Hack of the Year

Published on January 31st, 2012 | by Jules Yap


Billy-Benno library is the Ikea Hack of 2011!

First of all, a big thank you for voting. And yes, we have a winner! Congratulations to Chas for the awesome work on the Billy’s, Benno’s and miles of books. Chas’ Billy-Benno library garnered 28% of votes, while Marloes’ Rektangle vase bathroom wall came in at second, with over 23% of votes. A close fight to the end. The other favourite was Pippa’s Skimmer soap dish, which pulled in 13% of votes.

This year’s Ikea Hack of the Year kinda shifted things a little. No doubt, as some commented, repurposing/upcycling/whatever you call it is growing and does deserve a category of its own. Which may then leave “true-blue Ikea hacks” with a “purer” fight for the title. Definitely in the works for 2012. 

O’verlays for the winner !
Besides bragging rights, Chas takes home a $150 gift card to spend at O’verlays. I have a feeling that the decorative fretwork panels will fit in beautifully in their French country house.

If you’re not sure what O’verlays are, check out the photos of their creations below and their website too.

See poll results.

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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".

27 Responses to Billy-Benno library is the Ikea Hack of 2011!

  1. Congratulations Chas ;) All readers of ikeahackers.net love you

  2. Anonymous says:

    lovely.. but I wonder if they are book hoarders? my dad has about as many if not more books, most of which he just collects and doesn’t actually read. this is why my younger sister will have a hard time paying for college.

  3. Mercy says:

    Tres magnifique. Truly a labor of love. And, thanks for sharing all the details.

  4. Barb says:

    Pippa, LOVED your soapdish. Taking something designed to serve one purpose and turning it into something that serves a very different purpose is my idea of a hack. The simplicity of the solution was part of the charm of the piece. My hat is off to you for proposing a very elegant solution to a common problem.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Chas, congratulations to winning Best of 2011. You deserve it! What backbreaking work this must have been. You have a very lucky wife.
    Hope you get to enjoy your beautiful library for many years to come!

    (of the humble little soapdish)

  6. marble top dining table says:

    Installing and adapting 60 Billys to fit in a set environment IS a hack.

  7. That’s a real hack…thanks

  8. Chas Saunter says:

    I submitted this as I thought it may be an inspiration to others that you can take a blank space and with some vision, major planning and a modicum of skill, turn it into something dramatic and beautiful.

    To those who doubt the efforts that went in to the build, I did it alone (no hired help!) whilst my wife was away seeing the kids – it was done as a surprise. The toughest part was carrying the boxes up two flights of stairs on my own! The house was built in 1860 and as such there isn’t a straight line in the place, the floors slope with almost a 2″ drop to the centre of the room and the walls are all out of alignment.

    Every one of the units was modified to ensure a seamless aligned look and get them to fit the sloping floor. The base units were all positioned, then battened and mounted on the wall before being bolted together. The top units were all cut to height and then mounted upside down on top of the lower units. The top plinth was constructed from oak finished architrave along with the door surrounds which were trimmed with Ikea worktop trim.

    All the lighting was recessed into the shelving by drilling recesses in the shelves to take the Ikea LED units and drilled to hide the cable inside the shelf – no cables to be seen anywhere.

    It was a lot of effort but the end result speaks for itself and I’m proud of the achievement – it’s made a boring hallway into the hub of the home.

    I’m sorry this has been such a controversial ‘hack’, but thanks to all the people who voted for it!

    • Stampin n da Hood says:

      you are an IKEA god Chas! Hack on!…if some can’t handle the many different versions of hacking they should move on…

