm on a tight budget, I have to figure out how to get that look from a store-bought bookcase.  Naturally, I think of the Ikea Billy system first.  Lucky for me it fits PERFECTLY within the spaces!  Not even an inch to spare.  Hooray! Throw a couple of those half glass/half wood doors on them and I have hidden storage on the bottom half, open display on the top.

Now comes the tricky part though...  I don't want them to look like the Ikea Billy bookcase.  So I decide to customize the back with a little wrapping paper.  This is a VERY easy DIY project that is much faster than putting the actual bookcases together!

Tools you'll need:

  • Wrapping paper
  • An adhesive (I used a spray adhesive but you could also use a glue stick or rubber cement)
  • Scissors or a wrapping paper cutter

Now you're ready to get started!  I chose a faux bois paper from Paper Source because it was neutral but still added interest.  Since the bookcases would be flanking the focal point of my living room (the fireplace and our wedding portrait) I didn't want a bright pattern on my bookcases to compete with that.

  • Put the whole bookcase together EXCEPT sliding in the back panel.  Leave that out and lay it out flat on some newspapers or a tarp.
  • If possible, leave heavy books on the back panel overnight.  The weight of the books will flatten out the panel, making it so much easier for you to apply the paper.

  • Lay the paper out where you want it.  Take care to line up the seams and match up the pattern (if there is one).  Extra credit: Measuring out where the shelves will be and hiding your seams behind shelves!
  • Holding the paper in place with one hand, lift up part of the paper and apply adhesive.  I find it works best to put the glue on the panel from the center and work my way out.  I wrapped the extra paper around the edges but you could cut yours to fit if you prefer.
  • Once the glue is dry just slide the panel into the bookcase!  Follow the rest of the Ikea instructions to finish putting the bookcase together and, voila!  You don't have a humdrum Ikea bookcase anymore!

Wasn't that easy?  It's the perfect project to try out this weekend.  Tomorrow's post will feature lots of juicy inspiration photos to help give you more ideas of how to apply this look in your own spaces!

More photos of my new bookcases to come once we actually get around to organizing things on the shelves!

{Inspiration Friday} Bookcases

{Inspiration Friday} Bookcases

Moving is messy.