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Billy Bookcase Hack with Library Ladder

I have always loved reading. Like, really loved it. Like, I have an at least 2 books a week habit, sometimes 3 depending. I pretty much always have a book stashed in my glove box, purse, night stand, back pocket, it’s a must for me. My mom always made a point of bringing us to the library when we were kids just like her mom used to bring her.

You know that scene in Beauty in the Beast where Belle discovers the library? There are a gazillion books from floor to ceiling and she goes flying around on the ladder checking them all out. Yeah, that was my dream when I was little, not the marrying the prince part (although the Mr. is pretty great) but having my very own floor to ceiling library where I whipped back and forth on the ladder, it seemed like the best idea ever!

A close up of a book shelf

And so I finally have made all my childhood dreams come true (ok well not all of them, I still really want a hover board like Michael J Fox had in Back to the Future, but I’ll keep waiting patiently on that one) and built my very own library complete with sliding ladder. The upstairs hallway seemed like the perfect spot for this, right outside our bedroom door.

A room with a book shelf

Ok, so when I say built, I had a little help from Ikea. I’m sure you all have seen Billy Bookcase hacks before on Pinterest. I’ve always wanted to try it and I was scared, but it really is as easy as it looks. Our ceilings are 9 ft tall so I grabbed 2 of the original Billy bookcases and 4 of the extensions packs. I stacked them all on top of each other securing them to each other AND studs in the wall. Then I just trimmed them out with inexpensive trim and my trusty nail gun to give them that built in look. That was the easy part.

A close up of a book shelf

A book shelf filled with books

Next came the ladder…

A long hallway with window seat

I happened upon this amazing beat up old ladder at an antique store I hit up sometimes (Duvals Antiques in Hastings, MI for you locals) and I was so geeked because the rustic finish was perfect on it. It was a 12 ft ladder so I had to cut it down, but it was love at first sight.

A book shelf filled with books

 And then this project sat, and sat, and sat some more. I wasn’t quite sure how to make my flying thru the air on a ladder ala Belle dreams come true, but it was going to happen. Enter my blogging bestie Allison over at The Golden Sycamore (go check it out her style is amazing!). She is a fellow Michigander who lives on the east side of the state conveniently close to an Ikea (lucky duck). I regularly make excuses to visit Ikea (because duh) and consequently Allison. We met at Ikea where I proceeded to nearly kill her with my shopping cart (not the first the time sadly) and she helped me load up all my Billy’s. As if this didn’t win her a gold star already, I popped by her house to see her latest projects and sweet kiddos, when I fell in love with the barn door she had just installed in her basement (check it out here). Her husband was nice enough to explain how he hung it all up and a lightbulb went off in my head! I could totally use a barn door sliding thing (technical term) to make my ladder slide.

I hit up our farm and fleet store grabbed the barn door sliding thing, plus wheels for the bottom of my ladder…

A close up of a ladder

and this doohickey hardware that works with the barn door. They are big long screws that screwed down into my ladder, with a little liquid nails thrown in for good measure.

A piece of wood

I knew I didn’t quite have the right tools to do this one on my own, so I hit up my Uncle Rick, who is busy building my brother’s new house down the street. He helped me screw the hardware down into my ladder and also cut the barn door sliding thing down to the right size for my bookcase. We screwed it into the ceiling joists with some lag bolts and tada!

A person standing in front of a book shelf, with IKEA Billy Bookcase

My very own Belle moment! I’m still messing around with the styling of the shelves. I truly want this to be a “library” so I have a lot more books on here then I would, say if I was just styling my downstairs builtins. So far, I’ve just used what I have around, but I’m sure it will evolve as time goes on and I accumulate more books….as I always am.

A close up of a book shelf filled with books

A close up of a book shelf

PS – Thank you so much for all the AMAZING comments on my last post, you all must love a Birch Lane throw and I can hardly blame you! With 200 comments I haven’t been able to respond to all of them, but I SO appreciate all your sweet words and the winner of the throw has been emailed. Thanks so much for reading this silly spot of mine on the internet -you have no idea how much you all brighten my day!

