Beware to the person who takes the simple, unassuming bookshelf for granted. The bookshelf is a deceptively significant piece of furniture, as it does double duty as storage for books and as display space for decorative accessories. Here’s a quick primer on how to arrange shelves so they are both fully functional and great looking:
1) Empty your bookshelf and line the back with a wallpaper or paint in a contrasting color. This will add the illusion of depth and help make objects on the shelf pop.
2) As you stack books, place some vertically and others horizontally. Substitute bold-color picture frames, or pieces of pottery as bookends.
3) Fill unused spaces and break up rows of books with decorative or woven storage boxes to organize non-book items such as papers, manuals, toys, and any other small object that tends to clutter.
4) Add ceramics and other meaningful, pleasing-to-the-eye objects. Depending on the size of the item, it can be placed on the shelf itself or directly atop a short stack of books. Place family photos or small works of art against the books to add some personality. Keep things varied, and maintain a sense a balance, by mixing up shapes.
A few tips to keep in mind:
• As you organize, be sure to occasionally step back to gain some perspective; it’s not always possible to see how things actually look on the shelf when you’re standing up close to it.
• Resist the urge to pack accessories onto every inch of the shelf. Keep the look clean by choosing a single color or tone-on-tone scheme for all your non-book objects.
• Very modern-looking shelves call for an extra spare look, so be sure to leave lots of open space. Group together a small number of similarly sized books and then accessorize with streamlined vases and frames.