The Downstairs Bookshelf

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a great holiday and got a chance to relax and spend time with family and friends! I spent my break at my parents house eating way too many waffles and drinking hot buttered rum. Lots of hot buttered rum! While I was down in the Bay Area, I also installed a project for a private client of mine. We’re about 95% done with their home and once we finish I can’t wait to go down and photograph the project to share here on the blog. It’s always such fun seeing things come to life from idea to specs to reality! Back home I’ve just been sorting through things trying to purge some of my belongings and trying to find a place for the too many books I accidentally bought at the local used bookstore in my parents’ town.

Speaking of bookshelves, back when I shared how I style my bookshelves full of books I mentioned I’d share my downstairs bookshelf, which, though it has many books, definitely holds a lot more “things” too! This bookshelf is a hand-me-down from my parents which my mother surprised me with when I moved to Berkeley. It needs refinishing and I’ll probably paint it black when I finally get around to painting all the things I want to paint black like my china-cabinet-turned-pantry and dining table. For now though, the bookshelf is a rusty brown shade that I rather dislike. Styled full of pretty things, however, it’s not so bad!

Bookshelf | Land of Laurel

The bookshelf sits tucked in the corner of the main living area next to the dining table and slider door. It fits this spot pretty perfectly and gives this spot some definition and meaning!

Dining Room | Land of Laurel

These days, Finley the Fig Tree hangs out in front of the slider about 3 feet in front of the bookshelf. She tends to hide the bookshelf from view a little bit, but it was the only place to put her!

Living Room | Land of Laurel

Anyways, this bookshelf is more styled than my stuffed-with-books shelf upstairs. This shelf holds all my pretty vintage books, too many of which I bought only because they looked nice (Shhh! Let me have my addiction!). It also holds my collection of German steins (somewhat touristy in taste) as well as a few plants (see above about addictions) and knick knacks.

Bookshelf | Land of Laurel

I can rarely let a surface stay empty so I nabbed a picnic basket I had to sit on top of the shelf and flanked it with two plants. I’d rather these plants live in a different color container, but these were already planted, so I stuck with what I had. Below that, a vintage collection of children’s stories is propped up with inexpensive candlesticks. On the eye level shelf is my collection of steins which I frequently pick up a flea markets and garage sales. I’ve always got an eye out for them. They usually have some sort of interesting pastoral or forrest scene both painted and embossed on them so they’re textural as well as colorful! Below the collection is a shelf with a few stacks of books, a heavy goat bookend I got from my Oma and a Burros Tail succulent I picked up on my birthday last year at a greenhouse in Half Moon Bay.

You’ll notice that these objects are all fairly symmetrical and centered on the shelves. This is very me. I love symmetry! If this shelf was located somewhere else I’d probably use less symmetry to keep things more interesting. Because this is a one-off bookshelf off-centered in a corner, a little lot of symmetry keeps things more orderly.

Bookshelf Upper | Land of Laurel

A lot of my viney plants ended up on this bookshelf. I’ve helped them grow in and around the things on the shelves and they don’t seem to mind sprucing things up a bit! This shelf below is my favorite. The plant really took off and loves that I’ve wound it around the items on the several shelves! Plus I love the stacks of red and blue books with little car on one stack and small box on the other. The car is actually a Christmas ornament my mother gave me, it’s a little truck of fruit though so I keep it out all year round. The box is also from my Oma and is full of little labeled rocks she picked up around Europe in the 1980s.

Lower Bookshelf | Land of Laurel

Below this shelf are just rows of books – tall ones on the bottom, short ones on the shelf above that. This photo made me realize that last shelf was put on crooked and has been crooked for nearly seven months. Whoops!

Bottom Shelves | Land of Laurel

So that is how this bookshelf is looking! Still holds a lot of books, more so than a lot of styled shelves on the internet, but holds a lot of less practical things as well! Hope that inspires you to straighten up your shelves and make them look nice too.

Happy New Year! Also, shout out to Steve!

 

 

Styling a Bookshelf with Actual Books

So we’ve all seen them, the “How to Style a Bookshelf” posts, they’re everywhere! But have you ever noticed what’s most lacking in these bookshelves? Books! Almost ever tutorial, every blog post, every instruction manual I’ve ever read on styling a bookshelf maintains that you need many knickknacks and very few books. Well, for all my fellow bibliophiles, let’s take a minute to acknowledge how little that makes sense. If you’re anything like me, you have tons of books. You may reread them, they may be on your to-read list, they may sit untouched just looking gorgeous on your shelves, but doggone it, there’s tons of them! The joy of having too many books and not enough book storage has haunted me ever since I memorized the words to the Velveteen Rabbit and told everyone who would listen that I knew how to read. It has never been uncommon for me to have stacks of books sitting all over my home. After college, I stacked books 3 and a half feet high in my bedroom on my childhood dresser. Miraculously they withstood the 2014 Napa Earthquake.

