Arranging Accessories & Books on Shelves: Before & After

Like most people, we have a TON of books. Since we moved into our new house last May, they've been in boxes in our downstairs hallway... NOT PRETTY. or organized. or easy. So, yesterday, we headed over to Ikea and purchased this bad boy for our living room: To go in this spot:

We'll still need some more bookshelves somewhere else in the house but I'm really happy with this start:
I mixed in lots of flea market/ thrift finds with the books:
I did a horizontal stack of books (these turquoise ones are some of my favorites- haha although I've only read one of them... it's just the color!!! but The Golden Fleece is on my 'to read" list) to make a little pedestal for my wedgewood bowl. The spot was looking really bare (and we need the space for books!) so I opened a pretty book behind the "pedestal."


I love this fun monkey "see no evil, hear no eveil, speak no evil" vase (and some more pretty blue books!) that I recently found in Volo, IL for $8.
I did a combination of junky paperbacks turned page-side out (I still have all of my Christopher Pike & LJ Smith books) and beautiful leatherbounds. My grandfather has been giving the grandkids a leatherbound classic every year for Thanksgiving since we were kids. (I think my English-teacher-husband was sealed on marrying me when he found this out! ;) ;) I also layered in a flea market painting & some prints to add some interest in the background...
And since I've got lots of green in my living room, I made this fun horizontal stack of green design books. I'm sure you recognize a few! ;) I topped it with tis crazy vintage peacock soap dish ($4) that I found in Volo this summer. Again, I opened up a book to go behind it because the space was feeling bare and I loved the etchings from The Aeneid. I also tucked in a few family photos:
The two bottom shelves are for (you guessed it!) toys!!! I'm using those old wooden wine boxes again & they're smashed in between more books. Even though it's the living room, I like to have toys in every area (as long as they look okay when put away) so that we can all enjoy all the rooms in the house.
And I know how weird & creepy this alligator head is, but we found it at one of my favorite shops at the beach & for some odd reason, we just loved it. (This is the first time my husband actually wanted an accessory MORE than me so I was really happy to get something he was so excited about.) We haven't named him yet...
Below is a bust that I got for around $2 at Unique Thrift Store in Merrifield (AMAZING if you havenm't been... He was made of black-reddish-bronzey glass. Really one of the scariest/ ugliest busts I'd ever seen but I painted him white & then tea stained him. He's been outside too & only gets better-looking with age ;) (Ignore the blue painter's tape!!) He's on top of one of my favorite series of books.

I was able to stack 3 columns of paperbacks in this space above the bookshelf. It will definitely be a pain when I am looking for something but this is the price of beauty ;) ;) I layered in a huge hurricane glass & candle because I needed items of large-scale up there:
And one last look at the new bookshelf. It practically looks built-in & I was so excited when the shelf was only 2.5" smaller than the wall.

If you didn't get the chance, check out this post because it explains a lot of the principles behind what I did here.
xoxo,
lauren
ps- did you notice that the baseboard is in around the floors too?!!! wahooooooooo (we have a little more to finish tonight ;)


46 comments:

Deliciously Organized said...

It looks amazing! I love the way you accessorized it! The old leather books are such a beautiful touch. -carlee

High-Heeled Foot in the door said...

It's looking so great. Not only do I love the design, but I'm a huge book nerd so all those books have me salivating!!!

I'm loving that peacock soapdish. I swear if I was visiting your house it might just disappear :)

Love the storage for little man's toys as well. You can't even tell that they are there.

Jenn said...

I really like the opened books behind the stacks. It's a great touch! :)

Annie said...

We did something similar to this in our front room. We headed to IKEA and bought the Billy bookcases (2 tall + extenders and 2 short) to create our library in one of the most under used rooms in our house. DH then added crown moulding (which we had left over from other projects) to the top and presto-magic they look GOOD! How fun to have your dear "friends" accessible...

Tracy @ comfortandluxury said...

Great looking arrangements, Lauren! I really like the idea of opening a book behind and object. I have a few "vintage" books turned so that their pretty covers face forward, but I never thought to open one up so something pretty on the inside could show. Thanks for the great idea!

Sweet Nothings said...

looks fantastic! im always re arranging mine trying to make it just perfect!

that gator is intense

sarah @ realestatestyle said...

looks great. thanks for the ideas. I always need help with this. Chic Coles did a post on bookcases too today.

Carolyn said...

pretty. Love the turquoise too. And the white accessories.

Rachel said...

Really love the stack of green books and turquoise books. All that white definitely helps the dark books. And great idea about the toys!

Erin said...

I didn't even notice those were toy boxes until you pointed it out! I think it's great you want to really enjoy every room. These shelves look great..I can't believe you put it all together so quickly! (That gator is freaking me out though!!!)

Chasing Davies said...

This is AWESOME! I wouldn't have really thought much about my bookshelf, and just throw some stuff up there, but now looking at how amazing and fun this looks, I will be a lot more mindful when moving in and organizing my shelf! :)

Alicia B. Designs said...

This looks great! I love the idea of turning the paper backs the other way, the covers can sometimes be distracting and this provides more of a base for other items! I love the layering too--really great if you have lots of things like I do...

Maria Killam said...

Lauren, I loved how you even got toy storage looking sexy on your bookshelf. And the price of beauty, I'm all over it! Beautiful decorating, love it, and you!!
xo
Maria

Tammy@InStitches said...

What a fun bookcase you made !

bluehydrangea said...

Love it!! I honestly thought your after was from a magazine and you were going to say you were using it as inspiration!!

Vanya @ Endless Inspiration said...

Nice work Lauren! I love books by colour themes, so effective and its so fun having the o'bjet mixed in much more interesting than solid books.

