Billy Bens+Room

Published on October 23rd, 2012 | by Jules Yap


Mock Built Ins with Malm and Billy

Materials: Malm 4- Drawer, Billy Bookcase

Description: We noticed that the Billy Bookcase and the Malm dressers have the same width. We decided to stack one on top of the other to create a built-in-look while giving us some additional storage. We built each of the two dressers as instructed. For the Billy shelves, we build them as instructed, except we did not attach the top or the back.

Next, we turned the Billy upside down and placed it on top of the Malm. Thus, the base of the Billy is actually the at the top of our shelves. This allowed the top of the Malm to be accessible without being obstructed by the bottom shelf and base of the Billy. The Billy and the Malm are held together by brackets. We also attached each piece to the wall. We then trimmed the base of the billy (now the top of our shelves) with crown molding to give it a built-in look. We also trimmed the bottom of the Malms.

We build the bench ourselves, as Ikea didn’€™t have one to meet our specifications.

We then used the Granat cushions on the bench. We also hid an integrated lighting strip (I can’€™t recall which one) behind the crown molding on the top of each Billy.

~ Rachel, Detroit, MI

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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".

7 Responses to Mock Built Ins with Malm and Billy

  1. Bree says:

    I was so excited to see this, so I bought two malm three drawer dressers off of craigslist. Then I went to IKEA and bought to Billy dressers. They are not the same width!
    I then the malm found it was 27 1/2 inches wide, by the Billy is 31 1/2

    What can I do????

  2. ma says:

    I am thinking of doing something similar to create storage against a long wall in my dining room — but I was thinking of four MALM dressers topped with four 2×2 EXPEDIT units (so 4 sets of MALM + EXPEDIT)

    What I’m wondering is whether a 3-drawer MALM dresser would take the weight of a 2×2 (or even a 4×2) EXPEDIT shelf? I wasn’t planning to fasten the EXPEDIT to the wall, but was going to use shims at the base of the dressers to ever so slightly lean them back to the wall.

    Storage would be for extra dining / kitchen stuff in drawers, and then on the EXPEDIT shelves curios and books.

    Any help / thoughts would be appreciated!

  3. Anonymous says:

    We did almost exactly this hack in our kids’ room about 7 years ago. We mounted the Billy book cases to the wall using cleats and we did leave the backer board on. Our bookcases are not actually supported by the Malm, but they look like one unit. We added a shelf across the tops of the Billy bookcases for some added storage, and fixed lights shining down on the reading area under that. It has held up well and we love it!

  4. Very nicely done.

    My only concern is that since you have left off the backing of the Billys they may not be very stable side-to-side.

    The back panel on these (and a lot of particle board furniture, not just Ikea) is used to increase shear (side-to-side) strength. The backer board is just fiberboard so doesn’t have a lot of strength to it on it’s own but serves to keep the sides parallel to avoid shear. If the bookcases start leaning they might topple sideways (the brackets attaching them to the Malm are not sufficient to stop this once it starts going).

    If your goal was to have the wall color show through, think about putting some kind of backer board behind the Billy’s painted the wall color. If it were me, I’d add beadboard to the back and extend it down to attach to the back of the Malm for added stability. Then I’d put beadboard under the window (with some flat trim “chair rail” under the windowsill to match the clean lines of the Billy/Malm) and down behind the bench to add to the “built-in” look.

    If you want to keep it like this, it may be possible to increase the shear strength by making the shelves fixed using t-brackets to attach them to the sides, but this would be a half-measure, at best.

    • Anonymous says:

      However, Rachel DID mention they fixed both Billys to the wall. Shouldn’t that be enough for stability?

      - Myriam, Germany

    • Hi Myriam,

      Ikea recommends attaching to the wall to prevent toppling forward as that is the narrowest dimension of the bookshelf. What I was trying to point out was shear strength. The backer board would keep the sides parallel (square) so that the majority of the load force would be downward. When the form starts to become a parallelogram (out of square), then shear forces come into play.

      Think of it this way: The backer board adds strength by acting as a diagonal brace (top-right to bottom-left and top-left to bottom-right) as well as corner braces of all four corners. That is shear strength (it’s also used in building codes, for instance the plywood that is used on exterior walls).

      Since the original tops and the backer board to the Billys are not used, the sides are only held in place by the cam locks in the inverted bottom of the bookshelf (now the top piece) and the small mending braces (like this one) that Rachel’s hubby used to attach the sides to the dresser. If you zoom into the each of the photos, you can see one sticking up just above the center of the pillow, so I’m assuming there is one on the opposite side (adjacent to the room’s side walls). Naturally, I can’t see if there are any on the back (and even if there are, those wouldn’t contribute to the diagonal shear strength).

      It appears to me that there is not enough attachment to keep the sides from ‘kicking out’ under load at the point of the mending brace because of the lack of diagonal bracing the back panel would provide. The weakest point is at the mending brace, specifically at the single screw on the Malm side as the force on it is outward; the side of the Billy would push out on the mending brace causing the mending brace to pull out on the screw, which is embedded in particle board and would pull out easily.

      Additionally, since the shelves are adjustable (sitting on the movable pegs) and the sides are relatively thin, somewhat flexible particle board there is also the possibility of the Billy sides bowing outward under load and the shelves falling down.

      Does that make sense?

      ~Ostracon, Oregon

    • Anonymous says:

      I suppose this could be an issue…if the child starts collecting bowling balls or lead ingots. I suspect the book and toy load on two shelves will be just fine.

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