With baby #2 on the way in a few short months, we had to get creative with our available rooms in the house. Baby boy will take Kennedy’s nursery, and she will move to a larger room downstairs that will become a combined playroom/bedroom. Because this space needs to fit all her furniture, clothes and toys, I wanted to maximize space and minimize clutter by building a built-in bookcase/toy storage on one wall. I found a lot of DIY built-ins / reading nooks on Pinterest, many which were hacks using the IKEA Billy Bookcases as a foundation. This seemed like an affordable and relatively easy DIY, so my dad and I designed and built our own version of a built-in with a reading nook.
Though admittedly this was somewhat of learn as you go project, I tried to document and capture the steps we took along the way. Here’s how we made my vision come to life. Happy DIY-ing! 🙂
- 2x IKEA Billy Bookcases
- L Brackets (comes with bookcases)
- 2 x 3’s (bookcase base, top braces, & bench framing)
- ¼” plywood (panels around top)
- ¾” MDF board (bench top)
- ¼ MDF panel (in between bench frames)
- 3/16” white bead board panel (wall behind bench area)
- White paint (color matched to IKEA Billy bookcase)
- Wood screws
- Wood glue
- Liquid nails (for bead board)
- Wood filler/sealer
- Sanding block
- Kreg Pocket Hole Jig (for drilling holes for framing)
- Miter Saw (for moulding and baseboards)
- Circular saw or table saw (for cutting MDF)
- Ryobi AirStrike cordless nail gun
- Laser measurer
- Wood clamps
- Remove baseboards on the wall where the built-ins will go. We did not remove the baseboards around the rest of the room.
- Build IKEA Billy Bookcases and line them up on the wall where you want them to go. Take measurements so you know how much material you will need. We used 2 IKEA Billy bookcases (each 31.5″ wide) and built a bench in between.
- *Optional* We built a base out of 2×3’s simply because we needed to raise the bookcases so the base trim and moulding we purchased would align with the rest of the room and look seamless. A base is not necessary if you plan to redo the trim/moulding around the entire room or if you plan to repurpose the existing moulding and reattach.
- *Optional* We relocated our electrical outlet higher on the wall so that when we install the light over the reading nook we can hide the wires. We followed the existing outlets at the bottom of the wall to the top of the bookshelves and cut a hole for the new outlet box. (This part was tricky and took way longer than expected because there were studs in the way making it hard to fish the wire from the existing outlet to the new.)
- Place bookcases on your base frame and anchor to wall with L brackets.
- Connect bookcases with 2×3’s on top, building a frame that will be enclosed by paneling in next step. We used long horizontal boards along the top and then secured short vertical brace pieces, as seen in picture.
- Add plywood to enclose the 2×3’s on the top for the built-in look. Patch with wood filler/sealer and sand as needed to close your seams.
- Cut your bead board paneling to size and secure with liquid nails to the wall between the two bookcases.
- Secure melanin shelf to the top b/w the two bookcases (creating a bridge between the book cases.)
- Add the top moulding with nail gun.
- Measure between your bookcases to build your bench frame using 2×3’s. Our bench is smaller, so we only have two openings for basket storage underneath.
- Enclose the bench 2x3s with MDF panels on outside and inside to cover up your frame.
- Secure the bench to the wall and add panels on front.
- Secure the 3/4″ MDF board on the top of bench. We got thicker MDF for the bench top so it was extra sturdy.
- Add baseboard trim & moulding.
- Add wood filler/sealer, sand, and caulk to patch nail holes, seams, etc.
- Paint panels, bench, moulding and baseboards. We took a shelf from our Billy Bookcase and had Home Depot color match so it would look cohesive like a single unit.
Now all that’s left to do is installing the light above the nook, adding some trim to the bottom edge to close the gap. Then my favorite part – styling. I even ordered a custom tufted bench cushion from Etsy that I can’t wait to arrive! We’re really loving how this came out, and Kennedy loves her new big girl (play)room too!