our blog


A DIY for the Books: How to Get Custom Built-In Shelves on a Budget

by | Mar 11, 2020 | Real Estate

If you build it, books will come. (And plenty of compliments too!)

Built-in shelves can take your room from boring to bespoke in a snap. Unfortunately, they can also come with a hefty price tag.

But I’m going to share the insider secrets you need to DIY your way to rich results without breaking the bank. (Hint: The secret is starting with assembled bookcases, like the IKEA BILLY!)

Check out this dramatic before and after:

I still walk in sometimes and can’t even believe it’s the same room. Of course, there have been many other updates and projects to get this look, but the shelves definitely set the stage. 

Let’s get started!


Note: Always measure first to get your supplies right. Our measurements were not exactly equal, with a width of 41″ on one side of the fireplace and 43″ on the other. But we compensated with our build-out around it, and it made no difference at all.

  • Two BILLY bookcases with extension, or similar product
  • Two 1″ x 12″ x 6′ whitewood boards (for tops)
  • Two 1″ x 12″ x 10′ whitewood boards (for visible sides next to fireplace)
  • Two 1″ x 4″ x 12″ common boards (Each cut to length, then screwed into the wall studs flush behind each shelf for support. This compensates for the 1″ difference in the whitewood boards and BILLY bookcase depth)
  • 3″ drywall screws to attach common board to studs
  • Three 2″ x 4″ x 10′ boards (for hidden sides next to walls and for header frame)
  • Eight 2″ x 4″ x 11″ pieces (to fill gaps between shelf and whiteboard on fireplace side)
  • Four  4 1/4″ x 1 1/8″ x 9″ plinth blocks of choice
  • Four  4 1/4″ x 1 1/8″ x 4 1/4″ plinth blocks of choice
  • Four 15/32″ x 3 9/16″ x 96″ strips of millwork molding (to cover the left and right edges of each shelf)
  • Eight 1 1/2″ x 2″ x 1 3/8″ 18-gauge steel brackets and nails
  • Brad nails (or finish nails)


  • Miter saw or skill saw
  • Brad nailer (recommended)
  • Drill kit
  • Tape measure

Let’s build!

  1. Mark your studs, and screw the cut 1″ x 4″ common board to the wall and into the studs with the drywall screws, spaced every 6-12″. Space the strips a few feet apart from top to bottom to get the best support.

  1. Cut out the crown molding, shoe molding and baseboard if needed.
  2. Press the bookcases flush to the strips on the walls, center them and attach the steel brackets to the bookcases and the strips screwed to the walls.
  3. Measure (ceiling to floor) the wall side where you want the outer edge of your shelf.
  4. Cut the 2″ x 4″ to length and attach to the wall.
  5. Measure (ceiling to floor) the fireplace side where you want the edge of your shelf.
  6. Cut the 1″ x 12″ whiteboard to length and attach using 2″ x 4″ blocks to hold the gap.

  1. Measure from the inside of the 2″ x 4″ to the inside of the 1″ x 12″ across the top of the bookcase. Cut another 2″ x 4″ to fit the space, and screw it in on each side.
  2. Measure and cut the 1″ x 12″ whiteboard designated for the top. Brad nail across the front first and then the side.

  1. Now place and brad nail the plinth blocks.

  1. Next, measure and cut the millwork to length, and brad nail that into place.

  1. Arrange shelves as desired. I cut a few in half to make the vertical breaks and used another 1″ x 12″ to fill the remaining longer gaps to my liking.

  1. Paint, stain and decorate as desired. Here’s our finished product!

Now it’s time to invite your friends over to enjoy your upgraded space and spoil you with compliments on the fruits of your labor … manual labor, but it was worth it, right?!

These are pretty much guaranteed to be a clutch selling feature if you do decide to put your house on the market. In the meantime, I hope you love your new custom built-in bookcases as much as I love mine!


Powered by WPeMatico




An accomplished real estate professional with a distinguished track record of success.  She has spent over 17 years in Atlanta representing buyers and sellers of $1M+ properties and is a tremendous negotiator.  Micki has a unique knack for forming close and authentic relationships with her clients; she steps beyond the real estate transaction and provide them with after care.  Micki has unparalleled marketplace knowledge and thrives on being resourceful; she studies and follows the data beyond the average agent.



