5 Ways Fake Built Ins

A little over two years ago, I posted 5 Ways to Fake Built In Shelving. It was fun to research, but I never anticipated that it would still be one of my most frequently visited blog posts two years later!

Evidently, there are a lot of people out there who are looking for ways to get the look of custom built-ins without the expense of hiring a carpenter. And in the two years since I hit the publish button on that post, I’ve seen even more great examples of how people are using inexpensive bookcase units to make gorgeous faux built ins.

I’m not gonna lie, most of them make me want to take a road trip to Ikea. So here’s the sequel, folks. Let me teach you how to faux built in bookcase.

How to Choose the Right Bookcase Units

When it comes to creating faux built-ins, choosing the right shelving units is crucial. There are various options available in the market, each with its own set of advantages and considerations.

Let’s explore the different types of units and factors to consider before making your selection for your faux built-in bookshelves.

Types of Shelving Units

There are several types of shelving units to choose from, such as freestanding bookcases, wall-mounted shelves, modular systems, and cube storage.

Freestanding Bookcases

Freestanding bookcases are versatile and easy to work with. They come in various sizes and styles, allowing you to find the perfect fit for your space. Additionally, they are typically affordable and readily available.

Wall-Mounted Shelves

Wall-mounted shelves are great for creating a sleek and minimalist look. They free up floor space and give the illusion of floating shelves. However, it’s important to ensure proper installation to support the weight and maintain stability.

Modular Systems

Modular systems offer flexibility in terms of configuration and expansion. These systems often come with adjustable shelves, allowing you to customize the layout to fit your needs. They are ideal for evolving spaces or those with changing storage requirements.

Cube Storage

Cube storage units consist of cubbies that can be arranged in various configurations. They provide a modern and organized aesthetic, perfect for displaying both decorative items and practical storage solutions.

However, keep in mind that the open design may require additional organizational measures to avoid clutter.

Factors to Consider

When selecting shelving units for your faux built in bookcase, there are a few factors to keep in mind, namely:

Size and Scale

Consider the dimensions of your space and the size of the shelving units. Ensure that the units fit well within the available area without overwhelming the room. Take accurate measurements to ensure a proper fit.

Style and Design

Choose shelving units that align with the overall style and design of your room. Consider the materials, finishes, and details of the units to create a cohesive look.

Whether you prefer a modern, rustic, or traditional style, select units that complement your existing décor.

Material and Durability

Evaluate the durability and quality of the shelving units. Opt for materials that are sturdy and can withstand the weight of your items. Common materials include wood, metal, and laminate.

Consider your specific needs and the longevity you expect from the units.


Set a budget for your project and look for shelving units that fit within your financial constraints. Remember to consider any additional costs for customization or accessories that may be required.


5 Ways to Make Faux Built In Bookcase

1.  Library Shelving


Centsational Girl is the queen of faux built ins.  Don’t quote me on this, but I think she came up with the idea of dressing up Ikea Billy bookcases with molding and trim to look like custom shelving.  Thinking of custom cabinetry, this piece encouraged me to design one for home offices. One of her latest ideas combines Ikea’s Besta and Billy shelves to make library shelves.  Painting the back of the shelves pink and adding brass light fixtures to the front really makes these bookcases classy.  Check out more of her shelving transformations here,here, and here.

2.  China Cabinet


This beautiful china cabinet at A Charming Nest totally had me fooled.  It looks like it was built into the room, right?  Nope, these are two Ikea Hemnes cabinets made to look like a single hutch.  The gorgeous hardware–like those latches on the glass doors–really adds to the effect. You can find them as prefab cabinets but it’s also feasible to build them from scratch. All you need are plywood, hammer, jigsaw, solid wood, wood screws, and wood glue.

3.  Wardrobe


Another blog with great ideas for faking built-ins is Little Green Notebook.  Check out this beautiful wardrobe installation, made with Ikea’s Pax units.  Not only were these cabinets trimmed and painted, the interiors got some stylish touches, too.  And the mirrors on those doors?  Genius. These are perfect stock cabinets that every home should try.

4. Floor to Ceiling Shelves


I love the way Just a Girl styled her faux built ins.  Aren’t they beautiful?  The blue painted backs are a really nice touch to these dressed up Ikea Billy bookcases. If you need a DIY built storage space, this custom look gives you ample options to store materials.

Achieving Custom-Look Shelving on a Budget

Choosing the right shelving units, preparing and customizing them, and enhancing functionality are essential steps in creating a faux built in bookcase.

By considering factors like size, style, material, and budget, you can select the perfect units for your space. Customization techniques such as painting, adding trim and molding, and attaching decorative hardware help achieve a built-in look.

Finally, maximizing functionality through adjustable shelving, additional drawers or cabinets, lighting fixtures, and organizational elements ensures that your faux built-ins are both visually appealing and practical.

With these tips and techniques, you’ll be well on your way to transforming ordinary or basic shelving units into stunning faux built-ins that add style and functionality to your home.

Okay, who wants to make a road trip to Ikea with me, now?  We’ve looked ikea billy bookcase hack earlier and the built-in bookcase can uplift the same. It’s pretty fun to think of all the possibilities!  Have you transformed any simple pieces of furniture into something more exciting, lately?

Similar Posts


  1. Yes, I think you got the Centsational Girl info. correct. 🙂 Her bookcase transformations are great. I am loving the Besta with Billy. Thank you for this post. I see a few that could work in a mudroom…..the bench and Besta part would be nice. Yes, we may actually be getting that mudroom with a new/bigger garage. These ideas could come in handy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *