What’s on Your Shelves? / by Paula Henry

I am March.  I have been known to come in like a lion and leave like a lamb.  I am the month in which you start to anticipate the freshness of spring.  Along with spring, comes spring cleaning and perhaps some newfound organization and cheerful spruce-ups.  Why not start with your open shelves, bookcases and built-ins?

For many of us, the jury is still out on open shelving in the kitchen.  You can argue that lots of valuable storage space is lost but the real fear might be that you can’t close a door to hide what is being stored behind it.  Not so in other rooms.  I rarely go into a client’s home where there is not some form of exposed shelving.  Just about all of it could use some help, and with good reason.  The least of which is that properly arranging any kind of open shelving to satisfy functionality and aesthetics is a true art form. 

If you are ready to “march” in like a “lion” and attempt this on your own, there is no time like the present.  Start by emptying out your shelves and dusting everything off.  After all, you are spring cleaning, right?  You may be surprised at how deep your shelves become, with layer upon layer of stuff that gets piled on.  Use this as an editing process and set aside books or accessories you no longer need while organizing the rest.  For example, have separate areas for books, framed pictures, awards, accessories, etc.

Before putting anything back, step away and take a moment to appreciate what an important part of the room your shelves or built-ins are.  Often times, they are the focal point and for that reason, should be treated as a true design element.  A nice way to change the look is to wallpaper or paint the shelf backs a contrasting color.  If you don’t want to disturb the integrity of the wood, this can be done on a separate piece that is simply fitted into place.

When re-loading, start with the essentials and place things so that you can easily access what you need to get to on a regular basis.  If you are displaying books and don’t mind taking the paper covers off, do so.  This will help get rid of some visual clutter and create more continuity.  You can also get creative with the way books are displayed; not all of them have to be “library loaded.”  They can be used to add height to smaller objects by turning them on their sides and placing something such as a framed picture on top. 

As a general rule, I try not to fill more than three quarters of the space…max.  There are some things, like a beautiful vase or piece of art that deserve a shelf all to itself.   Mix it up, beware of balance, bring in some accessories that tie into the rest of the room, be creative and know you may be moving things around a bit before they end up in their ideal spot.  It is also important to step away…often, during the process to assess what you are doing from a distance.

If you find yourself getting frustrated and want your open shelves and bookcases to look amazing, we are here to help.  Give us a call at 410.252.9911 or email us paula@simplyputinteriors.com 

Side Note:  The room pictured is full of bold colors and drama.  It deserves a post all to itself.  Stay tuned.