Tips on Arranging Your Bookshelves

I love bookcases in almost any space, but sometimes they can end up detracting instead of adding to a room's beauty. One thing to keep in mind when loading up bookshelves is that if the arrangement is not well thought out the bookcase can end up looking cluttered and unbalanced. When my husband built bookcases to flank our fireplace, what he had in mind was to put books on them. I on the other hand, wanted more of a display area for family photos and collectibles. In an effort to make both of us happy, I gave one bookcase a new home library look.

Before...

 The first thing I did was to remove the paper jackets on the books to reveal the lovely linen covers with the gilded titles on the spine. I also decided to edit out many of my family pictures and move them to a new place in our home for display. I kept only a few non-book items on the shelves and grouped books together by size.

After...

I also chose to leave a little negative or open space on my shelves, roughly 10% for this look. These gaps are areas in which books are not placed and the back of the shelves can be seen. Leaving gaps creates rest stops for the eye, so looking at the arrangement does not become overwhelming.





And now I feel that the bookcase on the left appears put together and organized which is much more pleasing to the eye. The bookcases in this room not only serve the obvious function of storing books, but are also used to add visual interest and texture.







More tips for successfully arranging bookshelves!

1. Place larger and heavier books on the bottom and smaller books on the top. This is done so that the bookshelf doesn't become too top heavy.

2. Group books together by size, this gives a more uniformed appearance to the arrangement.

3. Place books in either vertical or horizontal position for a professional touch. If using one or two books as a display piece on the shelf, place the book on a slight angle or in a stand. When doing this, choose books with covers that compliment the room's color scheme. You may even want to leave the book jacket on if it attractive and has colors which coordinate with your room.

4. Allow gaps between books for other objects of interest like collectibles or plants, this breaks up the straight line of the books allowing the eye to rest. If you desire the look of a straight line of books, utilize the bottom shelf for this type of display...again keeping the weight on the bottom of the bookcase.

5. Alternate on each shelf where you add in the non-book items. This will help the eye flow from side to side and not lead it in a straight line from the top to the bottom of the bookcase. Also keep in mind the texture and contrast of the items you choose, this will help to add interest and life to your display. 

6. And the last thing to remember is that many built-in and store bought bookcases have adjustable shelves, so you can move or remove them to accommodate larger items. Here's an example...with the bookcase on the right of our fireplace I removed one shelf and added a lamp for illumination and a wall picture for interest.




Another example is my sister's wall unit which also has adjustable pins. Here I moved a shelf down and placed a wall clock in the middle of the unit's display.



This technique can add an element of surprise to a room and make it feel truly unique.

Wow...you got all that at Yard Sales?

My sister's living room has been the same for the past 16 years and she was more than ready for a redesign. Kim is the "Queen" of yard sales and has really scored a number of beautiful things over the past year. Enough in fact to completely redo her living room! From the leather sofa to the lamps to every piece of artwork on the walls, all were purchased at either a yard or home sale. She has a great eye for pretty things and has amassed quite a collection. Now it's time to put it all together in order to create a beautiful new living space. 

So this was what I walked into on the day of the redesign.





Kim cleared almost everything out of the room so we could start with a clean slate. The first thing I did was to position the sofa in the center of the room and then the area carpet and trunk were placed in front of it. The carpet defines the seating area and the trunk makes for a beautiful coffee table. This arrangement also allows Kim to see right into the family room so she can enjoy the fireplace from her living room.
(The carpet and trunk are both yard sale finds)


Then a club chair taken from the family room and one of the two end tables already in the room, were placed on an angle to the sofa. A wonderful yard sale lamp on the tabletop helps to complete this cozy reading nook. Two yard sale pictures were hung side by side on the wall to fill the blank space.


We brought down a portion of the wall unit which was upstairs in one of the bedrooms, and placed it against the long wall where the sofa originally sat. I accessorized it with all of Kim's yard sale finds. The clock is one of her favorites so I moved the middle shelf down and placed it in the center of the wall unit. Positioning the clock against the dark wood of the wall unit makes it to pop and it becomes more of a statement in the room than if it was just hung on the light color wall.


The other end table went on the far side of the sofa and with yet another yard sale lamp placed on top.


Since the back of the sofa can be seen from the entryway, a small table from the kitchen was added to the room's arrangement to act as a sofa table. A plant was placed under it for color and a lovely iron piece purchased from a yard sale for $20 was placed on top to add interest.


Accessories were brought back in and artwork was hung to create this warm and inviting room.








