Secondary Storage

Published on September 23rd, 2008 | by Jules Yap


Easy way to liven up a bookcase

Ikea furniture is like blank canvas. Add colours and ka-pow! it ain’t cookie cutter furniture from that yellow and blue big box no more. Jan does her Kilby a favour, turning the drab grey back to a mix of bright bold colours.

Jan says, “Cheapy-cheap Ikea Kilby bookcases fit the bill for my office but come with a back that is the dreariest color imaginable: putty gray. That said, when I got a second one, before nailing the back onto it, I marked it where the shelves would hit. I then painted each section a different color. It made a world of difference, changing the bookcase from merely functional to feature-able. It makes a nice showcase now and livens up a lot of previously dead, gray space. (Luckily, my original drab Kilby stays completely hidden behind my office door.)”

The boring Kilby

The snazzy one

More hacks on

Night light for a nursery
Sizing down the Norrebo

The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

13 Responses to Easy way to liven up a bookcase

  1. Jan says:

    oh–love it! post pics!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yes, Jan. Now I am thinking, maybe some nice fabric, like anemone. Take the fabric, fix it behind the backsplash with some tape, and with the nails, on the Kilby. I think that will work and costs less than to buy different colours of special paint. Greetings from Belgium.

  3. Jan says:

    yeah–the latex paint might peel. :-(

  4. Anonymous says:

    To ad to the last comment, you can not buy extra shelves for the Kilby at Ikea. So, you have to make them yourself, but that is not so interesting.

    As to the coulour, I have just made the Kilby myself, for my 3 years old son bedroom. When it was time, to nail the backsplash, I was surprised. I thought that at the Ikea, it was the same colour as the Kilby itself. So, I thought it was a mistake. I turned on the pc and googled for it and came on this page…

    The wall of my sons bedroom is much prettier than the grey backsplash. But I suppose the backsplash is needed for extra support and strength. I have some paint left from the walls of the bedroom (purple, blue and yellow), but it is latex, a waterbased paint. Do not think that will paint well on the backshelf.

    Greetings from Belgium

  5. Diane Allen says:

    Is it possible to get extra shelves? I’m using mine to store small things

  6. Albína says:

    I did the same thing with my Kilby I panted the backsplash a really pretty dark pink, made a world of difference.
    I just bought a cheap paint brush and small can of paint. The paint did not stick super well to the shiny surface but it really just gave the paint an interesting texture and was totally fine.
    The Kilbys are not super sturdy but will do the trick for books if they are not over stuffed.


  7. Anonymous says:

    interesting concept

  8. Anonymous says:

    I have this shelf system as well and I actually took the back off completely and let the color of my walls show through.

    At one point I placed small mirrors on the wall behind and used it as a makeup and hair station.

  9. Jan says:

    no, the shelf isn’t buckling–it’s just the way the first photo was taken. you can see in the side-by-side that they’re fine.

    i used glossy spray paint on the backing.


  10. Anonymous says:

    What type of paint has Jan used to colour the backgrounds? It looks like a sort of lacquer or varnish, but how is it apllied to the background? It doesn’t look like it was paiinted with a brush.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Billy are actually quite sturdy compared to the other shelves ikea has. Not sure about Kilby.

    The shelf in the picture looks like its bowing due to the distortion of the camera lens.

  12. Anonymous says:

    it looks like they used a bit of a wide angle lens to take this shot as there is a bit of fishing

  13. Anonymous says:

    It looks like the Elmo shelf is buckling. This isn’t helping my decision to buy some BILLYs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Back to Top ↑