Before and After: A Luxe $540 IKEA BILLY Redo Uses Serving Bowls in a Surprising Way

published May 21, 2023
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Ikea Billy console and H&M bowl in living room before being re-purposed into high end furniture.
Credit: Dalia E. Aly

It’s true for all problems, but especially for home decor problems: Sometimes all you need to solve something you’re stuck on is a change in perspective. Maybe you need to flip where your bedroom and living room are in your apartment. Maybe you need to turn a piece of furniture upside down to make it work better for you. Maybe your wooden plate rack is better used as a bookshelf.

And maybe flipping a go-to IKEA bookshelf on its side, like DIYer Dalia Aly (@dalia.ea) did here, can help you envision it as an entirely new piece of furniture. 

“Although the BILLY is incredibly functional and beautiful as a standing bookcase, I felt like we would get more use out of it as a media unit, especially because we needed something that was longer in width than most on a budget,” Dalia says. So, with a little creativity, three BILLY bookcases became one long media console that looks proportional to the large living room space it’s in.

Credit: Dalia E. Aly

“I really wanted to have as much fun with this piece and DIY every step myself,” Dalia says. “I started by sketching out an idea of what kind of design I was looking to create and how to make the piece look custom and high-end at the same time.” One way she made the piece look a little more high-end was by creating chunky low-profile feet for the dresser. She did that with a surprising material: wooden serving bowls from H&M that she paired up to create spheres for each foot.

Because she was worried about hollow bowls glued together bearing the weight of a fully loaded console, she drilled a 1 5/8-inch hole through each bowl pairing that was the size of real furniture legs she would attach — “that way the legs would pass through the bowl,” Dalia explains, and provide support to the piece.

Credit: Dalia E. Aly

For a little bit of natural texture, Dalia attached a linen canvas sourced from a local sewing shop to IKEA’s OXBERG doors, which she fitted to the fronts of her bookcases. Dalia says one of the hardest parts of her BILLY hack was figuring out how to arrange the doors and the shelving with the furniture flipped on its side because the pre-drilled holes no longer worked. “I had to calculate and drill my own holes and use wooden dowels to place the shelves,” she says. She also had to figure out how to attach the two BILLY unit frames to create her super-long look without any super-obvious screws or fasteners. 

Dalia’s favorite part of the DIY, though, is the feet. “The bowl legs were almost exactly how I wanted them to turn out,” she says. “They attached to each other beautifully. The legs that I passed through fit perfectly, and they gave me the exact look I was envisioning! Even the fact that the two bowls stacked on top of each other was the same height as the legs I was going to pass through them was perfect.”

Credit: Dalia E. Aly

Dalia’s project total was around $540, and she says any ultra-wide cabinets (150 inches and over) she priced elsewhere were upwards of $2,000. “The way the bookcase went from being a narrow vertical element to being a 4-meter-long media unit that fills the space … made me so proud of the idea,” she says. “I love every aspect of how it turned out, from the neutral tones and textures to the subtle drama.” She completed her sophisticated look with brass knobs from ZARA Home

Dalia’s recommendation for future BILLY hackers? “Sketch out your design and what works best for your space — whether that means you attach doors, leave it open, or have a divide between doors and horizontal shelves as I did,” she says. “Once you figure out your layout and design, start with the details: doors, legs, and hardware. Before even starting to assemble the piece, have all your math, tools, and screws ready so as to not feel overwhelmed by the task, and good luck!”

For more high-end hack inspiration, check out these five BILLY hacks that’ll have you calling your bookcase “William.”