I have a love of Wedgewood too :)

http://myendlessinspiration.blogspot.com/2009/08/growing-obsession.html

Sarah said...

Awesome post (the shelf looks beautiful)! Are those the Richard Rahl books under the bust?! Hilarious!! I love them too! Have you been watching "Legend of the Seeker" on tv?

Yansy said...

You did an amazing job! I looks perfect in that little corner, I must day the toy boxes are my favorite part.

LindsB said...

wow, what is one amazing bookcase- can you come and do mine too?? The ones next to my fireplace need oh so much help!

A-M said...

What a fabuous tutorial.. step by step. It looks like the bookcase of a very learned person! .... and it does look like it has been there forever and built up over time. Great job! A-M xx

A Country Farmhouse said...

Very helpful information! Love your new bookshelf! We're in desperate need of some bookshelves, your post has inspired me to get busy! Trina

Anonymous said...

Sorry Lauren. I disagree with the comments so far. I think you missed the mark on this one. It is entirely too cluttered. I don't think the "formula" worked. This is the very look that most of us homeowners are trying to avoid.

janet said...

very nicely done and i love how it has a personal look, like a collection of much loved items. Good going!!! and your wallpaper is beautiful, looks fantastic.
hugs
janet

Dallas Shaw said...

great peacock soap dish
dallas
http://dillydallas.blogspot.com

Joan said...

What did you do about the thermistate that was behind it? Did you just leave space or did you have to relocate it?

Lauren said...

hahaha i forgot to explain the thermostat!!! hidden right behind the small flower painting! :)

interiorblogging said...

Great job. I love that with the right accessories and dressing ikea can look fantastic.

Vintage Junky said...

I like that this is a REAL bookcase! So many times bookcases are filled (and barely at that) with anything but books. It IS a house you know! We have toys in every room too, big black baskets hide ours and we use them as the coffee tables. I really like the reversal of the paperbacks... I may have to try this... it may drive Mr. Hughes crazy!!

SMiles!
Michelle
ps. almost forgot my favorite part... I used to read Christopher Pike all the time!!

my favorite and my best said...

it looks awesome!!! and without trying too hard, ya know?

Haven and Home said...

Seriously that is perfection. Love Mr. Croc!

ImagineCozy said...

What a fun post! I loved the stack of green books--- they really made a statement. I also loved how you used the paperback books, turning them around so that you just see the pages. Nice.
-Angela

Velvet and Linen said...

Not only is your book shelf display beautiful, but I love that it is filled with possessions that you love.
You have such a personal way of designing. I think that's why your readers feel so connected to you.

I just spent some time reading your past few posts. I thought your post about your client who doesn't share your same design aesthetic to be very thought provoking and very timely for me. I have finally decided that it's ok not to take a job for a client who doesn't share my design aesthetic. I can appreciate many design styles, but if a potential client and I don't see eye to eye on what we think is good design then neither of us is going to be happy with the end project.

xo
Brooke

Joan said...

OK, back to my therm. question... Did you cut a hole in the bookshelf? Just curiour because I have a similar problem. Also, if your children are CLIMBERS like mine you surely bolted it to the wall.

inthetweeds said...

Lauren - I LOVE how this turned out! So warm and personal and really just perfect. :) I love seeing what you do in your home!

(And PS I'm in total agreement - you can find total gems at Unique Thrift Store!)

Room to Inspire said...

It looks great! I love the open book! Never would have thunk it! Thanks for sharing.

Chelsea

Sam said...

Great post!

Love your blog so much!

xx,
Samantha @PrettyLovely

Lauren said...

Your bookcase looks straight out of the pages of the late, great Domino! Looks fab! I'm so impressed with your home improvement projects, please keep posting pics!!!

Firefly Hill said...

I love it Lauren! It looks fab...

xo,

annie

paula said...

this looks amazing!

Dagny @ Beautiful Living said...

I love it. Very you, and definitely not too packed. Everything is where it's supposed to be. It looks styled and beautiful. And bookshelves are supposed to be packed!

nkp said...

Really, this is an amazing job from start to finish. Incredible that you put this together in one go. It appears to be curated slowly and deliberately over time. A gorgeous compositon, Lauren. Poo poo on Anon, actually, I think this is the very look that most of us homeowners are trying to accomplish. Something personal and beautiful that tells a story about who we are and draws the eye to a new object every single time. Well done!

p.s.- and I for one am crazy about Mr. Croc. A real find. I would have bought him on the spot. But then that's coming from someone who lives in a veritable menagerie.

Oh,oh and I am totally stealing your idea about turning the paperback pages forward. It looks incredible!

Dawn said...

Lauren...I LOVE your bookshelf...I love feelng like your on a treasure hunt when looking for a book...I love adding nature into my decorating as well...I might have to borrow my son's alligator head like yours and pop him on a shelf!!

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AprylHazle said...

I love this bookcase!! I have tons of little thrift store finds that need a place and looking at this bookcase makes me want to reach out and see what else you have there. I like that you flipped the paperbacks. I never actually thought to do that. Thanks for the ideas.

Kromicus said...

The bookcase is beautifully arranged. It seems to me however that these books represent the idea of literature and books as opposed to being a functional library. They are arranged by visual/physical aesthetics and very much appear as if they have never been read. Is there a "working" collection in this home.

Lauren said...

Kromicus- yep, belive it or not, this was the "working collection" in our home... My husband (at the time of this post) was an English lit teacher and is a collector (and reader) of old books. My grandfather has been gifting me classics since I was a little girl once a year and now that I'm married and have children, he gives my husbands & sons books too every year. We love to read and I also have a love for beautiful books so one of our favorite things to do is check out antique stores for cool books.

I've completely set up the arrangement of the books though so that they're pleasing to the eye though. (Hubby loves that ;) ;)

Thanks!!
~Lauren