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IKEA Billy Bookcase Makeover

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An easy way to make over and style the shelves on an IKEA Billy bookcase using fabric and cardboard. No paint or power tools needed!

Home Office Decorating with Billy Bookshelves from IKEA

I have not one, but two IKEA Billy bookcases that I want to style with more color to coordinate with the new color scheme I am using in my studiofficecraft room.

The bookcases are 20 years old–a true testament that they are indeed a classic IKEA item that you can use by itself or in many combinations.

IKEA makes glass doors, solid doors, lights, and extenders so that you can customize this classic bookshelf in many different ways.

sheets were used to make these shelf backdrops

I customize my IKEA Billy bookcases by adding fabric covered cardboard inserts. These backdrops can be easily changed with fabric, bed sheets, gift wrap or wallpaper almost instantly giving the bookshelf decor a brand new look.

This bookcase decor idea can be done on more than just bookcases. They can be made and used on open kitchen cabinet shelfs or in a china closet to add a pop of color or pattern.

How to Makeover a Billy Bookcase With Fabric

How to make shelf backdrops using fabric

I used the same fitted sheet as I did to make this window treatment – In An Instant No-Sew Window Treatment.

supplies needed:

  • Cardboard from large appliance boxes or dollar store foam boards
  • Fabric, bed sheets, wallpaper or gift wrap
  • Scissors
  • Craft knife
  • Packaging or duct tape
  • Measuring tape
  • Optional – white fabric to use as a liner

1. Once you have the shelves spaced as you like. Measure the width and height in the back section of each shelf and use these measurements to cut the cardboard to size.

3. Mark the back of each piece of cardboard with numbers or top middle, bottom, etc. This way if you have to remove them, you won’t have to guess what shelf they will fit on.

4. If cardboard that you are using is from a cardboard box and it has printing on it or your fabric is sheer, you can use white fabric cut to the same size to use as a liner for the sheet which is slightly transparent.

Without the liner – the brown cardboard would make the white – look off-white.

How to make shelf backdrops with fabric

5. To cover the cardboard, use the same technique you would use as if you were wrapping a gift box.

Cut the fabric about 5 inches longer and wider than the size of the cut section of cardboard so you can wrap the excess to the back and secure with packing tape. 


6. Once the fabric is secured onto the cardboard – place into the shelf.   As you can see I had a little help.

How to make fabric backdrops for book shelves.

7. I didn’t worry about matching the pattern on the fabric in each shelf, since I know there will be stuff on each shelf to hide anything that is not lined up.

Billy Bookcase Makeover – AFTER

Bookshelf Decorating Ideas

Fabric, like paint is the easiest and most inexpensive way to transform just about anything. 

My IKEA Billy bookcases have a brand new look and it only took about an hour of my time. 

IKEA Billy Bookcase Lighting Idea

Decorating a Billy Bookcase

IKEA used to sell lights for Billy bookcases. I have one on each of mine. They add the perfect mood light at night.

IKEA Billy Bookcase light

This is a view of the lights from the side – from the front you hardly notice the fixture.  I checked the IKEA website, but they no longer make these.

Accent lights are just one more way that you can customize a Billy bookcase or any bookshelf you may have. You can find other Billy bookcase lighting ideas on the IKEA site.

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  1. By the way, I love your blog. I lurk and don’t leave comments…shame on me, but I love your post with the fitted sheet window treatments! Definitely going to do that as well!

  2. What a wonderful and easy idea! I don’t have a Billy but I have a lovely bookcase that I adore and I’m definitely going to dress her up like you did with Billy! Can’t wait to go look at fabrics. I’m redoing my bedroom in Teal and Brown or Blue and Brown, depending on which bed set I can find in my price range.

  3. Omg, what a clever and easy way to make a change. It’s so easy, I can’t begin to tell you why I wouldn’t have thought if it myself. Thanks for sharing, I just may have to use this idea some day.