While I patiently wait for my sofa a thought (or 2) on styling bookshelves

I met with a new client a few days ago and while there is a list of to-do's one in particular struck me.  It's one I hear time and time again and will probably hear for a long time to come.  


It's a tough one and it takes time to create that effortless, "oh I just had these things lying around" look.  It's layers and time.

I am in need of JUSHing up my own book shelves but basically I have a few tips that can get anyone started.

1.  Keep larger, heavier loads to the bottom.  

The scale is important and if you have something solid and large at the top it will look off.

Below you can see I placed the stacks of books on the 2 bottom shelves.

2.  Group collections together to tell an interesting story about you or your family.  

I am a big collector of things.  It doesn't really matter if they are new, old or even expensive.  Some things just catch my eye.  I love the vintage aqua glass conductors below.  And I had a nice grouping of small sized urns that I paired together.

On the bottom shelf are large pinecones that my husband and I collected years ago in Florence. The small, distressed foot stool I found 25 years ago at a flea market in Vermont and I love how the Mary Gregory art fits perfectly on top of it.  

One of my favorites sits on the bottom shelf just in front of the books.  It's my husband's birth announcement that his Mom put into a silver frame when he was a baby.

3.  Use books to create different heights, to tie colors together and to help highlight items.

I like to change the direction of a stack of books for interest but this also works well when you want to rest a picture frame or object.  It creates a pedestal of sorts and highlights that object.  Here I have rested a wood frame and I placed a piece of driftwood in front of it.  I found this on the beach in Cape Cod and every time I see it it makes me thing of Summer.  I like the color how the colors all tie together.

I found these very old books at the flea market and I love pairing the bi-fold leather frame that holds pictures of my mother-in-law and her siblings when they were young.  They seem to go nicely together.

Below I used a stack of books to lift the frame up since it initially looked "lost" on the shelf which was too big a space for the size of the frame.  

4.  Change the layout on each shelf so its not a constant repeat as the eye goes up or down.

On a large set of shelves I like to create a separate story on each shelf.  I often use books stacked or layered in different directions and below I even went so far as to layer them by spine color.  Always take off the jacket covers!

Notice how I broke up the stacks on the bottom two shelves by plugging in frames and a mercury pedestal.   And as you can see I collected clocks for a bit.   

Below I place the framed art and photos in different locations on each shelf.  And I try to be careful to avoid going overboard on kids school pictures.  Chose your favorites and highlight those.  Overkill of anything takes away from it being special.

5.  Create a story with color.

I paired this grouping together based on colors.  I used the ceramic bowl my daughter made as a book end and layered book spines that worked nicely with the colors of the artwork and pottery.  My husbands college roommate sent the art as a thank you.  Years later its still one of my favorites.

On the photo below I was after a pop of bright color since the wood table was feeling bare.  I realize this isn't a book shelf but it's books. I love the aqua spine and how it pulls the colors of my new living room rug out and ties it together.

I love how my in-laws picture at the beach pops more when sitting on top of blue spine books.

Many clients will say to me, "I don't have books anymore." 

One of my secrets is to head over to the local public library and take advantage of the book sales they run where you can snag great hard back books for 50 cents.

Happy shelving!


The start of the Living room redo

Back in the Fall we said goodbye to our dog Daisy.  

It was much sadder than I had ever thought it would be given that I am not a huge dog lover.  

But boy was that a sad few weeks.  The house was oddly quiet and it would take us about a month before we walked in the door and didn't feel a pang of disappointment when we realized she wasn't running to greet us. 

Having a dog is wonderful but there are always a few not so great parts.  For us that was the fact that dear Daisy preferred getting sick on carpet, mostly the living room carpet.  So we decided that it just wasn't worth replacing it until, well she was no longer with us.

You can't tell by looking at the living room but if this rug could talk it would tell the story of Daisy, our Wheaten Terrier.  

And while it had now been a few months I was still working to identify "the look" for the redo.  I just knew that on my list was a new rug and sofa, for starters.  I figured something would hit me first....rug or sofa and that would be my jumping off point.

The rug was something that would require time to find.  I needed good size since our living room is one big square, I wanted a fresh new look and I had a budget.  

Wow, who knew how many rug choices there are to be found online!?  The rug was the winner!

My final pick had an aqua base and pops of navy, indigo and some brown.  Don't you love it when something arrives 4 days later?  There is nothing like instant gratification!

About the same time I started the rug research I also began the hunt for a new sofa.  The current one we brought from the other house 8.5 years ago and I had recovered.  

Its 3-cushions make for lots of seating and the English arm style has lasted through numerous trends but as I age I have been feeling the pull towards a bit more of a modern vibe. I wanted the new sofa to reflect that.  My research took me to Emily Henderson's blog which highlighted her top pick for sofas.  The mid-century indigo blue velvet tufted sofa checked ALL my boxes.  

So while I wait for the sofa and am LOVING my new rug and the pop of happy it has added to our living room I re-think the remaining pieces in the room.

I highlighted the round dining table on an Insta post recently but here is a quick back store....A few years ago I replaced our distressed rectangular dining table with a distressed 60" round pedestal table but just couldn't part with the table made from old English floor boards and therefore it moved into the large living room and became a spot for the family desktop.  It stayed there for a few years and worked well.  You can see it on the picture above to the left of the image.

But the holidays came and so did dinner for 12 on Christmas Eve so the old floor board topped-table came back into the dining room and the round took its place in the living room.  And guess what?  It looked great in the living room!  Really great!  And it got lots of use in its new spot. And we were able to re-arrange the entire living room to accommodate the Christmas tree.

Fast forward to holiday clean up and the removal of the Christmas tree and we saw the room in a while new light.   

We realized that the hand-me-down china hutch from my in-laws was actually housing nick knacks we just didn't use anymore. Here it is below decked out for the holidays.

 The larger china hutch we had in the space had become a dry bar a few years back and seems to get enough use to warrant keeping it around ;).  You can see this in the first picture above.

Hubby and I discussed a few options with the space and ultimately decided to keep the round dining table in the space.  

So we flip flopped the 2-pc hutch/dry bar to the other side of the big window and moved the table into the place the bar used to be and it feels great.  

Open, airy, cozy, efficient and NEW...well almost! And I loved that the entire family was hanging out here yesterday watching a football game and reading. I guess I am not the only one who loves a refresh!?

I plan to wait for the sofa arrival before I decide on the follow things...

1.  Coffee table:  I think I will want to incorporate more warm woods once the darker sofa arrives.

2.  Window treatments:  I took down the panels that flanked the big window and I like the clean, bare vibe.  Again, want to wait for sofa since I am thinking about replacing the woven romans on the 2 side windows with fabric romans.  

3.  Built-ins:  Currently the back wall of the built-ins is painted a greige and I suspect I will want to update these too.  Do I wallpaper the back or repaint?

4.  Lighting:  I have also been searching lamps and have found one I happen to think is BU-TI-FUL but again...waiting on the sofa.  And do I want to hand a fixture over the 60" round in the back corner to help define the space better?

OK, lots to think about...stay tuned for updates as I go.