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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

OPEN HOUSE: Book Shelf Styling

My friend Kim just had a custom built in installed in her living room and has been posting pictures of the progress she's been making on them on Facebook. She and her husband just finished renovating a beautiful home in Newport's Historic Point Neighborhood and while I new they had fabulous taste, I was floored at how amazingly styled her built ins were, especially considering she did them without the help of a designer. They're also fabulous because your eye, both in the pictures and in person, is drawn away from the flat screen television. Book shelf styling is one of those things that people really seem to struggle with so I asked her if I could come see them in person and find out how she pulled them all together to give you a few tips in pulling your own shelves together.
The first thing she did (even before the shelves were built) was find a picture in a magazine of the look she was going for. If you aren't starting from scratch then just find a picture that has a similar amount of shelves as you do or the color scheme you want and adjust it to fit your space. If you have adjustable shelving that will be a huge help and if you are starting from scratch make sure you include that feature. For instance, she knew she was going to put a model boat over the television, but couldn't find one to fit quite right so she ended up having to raise the shelf above it so give yourself some flexibility if you can.
There are a few things that make these shelves look so great. First, she limited the color scheme and stuck to blues and whites with accents of red and brown. Too many colors just become distracting. Secondly, the colors are used repeatedly throughout the shelves. She didn't put everything with red in it in one section despite the fact that people are prone to group like colors. Where it does make sense to group like colors tightly is with the books. Here, different color book bindings are used throughout the shelving, but they are not intermixed. All the blues are together and all the whites are together, and if you look closely you'll notice that even the red coral is resting on a stack of books with red writing on the bindings. It's all in the details! She even went out and found more books that would work in the space to achieve the look she was going for. Another thing that destined Kim for success is that she went shopping with an open mind. She knew that she wanted the white ceramic items, but wasn't set on it having to be a fish or a flower or anything else. When she found the first pineapple she decided to go with it knowing that it was actually perfect since it's the welcome symbol of Newport, and then she went on to look for more similar items, but without making everything overly matchy matchy. Ok, so now for one of the best things about this built in...drumroll please....most of the items on these shelves are from Home Goods or used bookstores! You know how I love a bargain, and here is proof that you don't have to spend loads of money to have a house that is magazine (or shall I say blog) worthy. So take a look at your shelving and see if you can make a few small changes to make your own a little more stylish and I guarantee you'll feel better. Remember that it's ok to let them evolve, but don't leave them jam packed with "stuff". Happy decorating!

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