  9. Anonymous says:

    I do think it qualifies as a hack, a massive one, but it’s neither an original nor an outstanding one.
    What is exceptional, is the impressive setting of this library.
    The hallway already had incredibly good proportions before it was lined with Billys. It’s these underlying perfect proportions that help make the library so comfortable and “pretty” looking and scored it all those votes.
    But this site is not called Ikeadecorators.net.
    If I want to be reduced to fawn over beautifully decorated grand spaces, there are innumerable websites and glossy magazines available that are full of pretty pictures of “tastefully” furnished, stately homes.
    At Ikeahackers I want to be wowed by hacks, and I expect that the hack is king, not the setting its in.
    I, like so many others come here to get inspired by people’s hacks, not the size of their homes. Hacks small or big, simple or complex, some plain, some gorgeous, most solve a furnishing or other problem with creativity and cleverness. And each year a couple few have risen above all others through their ingenuity, out of the box vision or exceptional beauty and sense of style, and thus made Jules list of 10 Best hacks..
    Clearly, this library didn’t win, nor earn the inclusion on the Best list due to the hack, but Jules and so many voters were bowled over by its setting and the sheer quantity of Billys used. But even the size of the hack is no convincing argument for having earned inclusion and the winning spot, as I very much suspect like the commenter above, that the cutting and fitting was done by the hired help….hope they were well paid.


  10. Tripp Knightly says:

    It’s not a hack. It’s a warm-toned photo that panders to something many of us no doubt wish we had. Heck they’re not even built-ins technically. It’s a hack because somebody bought a pallet of Billies and used them for their intended purpose? Maybe I could buy a bunch of chairs for my restaurant and enter that next year.

  11. Phil Moore says:

    I definitely see your point that next year you’ll need to split off the different “levels” of hack so we don’t devolve into bickering over what constitutes a hack. With or without the title, I love the look here. I just don’t know what you do with all those books….

  12. Anonymous says:

    “Someone” did no such thing. “Someone” hired a couple of contractors who then put 60 Billies on top of each other. Lol!

  13. Anna says:

    Really? The most ingenious hack of 2011 was a Billy on top of another Billy? ‘Cause someone did it 60 times? Quantity beats quality, apparently.

  14. Anonymous says:

    There certainly is one word too many.

  15. Alexander P says:

    If this isn’t a hack, how come over 25% voted for it as the best hack?
    What the fuck, move on.

  16. Anonymous says:

    what a huge waste of words (+6)

  17. FInding a way to take a space and fit every corner out with bookcases takes forethought planning. This IS a hack and it is beautiful. I know I voted for it! I look forward to everything 2012 brings about to this site.

  18. Renee says:

    I agree with Zulaya and Hans. It’s a great hack and deserved to win!

  19. Zulaya says:

    I voted for the standing desk, because it fits a current interest of mine, but I must say, this is the prettiest/coolest looking hack of the year. If cutting off the end of a spoon is a hack, then this is a hack. They cut the cases to the right length, flipped some upside down, afix them to walls using non-ikea methods, made them builtins…. Practically everything that uses a Billy (or a lack, for that matter) would not be a hack if figuring out different ways to orient, afix, or display were “not a hack.”

    • Anonymous says:


      The extraordinary inventive vision needed to see a hanging, self draining soap dish when looking at an everyday kitchen utensil is what makes the soap dish such a pure hack.
      But I suspect you know this full well already and are just trying to disparage this ingenious, creative and ultimately beautiful and problem solving hack.

      I agree with one of the comments: Chas turned a huge, rather cold looking hallway into a warm inviting library. That’s very good interior decorating, but it does NOT make it a creative hack, just a monumental one.


    • Zulaya says:

      I wasn’t disparaging the spoon. I think the spoon is cool. I think pretty much every hack here is cool. I get tons of great ideas from this website. I really don’t know why anyone ever says “this isn’t a hack” on a hack? What’s the point of that comment?!?!

      Even the hacks I think are Butt UGLY I would never say “That’s not a hack.” The “Look I painted my table” hacks are still cool. I so do not get “this isn’t a hack” comments. I will agree that there are two categories of hacks, those that improve on an idea that is still using it in the same way (every lack, billy, and expedit, or near enough), and those that do something, huge or small, that thinks completely outside the box (the spoon). But to enjoy one does not require that I label the other “not a true hack.”

  20. Cécile says:

    This is great, but this is not a hack…

    • Zulaya says:

      I disagree (see above) but I am sincerely much more impressed by feedback that has a name attached to it, so I honestly thank you for that.

      (But it’s a hack!)


  21. Hans says:

    Installing and adapting 60 Billys to fit in a set environment IS a hack.

  22. Anonymous says:

    This is not a hack, it’s just 200 Billys. Meh.

  23. Anonymous says:

    This is not a hack at all.

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