Decorating With Books 2#: Shelving Your Best Ideas

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Warmly comfortable rooms are made, not born

Your books and treasures make empty shelves speak volumes of “Home Sweet Home”.


Union Organizing. Sometimes we keep books we’ve already read because we loved them and maybe we will read them again. Sometimes those stacks of unread publications serve as visual reminders of the wonderful mind trip they will provide, once we find the time. Sometimes we keep books for reference because knowledge is power, or at least access to a complete thought, if nothing else. To make your library the most user friendly, segregate the masses by category and location.

Presto! A Carpe Diem Moment made easy.

Though I don’t have a coffee table, I have a lot of great designer monographs (i.e., coffee table books). These special books (well, to me anyway) live in a tall bookcase next to where I work and write, to easily access information for an article or a how-to reminder when I want to solve a design problem for a client.

Divide, Build and Conquer: While it’s obvious that you would want your cookbooks in the kitchen, or like me, want your reference books in your study, there might not be any space to display them unless you get creative.

Where can your collection go?

Look around your rooms for inspiration.

  • The usual suspect: If you have a lot of books, a whole wall of shelves for them is the classic solution. So too, is using one side of a wide hallway. It’s amazing how much storage you can get for only 8”-13” of floor space.
  •  Things are looking up: A long running display shelf 12″ or more down from the ceiling, or near the top of the doorways solves a lot of problems in a cool looking way. Run the shelf across one wall, or all around the room. The shelf itself should be thick to ensure the wood won’t sag under the weight of the books or other objects you may want to mix in for display.
  • Storage opportunities waiting to happen: Empty nooks and crannies under a staircase, below an existing window seat, or in a seldom-used closet (remove the door) are genius. The spaces underneath window seats or banquettes are great places for mixing in your taller books, as regular seating height is roughly 18” high.
  • Spare us bad jokes about nooky, but…no nooks? Make your own. Flank a window or a fireplace with bookshelves. If you have a blank wall to work with, create a nook with shelves over closed cabinets. Inside the new space, use a desk or love-seat to complete a study area or a quiet place to take time for a good read.
Your shelves, or the space between supports for running shelves, should be less than 40 inches long to avoid the likelihood of sagging.

Good planning leads to good design solutions. How often have you ever complained of too much storage space? Keep this in mind when in the market for new or used furniture. Unless you actually need a tabletop with four legs, look for cabinets with shelves, drawers or doors.

Adequate free space for future acquisitions is the key to clutter control. As far as a place for your books is concerned, bookshelves with adjustable shelves are preferable, otherwise very tall books will have to be laid flat to fit.

Words of wisdom: while you’re are figuring out when and where you will use/create shelf space, don’t store your books in an unventilated garage or dank basement for very long. They will begin to smell musty over time and might be damaged.

Next time: Decorating With Books #3: Looks Are Everything

Related Posts

(Decorating With Books Three Part Series)

Decorating With Books #1: Why This Is A Good Idea

Decorating With Books #3: Looks Are Everything


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