How to make a rainbow bookshelf – Instagrammable colourful bookcase using Ikea Billy Bookcase

by | Sep 19, 2023 | Blog, Naked Feature

I have always loved the idea of an aesthetically pleasing, Instagrammable rainbow bookshelf, but I was always overwhelmed by the idea of it. I was worried it would take too long, not look good enough, not have enough books, so I was TOO scared to try it. However, I have JUST started to move my stuff into my boyfriend’s place, so it was now or never for my rainbow dream bookcase to become a reality.


Finished Rainbow Bookcase

Here’s my step by step to create the rainbow bookshelf:


Ikea’s Billy Bookcase before I added my rainbow books and shelves

The Ikea Billy Bookcase – the perfect blank canvas – here’s why it is great:

  1.  This simple white, super famous Ikea furniture is cheap, cheerful, sturdy and flexible
  2.  You can take shelves in or add them at whatever height you like (so many holes to space them)
  3. They’re really easy to assemble, they come flat packed and it’ll take you under an hour to assemble each of the bookcases
  4. You can bespoke them with doors and even paint them 
  5. We chose two wider bookshelves (80cm) and two narrow ones 40cm, I liked the idea of the variety. They are 28cm deep which is great for books. They are tall at 202cm which works with our high ceilings.
  6. The price is insane. We got these for £228 including delivery

Things to be aware of with Ikea’s Billy Bookcase

  1. We did have to do a bit of extra work to make them look as if they ‘fit together’. We physically screwed them together. 
  2. The skirting board cut out is handy but was too small for our larger skirting boards.  As such they stand away from the wall a little and we added blocks to make them sturdy. They are fixed to the wall (but held off the wall).

Organising my books into colour

How to create the rainbow bookshelf – spend more time organising before you even put a single book in!

  1. Get out ALL your books. From everywhere. Round them up from kitchens, offices, beside your bed, the whole lot. I have read that sometimes people buy extra books, we didn’t need to do this, but you can head to charity shops to bump up your collection (just make sure you read them!)
  2. Get colour coding – think the rainbow! Start with red, orange, yellow and so on. If there are multiple colours on the book spine, don’t worry too much, just stick it on the pile you think it looks best with. You can always change it later.
  3. If you do have a lot of one colour, eg I had LOADS of blue, subcategorise into dark, mid, bright and lighter blue so it has a nice graded effect.
  4. Once you’ve done that, organise each colour section into size order so that it is easy to pop on the shelf
  5. Before you start, get out the largest book and make sure your shelves are all positioned in the right place (eg – you can fit your book on the shelf) – this is an ideal time to make changes if you need to
  6. Get our your measuring tape and measure your book piles. For example we had 8 meters worth of books but 12 meters worth of space on the bookcases. So this way I knew I could leave spaces for flowers and ornaments rather than ramming them all in.

Sorting books into colour for my rainbow bookshelf


Colour sorting


Rainbow bookshelf


Rainbow Bookshelf with flowers

How to organise your books on the shelf to get the rainbow effect

  1. Assess your books. When creating my rainbow bookshelf, I noted I had smaller amounts of purple and pink spines, so I popped those into the smaller shelves on the edges which I was really happy with
  2. Start with bigger sections. After that I started with the bigger categories, for example I put red on the top shelf. I added larger books on the edges, moving to smaller books in the middle. I ran out of red books, so I filled the space in with orange books which work super well.
  3. Move through the rainbow. Once I’d moved through the rainbow, finishing with blue, then I moved onto white (you’ll probably have a lot of white too) which moved into grey, brown and black
  4. Black at the bottom. I put black at the bottom as I thought it would look better for the eye to have heavier books down below and lighter, brighter books above.
  5. Move them around. When you have all your books on the shelf, you can move them around to how you want them. I was stunned by how much space we had so I added vases of flowers, candles (obviously not lit) and ornaments.
  6. Make a statement.  If you have some shelves that aren’t filled, you can take out the chunkier books and lay them flat in a pile on the end to keep them from falling over..
  7. Feature books. I also picked some feature books for the smaller end shelves

The rainbow shelves without flowers and vases


My pink section on my rainbow bookshelf


My black book section with roses and my Fornasetti Cushion


Rainbow bookshelves

The best things about a rainbow bookshelf

  1. It is aesthetically pleasing. It makes your space look light, bright and fun
  2. It is the perfect instagrammable backdrop, if you’re looking for a strong interior look, a rainbow bookshelf will always stand out
  3. Your books look like they’re in an art gallery. There’s something about this format that makes your beautiful books look at their best in a rainbow format.
  4. It will make you so happy! Rainbows are famous for their good vibes, so add a little positivity to your life

The onlyyyy negative

How will we find our books now that they’re not organised by author or genre? Answers on a postcard! I think it will be a little mental challenge to find them…or maybe it will be down to Google to help us with the colour of the spine!

Watch the video on How to Make A Rainbow Bookcase on YouTube here:

What do you think? Will you try it? Let me know in comments!



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