Build this DIY Library Wall for Less than $600

Kristin Cadwallader of the blog Bliss at Home shows us how she built the library wall of her dreams—while sticking to a budget.

woman in front of built in bookcase shelves

Hi there! I'm Kristin and I write the DIY/design blog Bliss at Home where I share my Do It Yourself projects and my obsession with all things home. I love to share how to achieve high-end looks on a budget.  I think no matter what you can afford there are things you can do to make your home personal and comforting. I'm so excited to share my "I Did It" Library Wall. I'll walk you through the planning, building, and decorating stages we went through to create the shelf of my dreams. 

Beautiful bookcase makeovers you have to see to believe.

The Price is Not Right

Image Courtesy Kristin Cadwallader

Being creative has its faults. Let me explain…

My husband and I bought the house I grew up in and have been taking on the challenge of remodeling it from top to bottom. We are in the middle of a kitchen remodel, a bathroom remodel, an exterior overhaul…and the list goes on and on. I have a million ideas floating around in this creative head of mine. So, when I decided we needed to have built-in bookcases in our living room, I shook the piggy bank and not a lot came out. This is a creative hiccup, but one I felt I could overcome.

I priced out building materials so we could build our own custom library wall. The cost was way out of what I was comfortable spending at the time. It came out to be over $2500. My library wall dreams seemed to fade.

More tips for turning bookcases into built-ins.

Thinking Outside the Box

IMAGE COURTESY KRISTIN CADWALLADER

Since I like to get the look for less, it was Ikea to the rescue! I started to hatch a plan to get that library wall. The Ikea Billy Bookcase was the perfect answer to my library wall woes. Four Billy bookcases, good hardware and quality wood to make them look built-in, paint and painting supplies, brass library lights on remote, and installing a sound system and speakers all came in under $600. 

Time to Build

built in bookcase shelves

We picked the bookcases up on a Saturday and got to work. It took the rest of the weekend and four evenings that week to complete the library wall. I was already playing around with styling the shelves before they were even finished. It's a sickness, I swear!

Once we built the frame to attach our wood panels, we went ahead and wired up our speakers and placed them on the top of the bookcases. The speakers run to the sound system that is cleverly hidden on a bottom shelf. We left the top panel open to the ceiling and it is great for sound quality.

We also made the center panel a pop off panel so we could access the cords to the speakers and the library lights in the future. Roller ball and hinge hardware made that possible and—just a side note herewe use this to hide presents from the kids too!

The brass library lights were a great online find. They are actually brass picture lights and were only $14 each. The cords all run to a power strip that is hidden in the pop off panel. We purchased a power strip that came with a remote and voila—lights on remote!

By adding details like baseboard and crown molding, the bookcases have a built-in look. To finish it off even more, we chose to fill in the pre-drilled shelf holes. We used a product that can easily be removed if we ever choose to change the configuration of our shelves. Details like this really finish off the bookcases.

Get a similar look in your own home with our guide to installing baseboard molding.

Final Thoughts

To date, this is one of my favorite projects. It has enhanced how we use our living room. The kids love to read their books in here. My husband and I have coffee and listen to music here on the weekends. When we entertain, it is our go-to room. The library wall adds charm to our home. The shelves hold our memories and favorite things. Definitely time and money well spent!

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