Ikea Hack for the Living Room (Before and After Pictures)

If you're joining us from Apartment Therapy, welcome!  We are so excited to be featured, that we wrote a separate post to welcome you to our blog! 

Note: I've been so excited to publish this post that I could barely wait to finish the project and considered making it a two part post!  Seriously, I am obsessed with these shelves and have been planning them since before we moved! 

Our living room is narrow and bland, so we thought we would add some interest with some "built-in" shelving.  Since we are unable to recess our brick walls, we thought we'd try an "Ikea Hack" by using Billy shelves and moulding.  Now, in a narrow living room, you might think we'd build the shelves surrounding the entrance to the dining room instead of around the fireplace so that we would be taking a few inches of length but leaving the width.  In theory, this would have made more sense, but I think that having the shelves around the fireplace will actually create some depth and make the room feel wider.

There are tutorials for similar projects all over the internet but I enjoyed this one by Kate from Centsational Girl the most.  There is also a part 2 and I enjoyed reading about how she styled them.  Check out her blog if you have a chance!

Here's a picture of Kate's finished shelves from her tutorial:

And here's a picture after some paint and styling:

I like her shelves and I was actually thinking of painting my own background as well.  I'm thinking about a deep teal.  I'm still considering it but I want to see how it looks with plain white first and perhaps just live with the white for a while.

There are a couple of things that we wanted to do differently:

For starters, we only had space for one Billy shelf on each side of the fireplace and would need to deal with the logistics of that.  This means extra baseboard and moulding to create a smooth transition between the edge and the wall.  Excuse my terrible drawing,  The shelves are NOT meant to be whimsically wobbly...

We also wanted ours to be a little taller.  In a small space, it was important to emphasize the height of the room.

We went to Ikea (we've actually been several times since we dreamed up this project and we look at the shelves each time) and priced the shelves.  Why use Billy?  Honestly, they're cheap and basic and still large enough to feel substantial.  Some of Ikea's other models run for more than twice the price.  We opted for the height extensions to give us some added height.

We also selected some moulding, trim and baseboard from Lowes to complete the look.

Here's an (embarrassingly bad) illustration that breaks down the types of trim we used: Tip: Be careful with the crown moulding.  It is the trickiest part and we watched a few Youtube videos before we were confidant about the angles.  Also, the "corner trim" looks like a "v" when you look at it from the top... just in case you're searching for it.
To give you a sense of the height of the basic Billy Bookcase, the top "shelf" is actually the extension.

They were still a little short so we had some wood cut and nailed it together to bring us about 5 inches closer to the ceiling.  Corey then used shims to level the shelves before securing them to the wall.
Barkley wanted to help but he's a lazy worker and he gets distracted pretty easily...

"Nomnomnom. These shims are delicious!"  We had to take them away from him pretty quickly.

Here's a shot where you can see the difference made by our wood base.  The shelf on the left hasn't been raised yet in this picture.

One of the things that (to me) is distinctively "Ikea" is the holes for the adjustable shelves.  I filled them with a little spackling that goes on pink but dries white.

Corey finished the moulding and trim and once again, we used the spackling to fill in holes and gaps.  We still need to paint but I am too excited to wait to show you the finished product.

Here are a couple of "before" and "current" pictures of the living room: *I say "current" because the room is still a long way from being finished.  Also, please excuse the unpainted corner trim. 


Now I get to cheer!  Woo hoo, they're finished!  I'm so happy, I could sing...but I won't.  Now I can start unpacking all my vases and living room stuff.  Can you believe it's finally done, Corey?  FYI, this also would have been a good time to propose. ;)
What do you think?  We love them and we actually feel like they make the space seem larger.  We also keep sort of a running tally of features we have added to the house and would advertise if we were to list our house for sale tomorrow.  It's like a little game to us and it reminds us of how much progress we've made and how much value we have added!
So far, we have added:
Not too shabby for our first two months, right?  Hmmmm... I can already picture the feature sheet...  Don't worry though... we have no plans to sell for years and years.  We certainly want to finish this new/old house before moving again!

A Note from Corey: For all of you who have done a little bit of work on baseboards and think crown moulding will be easy, WRONG! This project, given my work hours, took weeks. Taylor seems happy here on the blog, but try tearing apart the living room, filling the family room with tools, and leaving them like that for three weeks, then see how happy she is!

Update: My talented friend and real estate photographer, Thea Menagh edited one of my living room pictures to reflect what it would look like once we paint the trim.  Her photoshopped version is below.  Thanks Thea!

Also, click here to see our shelves now that they're not so empty. :)
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