Ikea IVAR Bookcase Hack

Wow, I can’t believe it’s already been 9 months since we moved last May.  I’ve been wanting to post photos of all the house projects I’ve been up to but 2015 was far busier than I could have imagined and I just didn’t have the time.

Now that the weather is starting to warm up and all the spring bulbs are about ready to open I’m getting that creative itch that makes me want to clean and bring out my spring decor.  So today, on Valentine’s Day, I spent the majority of the afternoon cleaning and dusting the living room (how romantic).  Since I had the sofa and chairs pulled out of the way I took the opportunity to snap some photos that I never had time for last May and post them on the blog.


This is what the living room looked like right before we moved in. Even without furniture this room is gorgeous.  My favorite part is the fireplace.  The house was built in the late 1940’s and has that mid-century modern look that I love.  I knew right away that this space needed bookcases on both sides of the fireplace.  However, moving is expensive and I was not going to spend $$$ on bookcases.  Which ended up being fine anyways because after I measured the space I realized no standard size bookcase would fit.  Each side of the fireplace is about 42″.  Bookcases run about 32″ wide.  So putting just one on each side would leave an awkward gap between the bookcase and the wall.  The wall also wasn’t quit long enough to put to two bookcases side by side.  I looked everywhere online and couldn’t come up with something that would fit this space.


My solution?  Ikea IVAR System to the rescue!  The IVAR system is great because you can buy each piece individually or as a unit. So you can follow Ikea’s set up or come up with your own indiviual layout for a totally custom project.


I already had parts to the IVAR storage unit from a leftover tv stand at the old house.  This house did not have the same wall space as before so I didn’t have need of the storage unit.

If you buy the whole kit from Ikea, the bookcases would still only be 36″ long.  I wanted them to be as close to 42″ as possible to fill the whole wall space.  What I did was only use the two vertical pieces from Ikea and then I cut my own selving to fit.

First, I needed to stabilize the bookcases so I cut and screwed in a brace for both the top and bottom of the shelves.

Then I cut the corners of each shelf so that they fit snuggly in each position. The other part of the IVAR system that I really like is the predrilled holes in the vertical beams so you can put your shelves at any level.  (See the two previous photos).  I bought a pack of wooden dowels at Home Depot to hold up my shelves.


This is the bookcase with all the shelves in place.  After I snapped this shot I took the shelves back off so I could paint.  It was important to me that the bookcases look like they belonged with the space.  I didn’t want them clashing with the rest of the decor.  The biggest key to make these look like built ins was to mimic the appearence of the fireplace of a white frame and a dark wood stain on the top.

I put two coats of white paint/primer combo on the bookcases.  Since I just wanted a pure white paint I just bought the paint base without tinting it.


For the tops of the boards I wanted a stain to match the fireplace mantel.  From Home Depot I bought American Walnut stain and used a clean rag to put two coats on.  (Hint: Wipe up any excess stain immidately if you don’t want drip marks to appear).  Once the coats were dry I added two coats of a polyurethane to protect it from water and other stains.


Here is Oz, “helping” put the bookcases in place.  I’m not sure what he was doing with that hammer…


Tada!  I love the way they look in place with all my favorite books and decor. They turned out even better than what I was hoping for. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.  Soon I will add more photos of how to style a bookcase. Stay tuned!



2 thoughts on “Ikea IVAR Bookcase Hack

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: