With 6 shelves of space and affordable cost, the Billy Bookcase is the ultimate addition to any home office or library. Come see what I think about our new shelves, along with some bookcase styling inspiration.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.
Ahh, the Billy Bookcase. We all either have one or know someone who has one. The IKEA Billy Bookcase is said to sell once every 5 seconds somewhere in the world.
I mean, can you blame anyone? At over 6 feet tall, it holds six shelves of books and anything else your heart desires. I was so excited to get my hands on it and add some personal touches.
I have been scrambling to get our office fully decorated, so my husband and I both can use it without feeling claustrophobic. We were using it as a storage room, and now it actually feels like a brand new room in our old house.
The bookcase was a huge step to transforming it because it’s one of the main pieces of furniture in there and a focal point in the room. Although we saved money on this simple bookcase, I was set on making it look stunning with decor and pieces we’ve had in storage. And with books, of course, too!
Our books have been in stacks, in boxes, just all over the room and the house, really. But now they finally have their own home.
It just makes me so happy!
If you know me at all, you know I’m a book nerd. I love to read. Anything from the classics to current nonfiction. I have a wide variety of interests. Trust me, because you will definitely notice some interesting book titles as we browse this new bookcase of ours.
Let’s get into the review and bookcase styling!
Billy Bookcase Review & Bookcase Styling
Billy Bookcase Review
The Billy Bookcase is cheap for what you get. I was all about finding something affordable. I really wanted something more ornate and I love antiques. But man, oh man. You can’t beat this price. If I want something with a more old-world vibe later, I can always purchase it down the road. But for a couple living on one income this was a great deal.
Ease of transporting
Hauling a bookcase across state lines was not something I was excited about. Our local IKEA is on the Kansas side, so we did have to make a bit of a drive to pick it up. We were worried about having to pay more to rent a truck or have it delivered, but that wasn’t the case. I double checked the dimensions multiple times and even checked many websites beforehand to see if it would fit into my husband’s hatchback.
Ultimately, it was a success. Apparently there is a whole list of things from IKEA that you’d imagine would be much larger but can actually fit into a hatchback when unassembled. This was a huge win for us!
Ease of assembly
Another win was that AJ was able to assemble this by himself in about an hour. He said it seemed pretty intuitive and even though a couple of screws were missing, we had some on hand so he was able to get it together pretty easily.
I will say that we had to anchor it to the wall to make it safe and snug in place… However, this was way less invasive than we expected. It only required an anchor on the very top shelf, which wasn’t visible after installation.
Although I knew I wanted a basic white bookcase for styling, IKEA offers several different colors for the Billy Bookcase. Plus, if we ever want to add on more shelves later we can simply add them on top for a floor to ceiling bookcase. I have even seen people buy more Billy Bookcases and anchor them together side by side for an entire wall of bookshelves.
So many possibilities with this bookcase.
The only bad thing about the Billy Bookcase, in my opinion, is that it is so plain. When you assemble it, you’ll also notice small holes along the interior walls of the bookcase. You will need to fill these in if you don’t like the look of them. I spackled them all, which took less than an hour, but let’s be real it’s still more work.
Additionally, I considered adding some leftover wallpaper that matches the accent wall. I envisioned applying it to the back wall on one or two of the shelves. However, I quickly decided I wouldn’t have time to do it now. I can always tackle that small project later, but it’s a possibility for those of you who like to personalize and add some creative touches to your furniture.
I would recommend purchasing the Billy Bookcase, and I would buy it again myself.
There are just too many pros to it. Even though I had to really style it to make it look less plain and cheap, it wasn’t difficult to do. It may not be ornate, but that makes it that much more versatile. It’s easy to tailor it to your liking with a few tools and some creativity.
I have not found another bookcase this size and style that was this easy to transport (since we have no truck) at this price. It is sturdy, holds all our books (and more), and would look nice even if we changed the color of the walls in the office.
