Billy Hack – Wall of Billy

Because everyone has done one. Ikea has a few timeless products that get hacked over and over and I hope they never phase them out. One of which was Tarva – those are gone but another is the Billy. It seems that every diy site has a Billy hack somewhere and ours isn’t anything special – except that it’s ours. I had been planning a wall of Billy since the design of our master bedroom. Sure, I could have built my own bookshelves from scratch – and I’ve done that when the dimensions didn’t fit something Ikea had that I could hack. But I chose Billy for this because the dimensions worked and also the cost of using the Billy was only 100 bucks more but came painted, cut, finished and ready to use. If you are looking to do this on the cheap and you have plenty of time then build your bookcases out of sanded plywood, sand, prime and paint them…but if you are willing to just spend a little bit more and save yourself some serious time using the Billy just makes perfect sense.

So, without further ado, our wall of billy:billy-bookcase-hack-3Everyone has different storage needs and space. We were able to fit two standard Billy’s on the left side (31.5″ wide) one half width (15.75″) between them and one standard Billy on the right. We did not use the height extensions. Our room has 8′ ceilings. Mike and I built a platform to put the Billy’s on so that we could use the same baseboards we have throughout the house to make them appear built in. Then I added trim to the top that matches the trim I put in around all the windows.

Step 1: build your Billy’s – preferably in the room you want them and put them in their relative space. We attach the backs with a stapler rather than going crazy with the billion teeny tiny nails they provide. We separated the Billy’s by 3/4″ – basically the width of the plywood we had leftover from another project. I knew I wanted to add trim to the front of the Billy’s to hide the gaps and that seemed to be just the right width for 1×3″ trim. See the gaps?billy-hack-4

Now take a really, poorly exposed picture of how happy you are to have put together four Ikea items without any meltdowns.billy-hack-5

Step 2: now that your Billy’s are in place you can measure and build your platform. We built the platform out of 3/4″ plywood that we just finish nailed together along with a 3/4″ top. We had this 3/4″ left over from something else, you can use whatever you have as long as you take care to make it square and structurally stable. We made it flush with the billy bookcases that would sit on it so all the trim would line up. It is about 5″ tall.billy-hack-6 billy-hack-7

Step 3: attach the billy’s to the platform. We used screws to attach them into the platform in areas that would be covered with trim. Be sure to use shims and a large level to make sure everything is level and square. We then attached the billy’s together by screwing through the 3/4″ filler between them. This all got concealed behind trim.billy-hack-10

Step 4: secure the billy’s to the wall. We live in California and an earthquake could easily shake these over so we never skip this step. We used the brackets that come with the bookcases and some more leftover wood screwed into the studs in the wall. We used 2 1/2″ long screws. This put the screws about 1.25″ into the stud. We used two screws per stud.billy-hack-11

Step 5: add the trim. I installed the vertical pieces first. I purposely took them all the way to the ground and extended them 2.25″ over each top.billy-hack-9

Next I added trim between the verticals. I used 1×3 for the top horizontals and verticals and 1 x 8 for bottom the horizontals. billy-hack-trim-2

Attach the baseboards and realize there is a nice gap that needs to be filled between the bookcase base and the horizontal trim. Nail some 1/4″ lattice wood in the gap and soften the edge with a 3/8″ dowel. I glued the dowel in place with caulk. Also, for the baseboards, I didn’t remove the baseboards behind the bookcases. Mike didn’t want me to, one because I had finally just finished caulking and touching them up since the addition and two, just in case we ever wanted to remove the bookcases (yeah right – these things are the best part of our room). In order to leave them in place and join the new baseboards to it I coped the interior corner joints. I have a really great trick for using your miter saw to cope joints if you’re ever interested. Careful though, once you learn to cope you may never join baseboards together in any other way!billy-hack-2billy-hack-3

In order to add the crown trim we had to nail some filler to the ceiling so that the crown had something to attach to. These sit about 3/4″ back from the face and sides of the bookcases so that the crown trim sits flush on top of the bookcase. See the pics. billy-hack-12billy-before-paint

To clarify, the tall, flat part of the crown is 1x the height of the space between the billy and the ceiling and nailed into that board we put on the ceiling and a couple of boards we attached to the top of the billy that also secured all the billy’s together on the top. Our roof trusses run perpendicular to the bookcases so we were able to attach the ceiling board right into them. If you aren’t able to do this use drywall anchors when you attach your board.

I miter cut the corners so that the seams aren’t visible. Then I covered the seam between the 1×3 and the top with some square trim. The crown was just a larger more ornate version of the crown on our windows. I also attached some of that lattice to the front of each shelf. Then I filled all the holes, caulked all the seams, lightly hand sanded everything and wiped it all down, primed the bare wood surfaces and then painted everything with two coats of my favorite trim paint – Ben Moore Decorator’s White in a semi-gloss finish.


