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Meet Billy.  My favorite Ikea bookcase for renters and homeowners.  It comes in various sizes and colors from the great land of Ikea.  It also might just be the most hacked Ikea item on the internet.

The Billy bookcase is extremely sturdy, so my favorite hacks are the numerous, personalized built-ins found in the Blogisphere.  I love these ideas, but I’ve been a renter for MANY years.  I’d love to add faux built-ins like these, but honestly, I’m too lazy to install, paint, and personalize built-ins that I’ll tear down in a few months.

Luckily, I’ve found several creative hacks that are completely renter-friendly.  I love finding ideas that help organize and utilize small spaces.  HELLO, CITY DWELLERS! First, the Murphy bed is BRILLIANT.  I can picture this in a studio apartment or a small guest bedroom that needs to double as an office.  I also love the idea of the Billy being a headboard/ room divider for small spaces.  I’ve seen something similar done in a one bedroom apartment that needed space for a nursery.  This designer added wallpaper to the back of the Billy, which I absolutely adore for a room divider.  The mudroom lockers is brilliant for people like me that want to throw their stuff down when they come in the door!  Currently, I have a bench, but it’s always covered with bags.  These mudroom lockers would help me keep everything off the floor.

I live near an Ikea so  I NEVER buy new Ikea furniture.  Craigslist in DC (and my former home of San Diego) is FULL of discounted and already assembled Ikea items.  I’ve seen entrepreneurs charge $20 per hour to assemble Ikea items.  With a little patience, pretty much all of the Ikea furniture that I’ve wanted has shown up on Craigslist.  A few years ago, I bought 5 white Billy bookcases off of Craigslist (all in GREAT condition) for a total of $125.  At the time, my husband and I were living in San Diego in a beach house with extra bedrooms, but limited closet space (I know, I know… it sounds like a tough life). I needed to turn one bedroom into a closet in a non-permanent manner, since I knew that we would be moving after a few months.  Billy came to the rescue.


Billy Transformation 1: Turn a Bedroom into a Closet

Then I moved to DC, and I was low on space (600 sq. foot apartment).  At first, I just shoved Billy against a wall with a few boxes in it to hide a lot of junk… A LOT of junk.  Anyone who has lived with a husband and two cats in a 600 square foot apartment knows that storage is SO important.  Billy helped us survive our year in tight quarters!


Billy Transformation 2: Storage in a Small Apartment

Then, we moved into a larger apartment with a den (800 glorious square feet).  Billy was turned into a renter’s version of “built-ins.”  I didn’t close up the openings next to walls or cut out a spot for electric plugs.  I just wanted it to look “decent” while it held our chotchkies from various trips, books, photo books, etc.


Billy Transformation 3: Renter-Friendly “Built-ins”

Billy has been incredibly useful for solving our rental needs!  I love how diverse it can be.  Now, we’re preparing to move into our first real home, and Billy’s future is uncertain.   Will I finally personalize/ paint Billy? Will he be a REAL built-in bookcase? A Murphy bed in the guest room?  A base for faux “built-in” closets?  A room divider?  Will I finally personalize/ paint Billy?

UPDATE: I finally found a spot for my beloved bookcases in my new home.  They look like custom closet built-ins!