Stacks of Books | Land of Laurel

Every time I see another “How to Style a Bookshelf” tutorial, I sigh, think, hmmm that’s pretty, and move on, because for me, that’s completely impractical. My bookshelves are groaning under the weight of years of reading material. They’re packed to the brim with thousands of pages of paper, trillions of words, hundreds of stories. And that’s how I like them: full of books. The bibliophile in me wants more and more, collects them even. The romantic in me dreams of home libraries packed to the brim and smelling of paper and ink. The designer in me pauses a minute and thinks, how can I make this collection attractive?

This past weekend I moved around the furniture in my room and this bookshelf got booted out and into the bonus room upstairs. I packed it full of as many books as I could, styled the top, and it’s beginning to set the tone for this whole room.

Without further ado, how to style your bookshelf with actual books! If you follow these guidelines, not only will you have an attractive bookcase filled with books, but you will also be able to store more books than you would normally. Booklovers rejoice! You can use any books for this, hardcover, paperback, falling apart, old, new, used! Is this the only way to style a bookshelf full of books? Definitely not. But this method is fun, fresh, and brimming with books!

First start with an empty bookshelf. The small hole drilled in the back for your childhood stereo is essential. Just kidding! Pretend it’s not there…

Styling a Bookshelf with Actual Books | Land of Laurel

Gather a stack of books in the same color family, you want the stack to be about as tall as your shelf when laid horizontally. Place that on one of the shelves.

Styling a Bookshelf with Actual Books | Land of Laurel

Gather another stack of similarly colored book spines. Place that next to the horizontally stacked books.

Styling a Bookshelf with Books | Land of Laurel

Add more books in this spine color to finish out this half of the shelf. Begin gathering books of other spine colors. At this point you might want to pop in a special books you have. For me, this means a collection of dilapidated books on top of the bookshelf and a three volume series on a shelf below.

Styling a Bookshelf with Books | Land of Laurel

Now things began to move quickly. Continue adding stacks of books vertically and horizontally until your shelves begin to fill up. Things will move around a bit as you adjust for different spine colors. Don’t be afraid to mix hard- and soft-cover books together! At this point your goal to to pack the shelves and keep your horizontal stacks misaligned for a more collected look.

Styling a Bookshelf with Books | Land of Laurel

As you continue on past the first few shelves, you may vary between one horizontal book stack and two per shelf. This helps keep you eyes moving around the shelves.

dsc_0542Styling a Bookshelf with Books | Land of Laurel

As you get further down your varying colored books help give the shelves blocks of color, creating a more appeasing and “styled” look over all.

Styling a Bookshelf with Books | Land of Laurel

At this point, your shelves are full, but don’t stop there! Add an arrangement to the top of your bookshelf to tie the entire thing together. I used an old printed wooden box I have which mimics the blocks of colors formed by the books in the shelves below. The plant adds some organic shape and life; it’s long tendril down the side of the shelf visually binds it to the books on shelves below. A candle, a little metal house, a silver stein, and a happy painted armadillo fill in the remainder of the space.

Styling a Bookshelf with Books | Land of Laurel

And that, is a bookshelf styled full of books! I love this because not only can I fit way more books on this shelf, but it looks clean, collected and modern rather than cluttered. There are many ways to style shelves, I don’t have anything against most of them. But for me, it’s important that my styled shelves are packed with the books I need them to store, and not just interesting objects!

I made a gif so you can follow along with this step by step as well!

How to Style Your Bookshelf with Actual Books | Land of Laurel

I’ll share the bookshelf I have downstairs later, to show you how I style shelves with fewer books too. And guess what? I need more bookshelves… I’m out of room and there are stacks of books everywhere around my house, eek!

Do you run into the problem of not having enough book storage? Have you styled your shelves full of books in a different way? Let me know your secrets!

Hanging in there!

Woah. Did you guys watch the Walking Dead last Sunday? Because, I need to talk to somebody about that punch-you-in-the-face, heart- wrenching, knock-you-dead season premiere! So violent. So psychotic. So depressing. Wowza! Let me know your thoughts. I need to talk about it with somebody or I’ll go crazy.

In other news, I am no longer living with all my pots and pans sitting on the counter! Nice segue, right? Remember when I filled up my china hutch-turned-pantry and started pulling this kitchen together? I shared this shot:

China Cabinet Pantry | Land of Laurel

Well, take a look at this and see if you can spot the difference:

China Hutch Pantry and Pegboard | Land of Laurel

No the dead plant is still the same dead plant (really need to get my s*** together and share a shot of the lovely new snake plant which now lives in that pot!). And no the random lamp on the floor isn’t anything new (you should remember that lamp from long ago). It’s the pegboard over in the kitchen! That’s right! Vertical storage wins again!

