Bookshelf Styling

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Our Dining Room Rehab is still kickin, and today I wanted to share a REALLY simple project that anyone could do at home with a free afternoon and no spare cash. I worked on it one evening when Ryan was out with the boys and it was a lot of fun. Gotta love big impact for minimal cost, right? The corner of our dining room that has our two leaning bookshelves has pretty much been the same since I unpacked our books last October. Like this:

It's not like we've been getting complaints or hate mail or anything, but it's nothing to write home about either. And since we're both big readers and we both had several boxes of books to unpack, the fact that almost all of them squeezed on here in the first place was pretty impressive. But it's a little boring, and for all the brightening changes we've been making in the room (ditching the other dark furniture, painting the picture frames from black to white...), this particular corner needed to be a little less "dark brooding library" and more fun and refreshing.

Here's what it looks like now:

The changes were simple. Here's a run-down of what I did:

1. Relocated some of the books so it wasn't so crammed. This sounds silly, but all the books with black spines went into our office (you can see them in this post, on the top shelf). It was the easiest way to clear out some titles AND lighten and brighten at the same time.

2. I took EVERYTHING off, dusted, and then put things back onto a clean slate.

3. I didn't shove every last book on the shelves either. There are maybe 25 more titles that didn't fit, and we'll find somewhere else for them (luckily I kept most of those in genres). We also took the opportunity to donate some gently used titles that we no longer need.

4. I really wanted to leave lots of "white space" for decorative items, so I alternated placing the books horizontally and vertically. The horizontal books could act as pedestals.

5. Larger decorative items are balanced - One side has the clock and planter, the other side has bookends and the picture frame.

6. Especially on the top shelf, I tried to balance height. I didn't want all vertical or all horizontal, but they needed to be even. So the right side got a picture frame and brass apple (which you can buy in my store!) for height.

7. I tried to use a variety of decorative objects, not just all similar objects. We have a potted plant, air plants (love those), pictures (one of us, one of the 1980 Mt. St. Helens eruption), a brass apple, a parrot figurine, a clock, marble horsehead bookends, and a chunk of amythest that used to be a paperweight on my desk.

8. I didn't go with the first arrangement. Things moved around between my stepping back to view from a distance. Even a few books moved around when I thought there was too much yellow in one section, or that one fat spine stuck out when placed on the end of the shelf.

All in all, I'm happy with the result, and even happier that it was relatively painless and that it was free! And as part of the room as a whole, it looks so much brighter and more interesting. What simple projects have you tackled lately?