Built-In Billys Part 2

When we left you after part 1 of our built-in Billy bookcase posts, this is how we were lookin’:

Although, Monday, you got a sneak peak of the work we got done over the weekend when we revealed the new window:

Sadly, this is the photo that is going around Pinterest right now–“DIY Built-Ins!!!”  It’s sad because they look…so sad in that photo–granted unfinished.  Here’s hoping they still inspire someone.  In fact, our take on this project was inspired by a few Pinterest finds that lead me to two different tutorials.

This one, from Centsational Girl (Oh wow, her photo edges are round.  Nice touch, lady!):

And this one, from a blogger named Ashli:

Both ladies used Billy bookcases (although we are using a few different kinds) and both trimmed them out for a built-in look.  With these great examples in mind, we set out on our own built-in project and last night was operation trim fest.

Below is a better photo of where we started last night.  We got all the bookcases up and secure on the right side of the glass doors over the weekend (you can see we got the one for the left built, but not secure…it still is sitting just like that this morning).

We continued to use our method of 2x4s for spacing the top shelf.  We were lucky to get into one stud, but we also used 2–100lb anchors and screws to insure it isn’t going anywhere.  We decided to start with the crown molding (head’s up–not the right place to start).  So Simple Crown graciously sent us this crown molding to try out.  Let’s just say–their name was chosen well.  It is incredibly DIY friendly.  As you can see below, the corners arrive pre-cut so it really takes the guess work and math out of cutting the molding yourself.  Considering cutting crown-molding is, by far, the hardest part of installing crown molding, and these arrive pre-cut–the whole thing was a piece of cake. We chose the “Cove Molding” style and couldn’t be happier with its clean-lined and sophisticated look.

So Simple Crown’s molding is made of styrofoam (read more about that here), which honestly threw us for a loop when it arrived, but once painted and mounted–you would never be able to tell.  We’re sold on their lightweight, easy, affordable product.  Because they are so lightweight, they are installed with caulk and not nails–that also means no filling pesky nail holes.  Woot.

Here’s Chris putting a bead of caulk along the back of the crown molding:

Here’s me pressing it into place.  You don’t have to hold it until it dries or anything.  It just…stayed.  This is also the part where I said, “Chris!  We should have trimmed out the front of these bookcases first!”  Oops.  So we pulled the crown molding down in 5 seconds.  Once again, we were happy we didn’t have to deal with removing nails.

We used our nail gun and tiny finish nails for all the trim on the faces of the bookcases.  We went with two different widths for the trim–3.5″ for the large gaps and 1.5″ for the outside edges just to beef them up a bit.  Both widths were just 1/4 inch thick so there isn’t much difference in depth from the trim to the shelves.

After we got the top of the fronts trimmed out, we added a little more caulk to the back of our crown molding and set it up top…again.

The only cuts we made were straight cuts to fit the molding in the space.  What a luxury!

Then we tackled more trim-work.  We used 5 1/2″ baseboards (the same we used in our guest room and will also be around the perimeter of this room) to trim out the base of the bookcases.  After all of the molding and trim was in place, Chris and I started caulking all the cracks and spackling all the small nail holes left by our nail gun.

We hoped to get everything primed last night, too, but we didn’t want to rush the caulk drying…and we were tired.  :)  So this morning, were’ left with this:

It might look a little crazy right now–with 4 different kinds of trim, all different colors and sizes–but we are pretty sure once everything is painted to match the bookcase color, it will look uniform and schmancy.

I actually did give the crown molding a coat of paint before we installed it (per recommendation of So Simple Crown), but it isn’t as close a match to the bookcase as I initially thought–so we’ll try again tonight when we get all the other trim painted.

And although it isn’t much of an “after”, here’s a look at how far we came in an evening.

Here’s hoping we have seamless, painted photos for you tomorrow!

Update: Read part 3–how it looks after we painted the trim and cleared the shelves of tools here.


  • Reply July 4, 2014


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  • Reply November 22, 2013


    I am attempting a similar project and am totally stuck: I can’t find trim to use between the billy bookcases. Lowe’s couldn’t find me anything that was totally flat. Any suggestions? Thanks for your help!

  • Reply December 31, 2012


    They are going to look AMAZING! I would love to do something similar in my house, but I’m too overwhelmed at the thought of it! You always inspire with the way you take on changes with ease! I’ve made MUCH smaller changes to my house recently: http://futuredukes.blogspot.com/2012/03/little-house-updates_15.html

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Amanda @ Our Humble A{Bowe}d

    The bookshelves look great! Even though your tape peeled some of your paint off, I still think it saved you time. Either that or I’m terribly slow at cutting in without tape. Either way, it looks awesome!!

  • Reply December 31, 2012


    Oh my goodness. You guys are so talented! I can’t wait to see the finished project :)

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Andrea Hernandez

    So, definitely thought the before picture was how it would turn out, like no crown molding or trim, and I was SO impressed! I was thinking “Wow, what a beaut!” And I’m also on the slow end just realizing that the TV will go in the middle….Andi it’s attached to the wall sitting on the floor…

  • Looking good so far! I would love to have built ins but alas I don’t have the space.

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Diana @ Boy + Girl

    Looks great! Can’t wait to see it all finished!

  • Reply December 31, 2012


    I can finally SEE it! I love the thick base on the bottom. And styrofoam crown molding! What a genius idea.

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Chris loves Julia

    Aw, thanks Jessie. You can do it!

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Chris loves Julia

    Good question! They will look built-in, but the shelves are still moveable. All of the trim is attached the the faces of the bookcases and not the shelves themselves. I will most likely end up taking the majority of the smaller shelves out because….who has cds anymore!? I am already dreaming of plants, and books and art to display. This is such a great storage solution. Bring on the baskets!

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Cindy Medrano

    Love it! Can’t wait to see it all done!!

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Jessie McKinley

    wow!!! i am so impressed. and jealous! i’m not sure we would ever be brave enough to take on a project like this. however, if we do…i know exactly where to come for help! :) ps. it looks amazing! i LOVE the white trim around the bottom of the shelves. looks beautiful!

  • Reply December 31, 2012


    This may be a stupid question, but since they are built ins……you can’t move the shelves or can you still? Did you plan the shelf widths before you did the trims and everything? My gut says you guys did because you’re awesome :-) what a cool project! I feel like my parents could totally do something like this in their overly HUGE bonus room. It is like bowling alley length. Storage is the jam, and I sure do love built ins.

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Chris loves Julia

    Me TOO!

  • Reply December 31, 2012


    love the white. excited to see those shelves filled!

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Chris loves Julia

    Hey! You gotta start somewhere. ;)

  • Reply December 31, 2012


    this looks so great – I’m actually inspired to try something similar in our den, even though my only DIY projects so far has involved paint.

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