Kim loves the finished room. It has the warm colors she adores and all of her yard sale treasures surround her in this beautiful new living space.


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So What is Interior Redesign Anyway?

In the past few weeks I have posted two room redesigns to this blog. But to better clarify what a room redesign is, I will begin by saying that it is a low cost way of giving your living space a face lift. For many of us we know what we like but just not where to put things or how to arrange them, and this can be very frustrating. A Redesigner will see a space not as how it is, but with a fresh eye as to what it can be. They will marry room functionality with visual appeal to give a living space a polished professionally decorated look. The best part…a Redesigner will use everything the homeowner already has! This is the key to keeping the cost low for homeowners and still providing the benefit of a newly restyled room.

The technique used by many Redesigners is to clear a room out completely, to create what I like to call “visual amnesia”. Then furniture, area rugs, lamps, plants, wall art and accessories are then brought back into the room in a new configuration. But not everything that was once in the room initially will be brought back; some items may be edited out. On the other hand Redesigners may also “shop” a home for items from different rooms to be incorporated in the room’s redesign.
Interior Redesigners can be found throughout the country and abroad and there are many directories which can connect you to them and their various services. One such directory is provided by the Interior redesign Industry Specialist or I.R.I.S. which is a “professional training, education, and networking organization, with hundreds of members across the United States.” The I.R.I.S was formed in 1999 in order to “set the industry standards with regard to certification training and specific criteria for membership.”
The cost of hiring a Interior Redesigner will vary from region to region and many charge either by  hour or by room. The best route is to contact a Redesigner in your area and speak with them directly about their services.

Lighting and Accessorizing

So how do you get a pulled together look like this?


When you are starting with this!


This room is actually a small space, however there is not enough furniture, lighting or accessories. The chair and the sofa are placed against the walls  providing a conversation area along with an easy pathway through the room, but still it seems off balance. The furniture looks arbitrarily placed and the setting is lacking a coffee table.
The cat house...a must go!!!


As you can see in the photo below, mirrors were placed on the wall and are not centered to anything...they just appear to be floating. Also, when placing mirrors, be mindful of what they are reflecting, in this case the mirrors are reflecting the underside of the stairs.


Here the problem is that the entry way just looks drab, there is nothing on the walls and the space lacks interest and color.


In the below photo you see the awkwardness of the furniture arrangement. Even though this room has great natural light coming in, the one lamp in the room does not provide enough ambient light for when the sun goes down.


So what was done to make this room come to life???


The first thing done was to switch the placement of the sofa and chair so that the sofa is occupying the longer wall. The size of the sofa fits much better on the long wall and the chair compliments the shorter wall. So the tip here when placing furniture on a wall...look at the size of the furniture in relationship to the wall it is placed on. They should almost mirror one another. Long or wide pieces on wide walls and narrow pieces on narrow walls. Fit the shape of the piece to the shape of the wall it is to be placed against for a harmonious feel.


The next thing done was to add a coffee table. This trunk was tucked away in the downstairs storage room. It had some scratches on it but with the application if a little Old English furniture polish, the scratches disappeared. The color of the trunk adds warmth to the room and grounds the seating arrangement. The mirrors were removed and a picture found at the top of the second floor stairway was brought down to add some color to the walls. Also, notice that the picture was placed directly above the chair, thus anchoring it to a piece of furniture for a complete vignette. The small table with lamp was placed on an angle to add some architectural interest to the room.


A floor lamp and plant (right on the above photo) were placed next to the stove to add light and color to the side of the room. Old family portraits (below photo) were hung on the wall next to the front door adding interest and helps to define the entry way. The pictures are placed in an ascending pattern to mimic the angle of the ascending stairs.



The final step in completing the look of this room was accessorizing. Candles and a plant along with some reading material were placed on the new coffee table. The existing accent pillows were flipped to show the floral side and to add contrast to the sofa as well as color to the room. A small bench with another plant was placed next to the chair to help compliment the color of the coffee table to and add weight to the wall with the chair. Here's a tip on lighting...place table and floor lamps around a room in a triangular arrangement...this will help to evenly distribute the light in your room. Same is true for plants, place them around a room in a triangular pattern, and remember, greenery in your living space adds both color and life!  
The homeowners were thrilled with the result of this redesign. They loved the new arrangement and the stylish look. And the best part...nothing new was purchased to achieve this put together living space...it was all done with items the homeowner already had...
another great redesign for sure!!

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