Bookshelves are one of the most important design elements in a room, but can easily become too busy and cluttered. The goal of restyling is create a visually interesting space that blends into the surrounding area. You’ll be glad you undertook the project when you sell your house, as buyers will be drawn into your room with bookshelves that are styled intentionally and simply. It shows that you are organized and ready to move.
Phase One is purging all books and items you no longer need. Refer to my previous post on de-cluttering your shelves.
Phase Two begins by removing everything off the shelves and forming groups on the floor with the following in mind:
- Think in terms of a palette of two or three colors. Place like-colored items together in groups on the floor.
- Remove items smaller than cantaloupe. I know this sounds random, but now you have a visual. Fewer, larger pieces (instead of numerous smaller items) will give a streamlined look.
- Consider removing the book covers if a more muted color is underneath. The matte finish is preferable on a bookshelf. If most of your books are muted, the brightly-colored ones may need to go elsewhere.
- Small, framed family photographs may need to be relocated.
Thoroughly clean shelves and all items you are using.
Begin placing items considering the following:
- Evaluate balance size, weight, color and texture within your limited color palate.
- Think random, but balanced. You don’t want anything too similar on the shelf beside, above or below Repeat shapes and materials to achieve a sense of cohesion.
- Begin placing the largest objects. Generally these look best at the bottom.
- If you are hanging a picture or painting in the back of a shelf, do that now as well. A layered look adds interest.
- Group like-colored books together and place vertically or horizontally.
- Mix up shapes and textures.
- Group like items together.
- Place medium objects along with the books, keeping in mind that objects can be placed on top of horizontal stacks of books or be used as bookends. My bookshelves have pottery, wood and iron objects mixed in with the books as well as preserved boxwood which serves as a natural element.
- Textured baskets and interesting boxes can house unattractive and practical items like toys, remotes or paperbacks you have to keep.
- A picture hung on the front of the shelves can look very striking.
- Leave 10-30% of the space empty. Give books breathing room. Open spaces will enlarge the room, and is soothing to the eye.
Evaluate and Edit
Step back and evaluate the balance and interest. Take pictures. Have a friend with fresh eyes over to give you a first impression. It’s better to have too few objects than too many. Thanks to Sherry Hart at Design Indulgence and Kate at Centsational Girl for pictures and inspiration.