French provincial bookcases – Ikea hack

ikea hack french provincial bookcases

Ikea hacking is a topic I have very mixed feelings on. For instance: why buy something that’s lower quality, and then spend a bunch of time, money and effort to make it look expensive? Why not just save up for the expensive thing, which, if it’s truly worth the money, will last you a long time?  Or, you know, just be happy with the cheap thing?

I feel like I have a good reason (maybe everyone thinks that? I bet they do). Mario and I picked this bookcase for his bedroom when he still lived at home (to display his impressive DVD collection), at a time when neither of us had much money. We brought it with us when we moved into our house, and it has been in our “study” (junk room) ever since, lurking in the corner and not fitting in with our decor.

I feel like this is probably an experience many people can relate to. The good ole Billy Bookcase is so reliable, so customisable. So cheap. But it was just too big and dark for the *perfect* vision of my future study that I had in my head. So, long story short, the other weekend I decided to chop it in two and give it a makeover. What did I have to lose, right? (Actually many people pointed out that I stood to lose my fingers, but guess what – I didn’t!)

billy book case

This before photo is so horrifying, I’m sorry. It was taken mid-“rearrange the entire room” phase. 

I decided to go for two shorter bookshelves for a couple of reasons. One, I felt like the original bookcase was way too high for the room it was in – it just seemed to dominate. And two, having two half-height bookcases means that I can display things on the top, which adds a bit more dimension to the room.

I looked at a LOT of inspiration for the final design I wanted. I didn’t want to spend too much money (ha, that backfired), but I wanted a finished project that was sturdy, professional and polished. The style in our house has sort of an eclectic rustic/modern french farmhouse feel (yes, I know that makes no sense. It’s real though), so I wanted the bookcases to fit with that. I knew I wanted them to be white too, because I am all about making spaces feel bigger at the moment (this follows on from repainting our entire bedroom white last month).


So as you can see, Steps 1, 2 and 3 involved removing the shelves and backing, and cutting the bookcase in half. I measured it first, obviously. I screwed in a new top and a new bottom to the respective halves, but not before I managed to hit my head about 3 times (don’t ask – I can’t remember).

ikea hack bookcases

For Steps 4, 5 and 6, I put the shelves in at the heights I wanted, and screwed them in using chipboard screws, and then started adding the trim. The shelves can no longer be moved, but luckily I am happy with the heights I chose (so far…). I countersunk all the screws so they would be invisible at the final stage. I got to use my amazzzzzzing Milwaukee cordless drill and driver that Mario got me for my birthday last year, and they are so so good. The whole project took me around 3 days, and I didn’t have to recharge them once. Plus they are so light (useful for someone with no upper body strength) and a perfect size for my hands. Ugh I love them so much. One of the best (and most useful) presents I have ever received for sure.

Anyway, the trim I used for the sides was just a cheap melamine trim, and the base was a melamine skirting board. The trim for the shelves was an oak trim, and it was my favourite. I feel like that small addition made such a huge difference to the overall project. I made alllll the cuts with my jig saw (ACTUALLY my Dad’s jig saw, but whatever), which was a little challenging at times. It has a setting to make 45 degree cuts, but without a proper cutting bench, or any clamps, they didn’t always come out perfectly. That’s what sand paper is for right?

Even more challenging was cutting out the architrave, which I decided I HAD to have. But I reckon I did a pretty decent job in the end…

ikea hack book cases

They started to look so good as I added the trim and the architrave (which I cut out of 6mm MDF that I had lying around).

The final construction step was to create the new tops of the bookcases. I used some oak trim and MDF boards, cut again with the jig saw. You can see from the photo below that my mitred corners were pretttyyyyy awful. I fixed them with putty ;). How good does the (almost) finished product look?! I was seriously so proud of myself at this point.

ikea hack book shelves

For the final steps, I cut the backing in half and nailed in it place, and then… and then. This was the point when disaster struck – the painting stage. After I spent my Saturday night painstakingly filling in all the holes and gaps, I was ready to paint. But. The paint would not stick to the bloody Ikea finish, even after I sanded like crazy. I tried everything – primer, oil paint, spray paint, you name it. Not cool. So, as you can see in the photo below, the inside of the shelves has a sliiiightly mottled look. The paint adhered perfectly to the outsides, the top, the trim and the shelves themselves, which are all the bits that can be seen once there are books on the shelves. I was planning to go back and do something about the rest at some point, but by now I had already spent about $60 on paint and primer, so I knew it was time to take a step back.

ikea bookshelf final

Once I started to put the books in, the paint issue really didn’t bother me anymore, because you just can’t see it. I might still try to touch it up in future, but for now I can live with it.