Now rather than moving 15 million pots and pans around every time I need to use the counter space, I can actually use the counter space! It’s the little things, people! The back wall of our kitchen was so under utilized before. A big blank wall with nothing but some mismatched trash/recycling receptacles was not an ideal situation in a kitchen lacking storage.

Kitchen Before | Land of Laurel

There just is no reason for this wall to have so little purpose. And no reason for all those pots to sit on the counter. Now? Much better.

Kitchen Pegboard | Land of Laurel

Matching trash and recycling containers from IKEA (I spray painted the recycling bin green) plus a pegboard adds up to a much nicer view. Most of the pots and pans are my roommate’s, but the center column holds my cast iron pans and the one pot I’ve had since college. My Staub dutch oven and pie pans live in the china hutch. Having all the pots and pans within such easy reach is absolutely wonderful. I just reach over any time I need any thing, I much prefer it to digging through the lower cabinets. Putting together the pegboard was super easy. Anyone can do it as long as you have the right tools.

I picked up the actual pegboard at Home Depot and had them cut down the 4’x8′ size to the dimension I wanted: 3′ x 6′. They offer this service free, so take them up on it if you don’t have the correct cutting tools. While I was there I grabbed a couple of 8′ long 1x2s to pop the board off the wall (allowing the hangers to slip in) and some 1x3s to trim the board out.

At home, two quick cuts later and I had the boards ready for the back of pegboard. Excuse the dark garage photos. There are worse pictures yet to come. Cutting the 8 foot boards down to just under 6′ allowed me to have boards along the lengths of the pegboard and the top and bottom. They didn’t need to be perfect since they were purely for function and wouldn’t be visible. I screwed them in from the back so they were completely invisible (like ninjas) from the front.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

The trim pieces were almost as simple: set saw to 45 degree angle and cut.  But of course I started right off with a mistake. Luckily I was able to reuse the board for the top and bottom trim pieces and didn’t waste much.

Cutting Error | Land of Laurel

Once I turned my brain on, I quickly made the rest of the cuts. Each length was an inch longer than my pegboard so the trim would stick out from it on all sides. I then screwed all of these boards into the pegboard and things started taking shape. It looked so good, Malary decided to pose with the pegboard. It’s so nice to have such a supportive pet.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

Since edges never match up entirely perfectly, I filled the mitered corners with wood filler and gave the same treatment to the more prominent knots.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

Then I did some minor sanding (I get super lazy about sanding, but it’s a requirement so I tried to tough it out). After that, I filled the gaps where the trim meets the pegboard with some paintable caulk wiping up the excess with a wet finger. I like this little container because it stays good for a long time, rather than drying out immediately like the caulk guns.

Caulk | Land of Laurel

Once everything was caulked the board was functional, it just needed a coat of paint to spruce things up!

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

Two coats of primer later, it was ready for some paint.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

I chose Benjamin Moore’s Palladian Blue (HC-144) in their Natura line (zero-VOC) for the board. It’s a really light aqua tone that is subtle, but still stands out from white. It has quite a bit of grey in in and the swatch seems to be almost white, but once it’s up on the wall, BOOM! COLOR! Plus, I love Julia Child and she had teal-blue pegboards all over her kitchen, so I’m in good company! After two coats of paint, I did three coats of Safecoat Acrylic sealer in high-gloss. I wanted the board to be extra protected from water and oils. Once that was all done, it was time to bring it inside.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

I hung the board on the wall with a few heavy duty D-rings hooked on hangers screwed into wall studs and it is fairly sturdy. I picked up this pegboard hardware kit at Home Depot too, which was way more than enough to hang the pots and pans. I have enough left over I might take the pegboard scraps and make another for the garage!

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

Covered in pots, it really does make things look happy, colorful, and organized. I’m ready to sauté those carrots at a moments notice now.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

Having our counters back and free for their original purpose (prep space) is delightful. Not looking at a pile of pots and pans every time I walk into the kitchen is pretty great too! The trash and recycling containers are just the right size for us too. I love the matching size and though not everyone would like the different colored recycling, it’s nice to easily be able to identify it as “the green one” when people come over.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

Plus I get to lovingly stare at my cast iron pans now. Definite bonus.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

I love those pans… though I wouldn’t mind upgrading them to Lodge pans down the line. I’ve got these guys seasoned just perfectly now with just over a year of use. Cast iron is my favorite!

So if you have a blank wall – put it to use! Don’t fuss around with birds, put a pegboard on it! (I’m so Portland now).

Have you guys ever come up with creative storage solutions in your rental kitchens? I’d love some good ideas!