If you are an avid reader and have collected a sizable amount of books over time, you will definitely need a proper home for those tomes that are like old friends every time you pick one up. The challenge today is how to find shelving that is cheap, yet durable enough to hold such a sizable collection. Built in bookshelves are very pricy, and if you’re renting an apartment, it is most likely not worth the investment to have them made. So after searching for some time for cheap shelving ideas, I came across the classic Billy Bookcase from Ikea which retailed for only $79.99, which was much more in the budget range I had in mind. I bought four of those and supplemented them with the four smaller Billy Bookcases which were basically the same height but half the width, giving me quite a bit of flexibility in arranging my living room space with the shelves.
There are obviously more modern looking styles I could have gone with to include fancy glass doors for the shelves, but I personally like the more traditional shelving and price-wise, it comes out much cheaper. These shelves have held up beautifully over several moves, showing that they are durable and good value for my money.
In terms of color, I chose to go with the medium brown shelving to give the room a warmer feel. The darker colors made the living room look too cold, and the lighter colors clashed with the rest of my living room décor. I have a dark red Persian style carpet on the floor, incorporating gold and cream, which blended very well with the almost cherry-colored medium brown shelves. Our living room lamp uses a yellow light bulb through a cream lamp shade, which also makes for warm colors in low light. These bookcases look best with brownish reddish décor. On the couches, accenting the dark furniture with a little bit of gold/cream/red in the pillows does wonders for bringing out the best in the shelving. So although these bookcases are cheap and standard in terms of size and shape, with the right arrangement, they can actually add class to your living room and really highlight your home library with a solid traditional feel.
On the practical side of things, these shelves are also fairly easy to assemble and most importantly, in contrast to other more expensive bookcases or built-in shelves, they are adjustable based on the size of your books. You can place around 25 regular sized books on a shelf and the shelves are wide enough if you need to double up.
For those of you who are intimidated by “do it yourself” projects, don’t be. The instructions are cartoon based and all you have to do is follow the picture. You will need a hammer, a pencil, a regular flat head screw driver and a Phillips screw driver. Take your time in putting the pieces together. Give yourself ample work space. Match the pieces to the diagrams so you can easily identify the hardware during assembly. I used my electric drill at very slow speeds to spare my wrists and make my work easier. The only challenging part was making sure that I aligned the back board properly so that it would sit correctly as I nailed it in.
When you finish the assembly you will be satisfied with the results. The shelves look good, they hold lots of books, they easily match the other items in the room and they prove that living room decorating can be fun and satisfying.