Step 6: dress them up! Then take some more poorly exposed photos to show them off!billy-bookcase-hack-2 billy-bookcase-hack


Progress Update: What’s Up Next

There are a couple of projects that I still have on my list that I wish I could wave a magic wand and make them go away – one of which is all the trim in the house. I just finished caulking all of it and right now I’m in the middle of filling all of the nail holes and touching the paint up. I’m still on the fence about whether or not I’ll paint the caulk seam (I know I should but I’m sick of these tedious jobs). I love creating new things and touching up the trim work is mind numbing. So when I muster up the will power I make myself work for an hour or two on just patching stuff up. I figure, at this rate, I’ll be done by next year 😉.  Another project and kinda part of the first one I mentioned are the returns I need to glue on to the door frames upstairs. It’s part of the first one because I haven’t painted the door trims upstairs and I’ve been putting that off until I can touch up the baseboards and door trims at the same time – but I’m not going to do that until I glue on the returns. And another big one is the trim in the stairway. Right now it looks like this:

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See the lack of baseboards and unfinished skirt? Mike really liked the board and batten trim around Sienna’s alcove bed and asked if we could do it in the stairway. I spent last week ripping mdf sheets into boards, sanding and priming them and I’ve been waiting for Mike to be home for a day so he and I can nail them up. I’d do it myself but I want another person around when I’m hanging 20 feet in the air. I’m hoping it’ll have some resemblance to this by the end of this month:

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(Via decorpad)


Then I’ll have to caulk, patch and paint all of that too.

I get let down sometimes when I check out other people’s blogs. I see their finished rooms with their beautiful vignettes and I look around my house and all I see are bare walls and unfinished doorways. I can’t even pull up to the house without being reminded of stuff I need to do (paint and finish porch columns for example). The funny thing is – because I’m inherently flawed creative I’m already planning another massive project. Mike won’t let me start it until I finish all of my little tedious ones 🙄. So here I am, with my bucket of crack shot filling in holes dreaming up the laundry room I’m going to make him build.


Throw Back Thursday: Then and Now

The last time I posted a picture of our front yard it looked like this:

That was taken in June 2014. A year and a half ago. I can’t believe how time has just flown by. I wanted to post more pictures of the front but I kept putting it off because the front isn’t 100% done. I still want to add trim around the front posts and some sort of window boxes under the windows – maybe a pergola over the garage. We also need to build a pergola over our front steps…oh wait, what front steps? That’s right…you have no idea because I haven’t shown you all we have accomplished because in my head it wasn’t done yet. However, all of the little things we have done to the front have really changed how it looks and I can’t believe it’s been over a year that I’ve even talked about it.

Here is a picture of the front yard now:
front second story addition3

See the front steps I mentioned? Mike put the stone on those columns all by himself. He also welded the white fence. It just rained so everything is dark/wet. The concrete is stamped to look like wood. It’s a little hard to tell from the picture but we moved that wall on the right from behind the stairway window to a foot short of flush with the front of the house. It looks like it’s always been that way because we cleaned and re-used the same blocks when we tore it down. Here’s a pic of E using the air hammer to prove it:
moving a block wall

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of when Mike bought the house and how it is today:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  front second story addition2

Bed rest is boring.

Like soooooo boring.
This has been my view for almost a week now:bedrest
My vacuum also has not moved.

My only consolation prize: my ankles look fantastic! I wish I could reach my toenails though, I would love to paint them a new color, this one’s almost grown out.

The pouf I’m putting my feet up on is something I crocheted a few weeks ago. Since I have so much time on my hands, I’ll post a tutorial on it later (for those of you other grannies who crochet like me).

Last week I was just on modified bed rest and as long as Mike did all the heavy lifting I was able to put together a few things for the nursery. Here are some shelves I built, loosely following Ana White’s plans. Eventually they will be filled with books and pictures…If anyone has any good children’s/baby/toddler book recommendations please put them in the comments! If you want to know how I made the ledger shelves  let me know. The dresser is missing in this pic. It is actually the dresser in the above pic. It needs to be moved downstairs and painted and with me on bed rest I don’t know if that is going to happen.

This is the twin’s closet. It’s an Ikea Pax sort of hybrid. The center unit is all Pax, just my own combo I made up – which is what I love about Pax. All the components are separate. The shelves are also part of the Pax system, although I put them in using leftover scraps for ledges that we had lying around instead of more Pax frames. Same with the poles – leftover scraps and that’s why they don’t match. Ironically, it was cheaper to buy the melamine shelves from Ikea than to buy melamine from the Blue or Orange box. And the colors match. And I think it’s beautiful. One last Pax push: it’s cheaper (as in less expensive) than either of the big box store’s closet systems and (in my opinion) is actually better quality. The construction of the drawers and tracks is really intense – you can tell they can handle heavy loads and are extremely smooth. Most importantly the frames and shelves are all 3/4″ thick and the whole system is like a dream to put together – very easy and very quick and everything lines up spot on.


Mike was also able to hang our new “canvas” over our kitchenette. All I can think about is how I want to paint the trim around the doorways and the bathtub and stain the fridge cabinet to match the rest of the cabinets. The good news is: with the limited number of stair trips I’m allowed to make I have a place to keep my snacks.

Last, but not least here is the happiest girl ever:

This girl turned seven on Sunday. Yes, seven. She had just turned five when we submitted plans for this project. Time goes by so fast. It’s hard to stop and enjoy those small moments that you have – but you should. Red said that she wanted to see snow fall for her birthday. She said she’d never seen it fall. When I think about it, she was only 8 or 9 months old when she would have. For her birthday we took her to Big Bear in order to find the only snow in Southern California to inner tube on – it was man made.

For days the forcast said slightly cloudy. Right after lunch it began to snow. It has been a freaking heat wave here in SoCal, our friends have been swimming in their pools and turning on their AC’s, but on Sunday, for Red, it snowed.

Love this girl.