Friday, September 26, 2008

A Bookcase Update

Many of you have left comments wondering about the status on the bookcases, some even hoping that they were finished. I'm sorry to report, they are in the same condition as where we left them when we closed the first post about them.

Life, health, and work got in my way, so I've had a bit of a hard time getting in there to finish them up. You'll be happy to know, however, that the primer and filler was purchased last night, and I plan on working on them most of the day Saturday, with a hopeful finish of the painting (faux and all) by Monday.

In the mean time, I thought you might like to take a peak at my research on bookshelf organization. I read somewhere, possibly a blog some time ago, that organizing books in a color order is the "new" or "latest" craze. Although it would certainly take some time, after finding these clever and colorful examples, I'm rather intrigued.

I have to admit that I'm not a great fan of this particular bookshelf, but the organization of it is really nicely done, don't you think? The castle 3rd shelf down is interesting.

This looks too decorated to me. Unlike the image above, this doesn't look natural. It's almost as if all of these books were purchased to make this wall the rainbow that it is. It is beautiful, don't get me wrong, but in a forced, and rather awkward sort of way. The pink baby on the second shelf doesn't really help.

This, to me, is a better representation of color organizing in a true and natural form. These books were obviously preexisting and organized, rather than purchased to make the bookcase a feature. I'm curious though, should I shove baby toys in with the books and pretties? See the bear in the 3rd left shelf. A reoccurring theme? Castles and Baby dolls and bears - Oh MY!

My favorite of the color-coded shelves. This is chic, and sophisticated. I am a fan of the stacked book along side of the standing. The art inside of the shelves is lovely, and the little vignettes of objects (like the pitcher and vases on the bottom shelf half covered by the lovely danish modern bench, and the glass ball paperweight atop the books on the 3rd shelf). These shelves are obviously deep, and this cabinet obviously built in - but I would really love to emulate this particular look in regard to organization.

Another color coded set of shelves. I won't lie - I hate the vases of palm frawns on the top shelf. I think it's too much. Maybe if the one in the center hadn't been haphazardly placed - I don't know, this to me, looks way too showroom. But the books - here again we have the stacked book along side the standing. I'm a fan of this concept/style, and you'll certainly have that to look forward to when I post the "grand reveal"!

Now, bookcases don't have to be color coordinated to look beautiful. Recently, I've noticed a number of bookshelves where art was hung directly on the case, as if it were a wall in the room. I think the first time I saw this was on a television show - and I remember thinking, "How silly is that?! They can't access the books that way!" It hit me then that you wouldn't need to. It's for show and not function. My bookcases have to be functional, so I'd rather stick to art inside of the shelves. Here are a few of my favorite examples of art hung on bookcases:

I'm in love with this, although it would never quite work in my guest room. This french inspired room is lovely with it's checked fabric and seagrass rugs, bamboo tea table and feather reed trunks with french detail (writing). But the art on the bookshelves is what we're focusing on. I'm a fan of the triptych hanging of the shadow boxes. It looks like something sealike, maybe coral. Either way, not terribly useful, but beautiful to boot!

I don't know what it is about square shelving units - but I'm not a big fan. Maybe they are to reminiscent of the cubes I had to store my backpack, coat, and lunch bag in while I was in grade school. No matter - these are beautiful, and the art hung on them is just enough. The prints are wonderful too, no? And that sofa looks like a very cozy place to pick up a book and read a chapter or two.

Again, another not so useful design, but beautiful for sure. Remember my Will & Grace inspiration post where I thought about using bookshelves behind the bed? This is a better photo of that example. Though I find every book in the picture to be inaccessible due to the headboard, side tables, art or lamps, the look is impressive - inspiring even.

Ah, and the quintessential red lacquer bookcases. This reads more library to me with the round table and leather seated chairs. A formal room, beautiful, but stuffy. The art is wonderful, beautiful and interesting. It's age matches the "old" feeling of the room. I'm a fan of all red lacquer furniture, so this photo had to make it into the line up.

Now, I will have what I like to call "Dead Space" above the bookcases. Even beefing it up with crown molding doesn't help mask the fact that there is almost 3 feet from top of shelf to ceiling. Sometimes, in this case, what's on top of the bookcase is as important as what's in them. At least for a decorating state of mind. This happens a lot of times in kitchens, where there is a void space between the tops of upper cabinets and ceilings. So I went searching for ideas, and found a few:

Quite possibly my dream kitchen (get an eye full of that island and breakfast room chandelier), the china hutch in the attached breakfast room which looks out over the antique brick patio and outdoor fireplace boasts a basket with a spray of silk greenery. It's beautiful, not all together interesting or unexpected, but an idea.