Billy Bookcase Styling
Bookends and other fun pieces
I knew bookends were necessary for the bookcase styling to be complete. Since they hold books up and especially since all the shelves are not completely full, this is essential. It also allows a curator to add some more style to the bookcase. I added these antique style brass bookends HERE for an elegant touch.
You can also add any other decor that you see fit. For example, I added antique wooden shoe stretchers, an antique scale, and a few other items to create a scene that tells a story.
If you’re a quilter, a small stack of gorgeous squares of fabrics could look nice in one area. Are you a writer? A quill pen or canister of calligraphy pens and markers might suit you. Use things that serve a purpose, not just things that are nice to look at.
Candlesticks and candle holders like this one HERE are great for adding a vintage touch, too.
Storage is essential for my office. I need lots of cute pieces where I can safely secure and stow away smaller items I don’t use often. I like things put away neatly, so using things like this fabric basket HERE, a wire basket, an antique toy crock, and wicker magazine folders (that you can find HERE) were perfect.
Art (prints, photos, paintings/drawings, statues, vases)
I had to add a little art to this space. Since I have a creative soul, this office is also kind of like a little studio for me to create things. I have an entire crafting storage unit in our closet–so trust me, lots of fun projects happen here, too.
I recommend adding in art prints, photos you’ve taken, paintings or drawings by you or your children, little statues (or even a head bust like this one HERE), and vases. These go perfectly on shelves and add some personality.
Bookcase Styling Tips
Add more detail to the bones
As I mentioned previously, if you want the bookcase to stand out a bit more, you may choose to add some color or wallpaper to one or all the back walls of the bookcase. This is the time to do this, before you start actually adding books and other pieces to it. You could even add corbels or other decorative millwork to it. Apply a filler to holes. Anything that you want to change about the bones should be done first.
Organize your books
This may seem simple, but believe me there are so many options. It took me a while to finally decide on the most practical but aesthetic way to arrange my books in their new home. I ultimately decided to organize mine by genre and then by size.
Here are a few other book organization ideas:
Author’s last name
Favorite to least
Most used to least
Choose a wood, a metal, and a color scheme
Next, choose a wood you’ll use on the bookshelves, along with a metal you’ll incorporate in, too. Then, choose a color scheme. For an entire room, I might choose 3-5 colors to focus on. For bookcase styling, since you’re working with a smaller space, I’d recommend sticking to three colors. I did, however, choose colors that blend well with the rest of the office. In particular, if you have an accent wall like I do try to use one of those colors. I went with a blue, gray, and white for my color scheme, along with a lighter wood, and antique brass metal.
Look for secondhand decor first, then fill in with other pieces later
As I start to get ideas for what decor I want on shelves, I begin to shop secondhand first to save more money where I can. I like to peruse thrift stores, garage/estate sales, and antique stores to find one-of-a-kind, affordable pieces to add in. Then, after I’ve found these, I fill in the rest of my shelves with other affordable pieces from outlet/online stores.
Apply the rule of three + triangle rule
These rules will help anyone–whether an expert designer or novice–begin styling bookcases in no time.
Rule of three:
The rule of three says to group things in three. On a single shelf, try to group items in odd numbers, particularly threes. Vary the heights of the different objects, stacking a couple if you need. Layer them so that one or two are in front of another. Add more interest and help certain colors pop by following this rule. It adds dimension and builds more drama to the shelves.
Choose three colors or materials of objects and group them together. For example, all brass objects in a small pile, all wood in a small pile, all black objects together, etc. Then, starting with one pile, place these objects in various spots along the different shelves, creating a triangle. When you step back to survey the shelves, you should notice that they create a visual triangle if you were to take your fingers and draw a line in the air, connecting each of those objects together. The whole idea is to help create balance, creating a focal spot for any passersby.
However you choose to style your new bookcase, practice, practice, practice. Be creative. Add weird stuff in (sometimes it just works). Use forgotten knickknacks. Apply the simple rules I’ve mentioned–but also, nothing beats creativity and inspiration. Diversity is key.