IKEA’s Billy bookcase is 40 years old! Here are 8 hacks that keep it totally fresh


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Photo: IKEA

Swedish home furnishings giant IKEA is responsible for introducing the world to thousands of minimalist furniture pieces, but there’s noting quite like the iconic Billy bookcase. “It is estimated that every five seconds, one Billy bookcase is sold somewhere in the world,” boasts Ikea’s website. As one of the most versatile items in the store, the Billy bookcase has the potential to be so much more than place to store books. For its 40th birthday, we’d like to celebrate with a few show-stopping Billy bookcase hacks.

When Billy Liljedahl, an IKEA advertising manager, told his furniture designer colleague Gillis Lundgren that he wanted a “proper” bookcase, Lundgren set out to create just that. What resulted was an eponymous product, of course, that “could belong to almost anyone and everyone,” IKEA explains. Now, there are many different variations of it to choose from, from wide options with glass doors to tall and skinny designs. With so many styles to choose from, there’s an endless amount of ways to transform the Billy bookcase to work for your healthy home—and these are the best hacks to start with.

Functional and chic IKEA Billy bookcase hacks

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Photo: Kristina Steinmetz

1. Add a sliding door

Designer Kristina Steinmetz‘s idea to add a sliding door to the Billy bookcase smartly disguises clutter.

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Photo: Place Of My Taste

2. Switch up the shelves

Installing a few strategically placed shelves as vertical dividers is one of many great Billy bookcase hacks for displaying objets d’art. Place of My Taste will show you how to do it.

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Photo: A Beautiful Mess

3. Line your wall

You don’t have to spend a fortune on build-ins. Several freshly-painted Billy bookcases pulled together with a little trim via A Beautiful Mess can look fully custom.

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Photo: Angela Marie Made

4. Add some shiplap

Joanna Gaines would certainly approve of your bookcase if you add a little shiplap-inpsired backing and a new coat of paint, courtesy of this hack from Angela Marie Made.

Thumbnail for IKEA’s Billy bookcase is 40 years old! Here are 8 hacks that keep it totally fresh
Photo: IKEA

5. Use it in the kitchen

Instead of using your bookcase for, well, books, use it as a display cabinet in the kitchen by adding some matte black glass doors.

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Photo: IKEA

6. Add a pop of color

There’s no easier way to transform this simple bookcase than painting the interior of the shelves with bright pop of color.

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Photo: Erin Spain

7. Add some wallpaper

Have some wallpaper you love but not sure you want to commit to using it on an entire wall? Give it a home in a Billy bookcase like this one by Erin Spain.

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Photo: Fashion Hippie Loves

8. Create a custom closet

If you’ve always wanted to create your dream closet but didn’t think you had the budget, the many styles of Billy bookcase come together for the perfect setup in this hack from Fashion Hippie Loves. You’ll never have to stuff your shoes in a bin ever again.

IKEA’s new collection wants to turn your home into a wellness sanctuary. Or, get the details about IKEA’s first hotel.

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