Shelf Styling Back to the Drawing Board

It took me a couple of days but I read each and every one of your comments about my bookshelf styling dilemna very carefully. Thanks so much to each of you - it really helps to get another set of eyes on the problem. With that in mind, some shelf styling inspirational photos I've found on the web to illustrate your points.

Bookshelf Styling

After thinking about it, I realized I need to start from scratch. Everything will have to come down again so I can play around with some of the suggestions you provided. Who knows what will work but here are the guidelines I'll try to keep in mind:

  1. Edit out some of the smaller stuff
  2. Bring in some larger, more impactful pieces
  3. Leave more dead space
  4. White things against the patterned shelves
  5. Balance visual weight throughout the shelves
And then if that doesn't work, Ill do another round with some of the other suggestions provided like moving all of my books to the center shelves, covering the books, etc.

The suggestions that most surprised me were: a) getting rid of the books b) getting rid of the wallpaper and c) getting rid of the leaded glass doors. I kind of love all three of those things so it's out of my comfort zone. But that was sort of the point of me asking - new set of eyes, new set of ideas.

Do you have any lovely styled bookshelves to share? Please post links or email - I'd love to see.


  1. But I like the way you had things arranged in the last post. You are going to get 100 different opinions if you ask 100 different people. You live there, do what you like. Sometimes you just need to step away from it for awhile and then come back with your own "new eyes"

    Good luck. Can't wait to see how it ends up

  2. Melanie3:29 PM

    Please don't get rid of the books, the wallpaper, or the leaded glass. That is what makes it beautiful!

  3. Anonymous3:44 PM

    Keep in mind that if you love something, you should keep it - even if the masses aren't as fond of it as you are. After all, you're going to live with it, we're just the peanut gallery. :)

  4. For now, Im not going to be nixing the books, the paper or the glass. I just wanted to mention I was surprised at the suggestion. Nothing wrong with suggesting it though - thats why I asked.

  5. I kept my comments to myself about your shelve issues , I honestly find this the most difficult part , it is decorating for no purpose but for eye candy , I am not good at it , I think I am good at making the lasting improvements to a room , and fabric related deccisions but this kind of decorating is my weak point , But I did hear once that think pyramid , you will notice there will be a small followed by a taller piece and then a shorter piece , not for always but often .
    Hope that helps in some capacity .
    But I do think we are our worst critics , and you are one who likes a clean asthetic , shelf decorating goes against your instincts , maybe you can add more closed storage like baskets to give you a tidy and useful space, hmmmm , what ever you do it will be lovely.
    Just Beachy

  6. No matter what you choose to do, I know is going to look amazing. You're are super talented and your shelves are drool worthy.

  7. I love when people use letters on their shelves especially when it spells out something. I know you aren't trying to add new things to your shelves though. Good luck.

  8. Bookshelves can be difficult but it sounds like you are on the right track with the points you note. I hope this link works ~ it a Jay Jeffers design ~
    I like the small bookshelf to the left in particular. Larger items, groupings, negative space such that one may see the wallcovering in the background. If that link does nt work, it is one of my posts "All About the Line."

  9. You are right...less is more sometimes. I go through this all the time with my book shelves. I always think I am putting too much on them.

  10. I think your ideas above are right on the mark. I think the wallpaper and glass doors are beautiful. I also think every home should have books on display. In fact I'm wondering if you should add more books to give the shelves more "heft".

    I do agree with many of the other comments to take away most of the small stuff. Also - maybe make the entire arrangement more monochromatic black and white with big pieces. I love your white pieces (are they ceramic or glass?) and also the typewriter is a nice dark black, visually heavy piece that you could keep, and even adding larger black or white pieces. So the whole shelf would be nothing but lots of books, and large black and white pieces.

    In any case, keep us posted! Can't wait to see your results!

  11. Thanks for the inspiration pics! I'm tackling the bookshelf in my office as we speak! I'm terrible with the styling!

  12. You did a great job before and I agree with some of the live there. You have a good eye for design judging by what you have done in your limestone already!

    I look forward to seeing what you end up doing!


  13. I love the cabinet and wondered if it came with the house. As for the leaded doors, those are the most gorgeous part of the cabinet!
    It's just knowing when to stop adding things that makes a display cabinet look beautiful.

  14. Naz - No, this wasn't original. I had it built but I was never really happy with how it turned out. You can see what Im talking about in this post from Feb 2008:

    Chris - I think you hit the nail on the head. I tend to dislike clutter and this is an excercise in making clutter artful so I suck at it :)

  15. I think Brooke must read your blog. :)

    I think arranging shelves is hard, too. I always seem to come up with too much stuff for them or too little.

  16. Anonymous7:54 AM

    I agree with a few of the other people about leaving the wallpaper, doors and books. If that's what you like you should keep it and just resyle it. You probably find it difficult to style because the cabinet is not the same on both sides (at least I would find it difficult). But I think that also gives it character. When I first saw the shelves I thought it looked beautiful and was surprised you were not happy with it.

  17. I just found your site and love it!

  18. DOn't you dare ever get rid of the leaded glass! I was wondering if you did get rid of the wallpaper (which I like), if you could move one door over to the far left side for some symmetry, or better yet, if the other set exist somewhere in your house?

    That typewriter is amazing. Maybe it should get a more prominent spot - it doesn't have to go on the bottom (or does it logistically - does it hang over on the other shelves?)

    Loved the animation on the previous post - very impressive. I liked your iterations and I think you are obsessing over it too much. Of course, I look at my own and think I need to yank everything down and start over as well, but in the end, I am simply too lazy to do so.


  19. Anonymous10:42 PM

    Whoever said to get rid of the books/wallpaper/GORGEOUS leaded glass doors has lost their damn mind!


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