Set up a FREE consultation with me today. I’ll be sure to make your real estate experience as unique, simple, and satisfying as I can.

CSRA Market Update | Augusta Metro Real Estate Conditions | Augusta Realtor Micki Esposito

It’s All About Supply and Demand | HOME PRICES

As we enter the summer months and work through the challenges associated with the current health crisis, many are wondering what impact the economic slowdown will have on home prices. Looking at the big picture, supply and demand will give us the clearest idea of...


  Welcome to 215 Hornsby Lane located in the luxurious River Island neighborhood. This stunning move-in ready home is nestled in the charming cottage section of River Island, offering a lifestyle that combines modern luxury with timeless appeal. With a listing...

Real Estate Market Trends?

The Changing Real Estate Market: Remote Work and Technology The real estate industry is constantly evolving, my friend. Trends and factors shape how buyers, sellers, and agents navigate the market. Today, I want to discuss the latest market trends that are shaping the...

17 Hobbies Just Right to Become Money-Making Side Hustles

If you’re looking to make some extra money, side gigs like babysitting and Uber are great options, but they aren’t the only ones. Whether the pandemic quarantine ignited a love of baking or the excitement of shopping in stores again hasn’t worn off, you can find ways...

How To Sell Your Home With Better Listing Photos

Did you know that over 90 percent of buyers start their home search online, and most first impressions are made from online photos? If you want to make sure that people are interested in buying your home, you need to make sure that the impression it makes is a good...

6 Ways to Overcome the Emotions of Selling a Home

Selling your home can stir up a range of emotions you may not have expected. While you may feel excited about the opportunity to move into a new house, you may also experience feelings of sadness or loss as you prepare to sell your home. Use these tips to help...


            Don’t lose potential buyers due to any flaws or unsightliness on the exterior of your home. Use the tips below to wow people at the curb and get them in the door! The best part is, you don’t have to spend a fortune or break...

What does it mean to you: the Future of Home Price Appreciation?

Many consumers are wondering what will happen with home values over the next few years. Some are concerned that the recent run-up in home prices will lead to a situation similar to the housing crash 15 years ago. However, experts say the market is totally different...


"The Best of the Best"

“Best of the best! If you are looking for a personal, boutique-style home purchasing experience, I highly recommend Momentous Realty. Micki Esposito was fantastic! We discussed what I was looking for in a home in detail, and that same day, she emailed me a short list of properties tailored to what I asked for. I felt like she truly listened. No generic emails with 50 listings of houses you have to weed through yourself. She weeded through the fluff and was able to focus the search on homes I would actually consider. As a result, my home search actually went much quicker than I anticipated. Micki was there from the beginning and even after the closing. She was not only my realtor, she was an advisor and my advocate behind the scenes. I believe that because of all her hard work, the entire process was efficient and much more painless than I expected. I would not hesitate to work with her again and I cannot say enough good things about Micki!”

– Dr. A. Jeffery

Her in depth Knowledge & Integrity are clear from the start.

We were so lucky to have worked with Momentous Realty | Micki on our home purchase. Her involvement in leveraging our position in our home purchase and synergistic solutions are the very reason why we are homeowners today. Her service was beyond compare, even a more powerful statement knowing that we aren’t her typical market. Her strong in-depth knowledge + integrity are clear from the start.

– M/M Woodson, Senior Executives

The results were amazing

She was very professional. Kept us informed every step of the way for a quick worry-free closing. Definitely will use her again.

– Dathne Johnson

One Call That's All...

MICKI is awesome she will help you with all your real estate needs. One call that’s all. Thank you for everything Micki.

– Stacey Manson

The epitome of integrity and grace.

Micki is the epitome of integrity and grace. I love and appreciate her wisdom and willingness to share her words of knowledge with those that she encounters. I can always look to Micki to be uplifted and encouraged.

– Lease Youmans

Our Go-To Realtor, knowledgeable, professional & dependable.

We couldn’t have been any happier with Micki and her professionalism throughout our temporary relocation process to Metropolitan Atlanta during filming requirements. Almost immediately, Micki and her team provided us with leasing options based upon our family requirements. She thoroughly explained the leasing process, attended every showing with us, and provided us with enough information to ultimately make our decision to purchase another home within the area.

MICKI, thank you and your team for the amazing work!

– M/M Washington, Entertainment Industry



Pin It on Pinterest

Share This