From what many of you have told me styling your bookshelves is as hard for you as filing for taxes is for me – daunting and stressful, where you aren’t sure where to start, and you’re sure it will never end. But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and maximizing your shelving for whatever purpose bests suits your home, whether that be storage, housing your collections, or a place to actually hold all your books, is something that everyone can achieve in a few easy steps. I promise. This month in Redbook, we are breaking down the process for three different ways to get your bookcases into tip top shape.
Maximum Storage: For those of you that need to use your bookcase for actual storage purposes there are some very pretty solutions out there. These not only maximize your storage, but allow you to still display some of your pretty objects. You may be thinking, wait is that the same shot as the first one? It is, but Redbook popped the colors (as you can see below).
Step 1: If you truly don’t know where to begin then start by clearing out everything. I know this sounds like an awful task, but clearing out everything is the only way to truly begin the process. As you clear everything out you will quickly find that A LOT of the stuff that you have thrown in there is no longer needed or useful, so, in the spirit of spring cleaning (is it that time of year already?!) separate everything out into keep, toss, or donate piles.
Step 2: Pick a color palette. You will want to begin by picking a color palette for your storage items and sticking with it. Nothing will make your bookcase feel more cluttered and unorganized than a bunch of mismatched boxes and bins. We kept all of ours very neutral so that we could bring some life and color into the bookcase with art, accessories, and a few personal items.
Step 3: Start from the bottom and work your way up. To ground your bookcase you will want to place your largest storage boxes and bins at the bottom, so that it doesn’t feel too top heavy, and you can keep the top half filled with smaller and lighter accessories and storage needs (like these magazine files).
Step 4: Leave space for some personal items. To make your bookcase feel less like a storage unit, and more like a bookcase, be sure to dedicate some shelf space to art, a few accessories, a bud vase with some fresh flowers, or a small momento. Adding these little touches will help personalize the shelf.
And of course, we couldn’t let a post go by without including a GIF to show you the before image vs. the image that was published in print.
Book Heavy: For those of you that want to actually use your bookshelf for books, this one is for you.
Step 1: Biggest books first. You will want to start by adding your biggest books in first, as these visually carry the most weight. We reserved the bottom two shelves of this bookcase for the larger books, and then accented a few of the other shelves with a stack or two of them. You can break them up visually by adding a large vase in between them or stacking them horizontally in a few stacks, as we did on the second shelf. A helpful tip that will help things not only look but feel clean is to pull all the spines of the books to the front edge of the shelves lining each of them up (just as they do in a library).
Step 2: Create vignettes. To keep your bookshelf from feeling too stark you will want to create a few vignettes within the stacks of books. Let the books be the focus, but adding a small lamp, a little accessory in front of books, or even some flowers can help break up all of the vertical and horizontal lines that the books create.
Step 3: Leave some breathing room. To prevent your bookcase from getting too packed and visually chaotic make sure to leave some empty areas in your shelves. This allows your eye to have a moment of rest when looking at the shelf.
Once again . . . the beautiful before and after GIF. It’s pure eye candy, and although we aren’t quite sure about all the changes, we do think it is very fun to see what they did to the image.
Showcasing Your Collections: It is no secret that we love “stuff” over here at Emily Henderson Design (the good stuff). But, there are a few rules to keep in mind when displaying said “stuff” to prevent it from looking like you have a thrift store in your living room.
Step 1: Larger items on bottom. Just as we discussed in the previous two examples, the same principle applies here. Your largest items or collectibles, which visually carry the most weight, should live near the bottom of the shelf. This is not a steadfast rule, as a larger item could look great on a higher shelf, but generally a huge box of blankets or a large decorative box is not going to look best on the top shelf.
Step 2: Curate vignettes. Similar to step 2 in the previous bookshelf, you will want to create small vignettes or collections based on what you have to display. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by thinking about the entire bookcase at one time, take it piece by piece and slowly fill it out. A good collection/vignette typically has 3-5 items in it, all varying in height, but having similar context. You won’t get it right on the first try, even we move things around over and over until we find just the right place for everything. But, keep going until you find the perfect combo for your space. And then do it all over again the following week if you are like me.
Step 3: Add something personal. There is nothing worse than a bookcase filled with stuff that you just went and bought from the store. Make your bookcase personal by including items that you love, and that have meaning to you. You can house some of these items in glass display boxes like we did, or place a collection of them on a stack of books, which will help ground them and help them from looking too bitsy or cluttered.
What are your other bookcase blunders that you can’t seem to conquer? Be sure to let us know, and we can try and solve them in an upcoming post. Want more DIYs? Check out our other recent Redbook projects: 1 Lamp 3 Ways | DIY Upholstered Headboard | DIY Wooden Dowel Coat Rack | DIY Mod Podge Chair | DIY Side Table Ikea Hack | 1 Curtain 3 Ways | Ladder Wardrobe
***photography by: David Tsay, styled by: Scott Horne and Brady Tolbert, Art Directed by Me