I want more bookcases. Actually, I need them. My bookshelves are completely overflowing and don’t look great. I’m desperate for something that will allow me to get my books neatly single stacked on the shelves. You see, I love to read. I need to read more. I used to read a book a week. Now, there’s this thing called the internet that sucks me in and steals all my free time. I want to get away from that and dive back into my one true love: literature.Continue reading “How to Style Bookcases”
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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…
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.
Gather another stack of similarly colored book spines. Place that next to the horizontally stacked books.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
When you live with roommates your bedroom is an all-purpose everything space. It’s the room where you sleep, of course, but it’s also your (private) living space, your office, your studio, your library, your everything. It’s the one room where you can escape and be alone. Not that it’s something you need frequently, but if you’re anything like me, it’s just nice– upon occasion– to escape from everyone else. But also, sometimes you have to finish that email to your boss and your roommate is watching some sporting event on TV and throwing popcorn at you. And you need to get out of there. Sometimes that happens too! Hypothetically, of course! 😉
Regardless, one of the most difficult design challenges is a multi-purpose bedroom. And although I’ve talked about how my big bathroom and it’s lovely clawfoot tub sold me on this house, my bedroom was on the opposite end of the spectrum.
My bedroom is definitely on the smaller side. It’s much smaller than my childhood bedroom and pretty much every other bedroom I’ve ever had. The room comes in at about 9′ by 11′ which is, by no means, tiny. It only becomes slightly hard to work with when you have as many books as I do (ALL of the books!). Before I first moved in, I walked through the house with the boys and took a bunch of photos with my phone. I was looking at this empty slate:
This iPhone shot was of the first thing you saw when you walked into what is now my room. My iPhone decided to make the walls a terrible yellow color in this picture when they are really painted a soft, celery green (my phone is a terrible artist, truly, it has no idea what it’s doing). The mattress on the floor was my roommate’s and he planned on getting rid of it. I was actually glad it was there, because it allowed me to get some perspective on how my own bed would fit into the room. You’ll see there is only about two feet on either side of the mattress. The mattress takes up about three-fifths to two-thirds of the length of the room. So just over the majority of it.
When you turn around and faced the direction you just came from you saw the door to the closet on the left and the door to the rest of the house on the right. The door into the room opens to a mini-hallway, directly opposite to the bathroom door, the hall then opens up four feet later into the kitchen. It’s a perfect configuration, because you cannot see into my room or into the bathroom unless you are coming down the mini-hallway. And since the only things opening off the hallway are my bedroom, my bathroom, and the hall closet (which I’ve completely commandeered as my own), I can leave all the doors open and still have privacy. Being that Malary insists on having full access to wherever I am at all times, I pretty much always leave those doors wide open.
If you then turned once again, you got the same door to the rest of the house and the view out the second window in this room… which is of a ladder. Time for curtains!
Now, this room has only one shortcoming: it’s size. There are so many great things about it, I didn’t even care about that tiny issue (hahahhahaha so pun-ny!). The closet is huge and stretches back along the length of the room, holding all of my clothes so I don’t even need a dresser. And thank goodness for that, since there is no way I could fit a dresser into this room without losing the bookshelf. And #priorities, because that bookshelf is all I love in life. The house has wonderful wood floors and craftsman-style trim. The woodwork in the house is just gorgeous. I believe it’s fir, though I’m not positive. So many great things!
After I looked over my pictures and told the guys I’d move in, I immediately started thinking about how I’d fit my things into the space. For instance, unless I want my queen sized bed pushed up against a wall (something I abhor!), the bed would need to be on the wall beneath the high window, directly across from the entry door to the bedroom. Not ideal, but not a tragedy. My nightstands would have to be tiny to fit into the remaining space. What about the rest of my things? I had to place a desk and a bookshelf into the room as well. Lucky for me, it ended up being a perfect fit!
I moved in with the bed I’ve had since I was twelve years old. It’s from IKEA and I thought it was so amazing when I was in middle school… now I kind of hate it, which is why I built a wooden headboard for it. Now, you don’t even know the IKEA bed frame exists and I kind of love it. But then again, I might be getting a little bored of it… I have ideas, people, and they won’t go away! Anyways, this bed, plus old nightstands on short-term loan from my parents (gah! They already want them back!), plus my new trunk created this view when I walked into my room. Helloooo bedroom, may I sleep here tonight?
It’s pretty decent, okay looking. Far from terrible you might even say, if you were feeling generous. The nightstands are a bit too tall for the bed (unless I add a boxspring). But since I need to return the them to my parents, I’m on the hunt for new ones anyways. The bedding is boring at best. But look at that lovely patina-ed trunk! I love him so much! Currently, he is still empty, but that will change just as soon as I get a chance to actually organize some of my things and stop getting sick every two weeks. Give me a break winter!!! There are some nasty colds going around my office. I get paranoid about it now, ever since I got obsessed with Fear the Walking Dead earlier this year. Help!
