Styled shelves 3

Arranging Beautiful Bookcases

Is anyone besides me finding it to be way too hot  to do any outdoor projects?  Well, this quite pregnant and easily sunburned mama has had to set up shop next to the swamp cooler and work on finishing up some things I have started indoors.  First up was to finally get my books and ‘things’ out of boxes and onto the shelves that my husband and I put together.

Chances are, you have at least one bookshelf somewhere in your house.  Since I happen to have a large set of empty shelves, I thought I would show you how I styled my shelves and give you a few hints that might help you with your own.  My first step was to unpack some boxes, but yours might be to remove all of the stuff from your existing shelves.  I like to start with a clean slate, and then selectively add and subtract until I like the finished result.

The first tip I have is to consider the placement of your shelves.  If they are in your living or family room, you will probably arrange them very differently than if they are more hidden away in your office or a bedroom.  My shelves are in the living room, right next to the front entry door. They are very open to public viewing and within easy access of a curious toddler.  My main goal was to create a visually pleasing work space for myself that is also clean and kid-friendly.  Fortunately for me, most interior design and art books are somewhat pretty and colorful, so I could put my reference books on display without embarrassment.  I have seen a ton of photos lately with books arranged by color, and I was very happy with how it looked when I used this method with my books.

The second thing to remember is to keep the look simple.  I often am guilty of adding too many tchotchkes and cluttering the look of my shelves.  This time, I tried to limit my accessories to some white pottery, a few black accents, and some silver sparkle.  Since my books and wall behind the shelves are so colorful, I didn’t want to have too much going on.  I only used what I already had in my house to style these shelves, so that helped me pare things down and keep accessories more meaningful.  I added a few plants because this area gets plenty of light, and well, because we love plants!

The third tip I used was to arrange my books both horizontally and vertically.  It helps to add interest and vary the heights.  Also, other objects can be placed on vertically stacked books, and can be used to hold horizontally placed books in place.  If your shelves are deep, you can also layer artwork or photographs along with your books.

To keep my shelves kid-friendly, I put breakables and other items of value out of my daughter’s reach.  I used baskets for her toys in the bottom shelves, and I plan to get more of these baskets on future trips to Ikea.  I put her books on the bottom shelves so they are easy for her to pull out and look through (I was an elementary school teacher in my previous career, so I love children’s books).  I also plan to purchase a 2-drawer insert for one of the shelves (also from Ikea-$35) for desk miscellany such as stamps, bills, etc.  This will keep me more organized and keep those items out of little fingers.

One other thing I did, which some of you may have noticed…I banished all of my husband’s books from this set of bookshelves.  The top reason is because this is my office space, so I needed to have my books readily accessible.  The other reason is that his books just aren’t as pretty, and most of them are short and just don’t fit this style of shelf very well.  I have big plans for his books (downstairs, in the family room) with a different style of Ikea shelf.  I did display some meaningful souvenirs from his four months of high-school in Japan.   He’s okay with my decision, and hardly complained a bit.

For those of you interested in a price breakdown, here it is, without tax added:
EXPEDIT shelves from Ikea–$220
KNIPSA baskets from Ikea (2)–$34
Aluminum shelf supports, nuts and bolts–$50
Turquoise roller stool from Fred Meyer–$40

The arrangements on my ‘Wall-O-Shelves’ will probably change often, as I decide I like something better somewhere else, or as an object ends up being within my child’s reach.  I have something fabulous in mind  for the wall above my desk, but for now it remains untouched.

What have you been doing to beat the heat?  Any bookshelf rearranging?  Unpacking long forgotten boxes?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

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