• ikat stenciled bookcases

    It all started with a set of free Ikea Billy bookcases.  Our friends were in the process of re-designing their living room, and wanted a closed storage solution over their current set of black Billy bookcases.  ‘Hide all the things!’ is their new design plan, and so far their place looks amazing! We’re pretty excited because their changes brought us some free furniture, which I will never refuse.

    The minute the bookcases entered into our apartment, plans for our new re-design went wild in my imagination.  The first move was to take our current set of white bookcases, also Billies, and move them to our living room.  The second step, designing our spare bedroom with our newly gifted black Billy bookcases, will be revealed soon!

    I sound like a broken record, but we seriously have a lot of white walls.  It seems the interior design world is super excited about re-inventing the white wall, but we seriously need to tone down the sterile feeling they bring to our loft.  I wasn’t going to stop at just white bookcases against a white wall…. I wanted the bookcases to pop!




    I grabbed an Ikat stencil that I had on hand, which I ordered from Amazon a couple months ago but I hadn’t done anything with it yet.  I was worried the stencil would bleed, and since I’ve never really stenciled anything before I did a quick test-run on some Kraft paper.




    The stencil worked great! I was still super paranoid, so, in the beginning I was washing the stencil after each use.  Seeing I had the backs of 2 Billy bookcases to do, at this rate it would’ve taken me a week to complete the project.  I quickly gave up on the washing – Ikat print is a bleed-like pattern anyway so what the hay.

    I prepped the backboards of the bookcases by drawing guidelines in pencil for placement of each stencil, about every 4 inches.  Don’t worry, we’ll erase these lines after the boards were completely dry.




    I considered covering the backs in fabric, but I didn’t want to spend a single penny, this project all started from something free so I wanted to keep it free!  At first I couldn’t commit to a colored paint, like red or green or whatever.  I wanted the background to be a statement, but still be neutral and blend in.  I went with Annie Sloan’s Graphite chalk paint, which I had plenty on hand even after painting this chair and re-doing this industrial drafting table.  This dark gray would give me the contrast I wanted yet still coordinate with any random thing that will end up on display.




    The hardest part was stenciling.  It takes FOREVER, and no one is there telling you it’s a bad idea! It took me 2 hours per bookcase, thankfully I only had two bookcases to do, otherwise  I would have rethought my approach.   There was a point I may have painted my toenails in graphite chalk paint… don’t judge.

    Once I finished stenciling, I let the backs dry overnight.  The next day I erased the pencil lines, then scooted and nailed them back in place.  We all know the fun part is actually styling the bookshelves, which is a continual work in progress, as in ‘design is never finished and I’m going to change things up whenever I feel like it’ sort of thing.






    stenciled billy bookcases

    I’m loving how they turned out, but I can’t quit now! There’s still more work to be done.  Stay tuned!


    1. I’m impressed! It looks fantastic, and I love the free part! I have those same book cases in white also, and the backs definitely need something… I just don’t think I’m as patient as you are….but yours do look so good now…hmmm!! I can’t wait to see the rest of the room all pulled together now.

      1. Kristi! Thank you for the great comment! The hard work paid off, although I probably don’t do it again for a while, ha! It’s probably much easier to paint a solid color, or stripes!

    2. oh, wow–that turned out great! I’m scared of stenciling, and people always keep me scared by making it sound hard, but then I’m always so impressed with the results….I’ll have to face my fears and try it sometime 🙂

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