My lamps I got for free while at my old job, they don’t actually work… yes I am the person with “decorative” lamps. That’s why they were free! I have big plans on re-wiring them. I also have big plans to replace them with something else and then use these elsewhere. Regardless of what I do, I have BIG plans! I do like the shape of these lamps though, it’s fun and different. Plus, I was looking for lamps online for a project at work the other day and I found these exact guys! They are Robert Abbey and I found them on on the Lamps Plus website retailing for about $250. I’d link to it, but I couldn’t find them again. Maybe they’ve since been discontinued? Pretty sweet deal considering I got them for free! In fact, I’m thinking about contacting the manufacturer and seeing if they have a warranty. The only piece that seems to be an issue is the dimmer. I can get lightbulbs to work for just a second, then they go out. So close! Dealing with these is definitely on my to-do list. Ignore the picture frame on the wall. It’s for experimental purposes on an existing nail left over from the previous resident. I need to hang my actual art still… along with about ten billion other things.
So that’s the view, the pretty view, when you walk into the room. The not so pretty view? My desk of chaos and doom. It’s become a catch all for everything I drop when I come into the room. And it holds all my office supplies. And random clothes I don’t feel like putting away. It’s another furniture piece I got from my parents and is barely holding itself together. When I moved here, I found out the desk is actually not connected to itself any more. It’s literally just a bunch of pieces all balancing on each other waiting for me to place something breakable and valuable on it so it can fall to the ground and shatter everything. It’s out to get me! Vengeance for moving it. Or something equally poetic.
I hung up six square bulletin boards above the desk with grand plans to make something wonderful and thoughtful and inspiring and chock full of memories. Instead I have a big ole pile of bleh. I need to work on that! The art piece was a birthday gift from my Aunt Pat and the lamp came from the dump pile after my Oma passed away. I still haven’t decided if I love it. It’s interesting, but it’s too big for that location. Maybe it should go live in the attic? But having task light when I’m working there is mighty helpful… Maybe something wall mounted? The desk could use some repair, organizing, a plant or two, and a ceramic animal. Oh, and a magic fairy to prevent me from every dropping random everythings on it each time I walk into the room. The desk fits this corner perfectly because you can sit at it and still have the closet door opened. Score! Somethings do work out in the end.
On the other side of the door to the room, some real magic happened. My bookshelf fit perfectly. Down to the quarter inch. Like the moving fairy came and blessed this space as the spot for storing books. It could not have been any tighter. I know design blogs have tried to convince the world that bookshelves are only supposed to have, like, three books per shelf and all, but you know what? That’s not my life. I LOVE books. I LOVE to read. I NEED ALL THE SHELVES. For books! Like they were intended to be used! In fact, some of those books are doubled up. The whole bookshelf does need some arranging. And I need to get the random pile of things to frame off the top of it, but at least I’m putting it to work! One definite item on the to-do list is getting that secured to the wall. Earthquake preparedness, y’all!
In front of it and the window sits one of my two parlor palms. The plant is pretty happy there. It looks nice and lush in real life. It makes me wiggle with happiness that I actually am able to keep something like this alive! Both the plant and the basket are from IKEA.
Here’s a wider shot so you can see how both of the spaces work together on either side of the door into the room.
Mini-in-bedroom-office on one side, library on the other. Entry door in the middle. I need more room. Or just more closets. That would be great. Another three closets please! Can you order closets on Amazon? If only… Eek! That reminds me I need to do more Christmas shopping! Has anyone actually finished that?
So that’s the beginning and the now of my bedroom. It’s got places to go with this room. Far places. It needs to evolve further and look better. Luckily, I’ve got a plan. I always have a plan. What’s exactly is on the checklist for this room? Take a look:
- New curtains
- New nightstands… Gotta return the loaners from my parents and get something a bit wider.
New beddingI ordered this from West Elm in all it’s colorful glory!
- Rug? Maybe… I kind of love the sheep skin, maybe layer a sisal beneath it?
- Straighten up and organize the desk area
- New desk lighting? Something wall-mounted would save much needed desk space…
- Create a fun, colorful, and inspiring bulletin board
- Organize my bookshelf
- Somehow fit even more book storage (Hi, my name is Laurel and I am book addict.)
- Secure the bookshelf to the wall so I am not crushed by books in the eminent San Francisco area earthquake.
- Integrate more plants! (Hi, my name is Laurel and I am also a house plant addict.)
- Frame and hang art on the walls. Picture frame rail? Gallery wall? Simple, single frame?
Re-wire or replace lampsI have new ones ready to go!
- Add bench by bed? Again a big maybe…
- Organize closet and laundry system
- Find place to store as of yet un-framed art
- Organize and store arts/crafts supplies better
- Fill up the trunk in an organized and useful manner!
So! Lots to do! Lots of plans! Lots of excitement! Heck, I love a list just as much as Young House Love and mine is not even one-quarter of the length of theirs! Maybe that’s why I love it? Regardless, lots of ideas! Now, who wants to help me paint and glue things? That desk is killing me!
Do you have a to-do list for the design of your spaces? Have a bedroom that needs a little help? Have furniture on loan from family member who are now asking for it back? Ahhhh, new nightstands where in the world are you???