This is a little more interesting, though very country. Atop the old Hoosier cabinet they have stacked wooden boxes and a wooden bowl. Beautiful, country, the Christmas lights have to go. Maybe I can modify this somehow?

My random thoughts of accessory items: old kilim pillows (I have so many), leather suitcases stacked upon each other, empty decorative frames, amber glass vases, even more books. Of course, editing is important. None of this would be all together. Your ideas are of course encouraged and appreciated. It may take playing to get it right, but I know it will be perfect once we work it out. Looking forward to the fun part ...


  1. great post. I will be out of town for a week , so get well and I will talk to you later. vickydarnell

  2. I like the same bookshelf that you did, the chic, sophisticated one with the glass ball, I also like that first kitchen...and let me tell you, I have a Hoosier in my basement, just collecting dust! It looked great in my small dining room in my old bungalow home we use to live in...but in this house, it has not found a home and that makes me sad. I do hope, though, that once we get working on the basement, that it will have a prominent area to be again!

    Hope you have a nice weekend :)


  3. I did a bookcase by color arranging the books years I guess I was ahead of the curve for once in my life. I really love the way it looks and it felt way less cluttery. I also am a fan of stacking some books instead of going all vertical. It looks less like a commercial library...and you know how mean them librarians are!!!~SHUDDER~ it brings back bad memories. I just know whatever you do it's gonna look perfect. Can't wait to see the results so I can show my hubby what he should be building for me lol

  4. I LOVE, love art hung on bookshelves~ take care! Lori

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed your take on the bookshelves that you pictured. Looking forward to your finished project! Sally

  6. Hi Artie,

    I have just the solution to the empty space on the top of your bookshelves ;) (she explains with a smirk on her face) We can all send you a framed photo of ourselves, so you can feel that we are always there with you. LOL Keep in mind that this comment comes from a person who hates to have her picture taken.

    Blame the silly thought on me taking in too many fumes from using Bleach and Top Job, which I've used the past two days cleaning up after our very sick, very, large, Chocolate Lab, Shane. The poor dog didn't know what to do with himself.

    Have a great weekend and don't work too hard, you make the rest of us look lazy.


  7. The Will & Grace headboard idea is stunning. I like them all, though. This is too hard to decide in just one blog visit. I will have to think and come back.

  8. enough excuses - keep yourself up there and paint them!

    btw - that picture is originally from my blog! haha! it's Pam Pierce's house - her family room in Houston. Great style!

    love this post - good job Artie - now go paint!

  9. Of course, clutterbug that I am, I would never want my books arranged by color. Of course, mine are arranged by content, so I'd be lost looking for a book by its cover. I have seen where they made covers for each book, so that they matched, but that didn't appeal to me either. I just love the look of a book spine on a shelve (upright and stacked. Can't wait to see your finished project. Love the idea of pillows and suitcases on top if you have enough depth. Laurie (bargainhunr)

  10. Well, after seeing all of these that inspire you, I can't wait to see what you come up with! I too love the look of stacked books next to upright ones. I think it gives some interest to a shelf.
    Man though, when you look at a picture you truly LOOK and see every tiny detail! Do you know how long it took me to find the Christmas lights in this last picture?

    Justine :o )

  11. It is so nice to meet you. I found your blog thru Blah,Blah,Blah Blog. Love how your bookcase is coming along. I have the exact same thing. How about coming to our house and decorating it :) Will be back, stop by and visit some time.
    PS. You are an excellent writer!

  12. I have my books in catagories, stacked and upright. On one particular shelf it has 2 special sports balls encased. I feel little displays make a bookcase a little more interesting. I'm not a fan of the art blocking books at all. I feel there are enough empty walls to hang art without it competing with books on a bookcase. But that's JMO.
    As always, another great post Artie.

  13. That's a cool info. Thanks. Never thought of arranging my books by color but now I'm thinking of doing it.

  14. I hope your bookcase is coming along nicely. Time to take a break!
    I see some strong similarities with your dream kitchen and mine. I know you liked mine so now I know why!
    Hugs and have a nice sunday! B.

  15. Artie...How is the priming coming along?
    Fun pictures. I like the simpler ones with books stacked on sides. More natural and less staged.
    Im looking forward to seeing yours finished.
    Hope you are feeling better!

  16. Oh my goodness....a color coordinated bookshelf! My mouth is still hanging open, I must shut it now! The baby must go bah-bye...:)

  17. I'm guess I am more of a 'functional' person than 'esthetic'. I love my books arranged according to subject. As far as display goes, I prefer a mix and the occasional use of a tasteful yet simplistic book-end.

    Regarding kitchens...Bridget's gets 'ten' stars from me as it's functional without overkill and is a classic.