Billy Bookcase Hack with Library Ladder

A book shelf filled with books


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  1. Hi! I know this is a super old post, but I just bought Billy bookcases and also have 9ft ceilings. Do you remember how you connected the extensions and how you were able to also secure them to the wall? From what I’ve seen you’re supposed to do it from the top, but I obviously don’t have room to do that. Thank you!!

  2. I love this idea! However, my husband is getting his pHd in military history and plans to fill the shelves…the shelves pictured are no full. He would fill them from top to bottom. Did you notice any warping of the shelves from the weight of your books?

  3. How much do you think it costs you to build this? We have 6 ikea bookshelves, but sadly they are all new colors. So I need to repaint them before we can make built-ins. But besides the extra money to repaint them how much time did it take you? Did you do it by yourself? Thanks!

  4. This is amazeballs! I’m buying a new home and plan to steal this idea for one wall. Thank you so much for this great idea. :)

  5. Do you think it would be possible to make this ladder slide flush with the bookcase? Our ceiling is 2 story…

  6. Hello! How have these bookshelves withstood the test of time? I love the look, but always worry about Ikea’s long term quality.


  7. Hi Kelly- great job on this book case. Im going to do this in my living room :) Quick question, how much did all of this cost?

    1. Hi Adrian, oh man I wish I could remember this is an old post of mine! I think the hardware was $100 -$150? You can probably find the billy bookcase prices on Ikea’s website. Thanks!

  8. Love it. Did you have to paint after trimming? How did you get the bottom piece to be so thick on the door? Did you float the shelves and then trim? And where did you find that barn door piece? I can’t seem to do find a barn door hardware for the ceiling…only wall mounted. Would love to know what you think. Thanks!

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  11. Hi! I’m thinking of doing something similar with our Billies, and I’m wondering if you find this DIY library ladder to be very sturdy? Long lasting? We homeschool and my kids use our library a lot, so I want something that won’t break right away. :D

    1. Hi Serina, I would think it depends on the ladder you buy? Ours was sturdy but we didn’t use it often it was more of a fun element. I tended to keep my books that I wouldn’t need often up high.

  12. Just curious about the actual bookshelf installation… did you frame out the ends of the bookcases? Also, what width of trim did you use? I like the spacing (many Pintrest Billy hacks are much wider!) and am sketching a plan to do something very similar in my own home. Thanks for the inspiration!

  13. If you don’t mind sharing details of your awesome project…precisely what brand and or store did you use for the track and hardware to attach top and bottom. Are the wheels stationary side to side or do they swivel?

    1. Hi Laura, so I picked the hardware up at our local farm and fleet store. It’s just a locally owned spot for the famers in the area, sorry that doesn’t help much! The wheels are stationary side to side. Hope that helps, I know I didn’t explain in the best detail, tutorials are not my strong suit! Mostly because I don’t know what I’m doing half the time :)

  14. Hi Kelly,
    Do you have a floor plan of your home? We are in North Carolina and in the middle of purchasing a two story lake home. It is older and has to probably be gutted inside, and I love so much about your space. I tried to find one in Previous posts but didn’t see it anywhere. Even a quick sketch would work to see the entire layout.
    I also sent you an email last week so if you come across it, please disregard it.
    Thanks so much and I hope to hear back from you.

    1. Hey Nikk, I don’t have a floor plan we used an architect to draw up our house and I don’t own the rights to share the floor plan sorry! If it makes you feel better you wouldn’t want to use it anyways our lot is a very odd triangular shape with weird setback rules bc of the lake. So our house is shaped odd but it works for our lot but I can’t envision anyone else wanted to use it :)

  15. Looks so good! Would you mind sharing which IKEA hack you used? Thanks so much!


  16. Once again Kelly your designs are beautiful. I just love how you can take an idea in your head ( and no, flying around a bookcase is NOT silly) and make come to fruition. Your bookcase styling is so amazing. I’ve been collecting things for when I finally build my shelving around out TV. You are such an inspiration. xo Liz

  17. I am absolutely inlove with your style, i fee like i know you because i love the same stuff as you.
    You are a breathe of fresh air dear

  18. Totally love it! I love your style…will you please come to my house??!!! :) Have a great holiday weekend!

  19. Love this! Totally pinning this for our huge house remodel! What a great way to have all the books in the house in the same spot!

