IKEA Billy Bookshelves Hack: National Wallpaper Week

When I moved into my current flat, I was surprised that although more spacious than those I’ve lived in previously, there were not many walls that would accomodate my row of IKEA Billy Bookcases (due to placement of windows and radiators etc.). Now although I have parted with the majority of my books, I still have some that need housing, plus the bottom half of these bookcases are where I keep pretty much everything else I own (apart from clothes and kitchen stuff). The only wall available was in my main bedroom, so in they went …


billy bookshelves in bedroom


I don’t think you’d need to be an expert in Feng Shui to deduce that having that amount of visual clutter in a room meant for relaxing is not a good idea. I was contemplating various solutions, such as frosted vinyl, or replacing the doors completely with solid ones, when Graham and Brown invited me to take part in National Wallpaper Week. A plan started to emerge …

I did not find any convincing reports online that you could wallpaper over glass, but decided to give it a go anyway. Then began the task of choosing wallpaper — only a chore because there are so many amazing designs on the Graham and Brown site for someone as indecisive as me. Then I hit upon the name Marcel Wanders in the Designers section – I knew his work from an exhibition I worked on (and as an aside, he is very handsome! – see for yourself in this interview with Marcel Wanders). And then found this wonderful design of his called Heart and Tulip:




This carved wood effect design has a trompe l’oeil effect but is actually flat to the touch, an iconic design from Marcel used in furniture at some of the worlds top hotels.


It really is quite an incredible effect, and I thought if I used it on the top panels of my bookcase doors they might looked like carved wood.

I am a total wallpaper novice – the last, and one and only  time that I wallpapered was in 1989 (!) when I helped transform the AIR gallery in London into a ‘Hotel’, for the Marty St James and Anne Wilson exhibition of the same name. Though I vaguely remember wallpapering it in some hideous flock wallpaper with a complicated repeat, it was so long ago that I thought I better call in some help for this project.

Enter my lovely boyfriend, who did all the complicated business of measuring and cutting:




When all eight panels were cut, we applied by spraying the backs of the paper with Spray Mount (Please note: this must be done outdoors or in a well-ventilated space), left it a few seconds to go tacky, then stuck the panels to the outside of the glass, smoothing out to the corners using a wallpaper smoothing tool. This worked remarkably well, leaving not a single bubble, and two weeks later I’m delighted to say the paper is still stuck solid and looking fab!

I also added some ceramic knobs to the doors – even though they did not need them practically, having push magnetic opening and closing, I felt they needed them visually. (These may not be the ‘forever’ knobs, as I have my eye on some others, see my post New Knobs For Old, but I had these ones to hand from a previous charity shop find).


finished ikea billy bookcase hack


As a finishing touch, and to unify the room decor, I placed a square panel of leftover paper under the glass top of my bedside cabinet. This was easy to do as I just placed the glass top on the paper and cut around it.




Ta-dah! Project “Billy Ikea Bookcase Hack for Calm Bedroom’ complete.

In case you need any reminding, here are the before and after shots:






Thanks to Graham and Brown who invited me to take part in this challenge, and provided me with the wallpaper to complete the project. I now have the calm bedroom that I wanted, and have been sleeping like a baby since. Happily ever after!


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