I cannot tell you how many bookshelves I have styled over the years. Like candy coated pipe dreams, clients organize, shuffle and shove everything into less than Martha Stewart perfection. While most homeowners do a superb job at organization, they often approach their book shelves in a systemic, left-brained arrangement, not taking into consideration the overall look. Seeing it more as a storage solution, rather than a decorative element in their room. While left-brained, type-A shoving, and piling is just good and dandy, (do you really need to be able to find that book? Wouldn’t you rather have it look pretty…? I suppose left-brained structure is a little important…) but us creative types need a little more pretty and a little less of that so called practical organization. I mean who are we kidding? Serial organization is for the birds. If you ask me ( the opinion that really counts) organization is synonymous with the devil, I mean, republicans.

Organizing Bookshelves

Typical Bookshelf, pretty good, but needs some love

So how on earth do we come up with our brilliant creations? It isn’t complete rocket science (well, maybe)  But designers do look first at the shelf, the color, the style, and finally how those books relate to the ‘whole.’ From there we start sorting like creative scientists gone mad! Expertly master-minding where and how each piece will fit into the puzzle. So how on earth can you tap into this California gold rush, otherwise known as creative genius? Well to be in the company of one (talking designers here, not Republicans…those you can find in dirty bathroom stalls in Minneapolis),  and if that won’t work, read on!

1) Beautiful matching books

Book shelves

These suckers are hard to come by! Gone are the days of encyclopedias, thanks in big part to the information highway. (Amazing how fast technology has taken over in just 15 years!) But you can find beautiful sets of encyclopedias at vintage bookstores, and antique malls. Books that are the same size, and color are pleasing to the eye and create a resting point. ( example shown above) Not to mention it grounds  the shelves visually so the overall look is easy to read.

2) Add accessories

Styled book shelf

Like the first photo, most homeowners use every ounce of their shelves for books…… thats just silly! Using a bookshelf for books! As if it were called a BOOK-shelf or something…Oh wait, it is called a bookshelf, and I suppose it is made to house our books. OK, well I vote we call it an ‘everything’ shelf. To help break up the monotony of book after book, add accessories in for visual interest. It is also a great place to display prized mementos to show off to your guests.

3) Color palette

Book shelves

Keep books and accessories with in a particular color palette, that matches your existing furnishings. By keeping everything in the same color palette the bookshelf makes sense. It coordinates effortlessly, and doesn’t stick out like a sore, unorganized disaster.

4) Honor thy books

A book room

OK, so going against number two from above, but this is for the client who just has too many books, and refuses to share an ounce of space for a tchotchke. If you love books, and have more than you care to give away, devote an entire room that respects and honors your unnecessary hoarding….I mean collection. If the shelves can’t be simplified, create a simplified room that is pleasant and easy. Get rid of all the clutter and allow the books to be the focal point. Like the photo above, this room is simple. Neutral wall color, black floors, walnut table with ghost chairs. The surrounding elements are practically invisible. The chandelier adds glamour, but here the books are the show piece.

What are some of your favorite books to hang onto?

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images: google, I suwanne, citified, second story view