  20. This is so fun! What a great idea. I would totally do something like this in my house. If only I actually had time to read!

    1. Thanks Christin, I’m a night owl reader :) books are the reason I have dark under eye circles every day!

  21. Ohhhhhh Kelly!! It turned out amazing! I love the ladder and the fact that you just go sliding across that bookcase anytime. How fun! PS I miss you and Allison so much!

  22. thank you for posting this. I love a good IKEA hack! It looks wonderful and the ladder is perfect.

  23. Wow! Simply wow! And love it! That’s a dream of mine as well since I’ve got a library worth of books here and there around my home. Thanks for sharing it with us … And once again, I just love your blog and look forward to each post. Hope you’re having a wonderful summer so far!

  24. Kelly – I love the bookcase and ladder. Awesome idea! Where did you find the cute chalkboard that is one the shelf? Thanks again for showing us your beautiful home!

  25. Genius! Love your Belle library! One of our favorite Disney movies. Kathleen in Az

  26. Fabulous! You are so tenacious – you always stick with it until it gets done no matter how long it takes. One of the first things I did to our new house was have wall-to-wall bookshelves built across one wall of our den. Every time I walk by I swoon. Only other furniture in there is a cozy reading chair and ottoman and a desk. I just finished making a long seat cushion for the window seat in case someone else insists on invading my space. Enjoy your mini library.

  27. Kelly,
    It looks WONDERFUL! I too, have always wanted big tall bookcases. When i was dating my husband (39) years ago, wait what? Time sure does fly. Anyway, I walked into his aunt and uncles house and there smack in the middle of the living room was a whole wall bookcase. I like you, fell in love with it. We have a large room that we are still deciding on what to do with it and I keep imaging what you made. We are getting a new Ikea here in St. Louis sooo…


  28. I love this book case and ladder. Looks amazing. Seriously, when do you have time to read 2 books a week?
    Enjoy your blog. Can’t wait for my emails from you. Thank You.

    1. Well I am a fast reader but I’m also a night owl :) I typically read from 10-midnight or later every night!

  29. Hi,

    Neat idea! What have been some of your very favorite books for summer reading?

    1. Oh goodness let me think here, I just read Girl on a Train, Fangirl, and the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls.

  30. I love this! I have an entire room filled with 11 crappy Walmart bookcases on 3 walls (4th has the closet, a gallery of grandkids, & the door to hallway). One of the bookcase walls has a window, so that is where I put my desk, which meant I had to turn 2 bookcases sideways AR right angles to the wall. It creates a sort of nook on each side of the desk with the back of each bk case providing bulletin board areas (very handy next to a desk).
    Anyway, back to the bkcase layout. Where they turn sideways, they create little alcoves with one facing another wall of books & the other facing the closet. At any rate, I have always wished I could slide a ladder around the entire 3-walled space & you have given me faith that it can be done, although I think I would need curved tracks for the corners (kind of like the tracks for curtains that slide around hospital beds – does that make sense???)
    I am going to clear out the stuff that has accumulated & post a pic on ig. Mews978 is my ig name if you want to see it & suggest any ideas you might come up with.
    your bed moving story makes me think we are kindred spirits – I once got my desk stuck in the stairway & had to go get my daughter to come in through an up stairs door to wiggle it from the top while I wiggled it from the bottom. And as far as tools go, I have quite a lot, some still in their original boxes because I love buying tools, but they are veer where I am when an idea strikes me, so, for most of my life, I have done pretty much everything with a nail & the back of my stainless steel salad spoon (or a handy butter knife if I had to screw something instead of hammering w/the spoon).
    Hope you check my itty-bitty ig post. Thanks so much for reading this & for you great ideas.
    Ps I am going to make a book nook out of the close for the little people in my life. Sadly, I can’t remember whose idea it was to say thank you.
    Mickey Wood
    Nashua NH

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