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How To Organize a Bookshelf

Posted on November 4,2011 by Jennifer

I moved a few months back and between chasing after my 8 month old and keeping up with my design work I still have not settled in properly. Yes, those are boxes in my “before” photo above {eek!} So I decided that I really must take a bit of time and get it under control! I have three bookshelves in my room so today I rolled up my sleeves and tackled one of them.

It’s not perfect and it’s not done quite yet but I do think it’s a vast improvement!

Here’s how I did it…

Step 1: I began by “wallpapering” the back of the shelf with a pale pink damask scrapbook paper {shown in the “during” photo above}. I wanted to break up the wood tone and this was a perfect solution that will allow me to easily change it if I want to.

Step 2: Now I started putting things on and off until I reached a mix that I was happy with. I like a layered look and I have so many books and such that a minimalist look is definitely out of the question :-)

Here’s my breakdown
{Shelf One} Often I think it’s great to group books by color but for this project I preferred to group things by height – there’s also a bit of genre grouping but even that’s a little random. I started this row with books in a traditional vertical order and placed a few on their side at the mid-point. These made an ideal pedestal for a mini oil painting and cast iron dog (more about those below). I am so inspired by Carolyne Roehm’s books and I particularly love the cover of A Passion for Parties so I thought it would be nice to turn that facing out as a bit of extra “art work” on my shelf. In front of this I included a ceramic white pumpkin from my small tureen collection which I placed on a hand-painted salad plate that has a scalloped border. I rounded this shelf off with a few more entertaining books.

{Shelf Two} I have a wicker basket that I knew I wanted to include for extra texture so I filled that with some books. I thought it needed a little something “extra” on the front so I attached one of my “Baby’s 1st Christmas” keepsake ornaments to it which I thought was just enough detail and not detracting from the overall look. (I really should now fill this with some of my daughter’s baby books – I need to remember that!) then I centered it on the shelf and filled in the sides with a couple of book series. {Shout out to all you Harry Potter & Twilight fans!} I placed two sweet little wrought iron scottie dogs in front and done!

{Shelf Three} My collection of Victoria magazines – well most of them anyway – fills the last shelf. I really need to get some magazine storage bins but in the meantime I like this arrangement. A combination of vertical and horizontal stacking kept this from getting too boring. I turned a couple of issues facing out behind the horizontal stacks which showed off the logo (which I love seeing) and added a nice pop of color. My wrought iron Frog Prince figurine and a decorative plate from Anthropologie add a bit of whimsy and color to an otherwise plain shelf.

{Top} Topping it all off is another beloved Carolyne Roehm book At Home with Carolyne Roehm, a chipped paint birdcage (more about that below) which is resting atop a couple of stacked books, and a few more sentimental treasures.

One thing I noticed was while arranging my books I found that I preferred the look of them without their dust jackets… but I hate to just toss the dust jackets… I’m wondering should I store them for a while before I decide that I don’t want to keep them… of course then there’s the question of where to store them! Do you keep yours? Drop me a note in the comments, I’d love to know!

As I described above in addition to stacking some books/magazine horizontally and vertically I also like to mix in some other beloved objects for extra visual appeal… enter a few of my favorite things:

{Top left} This is one of a pair of cast iron dog bookends that have been hanging around my family since I was a young girl. Nestled behind that is a mini oil painting by Ken Burnside that I found on ebay.
{Top right}
Here is a lovely old Fortnum & Mason tin that I scooped up at the Greenwood Country Store. I especially love that it has the accents of blue which match my wall color!
{Bottom Right}
This is another great Greenwood Store find – the white cast iron Scottie. I {heart} little iron figures from turtles to dogs and find myself with a growing collection of them.
{Bottom Left}
A closeup of the top of a birdcage I scored on clearance at Michael’s last year!

None of these are expensive items – each cost around $10 or less – but they are all loved and to me that’s what matters most!

Above the shelf I hung one of my Pottery Barn bulletin boards. I plan to create an inspiration board on it and will share that with you one of these days!

Enough for now…. I hope this inspires you to tackle a shelf in your home and if you do please share! I’d love to hear your ideas on organizing with style!

Happy Celebrating!

Jennifer Carroll. Celebrating Everyday Life blog

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5 Responses to “How To Organize a Bookshelf”

  1. November 06, 2011 at 5:21 pm, Hana said:

    I love your makeover – it’s definitely a feast for the eyes! Not just organised, beautiful too. You have me inspired, I might just have to tackle my own bookcases over the next few days.

    Reply

  2. November 06, 2011 at 5:25 pm, Jennifer said:

    Hi Hana! Yay!! I’m so happy it inspired you!! I just popped over to your blog and I love it! I just subscribed. I totally {heart} Christmas time too – for me it really is “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”!!! Can’t wait to get to know you & your blog better!

    Reply

  3. May 03, 2013 at 3:54 pm, NormaJean said:

    Really? Store them? Isn’t it about getting rid of useless stuff that clutters our lives? If you like your books better without the dust jackets, then get rid of them. I even find a place to recycle most of my books once I have read them. I only keep those that are very dear to me. Otherwise, it’s share, share, share. Your closets, cupboards, and drawers will thank you!
    So long dust jackets. There! Now don’t you already feel better?

    Reply

  4. August 18, 2013 at 2:40 am, Mary Stone said:

    I am 73 yrs old and still love to see “how to do it better”. I have many books and now I am enthused about re-arranging my books in a more pleasing way. I also prefer my books without their book jackets…unless they are books by JRR Tolkien. You are very talented. Thanks for sharing!

    Mary in the run-down mobile home who still dreams of renting a small cottage.

    Reply

  5. November 07, 2013 at 3:29 pm, Rachel said:

    I’m officially inspired! Love, love, love this. Now if only I had all sorts of lovely trinkets as you!

    Reply

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