Posts Tagged ‘bookshelves’


Styling shelves can be a little overwhelming. Although you want each shelf to look good, you also have to look at the collection of shelves as a whole. First things first, begin placing the items you have the most of. In this case it’s books, but it might be a collection of pottery or plates. Now start placing these items in some kind of pattern formation. You can start on the top left, work down to the right, and back over again. You may choose to leave some shelves blank while filling the others entirely. Stand back and look at what you’ve created a few times before moving forward. In fact, take photos as you go so you can reference past designs that you preferred. Now go ahead and add in a sprinkling of color, pattern, and texture with a variety of accessories.


  • Use bottom shelves for storage. They’re perfect for boxes or baskets and to store mass market paperbacks, magazines or newspapers without adding visual clutter.
  • Never place family photos on any shelves below eye level or on the very top.
  • Never accessorize the top of shelves unless you’re finished with the shelves first. (And you don’t have to touch the top if you don’t want to.)
  • Bring books forward so you can see them and have better access. (Bonus: you now have extra storage behind books and accessories.)
  • Hanging pictures or mirrors can be attractive, but think how functional this technique actually is. If it gets in the way of reaching for the things you need, don’t do it.
  • Alternate both horizontal and vertical placement of books. Horizontally placed books make great pedestals for accessories!
  • Don’t cram too much in. Even with a packed case, you still need to leave a little negative space. Notice the gaps between shelves walls and books and accessories.

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Novogratz - Suzanne Vega1

I love to watch a show called “Home By Novogratz”. With seven children, and a busy Interior Design company, it piqued my interest from the moment it began. Then, when I learned their children’s names were Breaker, Wolfgang, Tallulah, Five, Holleder, Bellamy and Major, I was hooked; creativity is definitely not limited in this New York City based family.

One thing I love, is that even though their clients usually have generous budgets, their design dilemmas are just as ordinary as yours and mine. Sometimes, even more so; space is at a premium in NYC, and it takes careful planning to marry unique (and beautiful) ideas with a practical floor plan.

Recently, I watched two episodes where the owner’s had hundreds and thousands of books. Fortunately, the apartments had built-in bookshelves, but they weren’t fancy, and they still had to make the higgledy piggledy collection fit into the overall design of the rooms.
Their books were a reflection of who they were; not artfully chosen by a decorator, and they weren’t all pretty, sitting on a coffee table; they had been collected for all sorts of reasons throughout the years, and they were not being discarded to fit into someone else’s preconceived design plan. They needed to fit into the home, regardless of the space they were given.

Book shelves are one of my favorite accessories in a home, and, like the Novogratz’s, I don’t think it matters what is on them, or what the books are about; every shelf can look good with a little tweaking. I know it may seem like a silly notion to spend time fussing over your books, but in reality, it actually makes you appreciate (and remember) what you have, as well as free up space for lots of other things.

After watching the latest episode, I liked how they simplified their approach to this massive amount of books. From what I can remember, they suggested three different ways to organize a collection:

Color, Subject and Size. Simple.

Novogratz David Perler


Thank you to Cortney and Bob Novogratz for your inspiration, and practical creativity!
Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Main Photograph from Suzanne Vega’s home (by Novogratz), Middle Photograph from Dave Perler’s home (by Novogratz) and Bottom Photograph from Canadian Home.

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I have a vintage necklace with a metal Elephant on the bottom of it. As it’s quite bold I can only wear it with certain outfits. I like Elephants, but I don’t have an unusual affection for them. It was my mother-in-law’s, Anita, she passed away many years ago. After she had gone, her husband gave me some of her more unusual pieces of jewelry; he recognized that side of me before I did.  At the time I was a little unsure about being known for originality, it bothered me a bit. I preferred to blend in.

Now, I like originality; nothing makes me happier than to go into someones home, to see a collection of personal treasures that are filled with meaning for the person that lives there.

I have a friend who loves Elephants. What started off as a pair of Elephant earrings, turned into an obsession that knows no bounds. She will buy anything that has an Elephant on it, or is even remotely in the shape of an Elephant. Elephants make her happy.

When you first go into her home it is a little startling to see the old-fashioned etagere’s filled with hundreds and hundreds of these creatures. They are made of every substance imaginable; some of them exquisite and colorful, others clumsy and dark.

Initial thought is that she may be a little mad. But, she’s not. It is a collection of her beloved things, and she is not embarrassed to show them off. This is one of the things I love about her; she embraces her Elephants, and her own uniqueness. She displays them with no apologies, amassed together, in a room that is used every day.

When we display what we love, people react. It is a feeling; regardless of whether or not we love what we are looking at, we are swept up into what is important. It is a privilege to peek inside someones personal belongings, and a joy to imagine what they see.

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