I can’t show you a really good after photo of the two bookcases in their final locations yet, because I want to do another post about the finished transformation of my lovely study. But I am planning to share that in the next few days, so you won’t have to wait too long :).


So what do you reckon – was all the effort worth it? I think so – I love my new bookcases, and I am not-so-secretly thrilled that I made them!! I feel like they look so good, and they work so much better in the room this way. Plus, I was able recycle our old bookcase – kind of hard to believe that it’s still the same one, isn’t it? I think I have to give a thumbs up to my first serious Ikea hack.

My (DIY)(Paper) Wedding Bouquet


Let’s talk bouquets – as I think I have (possibly repeatedly?) mentioned, I made mine, and it was great (the process, I mean, not the bouquet). Not to blow my own horn, but I also think that the bouquet turned out pretty awesome, a fact for which I am thankful. 

At what point in the wedding planning process did I decide to make my own bouquet? I can’t really remember, but I think it was very early on. I had to put up with a lot of doubting Thomases too. “You’ll be so stressed”, they said. “Real flowers are nicer!” “You’re a control freak who is unable to relinquish control over the smallest details of your life and one day you’ll have a breakdown”… You get the picture. Continue reading

Two days in Florence


Part of our travels last year took us through central Italy, and we were lucky enough to stop in Florence – Firenze – for a couple of days. Both Mario and I had been to Florence before, but we were still pretty excited to visit again. I’m not going to lie, this time we went pretty light on the artistic and historical aspects of the city (of which there are many!), instead choosing to focus on, well, food. And wine. And also some shopping. Hey, we were on holidays ok? Continue reading

Love Knots


In the months leading up to Christmas, I got a bit obsessed with embroidery. It started when I bought some shiny new boxes to organise all my embroidery floss (I was an avid crosstitcher for many years so I have ALOT). I wanted to branch out from crosstitch and try something a bit more creative, and also learn some new techniques. 

french-knot-initials-embroidery Continue reading

Needle case & notions bag


So as you probably know, I’ve been sewing for a good number of years now. But this, this humble needle case, might be my favourite thing I’ve ever made. Is it the soothing colours? Is it the gold geometric pattern? Is it the calming sense of being organised? I don’t know. Actually I do, it’s all of those things, plus the fact that it turned out so well!  Continue reading

D.I.Y. Vintage Textured Frames


While Mario and I were in Rome last month, we stumbled across a beautiful gallery – I Colori di Dentro – which showcased the work of  Maria Grazia Luffarelli.

Maria’s prints were so vibrant, I fell in love instantly. We were leaving in 2 days and had literally no room left in our suitcases, but I had to bring home at least a small memento of this beautiful artwork. We bought a small print on wood for my mum, and I contented myself with three postcard-sized prints on beautiful textured card. One of the first things I did when we got home was whip up some frames so that I could display them on the wall. Continue reading

Geometric Hanging Planter

Geometric Hanging Planter DIY

I love a good hanging planter, don’t you? Finding more ways to bring greenery into my house is something that has been percolating in my mind for a while, and the other day I got a sudden hit of inspiration (I’m pretty sure I was meant to be doing something else, like vacuuming. Ugh). 

I’d purchased this lovely copper geometric candle holder from Kmart a while ago (Kmart is so trendy now, it’s actually ridiculous), but I never really liked it as a candle holder. It needed something…. more. 

Hanging planter Continue reading

DIY Industrial Design Bookcase

Bookcase - front

Helloooooo! So I was going to give you the whole spiel about how sorry I am that I haven’t posted in a while, and how busy I’ve been, and how overwhelming life can get… but let’s face it, you get it, because we’ve all been there. So I’ll save it. ;)

Today’s project is the first thing that has really truly inspired me in a while. I am so in love, it’s not even funny. But first, let me give you the backstory. 

After living with our lounge room arrangement for the last 3 years, we felt like a bit of a change last week (you can see what it used to look like here). We moved everything around, and it looks really great, but we ended up with no place to put our bookcase, and a rather bare looking hallway. The solution is obvious, right?

Bookcase - 2 copy Continue reading

DIY Wedding Reception Flowers

DIY Wedding Reception Flowers

Let’s talk about DIY wedding reception flowers.

For me, the decision to DIY was an easy one – I’d seen my best friend do the flowers for her mum’s wedding, and they looked amazing, plus they were really economical. Anything that saved me money in the wedding planning process was a no brainer. Plus, it was just one more thing that I could exert my ever-increasing need for control over (yes, I know I have a problem).

To help you decide if doing your own wedding reception flowers is a good option for you, I have put together a handy flow chart, with some very important questions. Continue reading