Published on April 22nd, 2013 | by Jules Yap


Big Besta Built-ins

Materials: Besta bookcases, shelf units, Dioder LED strips

Description: My wife desperately needed some bookcases in her rather large home office, and I’m neither a carpenter nor rich enough to pay someone $8K for custom units. But, I’ve done quite a few trim projects around the house and have previously transformed some other Ikea pieces, so I figured I could buy some basic Ikea bookshelves and transform them as well, using a lot of moulding and incorporating some other features found in custom cabinetry.

Initially, we had wanted to use the Hemnes pieces for this project because they are solid wood and thus easier to modify and ‘dress-up’ (solid wood is easier to paint and nail into). However, the Besta stuff was on sale and offered more options, like soft close drawers, a variety of glass doors, etc. Moreover, there was a large Besta wall unit that had been created and displayed at our local Ikea, and it was very, very close to what we were looking for.

The office wall in question is fairly large, so we decided on a double wide Besta shelf unit on each side, and a three wide Besta shelf unit for the bottom and for the bridge between the two bookshelves. This thing was going to be huge! I think the top of the center section turned out to be nearly 10′ tall.

Because I wanted to create the look of built ins, I had to find a way to raise all of the pieces off the floor so the baseboard moulding would fit along the bottom. So, after assembling all of the bookcases/shelves and measuring the finished size, I built a base using 2x6s, and this framework was nailed to studs in the wall. I then placed the Ikea units on top of the base. I also nailed some 1×6 trim boards to the face of the 2x6s, to create more depth and a finished edge.

This is where I encountered my first snag. Turns out that the Besta drawers and doors are flush with the top or bottom of the units. This meant that I had to raise the bookcases/shelf units off the base that I had just built, in order to keep the drawers or doors from hitting the base or crown when opened. I raised the bookshelves/shelf units with 1×4 trim boards glued to the bottom of each bookshelf/shelf unit (except the bridge). I did this with the unit upside down, and when the glue dried I flipped it over and placed it on the base.

Permanently installing the bookcases and shelf units was next. I had spent some time looking at custom cabinetry at Lowes and Home Depot, and noticed that a lot of high end cabinet installations feature at least one cabinet that is taller/shorter, and/or deeper/shallower than the rest. I incorporated these ideas into my project by ‘bumping out’ the center shelf/bridge units 4″ from the wall, and the bridge was also raised about 4″ higher than the adjacent bookcases. These changes would create some architectural interest and allow for some really large crown moulding at the top.

Bumping out the lower piece was simple; I pulled it out 4″ and used construction adhesive to secure it to each adjacent bookcase. The bridge unit was more problematic. First, I had to glue the two pieces of the bridge together, because the bridge is only available as a single or a double. Thus, I glued a single unit to a double unit, to create one that was as wide as the bottom unit. Second, I had to find a way to ‘hang’ the bridge 4″ away from the wall. I did this by securing a two rows of 2x4s to the studs with large bolts, and then used the hanging brackets that come with the bridge to secure the bridge to the 2x4s. Worked like a charm! Sorry I don’t photos of this step.

After getting the bookcases and the shelf units installed, it was time to tackle the crown. Normally, I would simply nail the crown to the face of the bookcase, but remember that the top of the Besta doors are flush with the top of bookcase. Thus, I glued/nailed some strips of 1×4 trim boards to the top of the bookshelves and to the top of the bridge. This gave me something to nail the crown onto.

I like large, built-up crown, so instead of just using one piece of large crown I used 4 separate pieces. The first piece is a strip of backband moulding, which has a rabbeted lip on it and sits on the 1×4 trim piece. On top of that I glued and nailed a 1×4 piece of basic trim board, followed by 1×4 baseboard (inverted). Finally, I capped it off with a fairly large piece of cove moulding. In this photo you can see why I raised and bumped out the the center bridge – it allows the crown on the bookshelves to terminate gracefully into the ends of the bridge. I was very lucky that the terminated end fit so well.

Wish I had photos of the base, because I think it’s more beautiful than the crown. I used the same 5.25″ baseboard and shoe moulding used in the rest of of the room, but I also capped it off with a chunky piece of cove moulding that covers the 2×6 that forms the base. The cove profile is the same as the cove on the crown, so it ties everything together nicely.

After all of the moulding was primed and painted (luckily, the white paint I used is nearly a perfect match for the white finish on the Besta pieces), I turned my attention to the area behind where the TV would reside. Initially, I had wanted to use some faux stone sold by Lowes, but my wife found some silk fabric that she wanted, so I took several yards of that and nailed/glued it to a piece of 2″ thick foam insulation board and pressed it into place behind the TV. With that behind me, I installed the drawers, doors, and installed Ikea Dioder LED strips in each upper cabinet. I also installed 4 strips above the TV, secured to the bottom of the bridge and hidden by a piece of moulding. All of the LED strips were connected to a switched outlet so they all turn off/on at the wall switch.

Took me nearly a month and almost every spare minute. Great result tho.

~ D. Hale, Alexandria, VA

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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".

40 Responses to Big Besta Built-ins

  1. Conor says:

    Wow just love this Besta Cabinet I have a space of about 3.69m to fill what does the unit in the picture measure in width, really looks lovely !

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I know this might be late for some, but I am totally copying this hack and found all of the pieces at my local IKEA. The doors are Hanviken and Sindvik. In my IKEA all of the pieces are in the same pick up aisle. Would be more than happy to share article numbers if needed.

    Thanks for such an awesome idea, I was going to have my husband help me build something like this and he is so happy to buy it and put it together instead. Thanks for being willing to share your fabulous idea.

    • Martha says:

      Hi Elizabeth,
      Not sure if you still have the list, but I would dearly love the article numbers to build this if you still do. Thank you for your time.

