Monday, January 29, 2018

Tips for Artfully Styled Shelves

Well hello darlings.  I'm freshly back from a glorious weekend away with my man on a work trip and am working on the travel tips post I had promised would be next. However, on a whim, I just quickly refreshed my bookshelves and I loved the idea of this inspiration so much that I decided to push this post in front of the travel tips one! I hope you don't mind.  (I'll get that one up by week's end.)

So first, let's talk about book shelves.  There are as many different ways to use and style one, as there are personality types. I prefer mine to have a mix of both functional AND pretty, thus you'll not see me flipping my books backward so that I can't read the titles. (Though it's so pretty in photos.) Today, I'm sharing my shelves and how I refreshed them just a bit, lightened them up and edited a few items out to either the donate bin (hello paperbacks that I'll never re-read) or other spaces in our home.  Simple images draw me in and whisper calm to me and I'm working more and more to create that overwhelming feeling in my own home and spaces.  Often, a quick edit is all that is needed, but a total overhaul for fresh inspiration, is a good idea when you're really longing for change.  For these shelves, I removed everything to a table and rethought it all from scratch, cleaning as I went. It took about an hour total and was well worth it. Truthfully, I edit and shed more and more material items as Adrain and I get older and continue talking about downsizing once our children head off to colleges and lives of their own.  I want experiences more than stuff and I suppose that is shaping the way I am decorating (or dare I say not decorating?)  more and more.

Now, those of you who are wall to wall book hoarders may not even have space for anything pretty on your bookshelves.  Guess what.  That's okay!  However, after reading this, you may find yourself wanting to edit those shelves a bit to lighten your load (especially if you'll truly never open that book ever again in your lifetime) and might be willing or able to then rethink the function+pretty idea.

That said, I've always had a lot to say about collections and how they work (or mostly don't work) for me.  Collections are nice but I personally can feel almost weighed down whenever I have too much of anything. Can you relate to this?  Just an overwhelming feeling of too much and heaviness. Without even realizing it, I created some kind of unspoken inner boundaries for myself in this, by really seldom having collections that swell to more than five items in all.  Most of the time I stick to less than three. I also don't even have many collections. I have exactly three vintage blue mason jars and I am using each of them for a purpose.  I have five vintage cameras that I adore, two that came from my grandmother so they are sentimental collected items and I think that's about all that I collect. (If you're struggling with a large collection that is gathering dust on shelves someplace in your home and suffocating you with its girth, consider keeping your top three or five favorites, placing the rest into a storage bin in your garage, and if you don't actually (deeply and truly) miss those items being out over the next month... share them with others, let yourself feel joy in sharing, or even donate them.)

One thing I love, are collecting items from experiences.  For example, I styled my shelves using some very precious ocean-tumbled rocks, shells and driftwood from a family getaway that we visit every year.  Each time my eyes rest on these items, I not only see the beauty but my heart remembers with fondness, the wonderful time spent gathering those items.  As you style your own shelves, consider using things from travels, memories or even local offerings in your décor. (beach sand or pinecones...things like that)

Tips for artfully styled bookshelves: 
* Gather items you love together on a flat surface such as a table, and then pick out all of the items that pair nicely together. (This is a great time for a quick edit if needed.  Things you aren't going to use, could be placed into a donate bag rather than re-stored, unless you have spots for them elsewhere in your home.)
*Edit your books as you go, pulling them all from the shelves and asking yourself if you'll actually read or refer to it ever again.  (Inexpensive paperbacks might be great to share, while classics are an obvious keeper.) Dust all your empty shelves off. 
*Lay books on shelves in pleasing patterns- think about like colors, height, and both vertical and horizontal arrangements
*Bookend piles with objects you have gathered.
*Incorporate pretty storage for both display as well as usefulness. (For example, my candles)
*Use items in these daily displays that might otherwise sit unused in a cabinet until special occasions (For example, the wood candlesticks I've gathered here.)
*Collect and display meaningful treasures from dear places.
*Add sweet favorite framed photos
*Add greenery, faux or real
*Shop your home, kitchen, dining area for items that aren't being used regularly, such as pretty bowls, boxes, vases, trays and pitchers for height and interest variation.
*If possible, add pretty accent lighting.  I like the Ikea bookshelf lighting options, and use them daily.
*Stand back and think about balance and scale, and make adjustments where needed.  I'll often move a pile of books or an object around a few times as the shelf takes shape.

(Note, if your shelves feel too cluttered once complete, edit again.  Removing items is nearly always the answer.)

As I mentioned above, I nearly always begin projects like this, by removing everything, reevaluating, cleaning, editing and then adding back into it as needed. For this refresh, I was inspired by gathering  together wood elements, my small pottery collection (including one special crock that has been in my family for years) and special vacation mementos.  I am happy to answer any questions you have in comments so please do make sure to check back there if you ask anything!  It can be the smallest changes that feel the biggest and are almost always worth the time.  Re-thinking a space often leads to other re-thinking of other spaces, and can leave you feeling lighter and refreshed on the whole.


  1. Thank you for sharing. I have two bookshelves and they are often overwhelmingly filled. I have a hard time limiting other people's items. My family members want to display their stuff, Legos they've made, things my husband doesn't want to lose, etc. Do you have any suggestions for this?
    I struggle to style these and they usually are much too cluttered. I appreciate any suggestions you may have.

  2. Such a great post. I love the bookshelves. We have an ikea that is 4 hours away. Do you feel the shelves are a good deal for the price? I'm wanting to make an IKEA run as soon as I can convince my hubby. :)

  3. Yes, I totally get the heaviness and weighted down thing. I feel so much better without stuff. I'm constantly purging, I don't know why I can't get it all done in one fell swoop. Your home looks so calm, lovely and relaxing. Thanks for sharing!