  3. Tonya Parker says:

    WOW!!!! Now, this is exactly what we are in dire need of!! Beautiful.

  4. Nadia says:

    Awesome Job!!! Very Creative!!

    Question. Did you paint the back panels on the tall units? or is that just the actual wall showing that’s already painted?

  5. Crystal says:

    This looks great! I was wondering which IKEA Besta pieces did you use for this? I was having a hard time to find the side units that looked like yours in the picture.
    Thank you!!

  6. NY'er NY'er says:

    Should have read this before I built and hacked my BESTA unit. Oh well. Enjoy!

  7. Lynette says:

    Love, love , love but I cant seem to find these Besta pieces on the Ikea website….the doors and drawers are different…do you know if they changed up the design or did you use different style doors? BTW why do some people feel a need to leave not so nice comments above?
    You did a great job and are very helpful to all the nice people asking questions!

  8. Duane says:

    Tara – thanks so much for your compliments. Unfortunately, I don’t remember which pieces I used. Our local Ikea had a smaller version of this in the showroom so I initially bought the same pieces they used and then added one more single cabinet for the base and the bridge to make it wider. We also tried several different cabinet doors until we came up with the right look. You might consider taking a photo from this site and showing it to your local Ikea; they should be able to figure out all of the pieces.

    Dimensions: 14′ wide, 8.5′ tall in the middle.

  9. Duane says:

    @TC: Putting the Besta stuff on a base creates a problem because the bottom of the cabinet doors are flush with the bottom of the cabinet, so the enitre thing needs to be raised up at least 1/4″ so the bottom of the door doesn’t drag on the base when the door is opened. To do this, I flipped the assembled cabinet upside down and then nailed/glued 1×2 or 1×4 trim boards to the bottom of the cabinet, mitered at the corners, and flush with the sides of the cabinet. So when the cabinet was placed on the base the bottom of the doors were about 2″ from the bottom of the cabinet. To finish the base and cover the area between the cabinet and the baseboard, I nailed trim boards to the face of the 2x6s, then nailed the baseboard to the face of the trim boards. The baseboard is slightly shorter than the trim boards that cover the 2x6s, so that’s why I needed to attach trim boards to the face of each 2×6. I then nailed a piece of cove moulding on top of the base, which covered the space between the edge of the cabinet and the trim board. Hope this helps.

  10. Duane says:

    @Lisa. I’d be happy to help you out with your project. You can email me at threehales at mac dot com.

  11. TC says:

    Looks Amazing! Could you explain how you finished off the bottom base. What pieces of molding did you piece together and how did you fill in the bottom to get it flush with cabinets? Thank you.

  12. Austin, TX says:

    MAN! If only we could CLONE you!! I’m trying not to be jealous! With all the compliments you’re receiving surely your next project will be to enlarge the openings in your home so you can get you head through the doors, right? :o )
    I’m going nuts on the IKEA site trying to figure out the pieces you used. Can you help with this? Thanks so much!!

  13. Tara Page says:

    I LOVE this. You did such an awesome job. I’m trying to figure out the parts you bought by looking online. Any chance you can share? The parts/pieces that you bought? Would so much appreciate it. Also, can you share the final dimensions?

  14. Lisa says:

    I love what you have done. Amazing. I have searched for a year to find something that would fit my budget and looks custom. The only think I like so far is the besta group from Ikea. Are you available/willing to build something similar for me (must smaller scale).

    • Lisa says:

      I guess I should mention that I live in Arlington, VA that is why I asked if you would be willing to build something similar for me. :)

  15. msykes says:

    Great project! We are in the planning stages of something similar. What kind of glue did you use to attach the trim boards to the Besta units? Seems like the finish would prevent wood glue from being useful but something like gorilla glue might work?

  16. Maria says:

    This is really beautiful for a very inexpensive price! I think it is very built in ” looking”. I would also like to do something very similar and would really appreciate a list of pieces used.

  17. Melissa says:

    I also would like to know what the individual pieces you used were. This looks amazing, excellent work!

  18. Stephanie says:

    I was just wondering what size of tv that is you have?

  19. Michelle says:

    Love this!!

    is there any way you could show the individual pieces like in this post:

  20. Anonymous says:

    This is amazing! Do you happen to know the paint color/brand? I am wanting to retrofit some white Besta pieces but matching the paint scares me :)

  21. Will Larson says:

    @ Remmie, When it’s connected to the wall, its built in. Built ins often times aren’t between wall studs.

  22. Looks really nice! Although I think if I had it in my living room it would need to be a little more built-in, as it still seems to take up some space.

    • D. Hale says:

      Thank you. It definitely takes-up alot of space but the room was very large to begin with, so it fits our space really well.

  23. Becky in MN says:

    Wow, that looks fantastic. You should be very proud of your skills.

  24. Remmie says:

    Not sure if this qualifies as “built-in” since it doesn’t look integrated into the wall behind it, but it does look very classy.

  25. Anonymous says:

    mho: that’s how you turn besta into worsta. Great craftsmanship, but nowhere near my taste!

  26. Anonymous says:


  27. Anonymous says:

    Looks awesome! I’m going to be doing a smaller unit like this soon – what paint did you use that matched the white so well?

  28. China Ali says:

    I love it. How much though? My husband likes to hear #’s first lol

  29. Anonymous says:

    You got my vote for hack of the year. Amazing work!

  30. Anonymous says:

    I think you are probably the best husband ever!

  31. Anonymous says:

    Do you mind sharing how much this project cost you?

    • D. Hale says:

      I think the Ikea pieces were around $900 and the moulding was another $300 or so. Not cheap, but far cheaper than paying someone to build it from scratch.

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